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Understanding the Social Media Life Cycle

When you launch a social media campaign for your business, you do not simply do so because you simply love taking time to talk to people. Maybe you do sincerely enjoy socializing, but you are ultimately using these tools because you want to reach your business goals.

In order to see results from your efforts on social media, you need to set goals and be able to monitor your progress toward meeting those goals. Your goals might be increasing the number of people who click through your social media page to your eCommerce platform, or it could be successfully launching a new product. Your milestones should be more complex and quantifiable than simply to have more Twitter followers than you had the week before.

The monitoring and reporting experts at UberVu recently released a whitepaper detailing what they call the social media life cycle. In it, they describe how you can reach your business goals using feedback loops.

What Are Feedback Loops?

These loops have been used in business since long before social media ever existed. The process is simple. A business receives feedback from the consumers and/or testers. They analyze this information to determine how they can make changes in their goods and services. Changes are implemented, and results are measured. After the changes have been in place for a significant amount of time, the business can gather feedback once again. The loop continues, and further improvements can be made.

UberVu maintains that these principles can be applied to the way that businesses use social media and design their social media marketing campaigns. They break this social media lifecycle down into four pillars: monitoring, analytics, engagement, and reporting.

Monitoring

The monitoring stage of the cycle largely involves sitting back and listening to what customers have to say without actually worrying about taking any immediate action. During this process, look at reviews, or social media comments to see if customers are praising any aspects of your business, or if they have any complaints.

Many customers will eagerly turn to social media or review sites to complain about deficiencies with a product or about a poor customer service experience that they have had. If these complaints appear repeatedly, it is important to take notice of this because potential customers certainly will.

If your business is new and does not have much information that can be used for monitoring, you can take into consideration what customers are saying about competing businesses. You can see what consumers do not like about these organizations and learn from their mistakes.

Analytics

Once you have monitored information provided by users, it is time to make sense of the raw data that you have collected. When you have a sea of data to sift through, it can be overwhelming to determine how you are going to actually learn anything from hundreds to thousands of comments and mentioned on social media.

There are numerous different social media metrics that UberVu explains that you can use in your research, including:

  • Volume of Mentions – There are social media tools that will allow you to quickly measure how many times certain keywords are mentioned in comments and posts. This can allow you to measure how many times your brand, or a particular product or service, is being mentioned on a social media platform.
  • Sentiment – Next, you will certainly want to use a metric that will let you know if the overall sentiment of these comments is negative, positive, or neutral. There are many different methods used to compute the sentiment, and some are more accurate than others. Even the less reliable metrics typically are capable of picking out the very positive or very negative comments, however.
  • Demographics – When studying social media metrics, it can be very valuable to look at the demographics of the people making comments about your business. This will help you to see if consumers of a certain age, gender, location, or other identifiable group are particularly happy or displeased with your service.

When using these metrics, UberVu recommends that you keep very specific questions about your business goals in mind, and use the analytics to find the answers.

Engagement

Once you have gathered information and found trends within the data, it is time to act on what you have learned and engage with your audiences using social media. This can include responding to questions, praise, complaints, or feedback of any kind.

When you are running a business, it is wise to have an employee or multiple employees in charge of your social media marketing campaign. Before you set them to work, you will want to create guidelines for how they are to engage with users through social media. You can create standard procedures for how to:

  • Respond to negative comments
  • Respond to positive comments
  • Respond to questions and complaints
  • Respond when influencers or competitors mention your business

Remember when engaging with people through social media that it is important to be professional, but also to give your posts a human and approachable voice. You want your consumers to feel a real connection to your brand and the people behind it.

Reporting

You will only truly know if your social media marketing efforts are working if you have a method of measuring your performance. At the beginning of the social media cycle, you set a business goal of some kind. Perhaps this was to increase the number of people who clicked through from your social media pages to your company eCommerce site.

Now that you have launched new efforts during the engagement phase, you can check your website analytics over this time to see if and how your website traffic has been affected. You can measure quantifiable data during this period to see if more people are making their way to your site, and if they are making purchases. This allows you to see if you are seeing returns on your social media marketing investment.

UberVu’s full whitepaper detailing the Four Pillars of Social Media Success can be downloaded here.

Using Demographics to Target Your Social Media

According to Fast Company, 189 million people check Facebook from their smartphones; YouTube reaches more 18- to 34-year-olds than cable television, and every two seconds someone creates a new LinkedIn account. What does this mean for your business? Your customers are spending their time using social media sites, and you need to get involved with this conversation if you want to get their attention.

But I Think Social Media Is a Waste of Time

There are plenty of entrepreneurs out there who have been frustrated by social media sites. They create a profile for their business and feel as if all of their posts are unnoticed, or they pay for a Facebook ad and do not see the returns that they expected. Keeping up with a social media profile can require a lot of time and energy, and you do not want to feel as if you are wasting your investment.

You have probably seen, however, many businesses that have very successful social media pages. They have thousands of followers and seem to constantly be advertising sales and promotions that social media users are excited to promote for them. How are they able to spark so much excitement within the social media realm when you can’t seem to get a single Facebook “like” or a retweet on Twitter?

Tailoring Your Social Media Campaign to Your Demographic

If nobody is paying any attention to your Facebook page, it could be because your target market is not on Facebook anymore. They have left Facebook for Twitter, or they are constantly checking their Tumblr page instead. It is your job to find these audiences and share information that they want to see.

The Pew Research Center recently did a study to determine who is using social media, and which sites they prefer. Their infographic explaining the interesting results can be seen below:

Which-demographics-use-what-social-media

As you can see, while millions of people do use social media, the make-up of users for each site can vary dramatically. As the research shows, Facebook attracts the largest portion of online adults, but other sites may be suitable for businesses interested in attracting specific demographics.

For example, if your target market is middle-aged, college-educated, middle- to high-income women, Pinterest might be the ideal social media outlet for you. Using the Pew Research data, Ragan.com suggests that Instagram is a great place to appeal to 18 to 29 year olds who live in urban areas, and that rural audiences tend to spend more time using Pinterest.

BI Intelligence released a similar report, focusing specifically on the income brackets of social media users, finding the following results:

chart

While these findings seem to align in several ways with the Pew Research data, Business Intelligence did uncover many unique findings regarding the demographics using specific social media sights. Some of their valuable insights included:

Facebook

While many Facebook users are very young, one of the fastest growing demographics for this site are the users between 45 to 54 years old. BI also found that 73% of Internet users with annual incomes of $75,000 or more are using Facebook.

Twitter

Comparatively, only 13% of Internet users in the $75,000 and above income bracket are using Twitter. Twitter was also found to have an extremely young user population, even for social media. Only 16% of Internet users in their 30s and 40s use this social networking site.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn was found to have a strong international appeal but has a slightly higher male user population.

Google+

Speaking of being skewed toward males, BI found that 70% of Google+ users are male.

Tumblr

Tumblr was found to strongly appeal to younger users, and does not tend to attract users in the higher income brackets.

How Can You Use This Information?

To make use of this demographic information, you must first determine your target market. Inc.com recommends using the following three sources of information to find your ideal audience:

  • Your Products/Services – Determine the benefits that users receive by purchasing your products/services. This might give you an idea as to who would need these benefits.
  • Your Current Customers – Perhaps the best way to distinguish who will buy your goods is by looking at who already is making purchases. Study your existing customers to identify any patterns. Do most of them fall into a certain age range, live in urban or rural areas, or have similar income levels?
  • Your Competition – Look into whom your competitors are targeting. You can even do your research and see if any of your competitors are having major success on any of the social media platforms. Learn from their techniques and improve upon them.

 

Engaging Your Audience Once You Have Found Them

Okay, so you have determined that you want to target the rising number of older adults who are starting to use Facebook. But, what are you going to say to them? What type of content should you post? Digital Producer Hannah Twigg is quoted within Investopedia as explaining that launching a successful social media campaign is all about listening to your audience and responding at the right time with the right messages.

Using social media, you can do very valuable market research without spending a dime. People are always eager to turn to these social media sites to talk about great restaurants they have visited or to rant about a poor customer service experience. They will also share content posted by businesses when that business posts a photo, video, or blog entry that they find valuable.

Pay attention to what your target demographics are saying and the types of posts that inspire the most activity. If you do see a complaint, respond to it, and try to sincerely rectify the situation. If a customer offers praise, show your gratitude. Consumers notice and appreciate this engagement, and they share their appreciation and recommendations with their followers. One properly timed response to a consumer can translate into numerous new, loyal customers for you.

Creating a Social Media Calendar

Especially if you have your own personal social media pages, you might think that launching a business page will be easy-peasy. Every once in a while, you will simply jump over to your business account and say something witty or share a relevant article or video that you have found.

This all seems well and good until you hit a block and have nothing to share. Or, you forget about your business page for months, and now it looks to your online customers like maybe you’re not even in business anymore. Maybe you do keep up with posting, but you cannot quite figure out why certain posts are getting responses, while others are falling flat.

The solution to many of these problems will be to create a social media calendar.

What Is a Social Media Calendar?

If you are running a business, you likely have a business strategy mapped out already. In this strategy, you have probably have milestones outlined that you would like to achieve, as well as plans that you will implement that will help you to boost sales during different slow and busy periods throughout the year. A social media calendar allows you to create a similar plan for your social media marketing strategy.

Businesses that have highly successful and popular social media pages likely use an editorial calendar to map out their posts for the month or for the entire year. These types of calendars are used by magazine and newspaper editors who map out the topics that they are going to cover for their readers in upcoming issues, and translate very well to planning social media posts.

On the calendar, you can outline the topics that you will cover throughout the year, and schedule posts that you are going to make on various social media platforms. Your calendar can simply act as a guideline for inspiration, allowing you to plan topic ideas for every week throughout the year, or your might be very precise and determine the day and even the hour when you are going to post your material.

Making Your Posts Relevant to Your Readers

Before you ever create a social media calendar, you must understand your target audience. Who is going to be reading your posts? This will help you determine different broad topic categories that you will want to cover. For example, if you are a personal fitness trainer, who largely works with younger women, the topic categories that you target might include:

  • Nutrition
  • Weight loss
  • Athletic wear
  • Motivation
  • Exercise programs

As you map out your topics and posts throughout the year, you can rotate through these different topics. If you see that your audience is responding more to the nutrition tips that you are providing, you can easily adjust the remainder of your calendar to publish more of this type of content.

Scheduling Seasonal Posts

GNC

As you fill out your social media calendar, you will of course want to take into account the changing seasons and the holidays that are approaching. One of your first steps when determining the topics that you will cover in your posts should be to go through and schedule a post for each major holiday.

In addition to wishing that all of your followers enjoy the holiday, try to determine what topics will be on their minds at this time, and show them how your products and services can benefit them. For example, if you are a dance instructor, you might write a post about the most romantic dances to learn close to Valentine’s Day. If you own a clothing boutique, you might make summer styling suggestions that will look fantastic at a Fourth of July party.

GNC clearly understands how to make timely social media posts, as pointed out by AdEspresso. For New Year’s, they posted a great image of fireworks celebrating the start of 2014. Also within the image was a message reminding viewers that GNC has diet products to help them achieve their 2014 weight loss goals.

The team behind this Facebook post certainly understands that one of the most popular New Years resolutions is to lose weight. They have managed to create a social media post that celebrates the start of the new year, while also catering to the millions of Americans who probably have weight loss on their minds at this time.

Schedule Posts at the Appropriate Frequencies

When posting to social media, you do not want your page to go dormant for so long that consumers wonder if you are still around, and you do not want to post so frequently that your followers become annoyed. Striking the right balance can be difficult.

To determine how frequently you should post, you can monitor the activity on the social media platforms you are using. You might find that competing businesses that do well on these platforms post at certain frequencies, and it may be more appropriate to post more often on one platform than it is on another. For example, it is typically more acceptable to tweet more often than you post to Facebook. A good general guideline might be to schedule one post per day on your platforms, and make them count.

Have Writer’s Block When Writing Posts? Ask a Question!

If you are going to schedule one post a day, even if you only use one platform, that is 365 posts to write. You can easily experience writer’s block and have no idea what to say to your readers. Do not just say anything for the sake of posting for that day.

A great strategy is to come up with a question for your readers. If it is an update that will be posted during the summer, ask your readers how they are dealing with the heat. If it is a post in the middle of May, ask your readers if they have any travel plans for the summer. This will give your audience a reason to engage with your page, and will keep you in the conversation all year round.

Don’t Have Time to Manage Your Social Media?

Running any type of business is hard work and requires a huge time commitment. If adding social media planning and management is a task you’re afraid will be put on the back burner, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Words You Want offers social media management packages and can take care of your social media needs while you focus on running your business.

Why You Should Share Other People’s Content

Social media communicationFor decades it has been engrained in the minds of business owners not to share their secrets, not to share anything with their competition and heaven forbid actually teaching or educating someone that might go on to be competition. The Internet, however, has changed the way we operate our businesses.  The key to your business being found online is to be found in the search engines. The key to being anywhere remotely near the top of the search engine rankings depends largely on the content found on your website. If you never share anything about your business online, there’s not much to rank your website by. Search engines demand that we provide content in order to be found.

With social media being such a prevalent force in web marketing, businesses have had to adjust their content sharing strategies even more. Not only do businesses have to create content, but customers expect it. However, there’s a fine line on social media. With all of the content that your business creates, you have to keep it personal. There has to be some sort of sign that a “real” person(s) is behind the business. The real kicker of it all is that what you share on social media can’t all just be about “you.” You don’t want to create a continuous stream of advertisement. People today don’t like to be advertised to. They like to be informed. If one of your informational posts happens to be an ad, that’s okay, but don’t be “sell, sell, sell” and “buy, buy, buy” all of the time.

How Do We Counteract This? Sharing Other People’s Content!

According to a survey by Eloqua, 56% of businesses are sharing other people’s content. 41% are writing blogs about other people’s content and 38% are including links to other people’s content in their email marketing. However, there are still about 16% of companies that have a policy to NOT share third-party content. Based on the atmosphere of the social media realm today, it’s probably safe to say that the 16% not sharing other people’s content are probably stuck in the old age’s.

Be a Valuable Resource

In order to be a truly valuable resource, you have to be willing to share any information that will be of use to your target market. When you go to great lengths to find useful information for your readers, they will appreciate that. If you can make something easy to locate for them, you also show that your a customer oriented business and they are likely to purchase from you as well. Plus, when you share other people’s content, other people will be more likely to share your content.

Finding a Balance

Obviously you don’t want to focus solely on sharing other people’s content. You have to promote your own content and a percentage of your social media posts should be all about you. A good rule of thumb is that two-thirds of your postings should be valuable information you’ve curated from the web and the other third should be your own blogs and promotional posts.

The Eloqua study states that there are three hurdles for most companies in regard to content creation. The most difficult hurdle is getting their target market engaged with their content. The second hurdle is creating enough targeted content and the final hurdle is creating enough content. By sharing other people’s content, you can eliminate at least one of these hurdles.

The key to all content creation is that you keep it honest, authentic and interesting. The more you’re able to do this, the more successful you’ll be in your social media endeavors.

Is It Time for a Social Media Profile Refresh?

eWhen’s the last time you looked at your social media profiles? Even if you’re online everyday checking your Facebook, tweeting, hanging out on Google+ or connecting with other professionals on LinkedIn, when was the last time you read what you originally wrote about yourself or your business? Log in and take a look at your profiles. Are they a little outdated?

If I recall correctly, I set up my LinkedIn account around 2007 or 2008. I have to admit, I haven’t spent a ton of time on the site and a lot of my information was WAY outdated. So I rewrote it and freshened things up a bit. Then I checked out my Google+ pages. Yeah, they were a little outdated too. Facebook was perhaps the worst. It was rather stale and Facebook had added several features since the last time I read over my page information, so I spent quite a bit of time freshening it up as well.

With social influences and interactions becoming such an important part of website analytics and showing the search engines who are authorities in varies industries, it makes sense to keep your social media profiles up to date. Newcomers to your business will go read your about pages first to see what your business is really all about. If it’s old and outdated, you might inadvertently turn these visitors off.

Need help rewriting these pages? Don’t worry, Words You Want can help. Contact us today for a quote on giving your social media profiles a refresh!