How do I know if my social media strategy is working?

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How do I know if my social media strategy is working?

how do i know if my social media strategy is working

“Will social media work for my business? How do you know?”

In the last few weeks, I’ve had queries from several Alberta business owners who want to use social media for their business, but they’ve got big concerns when it comes to ROI (and rightfully so.)

The story of businesses hiring social media managers but not ever seeing any results is all-too-familiar. The reality is that you can post your little heart out, you can even reach thousands of people but without objectives, goals and a plan in place – you’ll never know if it’s “working”.

Take this familiar scenario: every January people make goals to lose weight in the new year. They start eating better, hit the gym and cut back on bad habits. But how do they know if it’s working? Assuming they have a benchmark to start (current weight) they can identify progress quite simply by jumping on the scale.

Measuring the success of your social media program isn’t a heck of a lot different. It’s important to have your program linked back to business objectives. Want to increase website traffic to a specific page? Identify the benchmarks. Plan on how you will support that objective. Execute your tactics. Track at certain key points. Want to grow your mailing list? Identify benchmarks. Plan. Execute. Track.

I’ve written about my frustration with social media ‘experts’ who promise their clients true return on their investment but fail to deliver because they’re just throwing s**t at the wall and hoping it sticks – leaving business owners disappointed, frustrated and skeptical of this type of marketing.

Here’s how I run social media programs:

Step 1: Understand your goals.

In order to plan, we need to know where you’re at and where you want to be. Depending on your goals and timelines – I typically spend a good two to four weeks with the client learning about their business, industry, competitors and auditing both their existing social media sites and website.  In order to design a program, we’ve got to know your business goals so we can design a social media program to support them. (e.g.: increase traffic to website; increase mailing list; generate leads.) There’s a lot of heavy lifting that happens in the beginning; to run a successful social media program requires significant time to research, review & analyze.

Step 2: Know your current social media footprint.

Once we know your goals, we evaluate what you’re already doing on social media (if anything) and what you’d like to do. For example, some businesses want to increase activity on social, a common example is the desire to post daily to Facebook because they would like more engagement. If this is the case, it’s important to make sure that we’re sharing good quality & valuable content for our friends and fans. We’ll look at how we can create or curate content that will support these types of social media goals.

Step 3: Put a plan in place.

Now that we understand your background, your goals, what you’re doing and what you want to do via social media, we put everything we’ve learned into a plan. The plan identifies your social media goals as they support business objectives and what we will do to reach those goals, how we will do it, as well as what we will use to measure them. (e.g.: post 3x a day to Facebook using the 70/30 rule to increase website traffic.)

Step 4: Create or curate content that matters.

Do your fans like video? Photos? Quotes? Are they engaged on long form content? What time of day are they active? When is the best time to post? If you’re not sure, we’ll probably spend some time testing (truthfully, we’re always going to test to make sure we’re staying on track!) We want to make sure we’re offering the best content, so that our people engage and share for a couple of reasons: helps with algorithms to get our stuff in front of more people and perhaps most importantly, can help us achieve the goals we have set out, like brand awareness or driving people back to our website.

Step 5: Put it in a calendar.

The content calendar takes the stuff you want to share and assigns it to days and times. Most companies set calendars anywhere from a month out, to a quarter (depending on the type of business & content.) For example, if you’re an accountant you may schedule specific tax-related content to run through tax season. Again, testing is important. We may learn that our people aren’t around at certain times of the day and even though the content is great, it doesn’t gain any traction. Testing is really important to make sure that the time we spend on the calendar isn’t in vain.

Step 6: Schedule.

Next is scheduling. Once you’ve looked at the content calendar and approve it, the content well be scheduled by the social media consultant. There are several ways to do this, most popular is through third-party apps like SocialChamp, Buffer or Hootsuite. However, with some social sites, your social media consultant may prefer to schedule content natively in the site. Depending on the complexity of content to be shared, this can be a time-consuming process so make sure you read & understand the content calendar before approving it!

Step 7: To engage or not to engage.

Next comes engagement. Depending on the agreement you have with your social media consultant, the responsibility for engagement on your social sites may fall to you, your consultant or a combination of both. Make sure you both understand who is responsible for engagement and what that looks like. Remember: social media is not meant to be a one-sided broadcast. And while you can’t run a business if you’re constantly on social media,  you still need to be there to engage at certain times!

Step 8: Analyze

Finally, we watch to see what works and what doesn’t. We set up custom benchmarking and social media reports for clients so we can track progress on vanity metrics, as well as  things like last interaction conversions relative to social media.

I understand that as a business owner you have limited time and resources to spend on social media; and also that you can’t pay bills with likes, tweets, retweets and shares – however, I cannot impress upon owners how important it is to have a plan in place that is specific to your business and goals.

If you need help with your social media or digital marketing program, get in touch – I’d love to find a solution that fits your needs and budget.

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Kat Macaulay, BA ADdPR BnC
Kat Macaulay, BA ADdPR BnC
Kat Macaulay is a Marketing Strategist, Writer + Speaker known for her no-nonsense approach to pretty much everything. Using data insights, she helps organizations market more effectively to get results that matter. She's also a high-scoring instructor at Mount Royal University, where she teaches Social Media Analytics and Google Analytics + Marketing Measurement. She holds certifications from Google, as well as Facebook and is currently working toward a specialization in Marketing Analytics and a certificate in Data Science from IBM. When she’s not busy juggling kids, volunteering + work, she’s busy planning her retirement to Cape Breton.