Social Media Marketing: Is it an Art or a Science?
Social media marketing is both an art and a science. Last week, I wrote about the Art of Social Media Marketing; today I will focus on the science. While driving conversions from visitors to leads using your website has become less about process and more about psychology, knowing what metrics to look at and developing your strategy around them is vastly important for businesses of all sizes. I distinctly recall a conversation I had with someone when I first graduated from college with a Bachelor’s in Communication, 21 years ago, it went something like this:
What exactly are you going to do with a degree in communication? What kind of job are you going to get? What marketable skills do you actually have? (As compared to, say, medicine, law, or accounting?)
As we conversed, and I thought about what skills I actually brought to the table, the following came to mind:
- Public Speaking
- Professional Writing
- Psychology of Behavior
Can you imagine spending an entire semester devoted to learning how to listen? Looking back, it was one of the most important communication classes I ever took. As I contemplate the evolution of digital marketing and compare the skills I learned then to the technology advances of society today, I realize much hasn’t actually changed. The disconnect? Up until about 5 years ago, the C-suite didn’t always include a marketing component; marketing in fortune 500 companies always seemed to fall under the sales umbrella. Finally, about 5 or so years ago, forward thinking companies began to recognize the importance marketing plays in aligning sales opportunities with qualified prospects. Today, however, the most forward thinking companies have recognized how to hire a CMO that has expertise in the right disciplines to speak the language of marketing fluently.
How often is your team considering human psychology when planning your marketing campaigns?
In terms of curating content with emotional appeal, generating higher customer retention, brand loyalty, and ultimately lead generation, the ROI of your marketing dollars rests on a combination of both the psychology behind writing stellar copy and choosing a compelling image to intuitively draw potential consumers to your product or service (the Art of) and understanding what metrics to look at, how the algorithms work, and what the analytics mean (the Science of). Both require exquisite communication skills. Remember Marshall McLuhan? “The Medium is the Message.” It’s not only about knowing how to create a compelling and visual story around your product and service, it’s about being able to listen to the wants and needs of your customers, interact with them appropriately, and then analyze the results of your efforts.
There’s nothing worse than scrolling through my feed only to see blurry or improperly sized photos, amateur typography, long or grammatically incorrect copy, or irrelevant hashtags. All of those mistakes will only lead to bad metrics which won’t tell you much of anything. Below are some best practices that will help you make use of the science behind social media marketing.
The science of social marketing
Implement Google’s UTM Parameters. If you’re not using some type of tracking like google UTM parameters in your updates, it’s likely you won’t even be aware that your engagement is going down. There are less clicks on organic posts compared to several years ago. If you’re not getting reach and visibility organically, your audience may not even be aware of the content you’re producing. That is the social organic reality, unfortunately, and it impacts marketers in a significant way. Knowing your numbers is critical for making high level decisions about how to change that.
Another logic buster that came along with the social media network algorithms is scheduling. The reality is, high quality content can be seen at any time. Scheduling is actually thrown out the window because the algorithms are not showing content in a linear order. The idea of trying to be there when people are there at a specific time of day is no longer the way to post on social media. If you understand what the algorithms are doing and what they want you to do, you’ll see how it’s time to rethink how you market. For example, artificial intelligence suggests that on evergreen posts, sharing over and over is not going as far as it used to; in fact, there is a penalty for the same content that is shared over and over. If you change the image and change the tweet but still use the same URL, then gaming the system is not only not going to get you more exposure, it will get you less.
Understanding the Metrics
Fundamentally, a post or piece of content is published and the algorithm scans the substance of what you publish, then selectively shows it to a sample audience. That means that it shows in the newsfeed, to only a sample of your fans. If the audience reacts to it right away, then it shows more. Post once and then you’re done. Do not repost it on other networks. This sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s the algorithm. Facebook openly publishes their algorithm. It’s been around for a long time. For the same reason you should never “ask” for a Like or Share, you’ll be penalized for duplicating content.
Creating content that sits within the network’s feed is getting more exposure than asking people to hop off the URL. It’s a logical evolution; the networks want you to spend more time on their channel and not click onto another website. You can see this more more lately with the exposure of Linkedin articles written on their platform or of Facebook Live videos for example.
SEO has become a very important component of sharing effective content. Be sure your content is optimized so that both the search engines and the social networks can work collaboratively, and then once they find you, make sure you have an effective funnel. Your content should have a CTA, share buttons should be available, and ensuring you cultivate the right people who have a strong affinity for your business and can act as influencers is key to building your community. Don’t trust this important task to an intern or an employee who doesn’t have the applicable expertise. Your digital image depends upon it. Think about the last time you heard about a product or service that was new to you…what did you do first? Did you Google it? Your online reputation is extraordinarily important…nurture it!
The best part about diving deep into both the art and the science of social media is that proper metrics can be of significant value to your organization. Having the ability to communicate with all levels from the mail room to the board room is part of much larger evolution. In terms of marketing a business online, those skills translate to knowing precisely how to formulate a landing page or a social media post to initiate action on the part of your target audience. What action do you want the user to take? Are you prepared to really think about how you’re going to entice them to take that action? How will you know whether they responded the way you intended, and what can you learn from it?
This is where the science comes in most handy. Once your “art” is developed through the use of strategic visuals, expert placement of CTAs, compelling copy, and a well-thought out funnel, you can begin to use your science through split-testing. Take a good look at what words and phrases are bringing people to your website. Evaluate whether one image converts better than another, and look at how your copy performs over time.
Remember, social selling isn’t a step-by-step procedure; focus on building long-term relationships and constantly evaluate your metrics. While the process make take a little longer than traditional sales, evaluating your numbers in a way that allows you to better strategize your content around what your customers (and potential customers) really want will ultimately help you move from merely keeping score to actually making changes in your digital marketing plan that will drive results. Like what you’re reading? Click to access our FREE Checklist: How to Prepare a Digital Marketing Campaign.