I can completely understand your frustration. Those YouTube videos make this stuff look easy and in a lot of ways, it can be. But it can also be overwhelming. So let’s first run a few simple diagnostics to get an idea of where the snags may be happening.
Do you have a social media plan in place?
Often I talk to business owners who don’t think social media is working for their business, but when we dig in we learn that there’s no plan, nor clarity on what success looks like. Before you jump online, your first stop should be a social media plan. Your plan should include goals that relate to your overall business objective. For example, if you’re a new business, maybe you want to increase brand awareness. Social media can help support that objective, but you’ve got to set goals. What is your baseline? What are your benchmarks? What does success look like? Without knowing what you want to accomplish, it’s difficult to know whether social is working or not.
How well do you know your audience?
Despite what you may think your product and/or service is not for everyone. You need to know who your people are. So, you need to go through things like psychographics, demographics, sociographics.
When you know your audience and where they’re hanging out online, you can give them what they want and expect. For example, if you’re a comedy club, your audience probably expects you to be light, funny and entertaining; so you shouldn’t be surprised if you get negative feedback from political rants or posts that have nothing do with your business. But if you’re just setting up on social channels where your people are nowhere to be found, you’re wasting your resources.
Try this: Once you know who your audience is, use statistics and data available via social channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn) as well as information in your analytics tools to determine where your audience is online.
Are you consistent and do you have a content plan?
Part of your plan should outline the social media channels you will tackle, the types of content you will create or curate and the frequency at which you will share. This is how you will avoid ‘spray and pray’ (posting random stuff to your business sites hoping something will hit a home run and resonate with your audience.) I use a content calendar (also known as an editorial calendar) to make sure that I consistently stay on track with relevant information for my people. This information should be 70-80% purely educational (no promotions) and add value to your audience. Beyond the type of content, you need to make sure that you’re sharing consistently. Checking in every few months won’t help you nurture a community online, nor will scheduling content. Using scheduling tools is an efficient and effective way to make sure you’re consistent but you still need to check in and engage.
Try this: Consider creating an editorial calendar that encompasses the themes you want to cover for your business over the course of a month, quarter or year (you decide based on what works best for your business!) The editorial calendar defines the content you will either produce or curate (video, photos, vlogs, blogs, white papers, quizzes etc.) It also determines the day of the week and the time of the day you will post content to your social channels and website. This is an important part of the process because you need to make sure you’re offering value to your audience. [Example Editorial/Content Calendar]
Are you tracking the right metrics?
Often times we don’t think social media is working because we look at vanity metrics (things such as ‘likes’ on a page or follower numbers.) While these numbers may be a good temperature check, they don’t tell the full story. Instead, your focus should be on engagement such as comments, shares, referral traffic to your website and actions on page. What I typically find is that they do well engaging their audience, even if their fan or follower numbers seem low.
Try this: Make sure your metrics match your goals. [Example]
Are your products and services what you say they are or are you just ignoring the feedback?
This is something we have to talk about. The online world makes us vulnerable and exposes our organizations to feedback that we may not have even been aware of. So if your products or services are crap – this isn’t a social media problem, it’s not a marketing problem, it’s a business problem. If people aren’t following you online or they’re only engaging with you to express their disappointment in your business, your problem isn’t social media. And no matter what you do, how much effort or money you throw at it, it won’t fix anything. Look, being told that your product or service isn’t as great as you thought it was, can be difficult to hear (I’m human too – no one likes to be criticized!) But it can also be beneficial. Reviews and negative feedback can give us intelligence and insights on how to improve. (Or we can totally just ignore it and blame social media…)
Where do I go from here?
If you’ve determined that your product or service is not the problem, your first step is to put together a social media and digital marketing plan. To get started with your plan, you must consider what success looks like. Success should be aligned with your overall business objectives. What do you want to accomplish with social media? How can social media support your overall business objectives and goals? Remember that social media doesn’t stand on its own; you need an integrated approach to marketing, which includes total understanding of your brand story. If you want step-by-step guidance on putting a plan together, check out this older blog.
Critical pieces of your social media + digital marketing plan:
Get Started With Social Media Management
What is a social media competitive analysis and why does my small business need one?
How should businesses create a plan for social media and how will they track their success?
Social media training: where to start