The team has gathered to brainstorm a new social media advertising campaign for your client—or perhaps you’ve just won a coveted new piece of business altogether—when the talk turns to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube.
It’s time to get social.
But as any social media pro can tell you, social is not a one-size-fits-all solution for brands. It is more than setting up an Instagram profile, Facebook page or YouTube channel. It starts way before that even happens (or if it happens at all). It starts with a process you learned on your 5th grade field trip to the planetarium and, years later, measuring beakers in high school chemistry.
It starts with science.
Yes, that’s right. Social media is really just one big science experiment. And the social media pros of today are really social media scientists. There is no rulebook, there is no “right” way or “wrong” way, and there is no universal roadmap. It is trial and error, taking chances, being brave and making tweaks.
It may sound goofy, but think about it: wouldn’t you rather have your company’s social media approached from a methodical, strategic (read: scientific) point of view?
So, how do social media scientists approach social? It all starts with…
- Research. At the very beginning of any advertising campaign, you need to start with some basic research and data. Who are your customers? Drill down further in your customer personas to determine ages and geographies (necessary for targeted social advertising as well as social channel preference), likes and interests (ditto) and how they consume media. Are your customers on social media? And what do those social communities look like? What kind of posts get the most engagement and interaction? Take a look at your competitors’ social accounts to get a feel for how their fans/followers are interacting. Have you noticed any social ads promoting your competitors? Are they boosting/promoting their content? Keep asking questions and finding the answers. Now it’s time to…
- Experiment. This is the fun part, where you take all the research and data you accumulated in the first step and develop the plan. Which channels should you be on (remember, you shouldn’t be on “all of them” just because you think you should)? What is your voice: silly, serious, educational, or something else altogether? How often should you post, and what should you post about? Should we advertise on Facebook or Instagram—or both? Or neither? And how much? This is where you can do some A/B testing with content and ads. After all this experimentation, you’ll be ready to…
- Measure and Analyze. How did you do? You can use organic tools (like Facebook Insights) or more sophisticated tools to take a deep dive into all of your analytics and create reports. What kinds of content received the most engagement? Take note of any patterns, like the time(s) of day your posts get the most engagement or if your fans like shorter/tighter copy over longer posts. Take a look at your advertising campaigns to see which ads performed best; if you did any A/B testing, you can see which photos, headlines or calls-to-action appeal more to your audience. Draw conclusions, make adjustments, and do it all again.
Sure, your hard work may look a lot different from the scientific breakthroughs of Marie Curie, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. And it may not win you a Nobel Prize. But a scientific approach to social media will undoubtedly build brand awareness, spark conversations and deliver conversions ($$$).
Science has never looked better.