Thursday, August 28, 2014

Social Media Content Optimization Survey Results And What They Mean For You!

Here's What Marketers Are REALLY Doing With Social Media!

Recently I retweeted a post with results of a survey done to measure business responses to issues around social media. The purpose of the survey, was to better understand which strategies marketers are currently using to optimize social media content (and to gauge the effectiveness of these strategies) Software Advice, a social CRM consultancy group, partnered with Adobe to create the first-ever Social Media Content Optimization Survey.

I thought this survey was worth looking at in a bit closer detail.  When it comes to businesses using social media to promote what they do, we have a wide range of businesses from the micro-business working out of home to big businesses with fancy budgets and a whole team of people dedicated to running the social media marketing. Getting some insight into what other marketers are doing can give us a kind of benchmark to compare our own activities against and perhaps see some things we are not doing that could be beneficial to include. 

Planning Ahead Can Save Time On Social Media And Make Us More Efficient

While social media is not about broadcasting and does require an effort to engage with people, scheduling critical posts can be an effective way of getting the timing right and in effect, being 'in two places at once'. There are applications that can allow us to schedule posts and selectively send the right post to the appropriate platform.  

Some people push the same posts out to all platforms at once. Personally, I don't find that a good method since whenever I see that from someone I follow in different platforms, I do make a judgment about their judgment and it isn't usually favourable. Different platforms have different settings on what is appropriate. Sure that fun post on Facebook might be hilarious - but it might not be suitable for posting on Linkedin.  Similarly, something just right for connections on Linkedin, might be just too dry for Facebook. 

Those using applications that show their branding on posts, just tell me the person is not spending time to post to me on that platform, so why should I spend my time to read the thing they didn't see worthwhile spending their time on to show me? 

Nevertheless, by using it well, scheduling can mean that the most important (to us) posts - those we write ourselves or relate to an offer we are making, etc can be loaded up in advance and in a rotation that is getting those posts out there on time and letting us spend the time that we do have to be online, in a more social and sociable way, engaging and responding and sharing other quality information that makes our activity feed more interesting for those following, and not all about us. 

Scheduling posts - how long before posting social media updates are posts set up on a schedule?

Scheduling - how many posts scheduled in advance?

As you can see very few are scheduling a month or longer ahead. To do that would require a paid application but essentially could be a good thing to consider doing. If you have a lot of evergreen posts - posts that are not time sensitive and provide some kind of useful information to the people you want to reach, by scheduling a month ahead you would be planning the order of posts and the spread of posts to incorporate all of those evergreen posts, so they all get an outing on a semi regular basis.  That doesn't always happen if you are scheduling just a few days at a time.

Evergreen posts are worth mentioning, and are the lifeblood of your business blog. Evergreen posts will be the accumulated wisdom that you have to show and be a worthwhile body of work for readers to access who have an interest in your topic.

Here's the thing. We hope that people will interrupt their day to read our posts - so it is incumbent on us to make that time they give us, time well spent. Be known for writing quality posts that relate to what they promise in the headline. That way people stay willing to click on your posts - instead of being 'burned' by posts promising one thing and for the reader, clicking on the link, turning out to have been a waste of their time.

What's The Purpose of Your Social Media Activity?

Why post to social media for your business? Goals for social media 

Some people think posting to social media is all about leads. Leads are not sales and leads are not always the only or even most desirable thing to come from your activities on social media.  Imagine you get leads and they are for some minor thing you sell, not the main product you want to sell.  That's not what you want. Ultimately you want sales and to get sales you need credibility and visibility. So your content needs to work towards building credibility which leads to trust and to selling the thing you do want to sell. 

Social media marketing is like a good healthy approach to eating. Not a crash diet.  

As you can see in this result, the marketers surveyed had a range of goals for their posting and activity, with a variety of results. We cannot tell from this why some experienced success while others didn't but it is reasonable to assume that it related to both the content, the context and perhaps how realistic the expectations were, of the marketers. 

Posting a few low quality posts to social media platforms is not going to return any investment. You need to actually invest in the process before you can expect return.   This is something that is often not well understood by business owners. Before you have an audience that loves your content and wants to share it and act on what you say ... you need to create the environment and build that group of followers - or you have nobody to see what you post anyway! 

That takes time and investment. But here's the thing. Unlike all your advertising that stops playing once the TV or radio commercial is over, or the newspaper is out of date - your social media footprint has a life. It stays and grows over time and when done right, it endures and doesn't go stale. 

Types of Content Posted 

Content posted to social media platforms, and perceived importance to marketers

Some great hints here at the context and thinking that marketers have going on when composing their posts and HOW they will set them up. This is part of the process that business owners often don't appreciate. They see the post on their feed, but don't understand that it is a lot like the duck on the pond. It just looks like a duck calmly sitting on the pond but underneath, where you don't see, there is a lot of activity going on!

That's why 'learning as you go' can be the most expensive way to do social media for your business. Without that stuff you can't see... you will get nowhere.

Because we don't know what we don't know and when we start learning about social media marketing we don't know how much there is to know that is outside of our thinking.  Business owners easily fall into the trap of thinking that because someone is young and post party pictures on Facebook that they also know how to market online.  That's a costly fallacy to believe.

Importance of understanding how social works and testing what we think we know
I would read this to say that the marketers undertaking the difficult and demanding issues around verifying what is happening and developing a scientific process to their marketing, are the ones who are doing it.

If you are not doing it then you're guessing. Guessing is usually not so useful in business as Knowing. That's how we learn and develop expertise in any subject.

Is Social Media Just Too Hard For Business? 

How hard is it for businesses posting to social media?

The marketers who are finding social media relatively easy, could be those who fully understand what they are doing, why they are doing it and have the skills to put that all together to generate the right kind of quality content they know - because they have tested it - what works. 

Or they could be posting cat meme pictures to Facebook and thinking that this is marketing... 

The greater likelihood is that the other group of marketers who don't find it easy are like most businesses with no real plan for what they are doing and no way to gauge the usefulness of their activity. You know... Much like people still buying Yellow Pages ads for years without having been measuring any sales that result. 

What's not in the statistics are those businesses - and there are many, many of them, who are not even online much less actively using social media.  While that's the case it makes it much easier for businesses to get online and get that toehold on prime location on Google for what they do and where they do it. That's a fantastic opportunity at the moment, for anyone serious about making the best choices for their business.

Social Media Marketing: There's A Tool For That! 

 Do people think tools make it easier for business to post to social media?

We see here where those not using tools, underestimate the value of using tools with their social media and so are putting themselves under more stress and possibly spending more time for poorer results as a consequence. 

For those using tools and still finding it difficult, they could be new to the tools, or more likely, have not been well trained in how to use them and how to gain a personal advantage by using them well. That's a common situation in too many businesses - owners will pay for the tool but fail to pay for the training so it can be used to do the thing the tool was bought to do. 

Who Is The Social Media Marketer In The Business?

Survey respondents do these jobs in their business
This is quite an interesting data set. We can't know but we might suspect that some of these Owners, Managers and Directors could be the same. Small business owners use these titles interchangeably, but those in corporate jobs are easier to spot.

Having a dedicated staff or contractors doing the bulk of the work for the business when it comes to managing social media makes a lot of sense. This should be in collaboration with the owner or director's goals and working closely to monitor performance, devising a strategy and testing and tweaking where necessary to improve results, consistent with the original purpose.

The Real Purpose Of Social Media For Business

Social media marketing is - and should be - integral to the rest of the business and the outreach function for the business to draw in and engage with customers and encourage and make it easy for new customers to find the business. That's a full time job getting that right. The business owner, manager and director, or the C-Suite probably have other things they could be focusing on, that nobody else can be delegated to do for the business.

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Lindy Asimus Works with business owners to help them improve the business, the owners' personal communication and people skills and get their business found online. Client enquiries welcome

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