Social media marketing constantly changes, presents challenges, and requires consistent quality content in order to be effective. With the introduction of each new algorithm and engagement factor comes a swift adjustment and careful analysis of social media strategies and goals.
This Facebook Live segment highlights social media trends in 2018 and ways you can utilize social media to your company's best advantage.
Cody Gross, Social Media and Content Specialist, shares his thoughts on social media in 2018.
What are some small tips that make a difference on social media?
Every brand wants to be on Facebook. Every brand wants to be on social media in general, but not everyone knows exactly how to go about that or knows of some of the small things that make a big difference.
One of those things is using CTAs (calls-to-action) in your post. You especially need CTAs in ads, but make sure you use them in a decent amount of posts to make sure people know what they are supposed to do with the posts. You want to direct the user somewhere.
In ads, you want to have a call-to-action directing that user to do something. What's the purpose behind the ad? Is it scheduling an appointment, booking an event, buying something, saving a spot at the table? Whatever it is, you want to have that call-to-action there just so the user knows specifically what to do.
A new thing that could be of interest is Facebook Canvas ad. It's a different kind of ad that is more immersive. It almost acts as a landing page on Facebook rather than taking it external to your domain name. It's a landing page on the Facebook platform.
Brands use it, but you don't see it used too often. It allows you to tell your story.
Facebook Canvas keeps everything consistent. You can still design everything yourself within the Facebook ad build, but it also allows your landing page, of sorts, to be in Facebook's platform, so it will probably take less time to get to that.
People struggle with speed when you go back to your external domain. That can take time. People may click away from that. Canvas ads may eliminate some of that.
How can you determine ROI on social media?
Everyone asks about return on investment. If you are a business or a brand, you need to know what the return on investment is. Whatever we are putting into it, what are we getting back out of it?
The investment is time. If you are using an agency, some financials are involved in that, but a lot of it is time. How much time am I putting into this? Is the time I'm putting into this worth it?
Easy ways to track CTAs are with UTM links (Urchin tracking modules). These allow you to track specifically where the users are coming from that are landing on that page.
You put them on your pages – your Request an Appointment page, product pages, a campaign you're running. When you put that UTM on each of these links, it allows you, the one studying it, to recognize where that visitor is coming from – if they are coming from Twitter, what percent is coming from Facebook, what percent came from your email marketing campaign.
That allows you to look at the return on investment and see that 65 percent of my traffic came from Facebook. Should I put more time into that? Should I use ads on Facebook?
Trent Erwin, Host: I think that's the biggest thing. Organizations think that they need to be on a specific platform. They think they should, but they're not tracking any of the data. When they actually learn what's going on, they realize that they are allocating time to a platform that is not working for them.
Gross: Absolutely, and UTMs allow you to study that and see which platforms we should be on, what kinds of ads are working, which ad is drawing in more traffic. All of that helps a bit on return on investment. It helps in finding that way to study the data and see what's working, what's not working, and where you should allocate that time more.
What can companies do to put the 'social' back in social media?
It's about community. It's about being social, being together. To be a brand on social media, you have to show that. That's what a lot of people want to see.
They want to see the community aspect. They want to see what kind of events you are doing internally. They want to see culture. They want to see what is going on inside the four walls and what's going on with events associated with your company that are outside the four walls. That allows people to see what your company is about.
Erwin: That's a little bit scary sometimes. Doing Facebook Live – it's live, it can get your heart pounding because you know you are live and can't necessarily edit it. Taking photos of your culture – you have this moment of what should we show and what shouldn't we show. I think it's about having a good understanding around the personality that you want to communicate publicly and making sure that you do that on a regular basis.
Gross: Another way to use that is by using Instagram Stories. That's an easy, fun way to show what your company is about, what's going on from 8-5 inside your walls.
Erwin: Instagram Stories don't have to be perfect. None of our social posts necessarily have to be perfect, but that's the great thing about Instagram Stories.
Gross: They are more natural. They are more personal. I love using Instagram Stories. It gives a new flavor to what you see from a lot of brands, which can be somewhat stale.
Not as many people utilize Facebook Stories, but you can crosspost. If you post a story on Instagram, you can crosspost that to Facebook. That seems to be performing well. More people are seeing it, especially if you have a big Facebook following.
Erwin: Not that many people are doing it on Facebook, which means there is an opportunity there. If you want to really start reaching an audience, there aren’t as many people. You may can get involved there and pick up some more of the audience.
How does the Facebook algorithm affect things?
At the start of 2018, Mark Zuckerberg introduced a new concept. They are trying to scale back the amount of brand posts and the amount of news posts that you see in your news feed or timeline. The amount of brand/news posts is going to go from about 5 percent, which is what it currently is, and scale back to 4 percent.
It doesn't seem like a big change, but then you consider how often you are on Facebook and how many posts you scroll through on Facebook. It could be a big change. That's an adjustment that brands are going to have to make.
How does the Facebook algorithm affect brands specifically?
Brands are part of that scale back from 5 percent to 4 percent. The question becomes how do you stay in the news feed and how do you stay relevant if Facebook is scaling back on the amount of brand posts that you see.
It's all about quality. You have to have quality content. If you are posting just based on quantity and they are subpar, 50-percent posts, no one is going to care. That is the first thing that is going to get cut back in Facebook's new algorithm.
Erwin: You need to be paying attention to what you are posting and what people are reacting well to. If people do not enjoy a certain part of your social media strategy, you don't need to keep doing more of that. You need to keep doing more of things that really engage and are getting likes, comments, and views. Facebook will reward you with that and demote the things that are not.
Gross: That goes back to understanding your audience and studying the data. See what works for you, what works for your brand, what is getting shown, what people are enjoying more – tailor your social media strategy toward that.
Look back at the previous question about community. If that is what people want to see, that's what you need to post.
How does the Instagram algorithm affect things?
The Instagram algorithm change is sort of the same thing. Brand posts will scale back a bit. The order has been like this for a bit, but the chronological order is no more.
They are going to show what people are liking. They are going to show what people are interested in. As a brand, if that doesn't sound like you, you aren't going to get shown.
Use professional photography or give really good imagery or good videos in the post.
Utilize other platforms, too. People enjoy Stories. They show up right at the top of your feed rather than 15 spots down.
How consistent should I post on social media?
You don't need to post all the time. I know that some people think you need to post every day. If you are a brand, you don't have to.
As the algorithm goes into effect, if you are posting all the time, Facebook is going to recognize that you post all the time. Honestly, your numbers won't be as good because people are not paying as much attention to every single post.
Scale it back to 3 to 4 posts per week. If you are a bigger or smaller brand, that could change.
It goes back to hours. If you have a dedicated person, you have more hours than somebody who is trying to juggle different roles in a company.
How do you start running social media ads?
If you have never run an ad before, my suggestion would be to start on Facebook. Facebook can also crosspost to Instagram, so you can knock out two birds in that. You do have to connect your Facebook and Instagram, but you can do that in Facebook Settings.
I would start on Facebook with a modest $250 to $500, budgeted over the month, to see what happens. If it is your first month, you have to study what happens – the CTA clicks, the views, your language.
As part of that buildout, you can target really specifically on Facebook. You can target by demographic, interest, age, location. That allows you to really nail down your audience. Whether you are a small business owner or a larger business and you are the marketing person, there are an absolute ton of options.
You can really nail down your audience if you know your audience.
That will help with ad spend. That will help get more people reached with the same amount of budget or less. You are trying to save money where you can, and being efficient with your advertising spend is a good way to do it.
How should you set up a social media ad?
You can boost posts. We do it at our agency. But, when you are running actual ads, you want to be really specific in that targeting.
You go into Facebook's Ads Manager. That is where you will see all of those targeting options, where you can build your ad. You can use videos or imagery. You can use carousel ads, which are a bunch of images. What I've seen in our advertising is that those carousel ads perform really well. They perform well because there is a little bit of interaction. You can swipe left and right.
Get in there, build your ad, set the dates, and just study it. You don't want to start an ad and pay no attention to it. If you do that, you have no idea of what's going on.
Facebook tells you how well you're doing. Facebook has its own ranking system. If your ad is not performing well, it may be best to turn it off or adjust it.