If knowing what kinds of content resonates with your audience and leads to more sales sounds like an aspirational (if not mythical) goal, you’re in the majority. Many people view social media as a nice-to-have marketing activity, but it gets pushed to the back burner as an afterthought when things get busy.
It’s 2016, and we still see online retail brands only posting links to their products on social or not posting content that resonates with their fans and starts a conversation. It’s possible for busy marketers to post meaningful content to social and generate meaningful results, and it takes less time than you think.
In this post, we’ll show you simple ways to use your data and research to influence your social strategy and determine what to post to each social platform. Ultimately, this will keep you from wasting time posting content that doesn’t help you meet your goals.
Step 1: Get to Know Your Audience
Your followers are people, not pixels. Get to know them and learn about their interests in a scalable way through data. You probably already have an idea of the kinds of people who are drawn to your brand (or who you are aiming to reach), but intuition can only get you so far. To paint a data-driven picture of the personas that make up your audience, here are some tools you can use to get to know your audience quickly for each major social platform:
- Facebook – Quickly find your audience’s demographics by going to the ‘Insights’ tab at the top of your brand’s page and clicking ‘People’ on the left hand side.
- Twitter – While logged into your Twitter account, go to analytics.twitter.com and click on the ‘Audiences’ tab to see a snapshot of your audience’s demographics and interests. Another really cool for analyzing your Twitter followers is Affinio. They just released a free tool that shows you segments of your followers based on keywords from their bio and other people they follow and have in common.
- Instagram – You can use a tool like Iconosquare to gather data on your Instagram audience. At the time of writing this, Instagram is about to launch analytics capabilities directly in the app for business accounts, so that will be a quick way to see your audience’s demographics once it’s available.
- Pinterest – After you convert your Pinterest to a business account, visit analytics.pinterest.com and click the “Your Audience” tab. In this section, you can find demographics, interests, boards, and more from your followers.
If you’re set up with Springbot, you have access to the demographics data of people who have purchased your products from each of these channels, so you’ll have an even deeper view into the demographics of people who actually convert from social (not just your followers).
I hardly have any followers on social. How do I know who to talk to in my posts?
Don’t worry! You can still get an idea of who may be interested in your content by looking at your site’s visitor profiles using the Demographics and Interests Reports in Google Analytics. If you have an eCommerce store, there are tools like Springbot that will give you comprehensive reports on your customers’ demographics and purchase behavior by channels and actions.
You can get a high-level overview of your audience’s interests and demographics, or you can dive deep into the data. At the very least, you want to be able to envision a few different types of customer segments who might enjoy your content and eventually purchase from you. This way, you’ll have an idea of who you’re talking to every time you post (which will make your brand more personal and impactful).
If you have time, you can get fancy and write out descriptions of these social media personas for each platform, especially if you share content creation and social posting responsibilities with a team and want to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Step 2: Find Inspiration from Your Customers, Influencers, and Competitors
Time to do a little social media stalking! The social profiles of your customers, influencers, and competitors are treasure troves for social strategy inspiration. While you don’t want to copy their posts outright, each can provide you with specific examples of what your target audience is engaging with on social.
To find your customers on social media, try searching for them by their email address, name and location, or any other information they have provided you with. Though you can do this for anyone who has purchased from you, consider prioritizing loyal customers who purchase from you often (and not those who are just making one-off gift purchases). These are the people who are likely to appreciate and anticipate your social posts the most. There are also services that will append your email list with social media data to make this process easier (we’re one of them — we pull in your customers’ social profiles along with your order reports in your Springbot Dashboard). Take note of the types of content they post and share.
Influencers are people who your ideal customers look to for lifestyle inspiration, industry news, trend updates, and more. For example, influencers for the customers of a fashion retailer may include fashion bloggers, magazine editors, and public figures who have a similar style and taste as their audience. Tools like Followerwonk, Onalytica, and BuzzSumo will help you identify your influencers, and you can also find them through top posts by keywords and by hashtags on the social media platform of your choice. Once you’ve identified your top influencers, visit their social media profiles to see what kinds of content they’re posting.
Use your competitors’ social feeds as another source of inspiration by keeping track of what they’re posting and how much engagement they receive. If their posts are receiving a lot of likes, shares, and comments, you can try posting similar types of content to your profiles. Just make sure to never copy another brand outright, and always add your brand’s unique personality and perspective. For example, you can share the same article as your competitor, but add some insight that your fans will find interesting, relevant, and helpful.
Step 3: Add Content to Your Feeds
Now that you know who your audience is and what they’re interested in, you’re ready to start posting engaging content based on those topics. Your content should be a healthy mixture of store announcements, your own content (blog posts, videos, guides, infographics, images, etc), and curated content from other sites.
There’s a general rule of thumb floating around in the blogosphere that says only 10% of your content should be promotional (your products/services, site announcements, etc). We recommend sticking to this rule so you don’t come across too salesy in your posts and annoy your followers. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with announcing when you have a new item in stock or when you’re hosting a sale, but make it interesting and relevant to your followers. If you’re sharing an item you’ve had in stock for a while, try posting a lifestyle photo of the product with an inspiring quote or with tips on how to use it.
Keep your audience engaged by providing them with unique content that compels them to save it for later, share it with their friends, and keep your brand top of mind. This kind of content includes blog posts, infographics, videos, intriguing lifestyle images, how-to guides, stories, quizzes, and more. Even if you aren’t a skilled designer or don’t have tools like Photoshop, you can use Canva (a personal favorite of the springbots) to create custom graphics using their library of layouts and templates. If you need background images or graphics, there are plenty of free stock photo sites out there to get you started.
User Generated Content
With permission, you can share user-generated content (UGC) from your customers like reviews, photos of them using your products, contest submissions, and more. This type of content builds trust and provides social proof for your customers from their peers, and brands that use UGC in their social posts experience a 50% increase in engagement. UGC can be gathered using after-purchase emails asking for product reviews, social media contests, or other marketing initiatives. Check these examples and tips for inspiration!
When you curate content on social media, you are gathering things like images, articles, quotes, and other types of content and reposting them to your feed. Like we mentioned before, you can curate content from your customers, influencers, and competitors and repost links to articles with your own captions. You can also be proactive about finding content to share by using tools like BuzzSumo, DrumUp, Feedly, or even on social sites like Twitter and Pinterest. The key to content curation is actually reading the content before you share it. Make sure the messaging is in line with your brand and doesn’t promote your competitors. If you don’t have time to read the content right away, you can save it to Pocket and schedule it out once you’ve had a chance to review it.
Say it with a picture
Include images in your posts as often as possible. Of course, this is a given on Pinterest and Instagram, but images are sometimes left out on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Because people process images faster than text, including engaging images will increase your post’s impressions (the amount of times it has been seen). Check out this article for more visual social media marketing tips and tricks.
Mix it up
There are very few times when linking your social media accounts together to cross-post content is a good idea. For example, some brands connect their Facebook to their Twitter so that when they post on Facebook, it will automatically published an identical Tweet. The issue is that the post to one social media site is often not optimized for the other, so words get cut off, images get resized, and your posts look sloppy. Each platform has its own nuances and best practices, so create posts that resonate with their respective audiences. It’s important to remember that the audience that follows you on Facebook may not have the same demographics and interests as the ones that follow you on Instagram.
Step 4: Analyze What’s Working in Your Social Strategy (and What’s Not)
If you aren’t already, track all of your social media posts and their links that you post to social. Doing this tells you exactly how your audience is interacting with your posts, and you can use this information to determine future posts. Simply put, the content that performs the best (highest engagement and conversion rates) is the content you know to post more of in the future.
You can schedule your social posts and automatically make them trackable with tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, Agorapulse and Springbot. The metrics tracked by your tools should directly correlate to your goals and should allow you to measure the key performance indicators (like number of engagements, click through rate, etc) that can get you there. For example, if your goal is to generate $1,000 in sales from social in a month, you’ll need the ability to see things like average order value from social and total revenue generated.
Another capability that your social media management tool should have in relation to content is the ability to see top performing posts. This is a quick way to determine which kinds of posts are receiving the most engagement so you know to craft more posts like it.
As you get to know your audience, gather inspiration from others, and start adding targeted content to your social media profiles, feel free to reach out to us @springbot or at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask questions or suggest topics for upcoming posts in this series. Stay tuned for Part 2 where we talk about how often to post to social, ways to make the process of scheduling posts simpler, and more!