Are you comfortable using social media to market your business? Or do you have some insecurities about what’s working and what’s not?
A new study by Software Advice may give you perspective. It’s the Social Media Content Optimization Survey, presented in partnership with Adobe, and it shares marketers’ best practice when it comes to optimizing social media content.
- Most marketers (84%) regularly post on at least three social media networks, with 70 percent posting at least once a day in order to build brand recognition and better engage audiences.
- Only a third (35%) of marketers feel it’s “very important” to test the sharing rates of content at different times of the day and days of the week in order to understand when potential audiences are most receptive.
- Nearly half of marketers (43%) do not use social media management tools, such as HootSuite or TweetDeck, to manage their social media content.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the findings.
How many social media channels are marketers using?
According to the survey
- 25% use four
- 23% use three
- 16% use five
- 14% use two
Personally, I rely most on Twitter and Google+. Facebook is still in the mix, but since Facebook posts have limited reach, I find myself using it less often. For me, LinkedIn has taken over as my third primary social channel. If I were a B2C company, I’d probably use Pinterest instead of LinkedIn.
I seem to be in the majority. Nearly half (48%) of marketers use three or four social media channels. Impressively, however, 17% of marketers use as many as six to eight channels. Maybe their sole job is social media marketing, because otherwise, I don’t see how they have time for anything else. But that’s just me.
How many posts per day are most common?
- 22% post once a day
- 20% post twice a day
- 19% post more than three times a day
If you’re using more than one social channel, this makes sense. From what I’ve observed, most marketers have one primary channel, say, Twitter or Facebook. They post to that channel daily, then mix in other channels to round out their social marketing plan. That would account for the nearly one-fourth of marketers who post once a day.
There are a few marketers, however, who post the exact same message to all channels once per day. The number of daily posts, then, looks impressive, but the actual engagement isn’t. They’re posting to meet a marketing quota, not to build relationship.
Personally, my posts per day have recently declined. I used to post four to five times daily on Twitter, once daily on Google+ and LinkedIn, and a few times per week on Facebook. I’ll probably return to something close to that frequency when I’m able, but life and business have taken their toll on my schedule. As you’ve probably experienced yourself, social media is one of the first things to go when you need to streamline your activities.
How far in advance do marketers plan their posts?
- 41% schedule posts up to a week in advance
- 24% schedule posts less than a day in advance
- 15% schedule posts one day in advance
- 12% don’t schedule posts in advance
Scheduling posts in advance is an easy way to manage your social media marketing. It allows you to devote about 30 minutes a day to curating content and setting up your posts, which makes it easy to stay on top of things.
However, if you rely too heavily on scheduling, you may be missing the engagement side of social media. It’s a balancing act. You need to be active, but a major activity should be engagement.
From the results of this study, it looks like the majority of marketers (a whopping 41%) like to devote 30 minutes once or twice a week to their social media. That’s not a bad way to do it, provided you can be consistent and stay engaged.
If you post more than once a day, you may also need to purchase premium plans in HootSuite and Buffer to ensure you can keep up. If you post as often as I was posting, you can’t schedule more than two days in advance with free plans.
A fourth of marketers (24%) appear to do their social media once a day, say, first thing in the morning. That’s what I’m doing now. It’s a good way to stay somewhat engaged without having to dedicate too much time to planning.
I’m not surprised that 12% don’t plan at all. I am surprised that this number isn’t higher. But don’t take that to mean you don’t need to plan. No planning often leads to no activity, unless you’ve got a highly engaged following and you naturally pull out your phone to tweet every time something interesting happens. Most of us don’t do that.
What works for most marketers
Ah, here we get to the meat.
By evaluating the tactics marketers deem important, the survey caught a glimpse of what respondents feel is working best.
The winning tactics? Using images and hashtags/usernames.
- More than 80% of marketers feel it’s important or very important to use images or photos in their posts.
- About 70% feel that using hashtags and usernames is important or very important.
From personal experience, even if you aren’t highly active in social media, if you use these two tactics, you’ll get good results from your social media marketing. I share some stellar examples in this post.
What are marketers’ goals for social media marketing?
Looking at the top goal for social media marketing, I’m disappointed in most marketers’ approach. If your goal is followers, you’re doing it wrong.
According to the survey, most marketers have set as goals and feel successful at:
- Gaining followers
- Building brand recognition
- Nurturing relationships
Social media is a fantastic strategy for building brand recognition and credibility, and for building a network of engaged people who like what you’re doing. The type of people you engage with will be different depending on the type of business you run. For instance, ecommerce folks need to engage with potential customers, while consultants and service providers need to engage with other professionals, both peers and potential customers.
Social media is a fantastic channel for driving traffic to your website. Simply by promoting your blog posts and other high-quality content, you can build your website’s reputation. It’s also useful for building your network, both with peers and influencers. But for that to happen, you can’t have “getting followers” as your goal. You have to be active and engaged, sharing for the sake of being useful to your followers.
Now for management…
How are marketers managing their social media? Surprisingly, a lot aren’t using any tools.
While a slim majority of marketers use software to help them stay on top of their social media, nearly half (43%) don’t use anything. Is it because they don’t know what’s available? I don’t know.
Personally, I use HootSuite and Buffer for the majority of my social media planning. When I was doing four to five tweets per day, Buffer made it easy. But even in my scaled-back mode, I use HootSuite to schedule my posts for the day and to check on engagement. You don’t have to have an arsenal, but a few well-chosen tools make social media a breeze.
What’s working for you?
According to this survey, social media marketers are focusing on two primary tactics in three to four channels. They spend anywhere from a few minutes a day to 30 minutes a week, and as much as 30 minutes a day.
Is that what’s working for you? How do the survey results stack up against your experience?
About the author: Kathryn Aragon
Kathryn Aragon is an award-winning copywriter, blogger, marketing consultant and product creator specializing in social content and digital marketing.