Inside Developing a Social Media Plan
There are around 7.9 billion people on earth, 325 million of which call the United States home. In the third quarter of 2021, Facebook reported roughly 2.9 billion monthly users. The company also reported 297 million monthly users in America over the course of 2020.
This means more than 90% of Americans log into Facebook at least once a month. It’s likely this number is slightly inflated by people who have more than one active account. Regardless of the exact figures, Facebook use is high and rising.
Social media is unquestionably the place for public discourse, and that’s without including Facebook’s other social media platforms like Instagram, or popular independent channels like Linkedin, YouTube and Twitter. Most people are online and people who are online use social media.
As a business, meeting customers where they are is a no brainer. Setting up a Facebook page is pretty straightforward. Building and maintaining an engaged following is a bit more challenging. That requires a combination of know-how, a clear brand identity and patience.
Coal Creative Social Media Specialist Jesse Macko stays immersed in the roiling tides of companies like Facebook.
“All social media is constantly changing, whether it’s the platform itself or the way they do analytics,” Jesse said.
Regularly using Facebook and Instagram makes it easy for Jesse to notice changes in real time. He’s also plugged into industry news that covers tweaks, outages and everything in between.
I asked Jesse for some insight into the changing, but crucial world of social media.
Social Media for Business: How Do I Get Started?
As with any collaboration with Coal Creative, we start by looking at your current marketing approach. In the case of social media, we look at what platforms you’re on and how you’re using them. Let’s consider two fictional companies and their approach to social media.
Company One has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, YouTube, SnapChat and Twitter. Upon review, we learn that they haven’t posted on SnapChat or Twitter in a year. Jesse points out that stagnant accounts can be detrimental.
“If you’re not posting, it’s doing more harm than good,” Jesse said. “People might think you’re inactive.”
And if we’re trying to drum up business, the last thing we want to project is that we’re inactive.
For Company One, Jesse and the team recommend they focus on the two biggest social media platforms: Facebook and Instagram. It’s much better to dedicate yourself to one or two sites rather than to spread yourself too thin.
Business Two loves Facebook. They post at least twice per day. The content is a combination of relevant business news and the owner’s takes on various topics. Once we understand their goals, we recommend that Business Two posts less.
There is a Goldilocks element to social media: Post too little and people assume you’re inactive, post too much and they get annoyed, especially if the content is occasionally irrelevant.
Jesse suggests they work on quality and step back on quantity. Three posts per week, using Facebook’s suggested post times, will help Business Two get their information in front of the right customers at the right time.
He also establishes that Business Two could develop a strong following on LinkedIn. The business-oriented channel is great for networking, recruiting and B2B interactions.
Once you’ve established your social media platforms, we’ll dig into your brand.
How to Develop your Brand and Social Media Voice?
A company’s brand is who they are. It is a company’s identity. That identity should be woven into everything about the business from the colors, images and fonts they use to their tone and message.
Aside from keeping the business grounded in who they are, a strong brand identity can create trust. Customers are drawn to authentic brands. By projecting your brand’s true self, you’re giving customers a chance to connect. Your brand and voice should be unique.
In his role as a social media specialist, Jesse has to keep each brand’s voice top of mind. The way one collaborator speaks on social media can be vastly different than another. A restaurant shouldn’t sound like a law office. The restaurant should sound like itself.
How Do Analytics Help Drive Social Media?
Building a strong social media presence includes some trial and error. That’s not to say we’re operating blind. Trying new things should be based on data. Social media platforms have information about who follows your page. They also offer insights into how a post performs, based on views and clicks. You can improve your reach by establishing trust and delivering value to the right people.
If you already have a Facebook page, you should look at your demographics. Facebook breaks down demographic data into tons of categories. You can see the gender split, ages and location of followers.
This kind of insight can either confirm you’re on the right path or indicate you’re missing the mark. Say your ideal customers are women between 18 and 36 who live in NEPA. Is that the group most prevalent on your followers list? If not, make a plan to reach them.
You can also see how your posts perform. One piece of data worth watching is organic reach — the number of people who see a post without advertising dollars behind it. Organic reach on Facebook hovers around 5%, meaning about one in 19 followers will see a post that isn’t promoted. The best practice to keep organic reach up is to build consistently relevant content for your target audience.
Within Facebook’s analytics dashboard, you can see how many organic views a post had. You can also see engagement like clicks, likes and shares. It’s a good idea to balance your content calendar with posts that reach more people as well as posts that prompt your followers to do something like sharing or liking a post.
You can cross reference the time you’re posting with the performance. If posts that go up at 10 a.m. regularly outperform afternoon posts, then you should do most of your sharing in the morning. Similarly, if you experiment with video and that does well, Jesse recommends incorporating more video into your content plan.
For best results, you should check your demographics and post performance regularly. This will tell you if you’re on the right track. Don’t be afraid to try new things, but do so with some factual backing.
How Should My Business Engage on Social Media?
Once you’ve established a brand identity and a content strategy, you’ll want to think about engagement. We’ve already discussed how your page’s voice can build trust. That extends to engagement. If a person comments on your page, the act of liking or — better yet — responding to them gives them a personal connection.
You should also stay on top of inquiries. Answering questions and responding to direct messages quickly establishes you as a business that cares.
Social Media Advertising
Facebook is a business, so it’s no surprise the platform wants you to buy ads. Their ads can be incredibly useful, if deployed right. You can also find yourself making tiny ripples in a big pond.
When Should I Start Advertising on Social Media?
Jesse recommends establishing a regular posting schedule before trying your hand at advertising. It’s likely users will land on your page after seeing an ad. You don’t want them to come to a near-dormant page. It’s much better to give them some useful information or, at the very least, a little entertainment.
What should I Advertise on Social Media?
We believe the most valuable actions on social media are link clicks to your website. This is especially true for e-commerce businesses. Every ad is a call to action. Do you want readers to make a purchase, sign up for a newsletter or read more about your business? These calls to action should all push visitors to your website.
Jesse doesn’t recommend advertising for followers. If you’re creating and promoting good content, followers will come organically.
Words of Warning About Social Media Advertising
The advertising options on Facebook are akin to a Cheesecake Factory menu. The options are endless. My approach to a huge menu is to pick a lane. Know what you want and start there.
It’s very easy to go down a rabbit hole of different demographic or interest targets. Sometimes these things are helpful, but just as often they’re distractions. It’s important to deploy your resources sensibly, and not get sucked into the promotion of the day.
Patience is essential with advertising. Thanks to the analytics dashboard, you can check how your ad is performing right after posting it. Don’t do this! You have to let your dish cook before you taste it. Jesse suggests waiting a week to 10 days before drawing any conclusions on an ad’s run. It may require a long runway to build up the reach you’re hoping for.
To learn more about social media or any of our other services, please fill out the form below and we’ll reach out. And don’t forget to stay Coal!