I don’t care which brand you represent: there will be something in every social strategy that is wrong. It’s a fact of life, and nobody is perfect, but the problem comes when people feel that their social strategy and content calendar is perfect.
In social, there is no standing still or maintaining the status quo – if you’re standing still, you’re moving backwards.
The issue is one of mindset. Marketers are taught to focus on the plan, and that everything will work out if a plan is made. I’ve even written about the importance of creating a data led strategy here. However, when a marketing team invests so much time and attention on the plan, there is a reluctance to embrace its shortcomings.
Even the most well laid out plan will have one aspect of it that doesn’t work. With social it could be anything – it might be that you’re posting at the wrong time, that your audience isn’t engaging in one particular post theme, or that you’ve got the balance of image and video posts slightly wrong for instance.
It may be that everything seems to be working. That’s great, but if you stand still and don’t keep trying to improve then your competitors will learn from what you’re doing and eventually surpass you.
The key is to change your thinking from one of investing in planning, to investing time in measurement and optimisation. Measure every element of your social strategy and try to find problems – not to assign blame, point figures or wallow in self-pity, but to identify areas where you can improve your performance.
As mentioned above, there are a number of elements that you can measure in your social strategy. From times, formats, content, and more – you can measure and optimise just about anything on social.
Facebook make it particularly easy with their Insights panel, which allows you to get a per-post breakdown of performance, as well as top-level stats. Twitter Analytics is pretty useful too, and lets you see how your recent content is performing. It’s important to measure business benefit too – use trackable links and measure clickthrough rate, and follow your social traffic through to your website using unique URLs and Google Analytics. Having all of this data will let you see what elements really are working in terms of revenue, engagement, reach and so on.
What I tend to do is make a master spreadsheet which I populate with data from all different sources. You can automate this, or use tools to help you, but the key is to have this central document where you can detail every post with a column for each element you hope to analyse. So for example a row in the table may look like this:
Then, you can append the performance data on the right hand side. Over time this builds up into a great content performance data source that allows you to see what is and isn’t working, and to be smart when creating new plans and new pieces of content.
It’s easy to benchmark your performance against competitors on social in terms of engagement, but it’s not possible to get benchmarks in terms of clickthrough rates, revenue and other private metrics. That’s why you need to benchmark against your own performance in this way over time.
Having this data in a structured way will allow you to optimise your performance. But you need to change your mindset, and that of your team, clients, or superiors in order to have a culture of management that’s based on test and learn, and measure and optimise, rather than solely being based on planning, or being too precious about certain ideas and opinions.
As the old saying goes; what gets measured, gets managed. If you don’t measure and optimise based on your findings, you’re not really managing your social media presence properly. This way of thinking and workflow is a critical part of any social strategy and ongoing community management – without this you’re just posting content and hoping for the best.
Ben Harper is a former data analyst turned social media expert having honed his skills within both major corporations and cutting edge social start ups. Ben co-founded Datify in 2013 to bring a data driven approach to digital marketing.
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