Social media can be your business’ shop window, but understanding what works best to drive engagement with your audience takes
experience and know-how.
The importance of social media management
More than half of the global population – some 4.33 billion people – now use social media, with Facebook alone registering nearly 2.8 billion active users every month.
For businesses and marketing professionals, this represents an enormous opportunity to make connections with customers, generate leads and drive brand awareness. But the sheer size of today’s social media networks, and the intense competition for users’ time and attention on these platforms, means a carefully planned, strategic approach is required to take advantage of their potential.
This is where social media management comes in.
Key elements of social media management
Effective social media management will help you get good returns from the time and budget you’re investing in this area of your marketing. Failing to properly manage your social account activities will increase the risk that your marketing and advertising content will simply get lost in the crowd and your messages won’t reach your target audience.
It’s important, therefore, to be aware of the most important elements of social media management and to be clear about what you want to achieve in each of these areas.
Knowing your audience
Much like any other area of marketing, to get strong results from social media you need to have a solid understanding of your social network audience, what they’re interested in and how your product or service can help them.
There are various useful steps you can take to analyse your social channel audience, identify their priorities and then form a plan to connect with them. One of the most important actions of all is to segment your customers into distinct personas with shared characteristics. This will help you refine your social media marketing to increase engagement with particular sub-sections of your social platform audience.
It’s also important to make sure you’re utilising the huge potential of social media to have real-time conversations with customers (existing or prospective) and to learn what makes them tick. Every social media channel engagement is an opportunity to better understand your audience and feed these insights into your marketing.
Tailoring your social media strategy
Once you feel confident that you have a good understanding of your social media network audience and how you can connect with them on Facebook, Twitter and the like, you can start work on creating a bespoke social media strategy.
This is a broad area that is likely to include a number of different components, such as:
- Identifying specific goals and metrics to measure progress towards them
- Planning how to use your available budget and resources
- Deciding what platforms to use
- Studying competitor activity
- Thinking about how social media will complement your broader marketing strategy
A key aspect of effective social media management is regularly revisiting your strategy to make sure it’s still relevant and aligned with your overall goals.
Content creation and distribution
The global reach provided by the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn makes them ideal channels for the distribution and promotion of your content. But it’s not enough to simply create something, post it on your social media platform of choice and hope for the best.
Effective social media management will help you get the best possible returns from your content by coming up with answers to questions like:
- Which content types are most likely to earn engagement with your target audience?
- Which platforms are best suited to host and amplify your social media content?
- What are the optimum times to post content to maximise exposure and capture people’s attention?
- How will you plan your production workflow to ensure you have a regular supply of new content to share?
- Which tool will be best to use for scheduling posts?
- Is my organisation’s social media profile optimised to show up if I Google my business?
- Is there an analytics tool that will track my progress?
- Should social media ads be part of the mix?
If building loyal brand advocates is one of the top objectives of your social media campaign, community management needs to be at the heart of your social activities. That means focusing on processes like keeping track of what your customers are saying on social media and how they’re interacting with your brand.
From social media listening to creating a post planner, a social media manager can help you with this, as monitoring all such activity can be challenging. In fact, they may well use a social media management platform for the most accurate accumulation and analysis of data.
The instant engagement provided by social platforms gives you countless opportunities to take part in discussions with your audience and to nurture relationships with previous and potential buyers from your social profile.
Monitoring, measuring and reporting
As you move forward with your social marketing activities, it’s important to make sure you’re collecting and analysing relevant data to generate insights into how your organic and paid social content is performing and the returns it’s generating.
It’s also beneficial to come up with a structure for reporting these social media post results to your marketing team and the rest of the business. This will help you ensure that key decisions and changes in strategy are based on the latest data and trends pertinent to your social media marketing.
How to manage social media monitoring and reporting
Monitoring and reporting are such important aspects of your social media marketing operation that it’s worth taking the time to form a dedicated plan to oversee them and perhaps utilise a social media management tool.
To start with, you should make sure you have a strong understanding of exactly what these processes involve and how you stand to benefit from them. They must be integrated into your social media account to ensure you’re not missing any essential data.
Social media monitoring involves tracking what people are saying about your company online and responding to any engagement you receive, whether it’s positive or negative. That’s likely to involve keeping an eye on reviews, reacting to feedback and giving prompt answers to questions.
Social media management software can help you to do this. It can prove particularly important when you receive negative reviews or complaints, which should be addressed and acted on as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of reputational damage. A social media tool will assist in not letting anything get through the cracks.
The sort of data you can collect through social media monitoring includes:
- Levels of engagement with your marketing content
- Number of brand mentions
- Use of hashtags relevant to your business
- Mentions and conversations relating to your competitors
With a dedicated social media monitoring plan in place, you can expect to gain a better understanding of the conversations happening around your business and how people perceive your brand. This process can be particularly beneficial when it brings your attention to social media posts that mention your business but don’t tag you, and therefore don’t appear in your regular network notifications.
Your social media presence is also likely to benefit from stronger audience relationships, because customers appreciate it when businesses make a special effort to acknowledge what they have to say and act on it.
Social media monitoring and social listening sound like the same thing, and certainly share similarities, but there are some important distinctions that you should be aware of.
Monitoring is an instant and reactive process, whereby you keep track of various comments and conversations that are taking place in relation to your brand and respond accordingly.
Social listening focuses more on the ‘why’ behind the various data and insights you’re able to gain from your monitoring. If you find there has been a recent increase in negative comments about your brand on Facebook, for example, social listening will help you identify the key factors driving the trend, which could help you adjust your social marketing and make better-informed decisions.
Monitoring and listening can be particularly beneficial when they’re combined as part of your wider social media strategy. The learnings from these activities can then be applied when you schedule posts in the future.
Social media reporting is the bringing together of all the relevant data you’re able to collect from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like, with the aim of creating a detailed, fact-based picture of how your social media marketing is performing and what kind of results you’re generating.
If you have multiple social media accounts for your business, be sure to factor them all in. This may not just apply to different social platforms, but also to a variety of accounts on the same channel for separate arms or departments of the business.
Reports focus on specific timeframes and often feature metrics such as:
- Total followers
- New followers
- Click-through rates
- Video views
To get the best results from your reporting, it could be useful to familiarise yourself with some common best practices in this area. One recommended approach is to consider the needs and interests of key stakeholders when compiling every report. If the information is being made available to senior management within your business, for example, you might want to focus on what the results of your social media marketing mean in the context of the company’s broader objectives and bottom line.
You could also find it beneficial to look into tools that could help to make your social media reporting more efficient. Solutions that give you access to real-time data and automate some of the routine and data-heavy aspects of your reporting, for instance, could prove particularly useful.
Monitoring, listening and reporting are all vital parts of any social media management strategy, simply because you need to ensure that accurate data and insights are placed at the heart of your social marketing activities. Without reliable information on things like what people are saying to and about your brand and what problems customers have that you can help to solve, your marketing is likely to be much less effective.
In a worst-case scenario, failing to monitor and act on the feedback you’re receiving from the online community could irreparably damage your brand and lead to lasting reputational damage.
On the positive side, getting your social media monitoring and reporting right can give rise to a range of compelling benefits, such as showing your customers that you respect and value their opinions.Research by Sprout Social has shown that the most common reasons for people to contact brands on social media are:
- To share a great experience (59%)
- To ask a product or service question (47%)
- To complain about a bad experience (40%)
All of these require a response from the brand, whether it’s to celebrate the positive feedback and thank the person for getting in touch, to answer their question, or to apologise for their bad experience and find out how you can help.
Another potential benefit of effective social media monitoring is identifying brand advocates and influencer marketing partners who could help you add a new dimension to your messaging in the future.
As far as reporting is concerned, the lessons you learn from your data when it’s condensed and presented in a clear and concise format are likely to prove critical in determining the future direction of your social media marketing.
Why invest in social media management services?
Social media management can be a daunting task if you’re not familiar with this dynamic and fast-moving segment of the digital marketing sector. Investing in a dedicated service could be the right option if you’re looking for support in areas where you still have more to learn, or you just want to offload this aspect of your marketing so you can focus on other priorities.
Using a specialist social media marketing agency to take on management responsibilities can also help you maximise the benefits that can arise when you get this process right.
Better customer service
The convenient access provided by platforms like Facebook and Twitter gives brands an unmissable opportunity to take customer service to the next level. A social media management service will help you take advantage of this potential by making sure you pick up on every message and respond to it in a timely and appropriate way.
One of the most positive outcomes you can gain from effective social media management is a stronger understanding of your target audience, what they care about and how you can deliver value to them. Bringing in a social media marketing agency to focus on achieving these goals can generate valuable insights for your entire marketing operation and the business as a whole.
Specialist tools and solutions
When you need to take a targeted approach to your social media management, an external service provider will be able to provide dedicated tools and solutions to help with processes such as:
- Content planning and creation
- Scheduling and publishing content across your social channels
- Conducting social media analytics to identify key trends and themes
- Collecting, examining and presenting data on the performance of your social marketing
- Creating a social media dashboard that makes it easier to track and measure your performance
One particularly valuable benefit you can achieve by outsourcing any aspect of your marketing (including social media management) to an outside agency is getting your time back. The countless hours and extensive resources you previously had to dedicate to managing your social activities can now be channelled into other things, whether it’s running your core business or taking a more holistic look at your overall marketing strategy.
Choosing a social media management agency
There’s certainly a lot to be gained from working with a social media management agency, but you have to be sure that any partner you team up with is a good fit for your business.
So how can you make sure you come to the right decision?
First and foremost, you need to be sure any social media agency you’re thinking about working with is able to provide the services you need. It’s important, therefore, to begin the process of searching for a partner with a clear idea of what you’re looking for.
Do you need a supplier that can give you advice on specific elements of your social marketing – how to optimise your Twitter and Facebook posts, for example – or are you in need of a full, end-to-end service?
Set clear goals
Going a step further than making sure your social media management company is able to offer the right services, you need to have confidence in their ability to help you achieve your most important goals.
You can add more structure and clarity to your thinking in this area by coming up with goals that are SMART:
An example of a SMART social media goal could be to increase the number of impressions you’re registering on Facebook by ten per cent over the course of six months.
This level of specificity can prove vital when you need to take a focused approach to finding the right social media marketing agency for your business.
Look for proven expertise and results
Any company can promise excellent results. When you’re talking to companies that are trying to win your business, it’s important to go deeper than simply what they’re saying and look for evidence of their expertise.If you’re looking to improve results in a key area – such as increasing your profile and generating more leads on Facebook – you might want to look for a social media marketing company that specialises in this. You can also gain confidence and peace of mind by asking to see case studies, testimonials and reviews.
Give yourself time
Starting a new partnership with an external social media agency is a big step that could influence your company’s future performance and results.
It’s vital, therefore, to give yourself sufficient time to think it through and compare all of the options available to you. The last thing you want to do is rush into a decision that you later regret.
If you ever feel pressured into committing to a partnership you’re not entirely sure about, take a step back, reconvene with your team and take some more time to think before moving forward.
Find a partner that is the right fit
Perhaps most importantly of all, you should feel confident that any social media agency you choose to work with is a good fit for your business and how you operate.
Ideally, an outside partner will feel like a natural extension of your marketing team, and working with them should help you out by taking certain responsibilities off your hands, rather than giving you new things to worry about.
When you’re talking to companies about outsourcing your social media management, think of questions that will help you learn more about how they work and how they can complement what you’re already doing.
Taking these steps will help to ensure you find the right partner to optimise your social media marketing and generate exciting results for your business.