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Social Media

How to Make Social Media Channels Work For You

Have you struggled with low, often negligible, levels of engagement over your social media channels? Have you ever been excited to publish something, only to feel like no one cares, or that you can’t reach the right audience?

There’s good news. Social media channels aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution to engaging with your customers. Odds are that you're not using the right one for your company.

With the right social plan, you can find which channels to focus your efforts and watch your impressions and shares climb.

Creating Effective Social Media Channels

Finding the right social channels to meet your needs doesn’t have to be hard, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.

There are plenty of fantastic benefits to using social media platforms. For one, they're free. They also have billions of users, online every day. You have the potential to reach an audience that may not have found your company otherwise. To contrast those perks, though, social media has a dangerous side. People are less forgiving of slip-ups or negative interactions, so it's essential to be on your game at all times. It also makes it more important to find the right channel for your company.

While there's nothing wrong with using multiple channels, they don't lend to the same audiences. While LinkedIn offers a professional user base, Instagram leans towards a younger crowd, looking more for entertainment. You'll have to be particular about which platforms you use and how you engage if you want to keep a customer-centric focus (as you should). The list below has everything you need to make the best use of your profiles over the most popular social media platforms.

Facebook

Founded in 2003, under the title, FaceMash, Facebook is the world's largest social media platform. Fortunately, they decided to change to their current moniker within a year. Even better is that the company shifted its website design from a "hot or not" poll of Harvard students towards the site we know today. By December of 2005, Facebook had already earned over six million users.

Demographics:

Today, the site posts a whopping 2.32 Billion users worldwide. At least half of those members are active daily. The site's demographics are split evenly between males and females, with a large percentage being 18-29 year-olds and 30-59 year-olds coming in a close second.

Best Days and Times to Publish:

The best days to publish on Facebook are Saturday and Sunday. Posts on the weekend earn 32% higher engagement, making it the best time to publish your content with higher importance. Daily use on Facebook is still high throughout the week, so publishing consistently will often bring decent impressions.

The best times to publish are at 9 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm. Posts in the early afternoon are more likely to be shared by users, while posts a bit later will get the most clicks. Plan your posting times based on the goal of that content.

Best Types of Content:

Facebook does best with content that interests users. Yes, that's the case with all platforms, but specifically, Facebook isn't a search platform. No one is logging onto their account to find the answer to their problem unless they're posting an open question to their connections.

Videos and photos will earn you the most shares and likes, increasing the potential for others to see the posts. Using these to increase your followers, you can then publish informative and valuable posts through any medium and reach a larger audience who can visit your site.

A simple technique to increase engagement is to end your posts with a question that will generate discussion. Also, be sure to post in different mediums, to keep your viewers looking for your material.

Company Example: LL Bean

 

Social-Media-LL-Bean-Facebook
 

With over 1 million "likes," LL Bean, uses this platform exceptionally well. They share posts from their viewers, offer deals, and promote events that their audience would appreciate. Some of those events are ones they have no stake in either, further showing their audience that they care.

Other Info:

  • To track analytics, sites like Facebook Analytics and Fanpage Karma can give you a better grasp on the details as to when your specific audience is active and what type of content they prefer.
  • Ensure your profile pic is easily identifiable and you have an eye-catching background. Use imagery to your advantage as your campaigns shift during the year.
  • Set up CTAs on your page. Adding a 'Call Us' or 'Book Now' button could be the nudge viewers need to take the next step with your company.
  • Fill out everything on your profile. Your About info, specifically, should be complete and updated as necessary.
  • Don't over-post. Spamming people's feed is the fastest way for them to turn-off notifications from your profile, or 'unlike' you entirely.
  • Make use of the Audience Manager tool to target your specific audience. This can make an enormous difference in the effectiveness of your posts.

Twitter

Compared to other social platforms, Twitter is a different beast. Initially, posts were restricted to 140 characters. This doubled in 2017 but keeps the same intent of providing a clear and concise message.

This channel encourages posting often, meaning feeds are continually updated and many posts are missed altogether. This makes it more important to post during high impact times and to have material that'll catch your viewer's eye.

Demographics:

Twitter is comprised of slightly more male users, but not enough to create a significant impact. This audience consists of 18-29 year-olds with the most active users being between 25 and 34.

Though not at Facebook levels of usage, Twitter boasts 321 million users worldwide, with 79% located outside the US.

Best Days and Times to Publish:

The best day for Twitter, interestingly, is Wednesday. Posts at noon and between 5 and 6 pm show higher traffic, most likely due to lunch breaks and commutes home. B2B profiles will find better engagement during business hours, while B2C will work best over the weekend.

Since Twitter feeds move faster than other channels, you need to post more often to increase the chances your material finds viewers. Once you've gained popularity with your account, shares will appear in more people's feeds, growing exponentially.

Best Types of Content:

Because of the limited characters you have to work with, it's important to get your point across fast. Add images to your tweets to get people to slow down enough to read your headline or post.

Polls and questions do well on Twitter because of the conversation-like nature of the platform. It's also more common for people to collect news here than on Facebook, so press releases and other company updates may perform better.

A good tactic is to break your campaigns into bite-size bits. Create multiple posts for the same material and spread them out over time to increase impressions and potential for shares.

Company Example: Starbucks

 

Social-Media-Starbucks-Twitter
 

One of the best examples of Twitter use is Starbucks. They post a wide range of material that’s engaging to their viewers. While caffeinated beverages are their business, they also share stories and news about environmental conservation, a topic close to their audience's hearts.

Constantly updated, their profile provides gorgeous imagery and they offer witty replies to posts, though not in the same regard as Wendy’s.

Other Info:

  • Twitter Analytics and Followerwonk are useful resources for data analysis.
  • Make good use of hashtags and don't be afraid to tag profiles related to your posts.
  • Follow other accounts in your industry to stay up to date on the news and what competitors are up to, but don't go overboard. Accounts with more followers than profiles followed are considered in the "negative." This term, made up by marketers, has no legitimate impact from Twitter. But what can cause them to sanction your account is rapid following, then unfollowing after someone follows back. This isn't the intent of the system and goes against their acceptable use policy.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn launched in 2003 as a platform for professional networking, hiring, and sharing your personal resume. It differs from other social media channels in that it's entirely business related (funny cat videos have a much lower approval rating).

A profile on LinkedIn is far more important than on other pages. It's where someone can go to learn everything about your company and decide whether to follow you for news or carry out a business transaction.

A good rule of thumb with LinkedIn is that posts should promote a business, professional development, or a professional network if it hopes to gain traffic.

Demographics:

LinkedIn provides service to over 590 million users, registered across 200 countries. Active users will fluctuate based on the needs of the individual. While someone on Facebook or Twitter will peruse the site every day, many people will only use LinkedIn when they need to expand their network or find a new position. Generally, more than 250 million are active and will fluctuate just a bit.

The platform is comprised mostly of male users, and unlike the other channels, LinkedIn is mostly 30-59 year-olds with the younger population in a close second. This is primarily due to where people are in their professional career at that stage of life. It is, however, growing more popular in universities as college students realize the importance of networking earlier.

Best Days and Times to Publish:

For the best days, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday have great results. Of these, Wednesday pulls, but only marginally. You should avoid posting on Monday and Friday which have drastically lower engagement rates.

Similar to Twitter, LinkedIn catches more traffic during commutes and breaks, making 7-8 am, noon, and 5-6 pm the best times to publish.

Best Types of Content:

Since LinkedIn is a professional network, many of its viewers read their streams in the morning to collect business news from the companies they’re following.

Post things that can help someone expand their network, or grow professionally, or just updates about your company. How-to guides and research, directly related to the business world also do well. Share blog posts from your site but ensure the displayed graphic is more professional in nature than others you may use.

Company Example: Hays

 

Social-Media-Hays-LinkedIn
 

An outstanding company for profile insights is Hays. This recruiting agency took first place in LinkedIn's Best Company Profiles of 2019 competition. The company provides a consistent feel to their site and posts a lot of useful content and information to help those following their business. Their adjoining pages (About Us, What We Do) are well-crafted and thought out.

Other Info:

  • Depending on the nature of your business, it may be a good idea to build a LinkedIn profile, even if you don't plan to publish content. These pages often rank well in searches and it's normal for potential hires to look at these profiles before applying.

Instagram

Though Facebook owns Instagram, the two are very different. Instagram was designed as a photo and video sharing network. It launched in 2010 and required users to download their app to upload content.

Photos can be edited through their app with a series of filters, allowing almost limitless control of the quality and feel of the content. Additionally, users can tag people or locations and create "Stories," content that will vanish from the system after 24 hours.

Demographics:

Instagram is the first social media channel that has a majority of female users, though males aren't too far behind. The primary audience is 18-29 year-olds, as much of the content posted is from spur-of-the-moment shots that require cell-phones to be permanently in hand.

As of September 2017, 800 million people use Instagram. A few demographic studies were conducted, finding that 41% of users have some college or a four-year degree. Users with only a high school diploma make up 15%.

Best Days and Times to Publish:

Mondays and Thursday do better than the other five days of the week, seeing only slightly increase engagements rates.

Times are more sporadic with Instagram than other channels, with 2 am, 8-9 am, and 5 pm being the hours with the highest traffic. The day time increases follow the same pattern as other platforms, matching work commutes, while the 2 am influx only proves that Instagram users don't sleep.

The most substantial dips occur between 3 and 4 pm, but traffic is slower overall during the workday.

Best Types of Content:

Although it's possible to share memes and quotes, the content that does best is the material Instagram was designed for: videos and photos. Videos tend to do better than the latter with those posted at 9 pm earning 34% more engagement.

Stories allow your brand to show off whatever you're working on at the time, and since the post will be deleted after 24 hours, it gives viewers an incentive to check it out when available. This also means that someone opens your story, you've already got their attention. Provide as much value as you can to keep them watching and looking forward to the next round.

Company Example: Airbnb

 

Social-Media-airbnb-Instagram
 

Marketing teams have gotten exceptionally better at using Instagram, so it's not uncommon to find large companies with great pages. One that does exceptionally well is Airbnb.

They show off enough unique locations to get people excited to their use product using breathtaking and eye-catching photos. Also, they make use of pinned stories, ones that don't vanish the next day, to provide useful company information.

Other Info:

  • Once you've reached 10,000 followers on your account, Instagram offers the ability to create "swipe ups" in your stories. Ultimately, you can pitch a product or service and tell viewers to "swipe up." By sliding up on the screen, it opens an advertisement or sends the viewer to a link of your choosing. This can be extremely effective since you've already earned their attention by them opening your story, making them a better-qualified consumer.

YouTube

Although YouTube isn't a social media channel in the same sense as the others, it works similarly and entire businesses can be built on their platform. The site, owned by Google, serves as the world's second most popular search provider. If people are looking for answers that require visuals, they flock to YouTube to find it.

YouTube users upload more than 400 hours of video every minute. This is probably why over 5 billion videos are viewed daily, with over 1 billion of those being from a mobile device.

Demographics:

With over 1.3 billion users around the world, YouTube is a powerhouse of a website. One thing unaccounted for are the multiple viewers many videos get. For example, when a classroom watches an educational clip, it counts for one view, even though there are more than twenty in the room. Though not as crucial for their number tracking, it's a useful bit of info for marketers to remember.

A majority of YouTube's user-base is male, made up of mostly 18-29 year-olds.

Best Days and Times to Publish:

Because YouTube is used as a search platform, traffic doesn't taper as much as other sites and engagement remains relatively constant throughout the week. Thursday and Friday do pull ahead, but the increase is minor.

For timing, on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, publish content between 2 and 4 pm. On Thursday and Friday, aim to publish between noon and 3 pm. On the weekends, the best time is from 9 to 11 am.

Best Types of Content:

The best type of content for YouTube is visual, in case you had doubts. People use YouTube for video walkthroughs, how-to videos, product reviews, and other content that requires visual representation. People are searching for something they want to see, not just for an answer.

A great way to repurpose blog content is to make videos on the same material, like listicles. Many companies will even create mini skits to run as commercials to gain more traffic for their website.

Another technique many companies promote takes advantage of unboxings. Run a contest, send out some free merchandise, and ask people to post the unboxing on YouTube.

Many parents will also allow their children to watch YouTube, whether supervised or not, but this gives companies an avenue to reach the younger generation. While your products may not be a fit for Twitter or LinkedIn, if your target demographic is younger, this could be a great platform to use.

Company Example: Mind Pump TV 

 

Social-Media-mind-pump-youtube
 

Mind Pump Media provides daily videos for physical trainers and fitness enthusiasts. Because of their market, they're able to create videos that are full of information and the value comes from seeing how the exercises are performed.

These videos are often tied into blog articles or their podcast, giving viewers the same content, but in any medium they prefer.

Other Info:

  • Because you can build your "channel" on YouTube with subscribers, it's possible to segment your content into a video series. This lets you fine-tune the audience for the type of content they prefer, similar to how you'd manage an email campaign.

Picking a Channel that Meets Your Needs

Selecting the right channel isn't difficult if you understand the intent of each. General interactions between businesses and customers differ per platform, but nothing says you can't use multiple to reach your audience.

No matter what social media channels you decide to use, there are some things you should avoid across all platforms.

  • Do Not Buy Followers: You may believe paying for accounts to follow you will look good, but it's a useless venture. They're not profiles who care about your brand so they won't engage, share, or like your content. This will make you look even worse when a simple question receives no feedback, even though you have thousands of followers. Take your time and do it right.
  • Get Help Scheduling Your Posts: Sitting at your computer, or with your phone constantly in hand, just so you can publish your posts at the right time will get annoying fast. Tools like Hootsuite and CoSchedule let you plan and publish all your content right from their apps, making it easier for your team to track when and where everything was posted.
  • Don't Sell All the Time: The point of your social media accounts can't be to sell more. Sure, that's a positive outcome, but the primary goal is to connect and engage with your customers. Throwing too many pitches their way will result in your accounts losing followers.
  • Post Valuable Content: Like all marketing, if you're not providing value to your customer, you're going to lose them. You need to stay customer-centric or risk losing your credibility. Make your accounts demand attention by providing the most valuable content you can muster. If the free content is exceptional, imagine what they'll think of your paid materials.

If you need some more help, we've created a guide for Inbound Marketers using social media. Take a look and have fund engaging your audience on a new level.

Social Media Management Tools

 

Written by Chris DuBois / May 9, 2019

Chris is an Organic Marketer at Lean Labs who enjoys strategizing and writing content that drives results. Armed with a degree in English, certifications from around the web, and a range of experiences, he's ready to help grow your brand. When not typing away, Chris is exploring nature with his two daughters, wife, and dogs.

Articles by Chris DuBois
Chris
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