Harnessing social media for business: practice makes perfect
July 8, 2014
Continuing on our series on social media we take a look at our #2 tip – practising and experimenting to get it right. In our previous article we said that developing a social media engagement strategy was a kin to a sports team and a sport: "What does playing a game of soccer or gridiron have in common with social media? Well, in the world of sport, just as in business, you need to have a plan, practice, have patience and enjoy the game. In fact the world of sport when it comes to planning and execution in business is very much the same in so far as the most successful sports and business people are those who have started off by knowing exactly where they want to end up."
In actual fact the very next step in putting together a game plan is practising and experimenting to get your various strategies right – in other words the team you field and how they play the game will very much depend on what you learn from experimenting with different combinations.
Social media is very much like that and where a lot of people and businesses go wrong is jumping from the development of a strategy straight into execution. By experimenting and trialling what works and what doesn’t you learn valuable lessons around what the audience wants.
Take the EntreHub for example. When we first opened for business in March of 2014 we decided that we would use inspirational quotes from well-known people in order to draw the audience towards our social media sites and corporate websites. Of course it is part of a broader strategy that is still unfolding but if you take a look at the dedicated “Inspirational Quotes” page and scroll towards the bottom you will see where we started.
At the beginning we decided that we would have four core social media platforms as our focus: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. We also knew from research that by just posting text based posts people were less likely to be drawn to you, “like” or “retweet” what we were putting out there. We integrated traditional thinking and research around “images sell” and gradually began to experiment the use of imagery as a back-drop to the inspirational quotes. Also, at the beginning we only had a an imprinted piece of text with the name of the website and our corporate twitter feed.
As the months went by (and you scroll up that page) you will see the imagery began to change. A bar was added to the quotes with traditional linking text to our various platforms as well as a QR code. For those of you who don’t know what a QR code take a look at our recent article about why you should have one. Put simply a QR code enables the user to scan the image with their smart phone or device and be taken directly to the website or social media page that is embedded as the imprint.
What you will also see is the movement from colour images to black and white with grey scale photos. In addition we began to experiment with quotes with context – in other words trying to provide the context behind the quote to act as a learning bite for those reading it. Eventually things evolved to the point where we had the right mix of colours, images, pull quotes, the odd context with # tags now in full use.
Has it worked? Well given the current analysis over the last 14 weeks they have largely been behind the growth in the three twitter feeds the company operates (@austinjkim, @tukakimatt and @entrehub) by an additional 3,000. Why is that number important? Because when we analysed the followers of our followers the combined total social media reach was approximately 1.5 million people.
In addition we also experimented with the use of # tags, adding live links to twitter posts to assess the traffic and how often posts were tweeted and retweeted. The cross over is also important to understand because what was being posted by Facebook and Twitter is exactly what was being posted on LinkedIn. In any event the value of experimentation enables you to learn valuable lessons: what have we learnt so far:
Images work: providing they come with a message that is clear in the minds of the reader and they can walk away learning from the interaction
Always build towards brand consistency: it is better to experiment and trial what works at the early stages of your business growth – why? Because it is harder to change brand once you reach a certain growth pace
Test your platforms: we learnt that each of the social media platforms that we now maintain play different but interconnected roles and that each audience through each platform engages for different reasons. For example, those who engage via Facebook are looking for personal development whereas those on LinkedIn are very much into professional development – twitter is fairly generic
Never focus on your friends and family at the beginning in order to grow your following: it is a serious waste of time unless you have something specific you can sell them. Focus on building your audience around what you have and what the seek – don’t just follow people for the sake of doing it – if you do, you run the risk of fogging your social media impact glasses.
So, we have learnt a lot and we still learn every day. The above is just one example of how we have experimented and practiced our content to the benefit of our audience. Each new piece of content we publish is a learning bite for our readers and members.
Of course, the true test comes in the conversion of your social media strategy into dollars and cents – we can claim a much earlier than anticipated series of successes on that front but about that in a later article.
Finally, the EntreHub now has more than 24,000 members covering 89 countries and growing – therefore our social media strategy, while still in its early stages, is working.
That is why it is important to learn lessons from everything we do – you are never finished with learning and teaching is never finished with you!
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