It feels like every few years (or months or weeks, even!) the social media landscape completely changes. If you’re a longtime social media marketer like me, you’ve probably spent hours studying engagement algorithms or curating mental dictionaries of “internet speak.”
And if you’re not a social expert, you might assume that all it takes is a few Tweets or Instagram posts to gain a following and lead your audience down the purchasing funnel.
I’ve worked with clients on their social media presence since before Snapchat was a thing. And I can say that while creating content for social media is not rocket science, it’s also not just a social post. But as with the scientific method, there are a few rules you should follow when launching your marketing campaign on social media.
1. GET TO KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Whom are you trying to reach? Are they single 20-somethings living in a big city, or new parents who just moved to the suburbs? Ten years ago, there were one or two surefire ways to connect with certain demographics. But as platforms have evolved—and new platforms have emerged—brands have had to look harder for the best places to reach their consumers.
Before jumping full force into a social media campaign, you should learn what type of content your audience responds to and where and when they are most likely to see it—and you should decide which platforms are going to give you the best bang for your buck. Getting to know your audience will help you decide where to allocate resources for the biggest impact.
2. ANSWER THE QUESTION, WHAT DOES SUCCESS LOOK LIKE FOR OUR BRAND?
Every brand has a different definition of success. Consumer-product brands want to lead customers to the point of sale. News publications want to keep you on their site as long as possible. Some brands want to grow a community following, while others are there to gain exposure.
Defining the KPIs that will lead your brand to success will help you home in on both the platform and the type of content you should be creating. For example, if one of your KPIs is video viewership and you know your audience is on TikTok, the natural next step would be to make videos for TikTok. Sounds simple, right?
3. STRATEGIZE WITH YOUR CREATIVE TEAMS TO BRING YOUR VISION TO LIFE
Not so fast. Once you’ve figured out where your audience lives and what your success metrics are, it’s time to get your audiences to respond how you want them to.
We’ve all heard of the attention economy, but while in the past a successful creative asset was “thumb-stopping,” today we care more about how the content influences actions.
Ask yourself, Does this post ask my audience to react in a way that aligns with my KPI? It’s not just about the CTA; your creative approach to a rebrand awareness campaign should look different—and call for a different response—from a campaign to increase subscribers.
4. TAKE TIME TO REFLECT: WHAT’S WORKING, AND WHAT’S NOT?
The content you put out might not generate the response you want it to, and that’s OK. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned expert, we’re all learning (and unlearning) the factors that influence a campaign’s success. It could be the time of day the content was posted, the platform’s evasive algorithm, or even the news cycle that pushed your content off the radar. The key is to pivot based on the response you do receive.
5. USE THOSE LEARNINGS TO STAY RELEVANT OVER THE LONG TERM
Social media never stops. Once you’ve figured out what strategies and tactics work best for your brand and your audience, the goalpost may have already moved. Make sure you know where to aim before you start again; many brands will define long-term goals before they’ve seen what works in the short term. Ensuring longevity on social media means staying nimble while you test and learn.
And just as each social platform’s audiences continue to evolve, so too do the features they offer. If you get stuck, try experimenting with new formats or tools, and make sure to stay on top of trends and memes that may help you reach your goals. You never know which post will go viral.