Building a Social Media Strategy

28 min read
Becky Lushey
Table of contents

We all know that second to having a killer website, having a great social media presence is key for generating brand awareness and drumming up new business online.

Image of an iPhone with social network apps

But if you’re not someone who spends all their time glued to their phone, knowing where to start with your social media strategy might seem really difficult at first. Constantly shifting algorithms, new platform features and site updates mean that social media can feel like a world full of rules that you aren’t being kept abreast of.

Don’t get overwhelmed by all of this noise. Creating a social media strategy is surprisingly simple at its core. All you have to do is:

  1. Choose which platforms you’re going to use
  2. Decide on what content you’re going to create
  3. Schedule your content ahead of time
  4. Make attempts to engage with followers in real time
  5. Analyse the results

Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through these steps in more detail below.

Choosing Your Social Media Platforms

One mistake that a lot of businesses make is trying to cover all of their bases by creating business accounts on every social media platform under the sun.

There’s really no need to do that. Being on fewer platforms give you more time to create better, tailored content to suit the platforms that your target audience uses the most.

In order for you to decide on which social media platforms are right for you, let’s dive into the top seven platforms you might want to make use of.

Facebook

Facebook remains the dominant social media network in the UK and has over 2 billion monthly active users across the globe. With such a huge audience base, it really is an invaluable resource for lead generation and should be a top priority in your social media strategy.

Screenshot of Facebook's homepage

A Facebook Business page will give you access to analytics and advertising options that enable you to target specific demographics and locations with the click of a button.

Unfortunately, due to declining organic reach and revised algorithms, advertising has become somewhat of a must-have for Business pages in order for your content to reach substantial numbers of people.

But the good news is that you can start advertising with as little as £5 and Facebook’s targeting features, when used effectively, can help to make sure that small injection of cash goes a long way.

Have a browse through Facebook’s beginner’s guide to advertising if you want to learn a bit more about this feature.

A mobile phone next to a Macbook

According to CoSchedule, links receive the most engagement on Facebook, followed by photos. Your ideal character count for a Facebook post is around 111 characters, including one emoji. Keep your hashtags to a minimum though, as most people don’t tend to search hashtags all that much on Facebook.

The best time to post on Facebook is a topic of great debate, with a lot of conflicting information out there.

For example, Sprout Social claim that Saturday has the least amount of engagement, but both HubSpot and Buffer say that this is a good day to schedule posts on.

Infographic depicting which times of day have the highest global engagement on Facebook

Sprout also say that evenings and early mornings have the least amount of engagement in the day but HubSpot recommend posting around 9am and TrackMaven specify that 8pm on Thursdays is the best time for engagement.

Most websites tend to agree that posts get the most engagement on weekdays at the end of the week (i.e. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday) and that Thursday is the best day of all for scheduling posts. They also mostly agree that lunchtime is a good time to post, although they vary in the specific cut off points. Between 12pm - 2pm is probably the sweet spot you should keep in mind.

Ultimately, however, it’s much more useful to delve into your own analytics to find out when your followers are the most active online.

YouTube

Although Facebook remains the most popular social network in the UK, it actually dropped from the second to the third most popular website recently after being surpassed by YouTube.

Screenshot of YouTube's homepage

YouTube is the second largest social media network and the second largest search engine in the world, with more than 1.9 billion logged in users per month. It reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year olds than any cable network in the U.S.

People often forget about YouTube when it comes to social media networks, regardless of its size. But it’s not only a massive community that you’re missing out on by not posting to this site, YouTube is also incredibly useful for building your SEO thanks to its search engine functionality.

If you’re in need of a bit of SEO wizardry, check out our blog post on How to Make Your Videos Rank Better on Youtube.

Instagram

Next up is Instagram. Instagram is the fastest growing social media network in the world and has over 1 billion active accounts per month. It also has the highest engagement rates across all social media platforms, with 2-7% of users interacting with each post.

Thanks to such high engagement rates, Instagram is a surprisingly business-friendly platform. 80% of accounts follow a business on Instagram and ad recall is 2.8x higher than industry norms, making it a valuable resource for raising brand awareness.

Screenshot of Instagram's desktop homepage

With fun features such as Instagram Stories, stickers, and filters, the platform offers a unique and exciting way of interacting with your followers. Check out our blog post on How Brands can use Instagram Stories for some more insight into these features.

Instagram is especially important to include in your social media strategy if you cater to millennials as 64% of its users are between 18 and 34.

When it comes to what to post, you can get away with more of everything on Instagram than you can on Facebook. Co-Schedule believe 241 characters is best, with roughly 11 hashtags and 3 emojis for maximum engagement.

Twitter

With an audience of 13 million in the UK, roughly 46% of which use the platform daily, Twitter also shouldn’t be overlooked as part of your social media strategy.

Due to features such as Trending Topics and Moments, it’s a great resource for finding out what your consumers and people within your industry are talking about.

Screenshot of Twitter's desktop homepage

Conversations move much more quickly on Twitter than any other social media platform, making it ideal for customer service. In fact, 80% of advertisers’ inbound social customer service requests happen on Twitter.

This might seem like a really huge number at first but think about it - have you ever angrily tweeted to an airline about a delayed flight or a retailer about a missing delivery? Often, Twitter can be the quickest way to get an answer from businesses.

So it’s no wonder that 85% of SMB Twitter users say providing customer service there is important in order to quickly address grievances and turn frowns upside down.

According to Co-Schedule, photos are the best form of content to post on Twitter, followed by text and then links. The best character count is around 103, with two hashtags and one emoji.

LinkedIn

Unlike some of the other social media networks we’ve just looked at, LinkedIn is a slightly more niche platform.

Although it might not necessarily be imperative for small businesses to be focusing their efforts here, it is an extremely important network for B2Bs. 30 million companies have LinkedIn profiles, making it an invaluable resource for engaging with other businesses.

Screenshot of LinkedIn's homepage

As LinkedIn is slowly becoming more and more of a recruitment website, it’s also becoming a great place to show off your company in order to attract the best talent.

It’s fantastic for networking with valuable contacts in LinkedIn groups and building thought leadership by writing articles on their website.

You can also use it to look up individuals and companies you’re meeting with in order to find out more about new business prospects.

Co-Schedule believe that links work best on LinkedIn, followed by text and then photos. The best character count is 149, with no hashtags or emojis.

Pinterest

Again, Pinterest might not be imperative for small businesses but it can be a great way to help build your SEO. Whereas content on other forms of social media tend to only have a lifespan of a few hours or even just minutes, Pins have an average lifespan of 3 months.

Screenshot of Pinterest's homepage

Unsure of how you can fit Pinterest into your social media strategy? Well, on Pinterest you can create a variety of different boards with links to your products and services, or a board with your blog posts, or a board demonstrating your company’s thought leadership and awareness.

These targeted snippets of linked content can act essentially as a portfolio, all while helping you to garner referral traffic to your website.

Like Instagram, Pinterest is predominantly an image-based social media platform so images will perform the best here, but links are also good too (just make sure your meta-descriptions are up to snuff). Co-Schedule believes that if you’re using text 215 is the ideal character count, although you shouldn’t include any hashtags or emojis.

Snapchat

Snapchat also might not necessarily be an imperative platform for you to be using but if your audience includes teenagers then it’s definitely worthwhile. According to Business Insider, Snapchat is the second most important platform among teenagers, with Instagram taking first place.

Screenshot of Snapchat's desktop homepage

Around 55% of Snapchat users have reported that they follow one or more brands on the platform, making it a great place to pick up followers. Plus, in terms of advertising, Snapchat has amazing retention rates, with over 50% of Snapchat users willing to open a brand’s Story and of those, 86% will watch the entire Story.

Businesses on Snapchat can advertise with Stories that are more dynamic and longer than personal snaps. One of the most popular ways that businesses can use Snapchat is to create a sponsored lens. It’s estimated that sponsored filters are seen by 16 million users each day.

Nailing Your Content

Okay so you’ve got your chosen social media platforms all figured out. Now it’s time to start writing content for these sites. You know roughly what kind of content works best on which platform, how many hashtags and emojis to use, and how long your character count should be. But what about the actual content?

When it comes down to it, working out what content to post largely depends on what industry your business is concerned with.

Do you work in a professional, straight-laced kind of industry? Try focusing on educational facts, figures and statistics that show potential customers that you know what you’re talking about.

Is your industry more laid-back and friendly? Memes, gifs and emojis might be the best way to snag yourself some more followers by showing off a bit of personality.

If you’re stuck for ideas, a good place to start is with social media holidays. There’s a wide range of hashtag holidays that you can use to anticipate trending topics and encourage engagement online.

From light-hearted holidays such as Star Wars Day to more serious days of recognition such as World Humanitarian Day, you’re sure to be able to find conversation-starters that fit with your company’s purpose.

One issue you can run into when searching for these holidays online is the fact that many sites that compile them are American, therefore making certain ‘national’ holidays either irrelevant or on a different date for UK-based businesses.

No worries, though. We’ve gone ahead and double checked that all of the following holidays for 2019 are happening in the UK on these dates. Plus we’ve even put together a handy Google Sheets calendar together with all of these dates included so you can start planning your content straight away. You’re welcome.

By actively keeping an eye out for the content your followers post, you’re showing them that you care about what they have to say.

May

Shallow focus flowers
  • 1st - May Day
  • 1st - International Workers’ Day
  • 2nd - World Password Day
  • 3rd - International Space Day
  • 4th - Star Wars Day
  • 4th - International Firefighters Day
  • 5th - Cinco de Mayo
  • 5th - Ramadan begins
  • 6th - Early May Bank Holiday
  • 6th - Red Cross Week begins
  • 7th - World Asthma Day
  • 8th - World Ovarian Cancer Day
  • 8th - Victory in Europe Day (VE Day)
  • 8th - National Receptionist Day
  • 9th - Europe Day
  • 11th - World Fairtrade Day
  • 11th - International Astronomy Day
  • 12th - National Limerick Day
  • 12th - International Nurses Day
  • 15th - International Day of Families
  • 16th - International Day of Living Together in Peace
  • 17th - International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia
  • 17th - Endangered Species Day
  • 18th - Eurovision Finals
  • 18th - FA Cup Finals
  • 18th - International Museum Day
  • 20th - World Bee Day
  • 21st - RHS Chelsea Flower Show begins
  • 21st - National Memo Day
  • 22nd - International Day for Biological Diversity
  • 25th - Scottish Cup Final
  • 25th - National Wine Day
  • 27th - Spring Bank Holiday
  • 27th - Memorial Day (US Holiday)
  • 28th - World Hunger Day
  • 30th - Cricket World Cup begins

June

Balloons at a parade that spell the word "Pride"
  • 1st - Pride Month begins
  • 1st - International Children’s Day
  • 1st - Global Day of Parents
  • 2nd - National Cancer Survivors Day
  • 3rd - World Bicycle Day
  • 3rd - Leave The Office Early Day
  • 4th - Eid al-Fitr
  • 5th - World Environment Day
  • 6th - Tour de France begins
  • 6th - Higher Education Day
  • 8th - World Oceans Day
  • 8th - Bike Week begins
  • 11th - National Making Life Beautiful Day
  • 12th - National Loving Day
  • 14th - World Blood Donor Day
  • 16th - Father’s Day
  • 17th - National Eat Your Vegetables Day
  • 18th - National Go Fishing Day
  • 20th - World Productivity Day
  • 20th - World Refugee Day
  • 21st - Summer Solstice
  • 21st - World Music Day
  • 21st - National Selfie Day
  • 21st - National Take Your Dog to Work Day
  • 22nd - Positive Media Day
  • 23rd - National Pink Day
  • 26th - Glastonbury Festival
  • 27th - National Sunglasses Day
  • 27th - National Handshake Day
  • 29th - National Camera Day
  • 30th - Social Media Day

July

Tennis racket and ball on court
  • 1st - Wimbledon Tennis Championships begin
  • 1st - Canada Day (Canadian Holiday)
  • 2nd - World UFO Day
  • 4th - Independence Day (US Holiday)
  • 5th - National Bikini Day
  • 6th - Take Your Webmaster to Lunch Day
  • 6th- Virtually Hug a Virtual Assistant Day
  • 7th - World Chocolate Day
  • 9th - Cow Appreciation Day
  • 10th - Piña Colada Day
  • 11th - World Population Day
  • 12th - British Grand Prix
  • 12th - National Simplicity Day
  • 13th - Rock Worldwide Day
  • 14th - Bastille Day (French Holiday)
  • 15th - Give Something Away Day
  • 16th - World Snake Day
  • 17th - World Emoji Day
  • 18th - British Open begins
  • 18th - Nelson Mandela International Day
  • 20th - National Moon Day
  • 21st - Ice Cream Day
  • 24th - Tell An Old Joke Day
  • 25th - Wine and Cheese Day
  • 26th - Talk In An Elevator
  • 29th - International Tiger Day
  • 30th - International Friendship Day

August

Sunset on the beach
  • 1st - World Wide Web Day
  • 1st - Planner Day
  • 1st - Respect for Parents Day
  • 2nd - Edinburgh International Festival begins
  • 2nd - International Beer Day
  • 4th - White Wine Day
  • 5th - Summer Bank Holiday (Scotland only)
  • 5th - National Underwear Day
  • 8th - International Cat Day
  • 9th - National Book Lovers Day
  • 10th - National Lazy Day
  • 11th - Eid al-Adha begins
  • 12th - International Youth Day
  • 12th - World Elephant Day
  • 13th - International Lefthanders Day
  • 15th - Best Friends Day
  • 15th - National Relaxation Day
  • 16th - National Tell a Joke Day
  • 18th - Bad Poetry Day
  • 19th - World Photo Day
  • 19th - World Humanitarian Day
  • 20th - World Mosquito
  • 22nd - Be An Angel Day
  • 24th - International Strange Music Day
  • 25th - Notting Hill Carnival begins
  • 26th - Summer Bank Holiday (except in Scotland)
  • 26th - National Dog Day
  • 26th - National Women’s Equality Day
  • 27th - Just Because Day
  • 31st - International Bacon Day

September

Close up on autumnal leaves
  • 2nd - Labor Day (US and Canadian Holiday)
  • 4th - National Wildlife Day
  • 5th - International Day of Charity
  • 6th - Read a Book Day
  • 7th - National Beer Lover’s Day
  • 8th - International Literacy Day
  • 10th - National Swap Ideas Day
  • 11th - National Day of Service and Remembrance (US Holiday)
  • 12th - National Day of Encouragement
  • 12th - National Video Games Day
  • 13th - International Programmers Day
  • 13th - Stand Up to Cancer Day
  • 14th - London Fashion Week begins
  • 15th - International Day of Democracy
  • 15th - Google Day
  • 17th - National IT Professionals Day
  • 20th - Rugby World Cup begins
  • 21st - Oktoberfest begins
  • 21st - International Day of Peace
  • 21st - Civic Day of Hacking
  • 22nd - Hobbit Day
  • 22nd - Car-Free Day
  • 23rd - First Day of Autumn
  • 23rd - International Week of Happiness begins
  • 24th - National Punctuation Day
  • 26th - European Day of Languages
  • 27th - World Tourism Day
  • 28th - National Good Neighbour Day
  • 29th - Rosh Hashanah
  • 29th - World Heart Day
  • 30th - International Podcast Day

October

Collection of pumpkins
  • 1st - Black History Month begins
  • 1st - International Coffee Day
  • 1st - World Vegetarian Day
  • 4th - World Animal Day
  • 4th - National Taco Day
  • 4th - World Smile Day
  • 5th - World Teachers’ Day
  • 6th - National Grandparents Day
  • 7th - World Habitat Day
  • 10th - World Mental Health Day
  • 10th - World Sight Day
  • 13th - National Train Your Brain Day
  • 14th - National Dessert Day
  • 16th - World Food Day
  • 16th - Bosses Day
  • 17th - International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
  • 18th - Get to Know Your Customers Day
  • 20th - World Statistics Day
  • 21st - Reptile Awareness Day
  • 24th - United Nations Day
  • 27th - Diwali
  • 30th - Checklist Day
  • 31st - Halloween

November

Fireworks display
  • 1st - National Authors Day
  • 1st - World Vegan Day
  • 3rd - National Sandwich Day
  • 5th - Bonfire Night
  • 8th - STEM Day
  • 8th - National Cappuccino Day
  • 11th - Veterans Day (US Holiday)
  • 13th - World Kindness Day
  • 14th - World Diabetes Day
  • 16th - International Day for Tolerance
  • 17th - International Students Day
  • 19th - National Entrepreneurs Day
  • 20th - Universal Children’s Day
  • 21st - World Hello Day
  • 26th - National Cake Day
  • 28th - Thanksgiving (US Holiday)
  • 29th - Black Friday
  • 30th - St Andrew’s Day
  • 30th - Small Business Saturday
  • 30th - Computer Security Day

December

Pine branches, red berries and plants
  • 1st - World AIDS Day
  • 2nd - Cyber Monday
  • 3rd - International Day of Persons with Disabilities
  • 4th - National Cookie Day
  • 5th - World Soil Day
  • 10th - Human Rights Day
  • 10th - Nobel Prize Day
  • 11th - International Mountain Day
  • 13th - National Salesperson Day
  • 21st - Crossword Puzzle Day
  • 22nd - Hanukkah begins
  • 22nd - Winter Solstice
  • 24th - Christmas Eve
  • 25th - Christmas Day (Bank Holiday)
  • 26th - Boxing Day (Bank Holiday)
  • 30th - No Interruptions Day
  • 31st - New Year’s Eve

Scheduling Software

Now that you’ve got your content all planned out in your content calendar and it’s been signed off from your boss as being good to go it’s time to start scheduling. Using automated software to post your content at predetermined times is important to do in order to free up time for you to get on with other work.

But what social media management software should you use to do so?

Facebook

Facebook has a post scheduler already built into their website so it’s super easy to get your posts all squared away.

Screenshot of Facebook's scheduling tools

To schedule a post, all you have to do is:

  1. Click Publishing Tools at the top of your page
  2. Click Scheduled Posts in the left column
  3. Click the blue +Create button.
  4. Compose your post with text, images, videos etc.
  5. Click the drop down button that says Share Now and select Schedule
  6. Below Publication, select the date and time you want to publish the post
  7. Click Schedule

To manage your scheduled posts (i.e. to reschedule, edit or delete scheduled posts):

  1. Click Publishing Tools at the top of your page
  2. Click Scheduled Posts in the left column
  3. Click the post you want to edit
  4. Click Edit to edit the post or click the blue arrow button to choose to publish, reschedule or delete it

YouTube

YouTube also have a post scheduler built into their website already that you can use to schedule videos as you load them.

Screenshot of Youtube's scheduler

To schedule a video:

  1. Click the camera icon in the top right corner to Create a video or post.
  2. Click Upload video from the drop down list.
  3. On the upload page, select the privacy drop-down menu, and select Scheduled or Private.
  4. Upload the video using YouTube’s upload instructions. Your video will begin processing.
  5. In the Basic info window, set the date, time and time zone in which you want your video to be published. You can also add a message to subscribers here.
  6. At the top of the screen, click the Publish button to confirm scheduled publication. The video stay private until the scheduled time.

If you change your mind and would like to edit the scheduled publish time or publish the video straight away:

  1. Sign in to YouTube Studio beta.
  2. From the left-hand menu, select Videos.
  3. Hover over the video that you’d like to edit.
  4. Select the drop down arrow in the ‘Visibility’ column.
  5. To adjust the scheduled publish time, ensure that the visibility is Private, choose the new time and Save.
  6. To publish the video immediately, set the visibility to Public and Save.

Tweetdeck

Twitter also have their own scheduler but it’s not hosted on their main website. It’s called Tweetdeck and can be used not only for scheduling your posts, but also for real-time tracking, organising and engagement.

Screenshot of Tweetdeck's scheduler

Simply log in to Tweetdeck with your Twitter login details to get started. Then:

  1. Confirm that the Twitter account you’d like to Tweet from is selected.
  2. Compose your Tweet. Include and image or video with the Tweet by clicking Add images or video.
  3. Click Schedule Tweet and select the date and time you’d like the Tweet posted.
  4. Click Schedule Tweet at [date/time].

You can view and edit your scheduled Tweets by adding a Scheduled column. To add a column:

  1. From the navigation bar, click on the plus icon + to select Add column.
  2. Selected the type of column you’d like to add.
  3. Under Your accounts, select the account you wish to populate the column.

Hootsuite

Unfortunately Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest don’t currently offer the ability to schedule posts ahead of time so instead, you will have to look into other forms of social media management software.

Screenshot of Hootsuite's scheduling software

There are a whole bunch of social media management companies out there and all of them offer roughly the same sort of package but Hootsuite is the only one that offers an actually free service (as opposed to just a free trial period).

They do try to hide it on their website though so make sure you follow this link in order to get to the right page.

The free version of this software lets you:

  • Manage up to three social media profiles from a choice of channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn
  • Schedule up to 30 posts in advance at any point in time
  • Track follower growth, likes and comments
  • Integrate two RSS feeds in order to find and share compelling content
  • Access Hootsuite’s online help center and community forum

Of course, there’s also a number of paid-for packages that you can buy from Hootsuite that give you access to services including higher ad spend budgets, automated post scheduling and custom analytics.

But if you’re a small business looking to get started, the free version of the software should be comprehensive enough to allow you to get your social media strategy in motion.

Simply put, to schedule posts on Hootsuite all you have to do is:

  1. Click New Post in the top right hand corner.
  2. Choose which social network you’d like to post to.
  3. Compose your post by adding text or media. The layout of this post will be viewable in the preview window.
  4. Click Schedule for later.
  5. Select a date and time for the post to publish (12:00am is midnight, and 12:00pm is noon), and then click Done.
  6. Click Schedule.

HubSpot

If you’re already paying for HubSpot’s ‘Marketing Hub Professional’ package, you’ll be pleased to know that they also offer a scheduling feature for social media that enables you to schedule posts ahead of time, monitor engagement and create reports that go back as far as the last 3 months.

Screenshot of HubSpot's scheduling software

To schedule your posts:

  1. Navigate to Marketing > Social in your HubSpot account.
  2. In the upper right, click Create social post.
  3. In the right panel, select the first social network to publish your post to. You can publish posts to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn. If you haven’t connected your social accounts to HubSpot, set them up first before continuing.
  4. In the text box, enter the content for your social post.
  5. Use the @ symbol to mention or tag other accounts. Instagram mentions will not be auto-completed, but Instagram will acknowledge the mention when the post is live.
  6. Add emojis, links, images and videos to your post using the relevant icons.
  7. The composer will automatically select a publish date based on your social publishing schedule but you can change the date by clicking then When dropdown menu. You can select a specific date and time, or click Publish now to publish the post immediately.
  8. Lastly, select a HubSpot campaign to associate the social post with. In the bottom right, click the Campaign dropdown menu and select a campaign or click Create a new campaign.
  9. In the bottom left, click Schedule post or Publish post now to schedule it for publishing or publish it immediately, depending on the publish date and time you selected.

For a more detailed explanation, check out HubSpot’s guide here.

What’s the Importance of Social Monitoring, Social Listening and Engagement?

Simply writing social media content and scheduling it to be posted is not enough to create a strong social media presence and gain followers, no matter how good your content is.

Planning your content ahead of time helps you to be proactive, but social media requires you to also be reactive at all times as well.

72% of people ages 18-34 and 47% of those over 45 say they would be more likely to be loyal to a brand that replies to them, compared to those companies that stay comparatively silent. Making sure that you’re able to respond to conversations your customers are having about you is therefore really important for building brand loyalty.

People standing with cut outs of speech bubbles

Social monitoring, social listening and engagement are three important factors that can help you to assess your social media strategy in real time, allowing you to find out trending topics, see what people are saying about your brand and start conversations with potential customers.

Let’s break down these three terms:

Social Monitoring

Social monitoring is the method of looking for mentions of your brand, products, hashtags, employees, competitors and customers.

Social Listening

Social Listening is how you track, analyse and respond to conversations across the Internet. It’s a two part process - the first half involving social monitoring and the second half involving analysis and the creation of actionable responses.

Engagement

Engagement is the process of having conversations with individuals about your industry, brand, products and services.

If social monitoring is the first half of social listening, then engagement is usually the second half.

However, engagement doesn’t always have to be in response to something someone has said about your brand. Engagement can start with your business reaching out to customers to start conversations too.


How To Monitor Mentions of Your Business

There are a number of ways you can monitor mentions of your business online.

Image of some apps on an iPhone

Obviously you can manually trawl through social media platforms, searching for mentions of hashtags, products, competitors etc. but that’s a very time consuming process.

It’s much quicker to make use of these easy-to-use tools instead:

Google Alerts

Google Alerts allow you to track a word or a phrase associated with your business across Google’s search engine results.

Screenshot of Google Alerts

Simply sign in with your Gmail account or fill out the Google Alert form, type in the search terms you wish to track and Google will alert you by email whenever it finds new mentions of that word or phrase on the web.

You can set how often you’d like to receive these Alerts so they don’t clog up your inbox and you can filter by news, video, blogs, books etc so you only get the most relevant content.

Tweetdeck

If you’ve already started using this free service from Twitter to schedule your tweets, then it’s also worthwhile digging into its social listening functions.

Screenshot of the different columns you can add in Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck lets you monitor different users, hashtags, search terms and lists. Perfect for keeping an eye on social media during events such as industry conferences.

Social Mention

This aggregator enables you to monitor your search term across a variety of search engines and over 100 different social networks.

Currently, you can either visit their website as and when you deem necessary or set up daily social media alerts.

Social Mention is unique in the way in which it categories each mention of your search term in terms of Strength, Sentiment, Passion and Reach, allowing you to get a better picture of what is being said about your company at a glance.


How To Engage With Your Followers

The term engagement is thrown about a lot by social media marketers but sometimes it can be hard to know what this really means.

Here are a few strategies that marketers actually use to generate engagement:

Host an AMA

For those who aren’t super clued up on social media, AMA stands for ‘Ask Me Anything’. AMAs are essentially online Q&A sessions that can be centered around a specific topic or they can just be a general opportunity for you to interact with your followers.

Example of a Facebook Live stream with emojis

To conduct an effective AMA, you need to pick the right person at your company to engage with followers, time your AMA to happen when your followers are their most active and make sure to promote it ahead of time.

Here are just some of the ways you can conduct an AMA on social media:

  • Via Facebook Live - answer questions in real time through a videoed response. You can even record the session for your followers to view at a later time. Both YouTube and Instagram also have Live video options as well.
  • Use Instagram question stickers in your Stories - prompt your followers to ask you questions by creating a Story with a question sticker.
  • Create a custom hashtag on Twitter - ask your followers to use a specific hashtag in order for you to find their questions on Twitter and respond to these tweets by quote-tweeting them.

Try using polls or quizzes

If you’re looking to get feedback on a specific question, or simply want to inject a bit of fun into your feed, why not try introducing a poll or a quiz on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter?

Example of Instagram polls on Stories

Polls and quizzes are a great method for generating engagement because they’re the type of content that can provoke strong feelings from your followers.

Say you ask your customers a question about which football team they support. We all know how rabid football fans can be - they won’t be able to help themselves from contributing!

Plus, polls and quizzes help to add a bit of variety to your feed; some of them can even be visually striking!

Facebook now allows you to add photos to your polls and on Instagram you can create a poll or a quiz using stickers in your Stories. For a step-by-step guide on how to use Instagram's quiz sticker, check out this article by Instasize.

Make use of User Generated Content

Using User Generated Content (UGC) is a fantastic way of demonstrating the two-way nature of social media to your followers.

Screenshot of Repost for Instagram on the Google Play App store

By actively keeping an eye out for the content your followers post, you’re showing them that you care about what they have to say. Reposting comments, images or even memes your followers have made will make you stand out as an attentive business that is dedicated to building a real conversation online.

UGC can even be a brilliant way of populating your social media accounts with gorgeous images while creating contacts and saving you both time and resources all at once.

Reply to DMs and Comments

This might seem super obvious but so many businesses ignore or forget to respond to DMs and comments on their feed.

An example of responding to comments on our Instagram feed

In order to build loyal customers that are likely to recommend your business to their friends, you need to ensure that you always present a friendly and helpful face. Imagine you treated a customer in real life in that way - you’d probably never see them again!

Community building should be at the heart of your social media strategy and you can’t begin to do this without responding to your DMs and comments. Show your followers that you value what they have to say by responding.

Use Automation to Assist You

For small businesses who might not have a social media manager at their company, automation can be somewhat of a lifesaver when it comes to saving time and energy.

Screenshot of Zapier's homepage

Tools such as Zapier and IFTTT can automate the process of triggering activity in one app based off of activity that occurred in another app (such as sending a notification of Twitter mentions to your Slack). Plus, you can add a variety of filters to ensure that you are only sending the most relevant content to the right person.

You do have to be a bit careful with automation though. Most social media channels have strict rules around spam and you don’t want to be seen as a bot that churns out automated responses instead of a business that is actually invested in its customers’ questions.

If you’re interested in finding out more about social media automation, Zapier have a great article on the ways you can use their software for sales and marketing.

Schedule Time to Engage

Most importantly, you need to make sure that you factor time into your day to engage with your followers.

Image of an alarm clock

Because social media works in real time, many people think it’s something they can just squeeze in whenever they have some downtime, but really you’re just short-changing yourself. We get that spending time scrolling on your phone feels a bit like cheating during the work day but we promise you it’s not!

By scheduling in 30 or even just 15 minute blocks into your day to check social media, see what the community is talking about and see what you can add to the conversation, you’ll make huge strides towards an effective engagement strategy.


What’s the Difference Between Reach and Impressions?

You might have also seen these two terms floating around when digging into your social media strategy. These two metrics are both helpful to keep track of when analysing the results of social media campaigns and setting goals for the future.

Example of Instagram Insights

But they can be a bit difficult to understand in relation to one another when you’re first getting to grips with your social media strategy.

Reach is the number of unique accounts that have been exposed to a piece of content you’ve posted on social media.

Impressions are the number of times that post was delivered to users’ feeds - regardless of whether those users engaged with it or whether they’d seen it before.

This might seem a bit confusing at first. Those two definitions sounds pretty similar at a first glance.

Well, the important distinction to keep in mind is that reach is about how many unique accounts have had your content appear in their newsfeed, whereas impressions are not unique to one user.

Some posts can be shown to users multiple times and therefore would count as more than one impression. For example, if you see a post by a page that you follow on Facebook and then see it again in your newsfeed because it’s been re-shared by a friend of yours, that would count as two impressions but would only have a reach of one.

Example of Facebook Analytics

Make sure to keep this in mind when you’re analysing the results of your social media posts.

It’s important to ensure you aren’t conflating different terms with one another. Impressions are always going to be a higher number than your reach so don’t fret when you don’t see your reach numbers increasing at the same rate as your impressions.

Digging into metrics such as reach, impressions, likes, comments, shares and follows is a crucial part of refining your social media strategy. By tracking these metrics you’ll be able to better understand the effectiveness of your strategy, see where you’re falling short and start setting new goals for the future.


Wrap-Up

If you keep these simple steps in mind, ensure you’re following best practices and continue to refine your content and methods of engaging with followers then you’ll be sure to have a strong social media presence in no time.

Not only will potential customers be able to seek out your social media content in order to gain a sense of trust and understanding of your business, you’ll also be able to spread your brand’s message a lot further than traditional methods would allow.

Plus, maybe you’ll have a bit of fun too!

Additional Resources

https://buffer.com/resources/social-media-algorithms-2019#1

https://later.com/blog/how-to-increase-instagram-engagement/

https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/youtube-analytics

https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-advertising/

https://watb.co.uk/blog/7-reasons-why-influencer-marketing-is-a-game-changer

https://watb.co.uk/blog/ecommerce-in-2017-thinking-like-an-influencer

https://watb.co.uk/blog/social-media-tips