The Real Secret to Successful Social Media Campaigns

Is it just me, or is there just too much conflicting advice on the web for social media marketing?

Type “The best time to post to social media” into Google and you’ll receive about 822,000,000 results in 0.34 seconds. Sift through the articles, videos, blogs and infographics, and you’ll get all sorts of advice, packaged as gospel, most typically:

It makes sense, right? People have more time to read at these particular moments, so it seems logical to post your content then. Not quite. 

The volume of Get Invited’s audience is unique across each social channel and varies from day to day. For example, if we were to post between 12-2.00pm on Twitter, on a Tuesday, I could only expect to reach a maximum of 12% of my audience, compared to a potential 36% at 4.30pm. Additionally, traffic on Facebook doesn’t pick up until after 7.00pm most days. (GMT).

Best practice guidelines are very useful. However they don’t  consider your specific audience, content, and often location, and so must be taken with a pinch of salt.

Over the past 5 years I have worked on 15 social media accounts (and counting). I’ve studied the infographics, made mistakes and conversed with industry. So, whats the real secret to running successful social media campaigns? Good old fashioned (controlled) trial and error.

Not the ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer you would hope for, but it is effective. Here’s why.

It’s hard, and it’s getting harder

Content that is eligible to be shown in our news feed is increasing at a faster rate than people’s ability to consume it. There are over 1,000 algorithms on Facebook alone that shapes our timeline feed, and at any given time, your post is competing with 1,500 others, all fighting for the 300 spots available.

Over the past 2 years I’ve experienced a noticeable drop in the organic reach of my posts for business, particularly on Facebook. As more and more brands compete for attention, it is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve organic traction across the channels, and it’s only going to get harder.

With all of the top channels working towards a paid advertising model, paid content distribution is inevitable to maintain the audience volumes we have become accustomed to. However marketers are still having to their our game to create better content for organic traction.

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Managing social media accounts can give you a 6th sense for your audience, but that’s not enough. We’ve all posted that tumbleweed post that we were convinced was golden, or dealt with a problematic follower. It’s just the nature of the beast.

Trialling different content is the best way to find out what your audience likes, and dislikes, and reduces the chances of failure. However, as with any other marketing tactic, your message must be targeted, and match your existing company values.

If you aren’t sure of your online audience, there are tools to help you. DemographicsPro have a free version that profiles your current Twitter following, right down to where they shop. With Facebook I find it useful to take 15% of fans, and check out their profiles. These really help paint a picture of your current social community, which you can then compare with your ideal customer profile.

When it comes to your own marketing messages, you will already know what you want to say, so establishing the type of content that your audience engages with first, will help you come up with ways to trickle your own messages into future content.  Gary Vaynerchuk, author of ’Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook’, expands on the 4.1.1. rule, of how to connect with your audience and still achieve your marketing goals. He advises that if you provide enough meaningful content to your audience, then it’s perfectly OK to be transparent and share your own agenda.

Ultimately if you want to improve, you’re going to have to listen to your audience. Each week, I record the engagement on our social communication e.g. likes, RT’s, pins. I’ve been doing this for the past 6 months, which has allowed me to, over time, refine the type of content that our audience favours, and the amount.

You can still look at best practice guides for inspiration, but it will never be as accurate, or as creative, as listening to your own audience.

Timing is Everything

When is the best time to post on social media? It’s simple. When your audience is online.

There are lots of tools available for you to work this out. I like SocialBro for Twitter which calculates the percentage of your Twitter audience online for each hour of the day. This is how I discovered what time of day and what days of the week work best for me to share our content.

Consistency is also important. There is no magic number of how often you should post, you just need to track this over time, for each channel you use, and see what is working for you.

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Once you begin to track your efforts, you will start to see trends emerge, but don’t react too quickly.  For the first 2 months tracking our social media I could see patterns for popular times to post, and responsive content, emerging each week, but it wasn’t until the third month that I began to see real consistency. Even at that, it took 6 months before I started to see the results that I wanted.

The truth is, it takes time to accurately measure your online activities. Putting up one quote that doesn’t get any likes or shares, doesn’t mean that you should never post a quote again. Was your timing right? How was it displayed? What type of quote was it? These are all considerations that you need to take into account before reacting.

It’s also important to consider how your audience changes as you grow, and how you interact with them, so make tracking and measuring your efforts a part of your routine.

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Your audience is 100% unique to you. As a marketer, that’s a major perk of the job as you get to know, nurture and grow the community. It’s not going to happen overnight, and social media needs a lot of attention. Establish what is right for your company, and only adopt what truly works for you from best practice guidelines. 

Do you look after a social media account? I’d love to hear your thoughts on what has worked for you.