Organic social media is dead…
Okay, not really. But, it sure as hell is not what it used to be.
Just a few years back, Facebook was essentially an all-you-can-eat buffet of free traffic.
Even those with a small audience and zero strategy could drive a considerable number of clicks back to their site with ease.
Fast forward to today and you’re stuck with the reality that every time you publish a post on Facebook it only reaches about 3% of your audience, possibly even less. Pair that with Facebook’s relentless attempt to keep users on their platform (not your website), and you’re left saying, “what’s even the point?”
Fear not, I have good news! You can still pay to play. Yes, that’s right… I’m talking about Facebook Ads.
A healthy combination of paid and organic posts—paired with a consistent posting schedule, a healthy content mix, and a bit of data analysis—is the key to a successful modern-day social media strategy that grows your audience and drives people back to your site.
Before you start pouring money into your social media advertisements you need to know what types of content perform well organically. With that in mind, here are 5 things that you can add to your social media strategy that will help inform what types of content perform the best, giving you a clear picture of what types of content will translate into high-performing social media ads.
#1: Optimize Your Content Mix
When I talk about a “content mix,” I’m referring to what proportion of your content should come in one form or another.
I like to think about the different content types in really simple terms. When you share something on social media (particularly Facebook), it’s usually one of these 4 content types:
- Curated Competitor Content
You may see ratios online about the optimal content mix. But everyone seems to have a different idea of what works best. And the truth is that none of these prescribed content mixes are ever going to be perfect for you, because your brand is unique. No other company in the world has the same size following, the same brand recognition, or the same target audience as you.
And that’s why the ideal content mix for your company is also going to be unique.
So how do I recommend figuring out what that content mix should be?
For starters, use those 4 categories listed above when determining your content mix, and keep track of how many photos, videos, and links you share on social media.
Then follow this process to optimize and improve that content mix over time:
1) Establish a Baseline
When you’re first getting started, just do something. Maybe you decide to start by sharing 3 links, 1 piece of competitor content, 2 photos, and a video every day.
So do that for a while. What you’re doing here is establishing a baseline—something you can use to compare your results against in the future.
After a few weeks, step back and analyze how successful your social distribution has been so far. What’s worked, and what hasn’t? Have you succeeded as much as you wanted to? If not, what can you change to improve things going forward?
Maybe you’re finding that your videos perform really well, but your photos just aren’t getting a whole lot of engagement. This is valuable information to have for the next step, where you will…
Now that you have a better idea of what’s working & what isn’t, try tweaking your content mix to improve your results. If you found that your videos are outperforming your photos, maybe you want to adjust your content mix to include 1 photo and 2 videos each day.
Do that for a while to establish a new baseline. Now you can repeat the whole process over again.
#2: Establish and Stick to a Schedule
When it comes to an effective social media strategy, consistency is King. To achieve the most success possible with your social distribution, I recommend setting up and using a schedule. This is hands-down the best way I know to stay consistent with your social media distribution.
I like to add this to my actual calendar and treat it like a checklist, so that I’m always reminded when I need to make another post.
I also highly recommend scheduling your posts in advance when you can. This is a form of “batching” that allows you to be much more efficient with your time. This strategy also gives you more freedom throughout the rest of your day.
You can do this using a paid tool like Sprout Social, or in many cases you can do it right inside of the platform itself. In Facebook, for example, all you have to do is click the little button that says “Share Now” and change it to “Schedule”:
Then you can decide exactly when you want your post to go live:
#3: Track Your Performance with Social Media Scorecards
Over time, you’re going to find that it’s easy to lose track of how well your social media strategy is working—that is, unless you have a system set up to help you keep your eye on it.
With that in mind, we created a new tool called Social Media Scorecards.
This handy download gives you a quick and easy 3-step system you can use to keep track of your social media performance.
Step 1 helps you track your posting and your content mix. Are you publishing as many posts as you want to be?
Step 2 is where you can track your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). And to make this as useful as possible, we’ve pre-filled the scorecards with the most important KPIs we recommend tracking for each social media network.
Finally, in step 3 you can track some more specific post quality metrics. Think of these as more fun “stretch” goals. In a way these are your leading metrics, because achieving them will help you hit your KPIs.
And when we’re all done, we add up our “Wins” at the bottom to calculate our total score. This total score gives us a quick way to track our social media performance over time for each social media channel.
Filling out these social media scorecards gives us actionable information that we can use to improve our approach going forward. If we didn’t hit our goal for comments, why not? Are we not posting enough? Do we need to make our content more engaging? Maybe start asking questions in some of our posts to generate more discussion?
In a nutshell, these scorecards are a tool that helps you start asking yourself the right questions about your social media strategy.
I recommend filling these out on a weekly basis. Once a week is frequent enough to let you make rapid changes if you need it, while also giving you enough data for a useful analysis.
#4: Always Remember the Importance of Packaging
Now I want to talk about packaging for a minute. But first, I want to ask you a question.
Which one of these 2 pies would you be more likely to buy?
(Cue the “Jeopardy” music.)
OK, this isn’t hard. Obviously, the pie on the left looks a lot more appetizing than the pie on the right. The one on the left looks well made, baked to a nice golden color, and is really well-presented.
The pie on the right just looks like a mess.
Now here’s the thing: these pies were actually baked at the same bakery.
They’re both made from the exact same ingredients by the exact same bakers. They actually taste the exact same!
So why does everybody prefer the pie on the left?
Because of its packaging.
And this is something that’s really crucial to keep in mind with content distribution on social media.
You could have a blog post that’s profoundly insightful, well-written, and full of gems that will provide immense value to your target audience.
But if that blog post looks unprofessional, is hard to read, or otherwise looks unappealing…
Most people simply won’t read it.
Remember that social media today is full of ads and posts that are all competing for your prospect’s attention. If you want to catch their eye and make them not just click on your content, but actually take interest and read it, you can’t just push your content. You have to SELL it.
Here’s an example of what I mean.
This blog post on our 101 best email subject lines of 2018 is without a doubt one of our most popular posts:
But as successful as this post was, we weren’t seeing as much success on organic social media as we would have liked.
So what did we do?
We worked on improving the packaging.
And here’s the result of that. Notice how bold and vibrant the colors are now? You can just imagine how much more this post would jump out in your newsfeed compared to the original image, which had more muted colors.
I’ve posted to social media many, many, many times, and I find that when I use bright yellow or red I tend to get the best results. These “thumb-stopping” colors just naturally stand out against the blue theme of Facebook.
Also notice that we use the Gmail symbol here. This is a symbol that people are familiar with. Tons of people use Gmail and they’re used to getting notifications associated with this icon. So when people see it in a post on Facebook, it’s almost like telling their brain: “Oh, I need to check that.”
#5: Use CTR Analysis to Inform Your Paid Social Advertising
Now I’m going to share a process I use to help analyze and improve the performance of content on social media. This is a simple data-driven way to find out which content is performing the best. It can also help give you some ideas about what to do next time if a piece of content isn’t performing well.
It’s called doing a Click-Through Rate (CTR) Analysis.
The first step is to calculate your CTR for each post. Getting your CTR is pretty simple:
CTR = Link Clicks / Reach
Here’s where you’ll find those metrics:
(Notice you should NOT use “Post Clicks.” That will include people who clicked on your title or who clicked to “see more” without actually visiting your site to read the post.)
Do this for all your recent posts. Then I like to put them in a spreadsheet and rank them according to their CTR.
What I’ll do is separate the posts into 3 tiers (top, middle, bottom). Then I’ll take these actions based on where each post falls in that hierarchy:
Top CTR Posts
If a post is in the top 25% in terms of click-through rate, then I know that post is working well. So in that case I’ll just recirculate the post a week or so later, without changing anything about it.
(Remember, anytime you publish an organic post only a small percentage of your followers actually see it. So don’t worry about recirculating a post that you’ve already shared. There will be a lot less overlap than you think in terms of the people you reach.)
And after another few weeks, repackage and recirculate the post again! This time try something new—change the image or headline. In many cases you’ll find that you’re able to appeal to a different segment of your audience.
Middle CTR Posts
For any post that was middle-of-the-road in terms of its CTR, I won’t recirculate the post as it is. Instead, I’ll immediately repackage it to try and improve the appeal. Then I’ll recirculate the repackaged version to see if it gets more engagement than the original.
Bottom CTR Posts
For any underperforming post, you should also try to repackage and recirculate it. But in this case, if the repackaged version doesn’t improve performance then that’s a good indication that this piece of content just isn’t something that resonates with your social audience. If that happens I recommend you just stop trying to share this post on that network.
Now Translate This to Your Paid Advertising Efforts
Going through this CTR analysis process is fairly straightforward, but don’t underestimate it. It’s a really powerful way to find out which content is performing well, and it gives you a set of straightforward action items for each post based on its past performance.
And you can even use the insights you learn to help inform your paid social media advertising!
As you start to learn which posts are performing the best on social media, you’ll get a much better idea of which posts would be the smartest ones to boost. If you already know that a post had a high CTR when you published it organically, you can be pretty confident that that post will perform even better when you put a little money behind it.
And over time you’ll even start to learn which content topics are resonating best with your audience, which you can use to guide your content creation and paid advertising in the future.
Now Go and Implement!
Hopefully you now have a better idea of how to think about content in a way that can grow your brand while generating a positive ROI for your company.
Unless you’re a publisher, your content isn’t directly responsible for generating revenue. So you have to remember where your content fits into the customer journey, and optimize it to do a better job of achieving its top-of-funnel goals.
Whatever you do, don’t forget about the pie. It’s so important to make sure that you’re getting the best results possible from the effort you’re putting into your content. And that means presenting your content in a way that makes it as appealing as possible to your target audience.