Facebook fumblings

Over lockdown when business was a bit slow, I spent some time ‘sharpening the saw’ (Covey’s 7 habits)  and completed a CIM sponsored training week (yes a whole week on Zoom) on all aspects of digital web and social media marketing techniques. It’s an area I have been very comfortable to recommend to my clients, and I’ve even sought specialist content creators and social media experts on behalf of my clients. I’ve never tackled the actual operational aspects myself however, and I was becoming rather unsettled by the ability of the specialist agencies and so called experts to bamboozle me with the ‘dark art’ that is social media marketing.

What amazed me was just how little many people actually know about how to make these media channels work for them. I was, by some way, the oldest marketer on the course, and some of the younger attendees were already holding down pretty senior positions in some interesting consumer brand marketing departments. But they seemed to have gone as far with marketing their businesses on social media platforms as their own facebook page fumblings had taken them! Usually the job of social media was designated to a junior or, more often, farmed out to an agency. And brand managers had no real understanding of what they were seeking to achieve, or how they were doing against their objectives. They seem to have handed control over to someone else!

As those of you with whom I have worked will already know, I take a somewhat forensic approach to most marketing and communication challenges. I like to know how the metrics work, how will the ROI perform, how to target most effectively and which creative approaches will be most compelling.  I think it is also essential that brand management remains in control of the message and how it is delivered. And frankly, with Facebook and Instagram (or any of the other platforms) I wasn’t up to speed – but surprisingly neither were any of my peers.

So, it was a very interesting (if tiring) week and I came out of it with a vastly improved appreciation of what each platform is capable of, how to target specific consumers, using influencers, when to pay for advertising (and when to hold back) and, importantly, how to interpret the vast amount of data that spews out of the platforms if you have a business account. I am pleased to say that I can now set up and configure social media accounts for my clients as well as working on relevant content, in the right format, at the right time to build the right audience and prompt the right actions. Mostly.

But there is still significant mystery associated with this communications channel. Facebook (and Instagram of course) keep tweaking the platform and constantly moving the goalposts which changes the number of users you are able to reach through the organic (i.e. not paid for) content. And the number reached is only going in one direction – down! I understand that organic reach is down to around 2% so if you are just posting without boosting you might be wasting your time!

And there is a bewildering set of skills and tricks to get your head round if you want to really optimize your social media performance in the face of the changing algorithms  – but the good news is that in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king – and lots of other marketers know even less than us!  So I’ve found it is not quite as difficult to do well as I expected it might be.

My top tips if you’re thinking of embarking on a social media communications programme (if you are not you are definitely missing an opportunity) 

  • Having an active presence online and especially in social media is no longer a business or brand choice. Its an imperative.
  • Choose which platforms  you use dependent on audience and objectives. Don’t try and be all things to everyone! Know the relative position and importance of the various channels Twitter is NEWS and business. LinkedIn is recruitment,  FB is predominantly female 35 – 50 and the Millenials are on Instagram.  WhatsApp will soon launch in message advertising – their demographic is 25+ professionals.
  • Understanding your key words (for natural and paid search) is now more important than knowing the buyers phone number (70% of search traffic comes from long tail highly specific 4 – 6 words phrases)
  • Most cost effective Adwords for smaller businesses are highly specific (the obvious ones are heavily competed for and therefore expensive)
  • We are moving into a social media environment in which video will be all but essential – you must have moving pictures!
  • Every employee is part of your integrated social media plan – especially on LinkedIn but also in support of other platforms
  • Identify key influencers and incentivise them to talk about your product – their content will be much more effective than your own generated content
  • Use the social media tools available to hyper target your audience – focus on the people you want to and don’t waste money on people who are not interested in your product
  • Capitalise on user generated content – its proven to be more compelling and effective than brand-generated content!
  • (Try to) Keep up with the algorithms
  • Post regularly (keep to a pattern)
  • Don’t forget ‘Bing’ Its default with Microsoft so lots of older less tech savvy customers use it a lot.
  • Don’t forget to optimise for mobile – not just navigation but SEO too
  • Measure, but Don’t get caught up with vanity metrics – ROI is what counts, not followers or likes

The most notable impacts I’ve seen on my social media work so far have been through the use of video. Long or short, even little GIFs generally result in 10x or  even 100x more reach and engagement.  Reach (organic, so at zero cost) of more than 4000 for this video within a few days of posting.

Good luck with your social media marketing. I’d love to hear how you’re managing it and what results you’re achieving.