Why you really need to care about your social media

There seems to be an endless number of steps to grow your following on Facebook and Instagram. You offer an awesome service and you know you will work hard for your client – so why do you have to spend so much effort in posting to these channels? Why can’t people just see you’re great and buy in? Does social media even matter?

Look – social media isn’t easy. That’s why people are paid to manage it. You can’t expect to throw some colour and text together and people will love it and become fans overnight. You have to meticulously analyse the successes and failures of your strategy, put thought into valuable content, and most importantly be consistent.

But why? You have a website, don’t you?

Well, you need to start thinking of your digital presence as an extension of your website. 

Why Social Media Is So Important

Facebook accounts for more than 42 percent of monthly social media usage with more than 70% of users in the United States and 60% of users in New Zealand logging in daily. The average amount of time is between 20 and 35 minutes, meaning you have a small window of opportunity to make your content count! This is why valuable content posted at opportune times is so important.

More than one billion users are on Instagram, half of which are active daily. About 80% of users follow business accounts while 60% report discovering new products via the app.

YouTube is the second most popular social media platform while 46% of social media traffic for B2B sites is thanks to LinkedIn. As for Twitter, 42% of its users are on every day and 85% of its small to medium-sized business users use the platform to provide customer service.

There’s also Snapchat, Reddit, Pinterest, Tumblr, WhatsApp, Tik Tok… you get the point. Social media is inescapable and has become an integral part of today’s business strategy. Whether you’re building your brand, establishing super fans, providing valuable content, offering reliable customer support – there is a platform to reach any desired target market.

But before you cast your net too wide, it’s vital to consider just where exactly your audience is. If they are primarily on Instagram, you don’t want to be posting to LinkedIn, for example.

Once you’ve established where your audience is, you’ll need to work out how to speak to them.

Instagram – The New Website

Let’s focus on Instagram, as this is fast-becoming a hot spot for potential customers to discover new brands and purchase from them on the app, with more than one-third of users having buying products on the platform at the second highest dollar value of US$65 per order.

If you decide to advertise on Instagram, 75% of users will likely either visit your website, purchase from you, or follow you. Imagine the ROI – that’s a high percentage and worth investing in.

If you’re wanting to strengthen your brand’s image or establish a trust in your brand, Instagram is great for giving businesses a more personal voice.

If you’re wanting to build your potential audience, Instagram makes it easy to reach new people organically through hashtags, stories, and general interactions.

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But if you’re going to succeed on Instagram, you need to remember two important things: value and consistency.

When you’re starting out on the platform, it can quickly become discouraging as your follower numbers grow at a snail’s pace and your engagement (likes and comments) are low. I’ve heard many people remark: “What’s the point?” And I always circle back to the key point of this article – Instagram is the new website.

Time to reflect

Go look at some big name brands, or some mid-sized competitors of yours, and look at their profile. What do you notice? You’ll likely see a certain style across their photos that makes their whole profile look connected. You’ll probably see “highlights” – which are saved stories into categories for future profile visitors to look at. And if you take a look at their captions, they’re likely a little long and encourage comments.

Now reflect on your profile. Do all of your photos come together to create a seamless look or feel? Does your content simply just sell an idea or product? Do you have a cover photo on your highlight to make it look clean and professional? Are your captions engaging, keeping people on your post for longer?

Take a moment and check out these profiles to get a sense of what I mean: @33acresbrewing, @humansofny, @charlottecurd, @9roundofficial, @britandco, @letterfolk

If you don’t have the means to take beautiful photos, find other ways to create engaging content, like creating memes, featuring other people’s work, or sharing beautiful quotes or interesting facts. Utilise stories and lives and highlights. Go interact with people!

Consistency is Key!

Now as for consistency: Do not give up. I understand it can feel disheartening that hundreds of people aren’t immediately swarming to you, but Instagram’s algorithm rewards those who are consistent and are using most, if not all, of their features. 

Find the best time to post and post good stuff. Speak to your audience in your stories and encourage engagement. Go to competitors’ pages and speak to their audience, follow their followers. 

Don’t miss your scheduled post. Don’t fall behind in content creation. Once you do, it’s a steeper hill to climb back up. 

What I suggest is making use of a scheduler like Hootsuite, Later or PromoRepublic. I suggest shopping around for the platform that best suits your needs. However, I will say that PromoRepublic tends to be a crowd favourite – it’s like a mix of Buffer and Canva.

What’s so cool about PromoRepublic is you can create content within the app, with access to tons of free photos and post ideas, and then schedule it to several different platforms. PromoRepublic also predicts the best time to post and includes an event calendar to remind you of any major public holidays you can incorporate in your posts. Plus it’s super affordable.

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Give it a try and if you love it, then use promo code prsolo20 to get $20 off the solo pack plan (priced at $108/year – you’re welcome!).

I recommend putting together, and scheduling, at least a month’s worth of content and then dedicating a certain amount of time each day (or whatever works with your schedule) to engage with others on your social media platform of choice.

And if you need assistance in managing it all, as it can be quite time-consuming, then get in touch! I’d love to help.

Boosting vs Ad Campaign: Which Is Better?

I know the scenario. You’ve posted out something great to Facebook and that little blue ‘Boost Post’ button tempts you to “reach more people”. You may want to just throw $20 at it, or maybe $50, $100 even. But you shouldn’t. I’ll explain why you’d rather run an ad campaign in a moment. Let’s first cover some of the basics.

What Is A Boosted Post

A Boosted Post is a regular post on your Facebook Page’s timeline that you can put money toward “boosting” its audience views, otherwise known as impressions.

It ensures your post is seen by more people, or more often by the same people. You can tailor the audience that will see your post, such as age and location, and determine the length of time you’d like your money to be spent.

Boosted posts are considered ads with limited functionality. But they are easy to use; a simple click of a button and you’ve successfully paid to “advertise” your brand.

What Is An Ad?

Facebook ads look like regular Facebook posts, but have a bit more behind them. You’ve likely noticed content in your Newsfeed with small grey text that reads: “Sponsored”. This is an ad. What sets ads and boosted posts apart is the range of analytics Facebook offers behind the scenes through a variety of campaign goals.

A campaign goal is your desired outcome of an ad, as an ad is more than just a regular post. Think of Facebook ads as operating within a tiered format: Campaign, Ad Set, Ad. 

You first select your campaign type. Facebook offers a number of options from building brand awareness, to getting more website clicks, to attracting more page likes, post engagement, and so on. I will discuss this topic in depth at a later date. 

Once you’ve chosen your overall goal, you create an ad set. Ad sets allow you to set a budget and a target audience for ads – and even these two options offer a vast more amount of control than boosting. You can optimise your budget and tailor your audience down to interests, even targeting those who are fans of a competitor’s Facebook Page. You can have multiple ad sets per campaign. 

Finally, you’ve got your ad, which is where all the creativity comes in. Ads can be videos, images, text, carousels, slideshows, interactive landing pages, and so on. You can tailor their look per place they will be shown: mobile, desktop, Facebook Stories, Instagram, Instagram Stories, etc. You can have multiple Ads per Ad Set.

Now the success of your ad is all dependent on what goal you’ve selected, your target audience and budget, and the quality of your content. It sounds complicated and scary, thus many small businesses will instead opt for the easy option of boosting.

I promise Ads are not scary, though. And I highly encourage you to go that route rather than boosting.

Why You Shouldn’t Boost

It’s important to first distinguish your desired outcome of your marketing strategy. Are you wanting something quick or something long-lasting? Are you wanting to encourage more engagement or are you wanting rich data to better tailor your target and attract customers?

Sure boosting will increase your reach and sometimes even engagement. But it’s only temporarily. Boosting is extremely limiting and a majority of the time, a waste of your money. You can’t build tailored audience, or save them, and you can’t determine outcomes such as website visits, or event purchases.

By boosting, you’re severely limiting your target audience thus essentially, wasting your money. I know it’s tempting, but it’s simply not worth it. You are blind in the eyes of ROI (Return On Investment) and you’re limiting the success of your brand.

But you are really proud of that post and you want more people to see it? You can still choose to use it as an ad!

With Facebook Ads, the options are endless. It’s okay if you’re new to it. Go have a play and learn. It’s fun once you dive in. When you see the number of options and flexibility, you’ll never want to hit ‘Boost Post’ and waste your money again.

Getting to know the basics: Facebook’s Reach vs Engagement

Social media – we love it and hate it, right? Whether you’ve never quite caught on, or you’d like to do a little better with what you have, there is no doubt that with some extra time and effort you can get your social media strategy roaring with success.

For the purpose of simplicity, this piece will focus on Facebook. Though, you could apply the following information with just about all of your social media channels.

Facebook has extensive data and ways to track success readily available for businesses to use – all for free! But before you can truly take advantage of the many features, it pays to understand the basics best, first.

I’d like to expand further on the difference between “reach” and “engagement” as these are the two most commonly seen statistics on your posts, and the one most people get confused by.

So let’s go ahead and break it down simply and then look at what it means for you.

What is Facebook Reach?

Reach is the number of people who have seen your post. This is different from impressions in that the number of people is unique. Impressions count the total number of times your post has appeared on a screen, whereas reach tracks the number of unique views on a post.

There are two main ways your posts achieve their reach: organic and paid. Paid is, well, obviously paid for. This is when you “boost” content or create an ad. While boosting is tempting – because you want to see your reach grow, I understand – it’s recommended you avoid that option all together. Ads on the other hand are just fine.

But that’s a topic for another time. What you really want to do is focus on your organic reach. 

What is Organic Reach?

To put it simply, organic reach is the number of people who see your post without putting any money into it. Your organic reach starts with those who follow your page and grows depending on the engagement you get from your followers. However, your posts are not guaranteed to reach all of your page followers. 

Depending on how your posts typically perform, Facebook’s algorithm will either push your content to your followers, or hinder it. For example, if you typically have the same six people who engage with your content, Facebook will assume those same six people would like to see your new posts. Your posts will almost always appear in their newsfeed. 

If a post of yours gets more likes, comments and shares than usual, Facebook will treat it as a viral piece of content and push it to more of your followers who may be more likely to engage with it, thus increasing your organic reach. 

Let me step back for a second. I feel I should explain this snowball effect of a climbing organic reach..

When you like or comment on a public post, your Facebook friends see this. Your friends can then choose to engage with the same content. This is organic reach. This is the bread and butter of social media. 

You want your content to be so engaging that people will interact with it without you having to spend a cent. Even better, Facebook rewards those who post engaging content because you’re assisting in keeping users on the app. So the more engaging your content, the more people Facebook will put it to.

If you aren’t getting good traction on your posts, then you need to sit down and reevaluate your social media strategy, and you need to find a way to create better content.

But don’t let numbers get you down! It’s okay to have just six people ‘liking’ your content if your page has 600 or fewer followers. Why is that? Well that brings us to engagement.

What is Facebook Engagement?

Facebook engagement calculates the number of times people clicked to read or view your post, liked, commented, and shared. So, basically any interaction on a post.

While engagement and reach measure two completely different outcomes, they work hand-in-hand to help guide you in your social media strategy.

Let’s say your post has a reach of 410 people and your engagement is 68. This does not equate to 68 people engaging with your content. It could be 34 people who clicked to read and then like, or it could be 18 people who liked or commented and another 32 who clicked but didn’t interact.

To reiterate, engagement tracks all activity on a post. So while high engagement is great, it’s relative to the reach.

An easy way to tell whether a post is successful is to take note of the engagement to reach ratio. A good engagement will be at least 1% that of the reach – a ratio considered to be successful on Facebook

The same works for your followers. If you have 1000 followers and at least 10 people are consistently interacting with your content, then you’re doing okay.

But you’re not striving for okay, are you? 

If you’re hitting 1% engagement, that’s wonderful. You can use this as a stepping stone to hit 1.2%, 1.5%, 2%. 

When your page is consistently getting 2% to 5% engagement – congratulations! Your content type is on point and your fans are happy with what you’re posting.

The next steps…

Wanting to increase your organic reach and post engagement? Firstly, forget about your page followers. I know the first thought is, “I need more page likes”. But actually you could cause more damage to your brand by growing your page likes before your engagement.

If your page followers grow but your engagement remains stagnant – or worse, decreases – you’re making it much more difficult to win against Facebook’s algorithm.

The trick is to focus on your current following, and look at what works and what doesn’t. If you can increase engagement with your current fans – which will have a positive affect on your organic reach – this can lead to a natural increase in followers.

In any case, you want your engagement to be strong as that indicates to yourself that what you’re doing is right.

But how do you know what to post? Finding the right brand, voice and style will have to be saved for another time. However you can start today by using Facebook’s nifty feature, ‘Insights’.

Under ‘Insights’ is a section called ‘Posts’. Here you can see all of the posts you’ve made. Look at the post type (whether it were a photo, a video, a link), the reach, and the engagement. Make sure you also consider post times, as this can also affect the success of a post. 

You might find some post types work better than others. And within a certain post type, you might find a certain style or topic received a better response.

Analysing the success of posts may be tedious, but it’s worthwhile. I recommend starting a spreadsheet and plotting in the information monthly. Every three months, have a look and adjust accordingly.

And most importantly – have fun! Social media is about being social. If you’re not enjoying yourself, it’s not worth it.