It’s 2015: you’ve probably sent a Tweet in your lifetime. You know all about Snapchat, and you’ve even lost a few hours to Instagram. But does that make you a social media guru? Of course not—unless you consider your 13-year-old niece a guru.
So how are you expected to out social-media half the U.S. teen population, and create a winning strategy you can be really proud of?
The good news is: there is a way. The key is that you’re creating a strategy, not just flying by the seat of your pants. I dove into the statistics provided by HubSpot’s Social Media Benchmark Report, and provided careful steps of my own, to help uncover what a great strategy involves.
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the demands of social media for your business, follow this simple guide. You’ll be well on your way to a social media prowess that makes your competition cower.
Social Media 101: Know Your Audience and Limits
The singularly most confusing part about social media is trying to figure out who is where. At some point a bunch of high schoolers were on MySpace, then they were on Facebook—but now Facebook seems to be mostly out-of-touch relatives.
The point is you don’t want to waste your time marketing to the wrong demographic. Check out the demographic data that the Pew Research Center gathered on some of the major social media sites:
In just one year, the demographics of these social media sites vastly changed, and the amount of people using them grew quite significantly. The number of 15-29-year-olds on Instagram jumped from 37% to 53%, and the number of 66+ year-olds on Twitter doubled.
You don’t have to be on every social media site, but make sure that you’re investing your time in ones that will reach your audience (For a full list of demographics, you can see Pew’s article here). You can try to rely on your own knowledge, but there’s always data that can provide a worthy second opinion.
Make a Profile that Suits You & Your Platform
There’s something to be said for finding a balance between the two Ps: Professionalism & Personality. But at the heart of the matter, focus on the third P that you’re creating: a Profile.
A profile, on any social media platform, is your best representation of your company—at least, that’s what everyone else is assuming. It’s both the cosmetic things, like properly sized photos, and the more personal touches like a summary or description.
Either way, if your focus is on putting your best foot forward, the personality and professionalism will both come through with ease.
In terms of how to begin that process, you can start by looking at how others are doing it.
Here’s an example of JetBlue’s Twitter. The description doesn’t outline exactly how their Twitter can help. It just describes what the company does best. Beyond that, they have an incredible response rate to customer tweets: 71% according to Social Bakers.
Additionally, their logo is prominently displayed, their location is simply their phone number (again, branded), and their background picture is properly formatted with a crisp, visually pleasing resolution.
Begin your process by finding companies who are doing social media right, and try modeling their approach. For help with images, you can always use Canva. And remember that social media is dynamic: You don’t have to keep one photo or description forever. Keep things consistent, fresh, and appealing.
Learn How To Engage, Not Just Post
Creating a social media presence isn’t just about gaining a lot of “followers” or “likes” and posting endlessly in hopes of Internet glory. It’s about engaging your audience in a way that fosters relationships.
Practically speaking, engaging your audience on social means some kind of measurable response. On Twitter, that can look like, replies, favorites, and retweets. On Facebook, it’s comments, likes and shares. No matter who you are, certain additions to your post will increase engagement.
According to Buffer, photos on your Facebook posts will get 53% more likes, 84% more click-throughs, and 104% more comments. According to this graph from a Twitter study on retweeting, tweets with a photo will get 35% more retweets, and even as little as a hashtag can give you a 16% bump.
So what does that mean for you? Put out a bunch of posts with photos? We all know the answer isn’t simply that, but finding the right balances and correlations can be difficult. So let’s run some numbers on how someone in a given industry can find those balances well.
First of all, according to that HubSpot study I mentioned at the beginning of the post, there isn’t a direct correlation between higher post frequency and engagement.
As you can see, while the Real Estate industry holds the crown for most posts per week, Non-Profit/Education has a significantly higher number of interactions per week—and even though Hardware has the same number of posts per week, they have next to 0 interactions.
So let’s dig into Non-Profit/Education a little more.
According to the study, the highest number of engagements come from accounts that are posting between 1-3 times per week, and the lowest for those posting 10+ times. The evidence further suggests that more posts does not mean better engagement.
So how exactly are they using those 1-3 posts, and where are they going?
For Non-Profit/Education companies posting 1-3 times per week comprise 19% of all Industry posts, 17% of the image posts, 15% of the tweets, and 20% of the Facebook posts. What’s most interesting to note is that there isn’t one definitive method. It’s a spread between multiple outlets with diverse styles.
What this harkens to, good, bad or indifferent, is that there isn’t one post that you can always use to engage with your audience. You have to meet them at multiple levels. Don’t overwhelm them, but play to their interests, and develop sustainable patters for communication.
Creating a winning social media strategy isn’t about the one quick trick. It’s about tempering your post frequency, building out a professional-looking profile, and creating benchmarks that help you monitor your engagement. The ever-changing world of social media is a dance, and you won’t master it until you start moving your feet.