Social Media Strategies for Success
Nearly three quarters of American adults use social media—making it a critical part of any business strategy.
Social media is one of the best ways to connect with people who already love your brand. It’s also important for reaching those who haven’t heard of your business yet. Here's a few points to start.
Set social media goals and objectives. Create goals that follow the SMART framework. They should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Base your goals on metrics that will have a real impact on your business. For example, aim to acquire customers or raise your conversion rate, rather than simply racking up likes.
Research the competition. How are your competitors using social media? While you don’t want to copy them, learning from what others have done is a great way to reduce your learning curve. A competitive analysis can help you learn what’s working and what’s not for other businesses like yours.
Conduct a social media audit. If you’re already using social media, now’s the time to take a step back and evaluate your existing efforts. As part of your audit, look for impostor accounts that may be stealing your online thunder. We’ve got a easy-to-use social media audit template to walk you through the process.
Find inspiration. You’ve looked at what your competitors are doing online, but what about other businesses? Take inspiration from the success of businesses in all industries. Where can you find these success stories? Head to the business section of most social networks and you’ll find useful case studies. It’s also a great idea to ask existing followers what they want to see more of, then give them exactly what they ask for.
Create a social media calendar. A social media calendar helps you post the right content to the right social channels at the right time. It should include a plan for your content mix. Try starting with the 80-20 rule. Use 80% of your content to inform, educate, or entertain your audience. Use the other 20% to promote your brand or sell your products.
Decide which platforms are right for you
Don’t make assumptions about where your audience spends their time online. Your instinct might tell you that if you’re targeting millennials, you should skip Facebook and focus on Instagram and Snapchat. But the data shows that 84% of millennials still use Facebook.
Mine Twitter to Grow Your Audience
While “if you build it they will come” is a great line from a movie, it’s a terrible marketing plan. To succeed on the Internet today, you have to create content that ignites and engages an audience. However, if you are a new blogger, you should probably spend more time developing an audience than creating your content.
Here are three easy but overlooked tactics you can use to build an audience on Twitter, which is arguably the best platform for this.
Once you’ve been on Twitter for a while, you’ll notice people will place you on public Twitter Lists. Lists are generally categorized by a special interest or geographic location. For example, I might be on lists for “marketing experts,” “bloggers” or “business educators.” Find a relevant person to follow, and then dig into his or her lists. You’ll likely find a goldmine of interesting people to follow who will hopefully follow you back. There are many apps to help you find new followers, but one of my favorite places to find targeted followers is Twellow. This useful and free site is like the yellow pages for Twitter, and you can find and follow targeted users for every category, industry and interest imaginable.
Use specialized Twitter search prompts. Unlock the basic search functionality right on the Twitter screen by learning a few of the specialized prompts. This is one of the most powerful market research tools available.
Analyze Past Content to Improve Posts
Most businesses analyze the effectiveness of their social media after they publish. Now, there are tools available to analyze data for content curation before you post.
Here’s how to use BuzzSumo to leverage the data of what has already been successful in terms of social sharing.
First, enter a keyword that is part of your social media content strategy. BuzzSumo will provide you with a list of the top-performing content in terms of social shares according to your keyword.
Next, because some content performs better on some networks than others, you can curate content by social network. Armed with this data, you can increase the effectiveness of your content curation by publishing content that has a greater chance of success on a specific network.
You can also filter content by type (which is ideal if you’re looking for videos or infographics to curate) or filter by time period. The latter lets you find content that’s been most popular in the last 24 hours or evergreen content that’s been popular over the last year. The choice is yours!
Optimize Visual Content with Links
Visual content can act as a “gateway” to more valuable content. When planning visual content to post on social platforms, think in terms of how it can drive traffic back to your website, products and services.
Link a short video back to your website from your YouTube Account or from your Instagram profile link and make sure you provide expanded content around the video.
Maximize Twitter Real Estate With Images
“Every second, on average, around 6,000 tweets are tweeted on Twitter (visualize them here on, which corresponds to over 350,000 tweets sent per minute, 500 million tweets per day and around 200 billion tweets per year.”
Creating the best possible tweet has never been more important. Adding visual appeal to your tweet is a very smart way to get your most important content noticed.
You can add up to four images per tweet or one fantastic image if you want. The choice is yours! To add multiple images, use regular Twitter. This isn’t available on any of the third-party sites. Here’s an example of a tweet with multiple images on Twitter.
Switch Up Content Formats
Over the past two years, I’ve moved to adapt written content for multiple platforms, like YouTube, to increase my reach and visibility.
Changing content formats doesn’t have to involve just videos. You can also convert snippets from your existing articles into images—which tend to have better reach on Facebook. Have you written a lot about one specific topic on your blog? Why not combine those articles into an ebook and use it to build your email list?
Create a Social Media Channel Plan
So many organizations feel overwhelmed by the need to create content for every social media channel on the planet. Or worse yet, many brands create one type of content and then blast that content onto every social platform. If that’s you, you need a social media channel plan.
Most likely, your goals are different on each social platform. Since that’s the case, the content you develop for that platform needs to be different as well. Here are the components for your channel plan.
The Channel (For example, Facebook.)
The Persona (Who are you specifically targeting? Please choose one.)
The Goal (Is it a sales goal, cost-savings goal or are you trying to create a better customer experience?)
Primary Content Type (Textual, video, infographics?)
Structure (What does a general post look like?)
Tone (Playful, sarcastic?)
Channel Integration (How will this channel work with your other channels for maximum impact?)
Desired Action (What user behavior do you want to achieve?)
Editorial Plan (Every channel needs its own editorial calendar.)
And this is exactly why content marketing isn’t easy. But if you leverage a social media channel plan correctly, you’ll be able to double down on the channels that work for you and be realistic with your resources on the other channels.
Deliver Content Consistently
One of the best ways to grow your following and increase engagement on social media is to be there consistently. The first step is to put the right systems in place to keep your posts relevant, interesting and valuable for your audience.
Enter Edgar. I found out about Edgar a couple of months ago and love the platform.
Edgar allows you to create your own content categories so you can keep track of the specific types of posts you’re releasing; this ensures you don’t overwhelm your followers with the same types of posts over and over.
You can also schedule repeat posts indefinitely, so your content schedule never runs dry. Plus Edgar allows you to upload custom images for your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn posts.
As you build your content library, update your schedule with the categories you want to release and when. Then let Edgar take care of the rest. Leveraging a social media scheduler like Edgar has saved me time, helped me grasp the big picture when it comes to my social media marketing strategy and allowed me to stay on top of my game when it comes to delivering valuable content to Fire Nation.
Host Private Hangout On Air Events
Social media success is so often about having a conversation with the right people. If you already think in terms of building segmented lists, then you may appreciate knowing that you can effectively list-build on Google+ in many ways.
Use a private community alongside regular Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOA) events, so you can host a dedicated, private experience while having conversations with the right people.
In doing this for our Academy, we’ve noticed two trends:
Around a third of community members watch the event within a day.
About 8 to 10 community members also join the event as participants.
Unlike with public communities, when you initiate your event within a private one, the members receive an event invite/notification. This is a perfect way to break through the noise and reach the right audience.
In both scenarios, the event will be listed under the Event tab, as well as on the right-hand side of the community.
Selling is increasingly personal, so face-to-face time with your community makes a huge difference. Also, the ability to quickly give them access to links/resources results in a great customer service experience.
Use Hashtags Strategically
If you want to be successful with your social media plan, stop random acts of hashtagging and use a good hashtag to tie all of the pieces of your campaign together.
Use hashtags that are easy to spell and easy to remember. To make sure your hashtag isn’t already being used for something else, check for it on all channels prior to using it for your campaign. Once you create your hashtag, follow and join the conversation!
To follow your hashtag use sites like Social Mention and Sprout Social. Use twipho for searching images on a hashtag.
Use Social Updates to Write Blog Posts
Take your most popular tweets and Facebook posts, or the ones you feel most passionately about, and use them to develop blog posts. You don’t have to write three pages; you don’t even have to write four paragraphs.
Seth Godin is one of the most successful bloggers in the marketing world, and he writes in two- to three-sentence paragraphs. He’s a master at expressing ideas that are thought-provoking and easy to read. People are pressed for time these days and content can be overwhelming, so make it valuable and easy to read.
Another way to get ideas is to comment on the things you read, such as other people’s blogs and newsletters, media publications and anything else relevant to your business. You’re already absorbing the content and you probably have opinions when you’re reading it, so go ahead and comment on those blogs.
One benefit of commenting is that people will start recognizing your name; another is it gives you material for a blog post.
For example, I save the comments I write in my email drafts folder and I use the subject line as a label for the topic. After I’ve saved the drafts, I can come back and turn these comments into blog posts. I can even make the comment itself the blog post. After all, it’s still my writing.
Become a Resource on Facebook
Over the last year, Facebook has been slowly making algorithm changes that have limited the number of people who see a page’s Facebook post. Pages can use these algorithm changes to their advantage by thinking of their page as a user resource, rather than a promotional tool.
Build a page your customers would enjoy and then use that platform to delight them. Deliver posts that educate, entertain, inspire and inform to reach a wide Facebook audience.
Expand Reach With LinkedIn Publisher
If you haven’t already done so, take advantage of the free content publishing feature on LinkedIn called Publisher. It can increase your exposure to your target audience and help build your credibility as an expert in your industry. In fact, LinkedIn Publisher can greatly expand the reach of your business on LinkedIn, regardless of your network’s size.
For example, after Wendy McClelland added her third post, Why I Say NO to Coffee Meetings, she received more views, likes and comments than she ever could have expected.
Wendy’s following is just over 1,500, but this published post got more than 61,500 views, 350 likes and 500 comments! 60,000 people outside of Wendy’s network were exposed to her and her work.
While most posts will not achieve such extreme reach, all posts have the potential to reach new people.
Each time you publish, all of your connections and followers will receive a notification.
To increase your chances of success with Publisher, create professional-looking posts that address the needs and pain points of your audience. Make sure you avoid adding spammy or promotional information.
Post valuable content that your network will share with their connections, and your reach will grow even more.
Focus on One Social Media Channel
Unless your company is a big brand, it’s unlikely your customers are scattered across multiple social media channels.
Therefore, to make the most of your limited resources, find the one channel that is densely populated with your ideal customers and inhabit it like no other.
Automate Curated Content
If you run a small business, creating or curating content can be relegated to the back burner. The problem is that an erratic publishing schedule can alienate your audience and break trust. There’s a way around this.
Schedule a baseline of curated content. While there are a number of tools out there that can help, lately I’ve been choosing to use Hootsuite’s new Suggested Topics under its Publisher tab. Select up to three topics of interest, then let Hootsuite find content that’s relevant to your audience. As I mentioned, this is baseline content. If you want to rock your social media marketing, you still need to create and curate your own posts, as well as engage with your audience. However, this tool lets you stay in front of your audience even when you’re making sales calls, writing proposals and brewing that second pot of coffee.
Create a Social Update Library
One thing that holds many businesses back from actively posting on social media is having to come up with ideas for what to post. When you batch content and social media update creation, it’s much easier to come up with interesting ideas for status updates relating to that content.
Whenever you create a piece of content (article, podcast or video) for your blog or website, come up with a list of 10 to 20 social media posts at the same time that can be used to promote that piece of content.
This same concept will work for your product pages, sales pages or any other piece of content you want to promote.
Once you have a list of social media updates, add the updates to a spreadsheet to keep track of them all in one location. This can be a simple spreadsheet that includes just the update and a link to the content, or it can be a more elaborate one that tracks all of your content and social media updates for multiple networks.
This will save you a lot of time over the long run. Also, you build a library of tweets and status updates that you can use for years to come. Whenever you need to schedule some updates, just come back to the spreadsheet, create a .csv file, import it into a program like Hootsuite and you’re good to go.
Publish Long-Form Content on LinkedIn
By publishing new and previously published content on LinkedIn, you can grow your audience and network while increasing your status as an expert.
Through this open publishing platform, your original content becomes part of your company’s profile, is shared with your trusted network and has the ability to reach the largest group of professionals ever assembled.
Target Website Visitors with Social Ads
It takes a lot of time and effort to attract visitors to your website. When you do attract relevant visitors, it’s important to maximize the potential of that visit even after they leave your website.
There are now great retargeting options where you can follow your website visitors to other sites like Twitter and Facebook, and encourage them to take further action.
For example, to target your website visitors on Facebook, display “page like” ads and encourage them to become fans. This currently costs us 15 cents per fan. In return, we get a relevant fan and another place to reach our audience.
Your potential customers don’t see all of your communication, but with good marketing tactics you can improve your chances of showing up in their social streams!