Social media algorithms in 2019 are all aboutconnecting people and deprioritizing the organic reach business Pages used to enjoy.
It seems the age of free marketing using the organic reach of social platforms are over. In this post I will share three things you need to know about the change from organic reach to a world of pay to play.
How do we know we are moving to a pay to play world?
Facebook and other social media sites are intentionally restricting how many of your followers will see your posts.
Today’s brands are only reaching 6% of their fans with organic social media.
In 2017 there was a 60% increase social media ad spend.
So what should a marketer do?
Know who you want to reach, and figure out their interests and passions.
Give it to them for free, (in the form of education, tips and tricks, techniques, lists, blog posts, and videos).
Put paid promotion behind it, and use the tracking data to measure your ROI. Then adjust.
Is there anything else a marketer should consider?
Practically every article about digital marketing has some amazing statistic about how many people use social media and the incredible potential it has as a marketing strategy. According to a 2018 CMO survey, 42.3% of marketers believe that social media has a great impact on their businesses, while at the same time only 23.3% of marketers are able to prove the impact of social media marketing quantitatively. This discrepancy reprensents a big problem for small businesses like mine, where both time and money is tight and everything we do needs to be leveraged to ensure the maximum impact.
In her article about Social Media Audits, Christana Newberry highlights how conducting an audit for our small business should be a key part of developing, or updating a social media marketing plan. This will let us see what we have done, highlight things that are working or not, and hopefully identify new opportunities for marketing our business using social media.
I made my own audit plan using a post from Sprout Social and one from HootSuite to conduct an audit on my small business, and did in fact discover some interesting things.
Step 1: Create a spreadsheet to keep track of all our information.
My spreadsheet included the following information:
A list of each social media platform our business uses
The User Name or Handle (with the password, and admins)
When was the last post (and a link to it)
The number of followers on each platform as of today
Already this simple step highlighted that we have a link to G+ on our main webpage, which is no longer supported! I also noticed that our username on Twitter isn’t the same as our business name, which is something to look into. We will also have to consider if creating a Pinterest account is useful as a marketing tool.
Step 2. Make sure each account is complete and on brand.
On a new page in my spreadsheet I put the “About/Bio” information for each account. Once I had them side by side I could see that the wording on each of these is different, and somewhat awkward. A goal will be to rewrite these, and ensure that they have the same messages across all three platforms. I will have to learn more about how to optimize the words I use for key word searches. Otherwise the branding is good, with a similar feel for each platform and links back to the Webpage on each. We will have to look into why the handle for Twitter is not the business name and if anything can be done about it.
Step 3. Analyse posts and engagement.
Five years ago we hired a marketing firm to help us create some marketing materials including our Webpage, Facebook page, Twitter account and YouTube channel. There was a flurry of activity in the six or so months we worked with them, and then pretty much nothing has happened on any of the accounts since then. As part of their work the marketing company did create eight high quality blog posts and seven videos which we have posted on our website, and on our own YouTube channel. Nevertheless, a closer look at each of the accounts does reveal some important data about each platform:
Webpage: We need to set up the proper tools to better monitor what is happening on our webpage. Right now we can hardly get any data at all.
Facebook: We have less than 100 followers, and even when we were posting we hardly had any engagement in terms of likes, comments or reposting.
Twitter: Again, we have less than 100 followers, and even when we were actively posting, we rarely had any engagement in terms of likes, comments, retweets or mentions.
YouTube: Of the seven videos we made, two have over 2K views, one has 1.5K views and the rest are lower than 100 views. A more careful analysis of the differences between the videos reveal that the top three videos appear in the top two choices for a Google Search “all” or “videos”. We will have to dig more deeply into why this is happening, but a casual glance shows that two of our videos are so poorly named that they couldn’t ever come up from a Google search.
It’s clear that we will need to think more closely about our content mix for each of these channels. Some preliminary recommendations:
Maximize our created content by linking to it on each of our accounts.
New created content needs to have a link back to our website.
Stratigize what kind of content we need to create moving forward.
Curate content on each of our platforms.
Emphasize engagement by setting goals for responding to viewer engagement.
Identify call to action.
Step 4. Establish social media goals.
Once I started working on this step I realized that we don’t have a clearly articulated mission statement or objectives for our business, and this is affecting our goal setting for our social media marketing plan. Once we have taken the time to articulate our business Vision, Mission and Goals we will be better positioned to identify goals for our marketing plan, with a focus on social media marketing. This Buffer article provides a nice list of possible goals for our social media marketing plans, as well as suggestions for how to ensure we get the right metrics to monitor our success. https://buffer.com/library/social-media-goals
Step 5. Use customer persona and social media demographics to identify the platforms we want to use.
We are marketing to US and Canadian teachers. The next step will be to bring together the demographics for each social media platform with our customer persona in order to decide which channels are right for our business. Each nature of each platform should have a clear link to our social media strategy (Newberry, 2019).
My audit didn’t include all the possible steps in performing a social media audit, in part because we don’t have a very well developed social media presence at this point. But we did have the chance to make some observations about what has happened so far, and to begin to think about what we want to happen next.
Their webpage has the following mission statement:
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) provides public health programs and services to individuals and communities while advocating for public policies that make our city and its residents healthier. OPH is a teaching health unit and works with all post secondary educational institutions in the area.
The website also has a page dedicated to describing its social media protocol. In addition to outlining expected behaviours it also provides this information:
Are you looking for reliable local health information? Do you have questions or comments? Connect with the City of Ottawa’s official source for health information.
If you follow us, you can expect content related to: Ottawa Public Health awareness campaigns, programs and health promotion; Newsworthy events involving public health organizations and health initiatives; and Timely notifications that affect residents and partner/stakeholder organizations.
Given this mandate they have a very large target audience: anyone living in the Ottawa area. Looking through their various platforms I can see that they are targeting the following groups in particular:
New comers to Canada
Any good Social Media Strategy begin with the organizational goals. In this case Ottawa Public Health’s organizational goals would be related to the following:
Providing a broad range of health services to people living Ottawa
Providing education and advocacy on a broad range of health related topics
Advocating for public policies that support healthy communities
Strategic Marketing Objectives
I think that the following would be appropriate Marketing Objectives:
Develop Stronger Relationships With Customers
Social Media Objectives
In the case of Ottawa Public Health Social Media Objectives might be to:
Build an online community of your target market
Increase conversions from visitors to participants
Demonstrate thought leadership
Become a media resource
Increase online visibility
What Are They Doing Well?
This is an example of an original Tweet created by Ottawa Public Health to educate it’s audience about how to protect themselves from West Nile virus. It has a simple message, uses #hashtags effectively, an eye catching image and a link back to it’s main web page where readers can find out more.
You can see how Ottawa Public Health uses various platforms differently. In this example it put the same post about West Nile on both Twitter and Facebook. Someone asked a question on the Facebook post about Lyme Disease, and OPH followed up with more information and a link to their page on Lyme Disease.
Again, you can see here how OPH is changing how it uses different social media platforms to reflect the kind of content, and also the expected audience. Their Instagram account uses a combination of infographics with text and #hashtags. This platform also has many more images of OPH workers at events throughout the city, creating a more friendly and welcoming vibe for readers.
Their feeds on each of the platforms contain a good balance of original created content (with the purpose of providing information, and also sometimes pointing back to its own webpage, or promoting services it offers), curated posts that point to other relevant service providers, retweets and posts from other organizations, and finally event retweets of retweets.
Here is an example of another tweet, this time pointing to information from another organization.
Creating Tone and Using Humour
Another strength in how Ottawa Public Health uses social media is their distinct sense of humour. Here is another example from their Instagram account. Users on this platform tent to be younger and will find the simple, not preachy message of this joke funny.
After having looked at how Ottawa Public Health uses its various platforms and the kind of original and curated content it uses I think I have a much better sense of how I could manage content for my own business. I am looking forward to reading about other organizations that use social medial well on everyone’s blogs.
One of the most basic things to do when starting a Social Media Marketing Plan is to set up profiles on the Social Media platforms of your choice. I’ve been using a few different platforms for a while now, so I found the technical aspects of this easy enough. What has me stumped right now is trying to think of a user name for my business that will work across multiple platforms.
I found this article How to Choose a Twitter Handleby KerriLynn Engle at the Blogging Wizard was a good place to start. Two key pieces of advice are to use handles that are consistent across platforms and to be closely related to your brand name so that its easy for your audience to recall.
Here are the rules for usernames on some of the platforms I am looking at:
A domain is the address, or main URL, that people type in the browser to get to your Web site. Think of a domain like an address to your house. When someone looks for you, they can find your address. A domain name allows your site to be easily remembered by your readers, look more professional, and change Web hosts or hosted blog solutions at will.
A blog name can be anything, but try to think of something that
A username, or short URL, lets you easily promote your business or organization in a variety of other channels, including TV, radio, and print. If you don’t have a username, the frustration of having to remember a long URL means you’d lose a lot of potential customers. Your username appears after facebook.com when someone views your Page.
Usernames must be at least 5 characters long.
Your username can only use upper and lower case letters, numbers,and periods.
They can’t contain generic terms or extensions (.com, .net).
Your Instagram username is how you are recognized on Instagram: All activity, from the content you post to how you engage with others, is associated with your username. The username is at the top of the profile.
Usernames can be up to 30 characters long.
Your username can be upper or lowercase letters, numbers, periods, and underscores.
You can’t include symbols or other punctuation marks as a part of your username.
Your Twitter name has power and influence on search engine optimization (SEO), which translates to how close to the top of a search results list you appear in a search engine such as Yahoo! or Google. If you’re a business, consider using a valuable keyword as your Twitter name.
Your handle (the part that follows @) can be up to 15 characters.
Your name (the part that comes under the handle) can be up to 20 characters.
The only characters you can use are uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and the underscore character ( _ ).
And of course, the most difficult thing about all of this is that once you go to set up your profile, you may find that your name is already taken! You can use a service like Namechk.comto help you see if your choice is taken across multiple platforms.
What other things do businesses need to keep in mind when choosing their username(s) for the various platforms?