Navigating the Social Media Minefield

By Florence Irvine, Friel
Social Media has certainly come a long way since the days of Myspace back in the early 00’s. With so many different platforms now available, knowing which ones are the right ones for your business can be a tricky choice.

Published in Suffolk Director Magazine, Autumn 2021
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Being able to nail the perfect recipe that encompasses the best times to post engaging content whilst hitting all your goals takes time. Mastering social media requires that you listen to your audience, analyse and understand your metrics and have clear, rational objectives. We work with a variety of clients here at Friel, that range from small b2b’s and SMEs to national brands, which means we’ve got a pretty good insight into the first steps you can take to start owning your social media channels like a total boss.

Social Media – where to start?

Now, while we can’t provide you with a simple ‘one-size-fits-all approach’, what we can give you is an overview of some of the more popular social media channels, content tips and an insight into the world of digital and paid advertising.

What content should I post?

The first rule of thumb is people don’t necessarily want to be ‘sold to’ on social media. Social media is a place to build trust and post content that’s going to resonate with and engage your audience. Examples of this type of content include promoting your company culture and the faces behind the brand, demonstrating industry knowledge through free tips and advice and showcasing exactly why your business is a cut above the rest with testimonials! Above all, content needs to be authentic – somewhere people can recognise the value in your products or services. Different channels suit different needs.

So, here’s a breakdown of some of our favourites and how you can best utilise them:

LinkedIn

Let’s start with the ultimate online business networking platform, LinkedIn. Users can create a personal profile and directly link it with their company page on LinkedIn – enabling online brand advocacy. Members can explore new opportunities, write and share helpful content and engage with professionals outside their typical business network. Note the magic word here – engage. To get the most of LinkedIn and ensure your content is seen, you’ll need to regularly interact and engage with your connections, use relevant hashtags, tag people and send personalised connection requests.

Instagram

Instagram can also be a minefield for those not already well-versed in social media which is why it’s important to understand it’s four main content distribution methods:

1.Grid: This is your main Instagram profile. Think of this as your homepage, or your ‘shop window’.

2.Stories: Perfect for driving engagement, these short videos disappear after 24 hours and can be more relaxed than the grid!

3.IGTV: Allows users to create up to 10-minute video clips.

4.Reels: Increasingly popular with millennials and Gen Z, Reels is Instagram’s answer to TikTok, and is perfect for content creators.

Instagram recently gave users an insight into its complicated algorithm, revealing that much of how it works is a prediction based on previous preferences and interactions.

Facebook

The most popular of the Social Media giants, Facebook is a fantastic and cost-effective tool for reaching new customers and helping them learn about what you can offer. For businesses, it’s great for understanding your target audience and engaging with your prospective customers.

Twitter

A favourite amongst the B2C brands, Twitter is all about taking part in trending conversations, showcasing your brand’s personality and gathering real-time feedback. It’s also a popular platform for brands to provide ‘real-time’ customer support.

TikTok

TikTok has seen an incredible amount of growth in the past few years – with 680 million users in 2018 and over 1.1 billion by the start of 2020. It’s a fun video-based platform and like Twitter, can be a great space for showcasing brand personality by hopping on trends and posting funny, light-hearted videos. It’s by no means right for every business, but if you’re looking to expand your brand awareness and your target audience is 34 and younger, then give it a try.

Additional tips for social media

  • Spell check everything.
  • Post consistently and don’t forget about your platforms; equally, don’t over post.
  • Use plenty of eye-catching graphics and / or videos.
  • Engage with your audience!

As for the ‘best times’ to post – every business is different, and it’s going to take some careful analysis of your metrics to figure what works out best for your target demographic. If you’re still not sure, try starting with posting outside of typical working hours, aiming for early mornings and evenings when people are quite happy to get lost down the internet rabbit hole!

Traditional marketing versus paid media?

Tom Cox is Friel’s Digital Marketing Manager and explains.

Social media marketing gives you an opportunity to promote your content to a wider audience, but one that is specifically tailored to the needs of your business. Digital marketing passes control over the display, the cost, the visual and the targeting of an advert – to the creator instead of the provider.

Prior to the advent of digital marketing, many advertising practitioners focused on KPIs such as impressions and market share. By paying a small fee to local and national publications, ads would then be broadcasted to that readership. Choosing the placement would be made depending on the reader demographics. The size of the advert was based on the fee and results were predominantly built on generating volume – the more people that saw the ad, the bigger success it was. It was just a case of placing the advert, sitting back and waiting for the results to roll in.

Yet sometimes, sheer volume isn’t always the answer.

As growth marketing and digital strategists, Ampush confirms “A highly targeted audience produces higher click through and conversion rates, due to greater relevancy. It’s all about identifying your niche, because niche audiences, while tiny in comparison to broad campaigns have built-in purchasing intent.” 

By focusing your adverts too broadly, you run the risk of it not being seen by a user with converting intent.

What’s also a great aspect of paid adverts is that it gives you an insight into what converts the best. By applying a tracking pixel on your website, you are able to see which advert, copy or incentive encouraged your audience from the social post to your intended destination, whether that’s your website or product page. The more you run, the easier you can start to understand the formula that makes your audience tick and take action.

Free Social Media Tools

To support you in your journey to social media glory, there are a whole host of free social media tools that will help you along the way.

Canva is a free online design tool that we like to refer to as ‘Photoshop Lite’. It boasts a range of design capabilities and what’s more, you can select the canvas size depending on where you are posting. The platform is stacked full of useful visual graphics, photos, videos and sounds which you can use completely for free.

When it comes to running a business, it can be difficult to find that spare 10 minutes to post content on your social media channels. With a platform like Hootsuite, you can use its content scheduling facility to prepare content in advance of it going out across social media. You can also use the platform to monitor the ongoing conversation around your service or product. This can be direct mentions of your social media pages or by using the search function for whenever your brand is mentioned.

To understand the composition of your audience better, we recommend installing Google Analytics into the framework of your website. In a matter of minutes, you can plug this metric dashboard into your site – and begin to understand who is visiting your website, where they’re visiting from, which pages they are visiting the most, and how long they’re spending on there. From here, you’ll start to get a better understanding of your audience and what makes them tick.

Likewise, if you host an ecommerce website, Google can seamlessly integrate with platforms so you can monitor a customer’s sales journey in real time. This helpful tool will also give insight into buyer behaviours and patterns, which can help inform you on any changes you might want to make to your website layout.

Flo Irvine is Associate Director and Tom Cox is Digital Marketing Manager at Friel.
The platforms mentioned above may take a bit of getting used to, however the Friel team is a dab hand at providing quality marketing for clients. If you need help stepping up your marketing game, get in touch at frielgood.com

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