You’ve heard that social media is an important part of your marketing strategy, but as someone who runs a small biz or startup, it's hard to actually get there.
That, my friends, is where I come in.
When I started here at Grasshopper in October of 2013, our social media didn’t have a dedicated person to manage it, so there wasn’t a set strategy or goals. After surveying the landscape, I basically growth hacked our strategy and our content to where we are today – and I’m continuing to grow our networks to reach continuously higher goals.
For you data lovers out there, over the past two quarters:
Average Facebook engagement grew from 5% to 9%.
The number of @ mentions on the Grasshopper Twitter handle increased 42%.
The number of interactions on Google+ increased by 45% (hence the headline of this post).
Our Pinterest follower count increased by 29%.
In the past year, referrals to this blog grew by 818% via Facebook, 742% via LinkedIn, and 2,215% on Twitter.
In this post I’ll give you a little insight into how I grew our social networks, and ultimately help you grow yours.
Even if you don't have a dedicated social media team member, you can do it, too. I promise, there is a method to my madness!
So, Social Media Person, How Do I Get 100,000 Followers?
NO. Stop right there. I want to clear up confusion around this before I go any farther.
WHEN IT COMES TO SOCIAL FOLLOWERS, QUALITY > QUANTITY
Click to tweet this
Sure, it’s great if you have a million followers, but if only five of those followers are actively engaging with you, they mean diddly-squat. That would be like having 20 people over for a dinner party, but only two actually ate and talked to each other, while the other 18 just stood around and stared at the floor. Not very entertaining, right?
What I’m going to show you is how to grow and diversify your strategy and content, so you can have a more ENGAGED following – which does tend to lead to a growth in followers, but I’m not a believer of having that as a standalone goal.
Great! Now that we’ve gotten the boring stuff out of the way, let’s move on to the fun part!
Get Your Networks Straight
First, you need to get organized. It’s great to have all these ideas for what you want to post and when you want to post it, but you’re nothing if you don’t have a well thought-out schedule.
When I started managing Grasshopper’s social networks, I decided what type of content I wanted to share on each network. This is going to vary on the type of network, but here’s what I came up with:
Facebook – blog posts, curated posts from other sources, photos/graphics
Twitter – blog posts, curated posts/RTs from other sources, photos/graphics, discussion questions
Pinterest – Images!
Google+ – blog posts, photos/graphics
Instagram – graphics, photos around the office, photos out and about
LinkedIn – blog posts, discussions
Now, I’m not saying you have to be on EVERY network that exists.
If you’re an interior designer, for example, LinkedIn may not be a great place for you, while Instagram and Pinterest would blow the doors off your social presence. It’s all about knowing where you fit in, and working with it.
Need help figuring out WHAT to post? SocialMediaToday has a great article about finding and creating engaging content.
Time-Crunched Tip: Images are hot in social right now, so don’t be afraid to borrow content from other sources! You can find a couple week’s worth of images by doing a quick search on Pinterest – just make sure you give credit to whoever created it.
Schedule Your Stuff
Now that we know what type of content we want, we need to create a schedule. There’s tons of information out there about when/how much you should be posting on social – a simple Google search can help you out.
You should also be taking a look at when your audience is online the most and try to coincide your posting times with that.
No matter what, you'll have to test. Try out a few different times and see what works.
There’s also a lot of content scheduling tools out there, and I use Sprout Social to schedule posts. However, I’m a very visual person, so I wanted to find a calendar tool that allowed me to color code and drag-and-drop posts, so I could see exactly where everything was placed.
You can definitely use a Google calendar or iCal (or an Excel sheet if you’re good at that kind of stuff), but the folks over at ContentDJ were nice enough to give me a test drive of their social content calendar, which is currently in beta, so I’ll be using that as my example.
Here’s what my calendar looks like. Each color stands for a different network:
At first glance, it looks confusing, but it really isn’t. It’s actually a super helpful guide so I can see quickly what I’m going to be posting and when.
Time-crunched Tip: You don’t have to create an entire calendar. Twitter and Facebook have a scheduling function so you can have future posts go out automatically. You can also set calendar reminders in Google or iCal so you’re prompted to post without even thinking about it!
Wait. How'd That Happen?
So – how did I even begin to decide how to create this schedule?
First, I decided for each network how often I wanted to post. For most networks, you can post every day. For networks I’m still testing out, like Instagram, I’ll post a little less often so I can take some time to craft content, and make changes as necessary.
Next, I looked at things we were already doing – Customer Spotlights, regularly publishing blog posts, creating quote graphics for Pinterest – and the data that went along with them. Based on what was doing well and what wasn’t, I chose what to place on the calendar first, and when.
This is where some analytics are going to come in. You can easily get data from the analytics sections of your networks, or Simply Measured has some great free tools to help you get an idea of what’s working.
Here’s an example of a text post that didn’t do so well, compared to a photo that did much better.
From there, it’s just a matter of sourcing or creating the content and plugging it in to when you want to post it. Using this method I was able to grow the variety of stuff we post, which translates to more engaging posts for your audience, which (should) lead to a growing audience.
For example, I created one pin for “Make Your Dream Come True” day that has resulted in 101 repins and counting. The pin is linked to our blog, so when someone clicks on it they’re brought here. How’s that for spreading brand awareness?
Test, Analyze, Rinse, and Repeat
After you’ve set up your schedule and you’re comfortable with following it, you’ll want to pull your data and analyze it regularly.
I do this on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis – I set up a simple spreadsheet to organize it.
I look at a LOT of data, but most importantly I look at the top three best and worst performing posts for each network, and dig into the specifics of them.
What type of post was it? What was the day and the time of the post? What kind of engagement did it result in? This allows me to recreate the type of content that works really well, and stop wasting time on stuff that stinks.
Time-crunched Tip: You don’t have to create an in-depth spreadsheet and dig super deep to know what’s working and what isn’t. A quick look at Facebook insights or Pinterest analytics will give you a snapshot of what’s happening on your network – and it’s enough info to make quick decisions about what to post and what to cut.
At the end of the day, it’s all about finding what social networks and strategies make sense for your business, and growing your content on those platforms. It doesn’t have to be painful, or take over your life – and the benefits are totally worth it.
Your Turn: What have you done to 'growth hack' your strategy? We want to know.