Congratulations, you’ve officially reached your goal of 10,000 followers.  Now, what?  I cringe every time I hear an agency pitch to me some arbitrary goal number of followers that’s best for my employers’ social media accounts.  A very popular strategy, that would be effective if it were about three years ago.  However, the present and future of social media is engagement.

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The reason that follower counts mattered in the past was because of the organic reach possibilities.  With the rise of social media and the purchases of social platforms, organic reach has become increasingly difficult.  Social media was created with the intent to become an advertising platform, that is how they turn a profit.

Your brand may be able to collect 100k followers, but your post may realistically be seen by less than 10% of them.  While 10k impressions may seem acceptable to you, keep in mind that depending on how you collected your followers your post may not be relevant to their interests.  Hence why you see a brand with 100k followers but each image only generates 100-200 likes and about 5-10 comments.

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I have a theory, within the next five years, the number of followers you have won’t even be displayed publicly on your profile (if they are counted at all).  Profiles will still show bios, posts, and contact options as they currently do; but their follower count will be eliminated.  Facebook is quietly taking steps in that direction if you look at the layout of their business pages currently.  They placed the ‘likes’ off to the right side of the screen in very small font.

Engagement Rate

The term viral may be one of the most damaging detractors to setting realistic expectations in digital strategy.  People have started to use the word viral commonly in average conversation when discussing strategy, and may even use it as a performance metric.  Large corporations and celebrities will naturally have a higher likelihood of reaching millions of people or go viral.  However, is it really considered viral?

Most of the “viral” post, in fact, do not feature any products what so ever, they are messages that make light of a trend or current event.  Businesses that are scared to through their two cents in on “controversial” topics have a slim chance of actually going viral because there is no wow-factor.

Start with setting a realistic expectation for engagement rate for your campaign.  Research the average engagement rate per platform, us those metrics as measuring stick.

  • 1.     Facebook: 0.5% – 1% is about average
  • 2.     Twitter: 0.7% is average
  • 3.     Linkedin: 0.5% is average
  • 4.     Instagram: 4.3%

Budget

Social media at one point was a great way to blast information to the masses for free, that time has come and gone. Social media needs a dedicated portion of your budget just like every other form of marketing, and we need to discuss what an actual budget is.

I have had some business owners ask me to create a strategy for their brand with projected ROI and conversion rates.  Let’s be clear on what ROI is.  ROI is an acronym for Return On Investment, operating expenses are part of the investment. I typically shy away from ROI as a measurement of my success because I often do not have full transparency into extended costs such as manufacturing or shipping.

Expenses such as your social media manager’s fee or salary, software for managing your content schedule and/or data, and other related expenses factor into ROI along with all other operational expenses not related to the marketing.  A better measurement is ROAS or Return on Ad Spend. With ROAS your return is calculated by dividing your profits solely by the money you have spent driving the traffic to your website/landing page.

If the only budget you have allocated is going to your social media manager’s fee/salary, then technically your ad spend is zero.  Your ROAS may appear to be very high, but could really be only a fraction of your true sales potential.

Text ads, display ads, video ads, or anything that directly forwards users to your website when they click are easily measured for ROAS.  Just set up your advertising campaign, add a tracking code to your website, set up a goal conversion, and monitor on the backend.

Social media is not the same thing and we should probably stop comparing the two.  When I hear people say social media doesn’t give you sales, I ask them well how many sales did that TV ad bring you?  That billboard that people see for a split second while they are driving or riding down the highway? My favorite is paying thousands of dollars for a one-page ad in a magazine.  It’s exposure, that’s exactly what social media is.  The only difference is you can optimize your budget to spend those thousands of dollars more effectively through detailed targeting, and have the ability to track your campaigns.

If you truly want to measure the performance of your budget then you must make sure you don’t cut corners and set up your websites to include the proper tracking codes/pixels, and invest in a management tool that provides quality analytical reports.  I have used Sprout Social and Buffer in the past and both of them do a great job.  Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics will work as well if you are just starting out.

Creative

Finally, we must discuss creative.  Don’t always promote yourself and your products, include some interesting relevant content.  Throw in some interesting images and videos as well to give your brand some personality.  Yes, you should have a stock of professional photos; but also include some behind the scenes photos of what’s happening in your office or with the staff.

Include some personal testimonials, show your followers your passion and why you choose to do you what it is that you do.  If your brand doesn’t have a personality, then it will affect your brand’s success on social media.