With a choice of LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google +, YouTube, where should you spend your precious time?
You could answer that your business should have a presence on each of these platforms but what evidence do you have to suggest that this approach is your best bet?
Let's take this down a level, if you are only going to choose LinkedIn as your preferred social media site for B2B, where should you spend your time - posting updates to your connections' newsfeeds, entering into discussions in LinkedIn groups, sending bulk messages to tagged connections? Which of these actions is best? Well, as far as you and your business is concerned, I can't answer that question - the only person who can is you.
Image courtesy of remibadozi.com
It's about testing
Too many businesses and individuals sign up to LinkedIn, Twitter et al and then follow a similar pattern in using each. Initially they'll understand the need to share valuable content; a blog; case study; white paper or client testimonial and then they'll share this content with their networks and followers. They'll hopefully receive a number of likes or retweets and occasionally they'll enter into conversation with someone but in the main this happens infrequently for most social media business users.
My advice to you is, before creating a social media strategy, you need to test what works in terms of engagement and then create the strategy to focus your activities where you will make the biggest impact.
Most social media users in business are still finding their feet
Social media is still new and despite the first sites appearing on our PCs way back in 2003, most business users still are trying to find their feet, some receive training, often from those who are only slightly more social media street wise and others attempt to find their own way through the social media jungle.
Increasingly, I've learnt that real, measurable results from social media occur when I enter into direct dialogue with individuals. It's about real conversations, asking questions of those who directly engage with me. One simple example of this is when people connect with me on LinkedIn. Recently I changed the opening lines of my response message to:
Many thanks for connecting and I'm always intrigued, so I thought I'd ask....what was the main reason you chose to connect with me on LinkedIn?
This one, simple opening question ensures that 70%+ of people who receive this message respond with the reason, which begins a conversation - we are now engaged.
What should you be doing to ensure you're spending your time on the right social media platforms, doing the right things?
It's about testing what works and here are my 5 tips to do this:
- 1. Test your audience - Make sure that your LinkedIn network, Twitter followers, Facebook likers are the people you need to be doing business with. If they're not then posting the best content in the world will be a complete waste of time.
- 2. Test your content - once you know that your target audience hang out on your chosen social media site, test your content. Which content gets the most likes, comments, shares? Take note and post similar content in future (*see comment below concerning likes, comments and shares).
- 3. Test your content depth - you might receive plenty of likes, comments and shares but do you know why? Ask those who engage what it was about your content that motivated them to respond? This will help you understand the issues or aspects of your content that resonate the most.
- 4. Test the best time of day - Whether you manually post content or use a scheduling tool, such as Hootsuite, as I do, check which times of day your posts receive the most engagement. I'd suggest that you only do this once you have a better idea which aspects of your content work best. If you don't then it will be difficult to tell whether it's your content or the time of day you post that encourages most engagement.
- 5. Test one site at a time - you only have so much time available in a day so I would recommend that you apply these checks to one social media platform at a time, In fact, unless you have plenty of time available, I would strongly recommend that you apply this approach to one aspect of your chosen social media platform at a time, particularly on LinkedIn, where you have numerous areas where you can communicate with your networks.
Likes, shares, comments, what is their value?
Each of these social responses has a weighting, let's say from 1) most valuable to 3) least valuable. When someone 'likes' your content, it usually means (not guaranteed) they've read or viewed it and it was mildly interesting, it did not offend and they're registering a thumbs up (I'll weight this as 3). If they 'share' your content, then they feel it has value to others and possibly themselves too (Weight 2). If your content has provoked a comment, which obviously requires the most degree of effort as a response, then you have achieved the highest level of engagement and this, I would suggest, is your aim.
Of course, measurable results only relate to your reason for being on social media in the first place. If you're there simply to raise brand awareness then likes and shares will be acceptable to you. However, if you're on LinkedIn to 'sell' by engaging with your connections, followers and likes then you'll be aiming to create as much 2-way dialogue as possible