The art of creating the perfect social media post is a nuanced science. While there is no such thing as complete “perfection,” businesses and billions of users build presences and frequent social media platforms on the daily. With each platform comes the unique challenge of trying to reach the right people and grow your community/following.
Before posting on social, it is important to understand your brand. The brand you identify – or need to portray – will encompass how content looks, the type of media that gets posted, the tone and perspective, as well as how interactions with customers or other companies are conducted. This information is crucial because in the long run, consistency is key and no one will trust or want to interact with a bipolar brand that can’t decide how it will communicate with the public.
After answering some key brand questions, one must figure out how they intend to use social media and on which platforms they wish to live. This decision should be based on relevant market research, where your competitors live, as well as what makes the most sense for your business. From there, focus on creating a deliberate and detailed content strategy. Without planned quality content, maintaining a social media account is a waste of time and resources. While many may feel daunted by the herculean task that is social media, it is important to remember that the ROI is huge. Social media has five core characteristics that set it apart from conventional media:
- Is Focused on Peer-to-Peer Interactions: Enables simplified conversation and relationships amongst users.
- Is Participatory: Encourages participation and feedback from users.
- Is Owned by its Users: Content is generated, owned and controlled by users.
- Is Conversational: Encourages comfortable, honest conversations due to its ease of use and real-time collaboration functionalities.
- Is Relationship Oriented: Users can maintain professional and social relationships easily and can freely express how they feel.
As one can see, the free-flowing and ever-authentic avenue of social media has enticed businesses, as well as individuals, to convert from static and less personal forms of communication. While often lumped into one mound, social media platforms are large, diverse environments that each serve a distinct purpose. Below are some of the most popular social media categories:
- Social Networking Sites (SNS): Platforms that are driven by the focus of creating and maintaining relationships. Facebook/LinkedIn
- Content Communities: Platforms that are driven by groups of people with shared interests and create content around them including videos, photos, and articles. Instagram/YouTube/Flickr
- Blogs: A personal space or website where an individual user can post diverse content and express their own opinions. Tumblr/WordPress/Blogger
- Microblogging Sites: A condensed version of blogging (usually through a platform environment) where users exchange snackable, short-form content. Twitter
- Folksonomies/Social Tagging Sites: Sites where content and data is organized via tagging and taxonomy from the user. Pinterest
- Mobile Apps: Platforms with no website hub – only accessible through the smartphone. Snapchat/TikTok/Tinder
- Social News Aggregation Sites: Sites or platforms where news, web content, and topics are rated and discussed by users. Largely forum-type layouts. Reddit/Quora/4chan
- Crowd-Sourced Review Sites: Areas where users are encouraged to provide feedback to local businesses and document their experience. Good reviews often lead to community visibility and increased visitation/revenue. Yelp/Open Table/Google Reviews
All About the Analytics
While authentic 1:1 interaction is the primary function of the majority of social media sites, many businesses are using the platforms’ specialized features to help them learn more about their target audience, potential leads, and where they might need to change things up in order to make good business decisions. With each interaction a business has on its page, data is collected. To analyze the vast amounts of semi-structured and unstructured data the platform or site has accumulated, one must use social media analytics (SMA) to extract value and hidden insights.
There are eight layers that make up social media analytics according to Gohar F. Khan’s book Creating Value with Social Media Analytics. Let’s look at them below:
- Network Analytics: Extracts, analyzes, and interprets personal and professional social networks.
- Text Analytics: Extracts and analyzes business insights from the text in social media content.
- Action Analytics: Extracts, analyzes, and interprets actions performed by users.
- Search Engine Analytics: Analyzes historical search data to gain insight into trends, keywords, search results, advertisement history, and spending statistics.
- Location Analytics: Also known as “spatial/geospatial analytics,” these are concerned with mining and mapping the locations of users, content, and data.
- Hyperlink Analytics: Extracts, analyzes, and interprets hyperlinks on social. Reveals sources of incoming/outgoing web traffic.
- Mobile Analytics: Measures and optimizes user engagement with mobile apps.
- Multimedia Analytics: Harnessing value from photo, video, audio, and animation posted on social media.
By using the various layers of SMA to describe data and analyze trends, it is important to understand the different forms they can take. These forms of SMA help you and your business to answer specific questions, which will then, in turn, allow you to make better business decisions:
- Descriptive Analytics (Reactive): Answers the question, “What happened and what is happening?” Gathers and describes data in reports, visualizations, and clusters to understand a problem or potential opportunity.
- Diagnostic Analytics (Reactive): Answers the question, “Why did this happen?” Gathers various kinds of data and statistics to help provide the cause and effect of a business issue.
- Predictive Analytics (Proactive): Answers the question, “What will happen and why will it happen?” Uses data and text mining to predict a future event.
- Prescriptive Analytics (Proactive): Answers the question, “What are you doing and why should I do it?” These analytics help to suggest the best action to take when handling a scenario.
To make the most of these analytics, put in the time and effort to go into the backend of the platform and investigate. If you are finding that the platform’s analytic offerings are not deep enough, consider investing in analytic software. Google Analytics is an industry favorite as the results are extremely detailed and highly customizable. Brandwatch, Hootsuite, and Meltwater are also some of the larger names in SMA tools. Before purchasing a subscription to any tool, be sure to identify what exactly you’d like to measure and monitor and the tool’s capabilities.
If you don’t have the luxury to invest in SMA tools, check out this article from Netbase for some free options. While tools help to make it easier to measure sentiment and organize data, don’t forget that simply analyzing the forward-facing information of a post can help you get a baseline feel of how your content is being received and where you might want to make changes.
Analyzing a Social Post
On Facebook, I follow a great little group called For the Love of Old Houses. What started out as a fun page to showcase available pre-1950s homes on realty sites turned into a cult community of over 1.8 million classic architecture fans. While this page isn’t a traditional business (none of the houses are being sold through them, they just feature them – hence no ads) it is important for their community manager to understand how their audience is feeling about the listings they are posting. Here is an example of one of their posts that went live on May 24th.
As you can see, the post went live at 8 PM exactly – from this information we can infer that the page schedules their posts so that they can supply their fanbase with a steady drip of content. The text of the post is inclusive of the home’s address, price, description, and the contact information of the real estate advisor.
What makes these posts so great is that they are inclusive of all of the interior and exterior shots of the home. The preview gallery of the 42 photos entices the user to click into the post and look through the rest of the house. The founder of the page takes special care to not edit the photos in any way to preserve their integrity and openly welcomes photographers to tag their photos so that they can receive credit for their work. This touch is extremely thoughtful, as on other platforms and pages, people steal content with no concern for who created it and the purpose it was intended for.
In two days, this post garnered 4.4k reactions (2.9k likes, 1.1k loves, 432 wows, and 2 hahas for some reason), along with 726 comments and 1.2k shares. For a post with NO paid promotion behind it, the engagement is absolutely stellar. If you look into the comment section, all of the community contributions are overwhelmingly positive albeit the one comment of the property being located in Minnesota.
What can you infer from your social media analytics and post engagements? Let me know in the comments below.