Introduction to the Science of Social Media
Run a quick Google search on “social media tips” and you’ll likely find Buffer’s article, “8 Tips to Quickly Master Social Media For Businesses & Entrepreneurs,” at the top of your results. Author Brian Peters makes an excellent point when he writes, “one thing that often gets overlooked in all of the detail is a more general approach to social media for businesses and entrepreneurs.” Which begs the question: is there a science of social media?
Originally, Buffer tackled this daunting subject in Episode 65 of their very appropriately named “The Science of Social Media” podcast; this article outlines the best tips drawn from the episode. From there, we’ll break it down even further, per our commitment to #MakeSocialSimple.
Make a Commitment to Social Media
Did you know it can take up to a year to truly establish your business on social media? That includes both ensuring you’re posting content consistently, and figuring out what posts generate the most engagement. The article notes that committing to social media begins with a concrete plan setting out your social media strategy and the goals you hope to achieve.
Perhaps the most valuable advice Peters gives is to be able to answer the question, “Why should people follow us on social media?” If you don’t have an answer, you might not be able to build the audience you’re hoping for.
The Science of Social: Show Off Your Personality
Although it’s not stated specifically, you might think of this second tip as being connected to the first, in that there’s really no reason for people to follow you on social media if you are unable to provide a unique voice. The article warns against being a “brand robot” that simply pushes content.
We do recommend time-saving tools that allow business owners to schedule social media posts; however, it’s essential to maintain a balance. Be sure to have a human jump on to your social media platforms at least once a day, interacting with followers in a way that allows your brand’s vision to show through.
Social Media Tip: Listen to Customers Rather than Promote
This tip is a little harder for newcomers to social media to grasp. After all, isn’t the point of using these platforms to put a product or business in front of the customer? The article argues that social media is in fact becoming the place customers turn to when they have a question or complaint. If done right, your audiences’ responses can become new posts in and of themselves: create a colourful “did you know” illustration addressing a frequently asked question, or retweet a compliment (adding a “thank you”, of course!)
Focus Your Efforts on Select Networks
Clavis has previously posted on the top three social media sites in North America, and five more platforms you should know about. And we absolutely agree with Buffer—your business, particularly if it is a new and/or small business, does not need a presence on every network. Take the time to determine which networks your potential clients use most, then concentrate on those. This allows you the time to craft tailored content for each platform, rather than attempting to shoehorn posts made for Snapchat into a LinkedIn update.
The Science of Social: Remember that Success Follows Passion
This may be the weakest tip the article provides. While we agree that it’s crucial to be passionate about what you’re posting on social media (otherwise, creating content will feel like a chore; your customers will sense a waning interest), the author does not expand on this point by providing useful information.
Instead, the article states, “We suggest that as business owners you pick a topic that they love and are truly passionate about.” The lack of information (and grammatical errors) may be due to this article being based on a podcast; however, it would have been helpful if they had explained what a “topic” means in relation to content creation.
The Science of Social Media: Experiment with Video Marketing
It’s fairly clear that video marketing is essential for businesses looking to grow their presence on social media—after watching a video, 84% of users are more likely to buy a product online. For that reason, the Buffer article offers both content ideas and best practices.
While the majority of advice contained in this section requires clicking through to another article for more information, the author provides one truly excellent tip-within-a-tip: keep those videos short. The videos that garner the most engagement on Facebook are 60-90 seconds while those with the second-highest engagement are 30-60 seconds. The author asserts the same is true on Twitter; however, Hubspot suggests the sweet spot for the platform is only 45 seconds.
Get the Most Out of Your Content: Social Media Top Tip
“Every piece of content you create should have at least 2-3 other pieces of shareable content to accompany it,” according to the article. In other words, create shareable infographics, summarize the content in a Facebook (or YouTube) video, or promote the post through a series of Instagram stories. We’re inclined to agree with the idea of creating a video to promote written content, as video has become the most commonly used format in content marketing.
What’s not evident, however, is how written content could be turned into Instagram stories—providing more information on how a business owner might do this, or what content easily lends itself to such a transformation, would have been helpful.
Boost Organic Content to a Targeted Audience
“Organic” is another way of saying “traditional”—in other words, take advantage of your best social media posts to determine how you might best spend your advertising budget. Identify a top-performing post that could help you fulfill one of your strategic goals, and either throw some money behind that post in order to boost it or use it as a model for a paid advertisement, creating a targeted audience based on those who engaged with the original post.
This is another tip that involves a deeper dive, following links for further information, but we agree that in the long run, this will almost certainly help your business save money on advertising.