3.2 Making the Most of Your Time on Social Media
Building your social media strategy:
There are six steps that we will review on how to create a social media strategy:
- Know which accounts you have. How are they working for you?
- Identify your goals and objectives for using social media
- Define your audience
- Identify the best social media channels to reach them
- Share content that resonates with them
- Measure your results
Think of a social media strategy as a road map to get to your destination taking the most efficient and effective route.
Start with a Social Media Audit
It’s a good idea to start with doing an audit – it sounds arduous, but it’s not! It basically means taking a close look at what you’ve been doing online so far. What’s worked, and what hasn’t?
More specifically, when you do an audit of your channels, look at the posts that receive the most engagement and positive feedback. What was it about the post that made it feel authentic? Was it the image choice? Language within the post? Use of hashtags? Assess and measure what’s working and what isn’t. You can also have others take a look at your account and provide feedback too.
You can also look at what other brands are doing online. It doesn’t matter if they are in the beef industry or not; you can get inspiration from examples of brands that you already like to follow. You can also use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to search companies and brands to see what type of content they are sharing, how frequently they post and what kind of engagement they are receiving from their online audience. To build a strong sense of community, collaboration and advocacy within the beef industry, we recommend following groups, individuals and organizations that align with what you do, and to engage with the posts you like.
Two things to consider when you are conducting your own social media audit:
1. Return on Investment (ROI)
- Where can you get the biggest return on your investment?
- Which platforms/posts do you want to dedicate most of your time & energy?
- What is working? i.e. which posts have the best engagement?
- What isn’t? i.e. which posts aren’t performing well? Why do you think that’s the case?
- Review how competing industries are leveraging social media. What seems to work for them? Can you apply some of their best practices to your own channel?
- Talk to other people in the beef industry who are using social media. What have they learned along the way?
- What are the things you’d like to start doing, stop doing and do more of?
Building your social media strategy:
Identifying Your Goals and Objectives
Once you have completed your audit, the next step in building your social media strategy is to be very clear on your goals and objectives for being active on social media. If you have written a marketing plan, you can mirror some of your goals from that. Social media is a channel to help you achieve your marketing goals, so the two plans should be aligned.
If you’re not currently active on any social media channels, but are getting started, it is still helpful to set some benchmarks for success. These could include:
Setting goals will help you stay focused on what you want to achieve with your efforts on social media.
Identifying Your Social Media Goals
What are your goals for being active on social media?
Do you need to:
- Grow your audience size?
- Educate consumers about your role in the beef industry?
- Improve brand perception and build public trust?
- Create a channel for customer feedback?
- Share facts and figures about the work you do?
- Update your customers on new products, services or offerings?
- Increase traffic to your website?
- Conduct informal market research before you try launching a new product offering or service?
Many users make the mistake of focusing solely on the goal of gaining a certain number of followers. The number of followers you have is a metric, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate success. It’s important to keep in mind that with social media, a larger audience doesn’t necessarily convert to real results. Instead, focus on the quality of your followers and the engagement they are having with your content. As an advocate of the beef industry, sharing timely information, teaching your audience about how the industry works and showing the values of our industry are important metrics for success.
Establishing Your Social Media Objectives:
There are three main categories of social media objectives:
2. Engagement – These are the likes, shares, comments, mentions and replies on your posts. It answers the question “How many times are people interacting with your social media posts?”
3. Return on Investment (ROI) – One step further is to determine how social media is driving people to your website, who might turn into customers. Using a website analytic tool to measure the traffic from your social media account to your website is an effective and easy way to see how social media is working for you. If you aren’t currently using a website analytic program, you should make this a priority. Consider adding Google Analytics as a solution—it’s free and offers excellent tracking and reporting capabilities with social media metrics included.
Remember: Having a social media account for the sake of being online is not a good strategy.
Identifying Your Goals and Objectives
Identify Your Target Audience
Next, you should consider who your audience is and which social media channels they most likely use.
Understanding who your audience is online is crucial to your success. This makes it easier for you to create compelling content and messaging that resonates with their interests, as well as determining how to position the beef industry and your content towards their specific needs.
Social media should always be a two-way conversation, not just an amplification of what you want to say. Content should serve to help, inform, inspire and engage. And remember, content isn’t just words—visual social media content (things like images, infographics, video) perform much better than non-image content.
When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of the information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.
You may also want to consider incorporating video as part of your strategy. It doesn’t have to be complicated, a lot of great videos can be shot using a mobile device. More than 500 million Facebook users are watching videos on Facebook every day, and that number is expected to grow.
Defining your target audience should include demographic information about your customer including age, gender, geographic location, income level, occupation, marital and family status, education level and languages spoken. You should also try to include their interests and behaviours including what they purchase.
The more information you know about your target market, the better you will be able to reach them online. When we know who we want to reach and what matters to them, the better we are able to connect our information in a way that’s relevant.
Further, if you reach a point where you want to boost any of your posts, understanding your target audience will allow you to be very precise with your reach. We’ll cover more of that in Module 3.
In the beef industry, you may have a few segments that you’re trying to reach. For example, you might be an association looking to connect with other producers within the industry. In that case, you may want to create content that has valuable statistics, charts, information and news.
If you’re a producer, you might be interested in connecting with consumers who are interested in buying beef, and they might have questions about where their food comes from and how it’s made. In that case, create content that talks about where their beef comes from, where to buy it, how to prepare it and its nutritional benefits.
Many advocates say they target everyone who eats/buys beef products or even “the general public.” However this may be too general and too broad for you to be successful. Targeting a specific market does not mean that you are excluding people who do not fit your description. Rather, it allows you to focus your time, money and energy on creating messaging to a specific group of people that are more likely to engage and interact with you.
Take time to describe your ideal follower. If you have been in the industry for some time, think about other beef industry advocates and members of the public, and if they have some common characteristics. It is very likely that other people who share these characteristics would also be interested in following you and learning more about where their beef comes from.
- How old are they?
- Where do they live?
- What do they want?
- What do they like/value?
- What social media channels are they on?
- What frustrates them?
- When are they online?
Defining your target market can be challenging, but it will make you a stronger advocate because you will be creating content that they will appreciate and engage with. Further, strong advocates helps to unify and build our industry in a positive way.
Know who you want to reach.
Know what matters to them.
Give them the information that matters to them.
Identify Your Target Audience
Which social media platforms are the right ones to use?
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Snapchat. With so many social media options available, it can be confusing and difficult to decide where you should focus your efforts.
One of the best things about social media is that you can sign up and try different platforms because it is easy to create accounts and it is free to use. You had the opportunity to learn about the different platforms in Module One.
Many of you might be planning to use your farm or ranch account as your personal account and vice versa. That’s not an issue, as long as it’s clear who you are representing, and to make sure you’re keeping it industry relevant. For example, if someone chooses to follow a farm, it’s because they’re interested in learning about where their beef comes from. Some personal anecdotes are fine to include, but if you find the majority of your posts are personal business, you might want to start a separate account to use personally. And remember, if you’re using your account to serve as an advocate for the industry, be sure to keep your content clean and polite.Don’t engage in personal debates or post anything offensive on your channel. It will reflect poorly on you and the industry as a whole.
Social media is about applying best practices, but it’s also about trying things out. Experimenting with different images and captions will let you see firsthand what works, and what doesn’t.
Social Media Mix
Selecting the right mix of social media platforms is paramount to a successful strategy. Your channel selection acts as a bridge between your objectives and your target audience.
As we learned in Module One, each social media channel has a specific purpose to serve an audience. Now that you have defined your target audience, make sure you select channels based on where your audience is located.
Keep in mind that social media is constantly evolving and changing. At the time of the writing of this course (late 2018), here is an overview of the most popular platforms in Canada and who is using them according to a 2018 Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) report:
- 87 per cent of online Canadians read or search for information, content, posts or comments from others at least once per week.
- Older demographic; largest use among individuals ages 35+.
- 35 per cent of online Canadians use Instagram.
- Younger (18 to 34 years) users far outweigh their older counterparts on this platform. This group represents 59 per cent of the total user base.
- 26 per cent of online Canadians use Twitter daily to search for information and news
- The largest demographic of users is 18 to 29 years followed by 30 to 45 years of age
- 12 per cent of online Canadians use Linkedin
- LinkedIn is the most popular social network among people ages 30 to 64 with a post-secondary degree.
There are several sources for this information:
2. Pew Research Center is a non-partisan American fact tank based in Washington D.C. It provides information and research on social issues, public opinion and demographics shaping the United States and the world. Although this is a U.S. resource, the data is comparable for Canada, too.
Choosing the right platforms and adopting a plan for your social media marketing is vital to saving you time and resources in the long run.
Now that you’re aware of which social networks your target audience uses, it’s important to set up your accounts correctly. Below is an overview of how to get started on the three most popular social media sites for advocacy:
Best practices for using Facebook for advocacy.
Start by creating a Facebook Page
Your page name should be the name of your farm, ranch or association. If you have been using Facebook for your farm or ranch using a personal account, it is a good idea to convert to a Page.
You will have more tools to reach your audience and you will be able to keep your personal posts private from the general population.
To get started you can Create a Page easily on Facebook and it is free to do so.
Use your farm/ranch/association logo as your profile picture to best represent your brand. Keep in mind that your profile picture will be cropped to a circular photo so you will want to ensure your image is sized to fit the space properly.
You can create an image of your farm, ranch, products or services as your cover photo.
On a Facebook page, you are able to add information similar to a company website. You can provide contact information, calls-to-action to landing pages on your website, updates, events and much more.
Facebook is one of the easiest social media channels to post on. You can share text posts with images, videos, links (to your website or blog, or to other resources and websites). All perform very well with the audience that uses this social network.
Later in this module we will cover best practices to consider when sharing content on social media that you should incorporate in your strategy using Facebook or any other social media channel.
If you plan on continuing to use Facebook as an advocate from your personal page, there is no need to create a separate page. Just be mindful that the content you share should be professional if you want to represent yourself as an advocate for the industry.
For more articles on how to use Facebook effectively, we suggest you read:
Facebook for Business: https://www.facebook.com/business/overview
Facebook Page Guide: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/facebook-business-page-guide/
The Ultimate Facebook Marketing Guide: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/facebook-for-business-ultimate-facebook-marketing-guide/
Twitter is an online news platform where people communicate in short messages called tweets that are up to 280 characters long.
People follow (subscribe) to your Twitter account, and you follow other people. This allows you to read, reply and easily share their tweets with your followers (known as a retweet).
Due to the short 280 character limit, this social network is best for brief updates. In particular, it’s great for breaking news and links to timely information, since this site moves so fast. Links, images and helpful tips do well on this platform.
Creating your account on Twitter is easy, and does not require a specific set up for your ranch or farm.
Your Twitter account is your unique identifier on Twitter. Ideally your farm/ranch or brand name is best to use so people can find you easily. It can contain up to 15 characters. You can add a descriptive name in addition to the @username that you can change if you need to.
Use your farm/ranch/organization logo as your profile to best represent your brand. This will help your audience easily identify you when you post on Twitter. The recommended size for your profile pic is 400 x 400 pixels.
You have additional space to share imagery in the header image—you can feature images of products or use a designed graphic with text. You can update the header image as frequently as you wish. The recommended size for a Twitter header image is 1500 x 1500 pixels.
Each account has 160 characters to create a profile bio. Share useful information including a brief overview of what you do and be certain to include a link to your website where they can learn more about your farm, ranch or organization.
When setting up your account you will have the option to make your account private. This option would not be the best choice if your objective is to increase awareness of your farm, ranch or organization so we do not recommend that setting.
Twitter allows you to follow friends, family, other farms, ranches, producers, influencers and also allows them to follow you. When you follow someone, that means you can see their “tweets” or updates in your timeline. You can add people to follow and unfollow people as you choose. Start by following people, farms, groups and organizations that you know and that are fellow advocates in the industry.
When deciding what to share on Twitter, consider how the audience uses it. People use Twitter to stay current on what is happening and to seek out timely, newsworthy information. Your tweets can include a link to any web content including a website, blog post or article. You can also add a photo, image or video to a tweet and this can help increase the engagement from your audience with your content.
Because of the nature of Twitter and how people use it to stay current on news, you must be timely with your content and tweets. This requires more content to be shared more frequently than the other social media platforms.
One of the unique aspects of Twitter is the importance of using #hashtags. Hashtags are used to represent a topic or keyword about what the tweet is about. Simply place the # symbol before a word and that creates a hashtag. Hashtags are searchable, if you click on it you are directed to all of the tweets that have been labelled the same. It is an ideal way to join a conversation you may want to participate in.
For more articles on how to use Twitter effectively, we suggest you read:
Getting Started on Twitter for Business: https://business.twitter.com/en/basics/intro-twitter-for-business.html
How to Use Twitter for Business and Marketing: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-use-twitter-for-business-and-marketing/
The point of this social network is to share visual content with your audience with beautiful photos and videos. You can post interesting photos of your farm, ranch, animals. Just be sure to share a narrative of why these are a part of your story in the caption that goes along with each photo.
Instagram is easiest to use on your phone, and until recently was only a mobile app that could not be accessed by your computer. So to get started, you will want to download the Instagram app from the app store on your mobile device. Once you open the app, you will be prompted to register an account.
Instagram is owned by Facebook, so you have the option of either signing up for an account using your existing Facebook account or with your email.
If you’re an established farm, ranch or organization, you may want to consider creating a “business profile” on Instagram, so that you can access insights and analytics. Click the settings wheel in the upper-right hand corner and scroll down to “Switch to Business Profile.” If you used your Facebook Business profile to create your account you can now connect the two for ease of use and consistency.
Set up your account using your logo for your profile picture and write a brief description.
You will select a @username. Try to be consistent with the other account names you have used on other social media sites if at all possible. Your Instagram username cannot exceed 30 characters.
Add a bio or brief description about your farm, ranch or organization. You can 150 characters to use in your bio. You are allowed to share one link to an external website too.
You can use the search function to find people, places or hashtags you are interested in.
The most significant function of Instagram is the ability to upload your visual content—photos and videos. You can either repost pictures posted on the app (be sure to credit the account you received it from) or you can post your own image from your mobile device. You can write descriptions to a build a narrative, but your photo or video is the real purpose. Be sure to share the highest quality of imagery you can to ensure your success. There are many editing tools available within the Instagram app, learn how to use them to create the best imagery possible.
Instagram stories are another way to share content and are intended to capture “in the moment” content. These stories live for only 24 hours, but can be saved as “highlight” on your account. Instagram stories create a sense of urgency from your audience to want to see what you share. With Instagram Stories, you can share images, live or pre-recorded videos and text.
Hashtags, like we explained for Twitter, are also used and are important when using Instagram. The hashtag makes content discovery easier and allows you to find relevant content from others and your own content discoverable, too. Don’t go crazy with adding lots of hashtags. Add only relevant hashtags to the content you are sharing. Look at industry accounts to see what hashtags are used frequently, i.e. #CDNbeef.
Instagram allows you to share your posts to other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. While this might be tempting to do, we recommend you do not allow this function. This is also referred to as cross-posting. As you have been learning in this module, each platform differs in how the audience use it and how the content is displayed.
For example, Instagram lets you link your profile to your Twitter account and automatically share your posts on Twitter. Instagram posts that are shared to Twitter only include a link to the photo, not the photo itself. You would miss out on the engagement that the photo would generate if you had taken the time to upload the photo directly on Twitter. The time you think you might be saving by cross-posting is not worth the potential of losing your audience and their attention.
For more information on how to use Instagram for your own farm, ranch or organization, we suggest you read:
Instagram for Business: https://business.instagram.com/
How to use Instagram for Business:
Which social media platforms are the right ones to use?
What type of content to share on social media
Now that you have selected which social media sites you will focus on using in your social media strategy, it is time to consider the type of content to post on each one.
Sharing good content is the heart of social media. You have the opportunity to create content that resonates best with your audience and provide them with the best experience interacting with your brand. When you take the time and effort to create good content, you are more likely to experience a better ROI (return on investment).
It is important to consider that there are three main reasons people use social media:
- To be connected with friends, family and others,
- To be informed, and
- To be entertained.
Figuring out how you can create engaging content that will offer your audience information without blasting out constant advertising or being “pushy” is key.
Look for ways to share meaningful content and be a place to facilitate discussions and answer questions. Don’t use social media as a megaphone or as a soapbox. Instead, think of how you can engage with your audience and nurture conversations about our industry in a meaningful way.
The focus of your efforts is to post content that an audience will like, comment and potentially share with their following. If they do that, they are acting as ambassadors on your behalf, helping to amplify your message and build additional advocacy.
Not all content shared has to originate from your account. You can join in on other ideas and social media posts from other advocates in the industry. Social media relies on two-way conversations for its effectiveness. Join conversations, as this can be a good way to build your reputation as a strong advocate. You can add value to conversations on social media by sharing content that will help the audience, such as tips and tricks or firsthand advice that will help them better understand our industry.
Don’t be afraid to share all of the good work you do in your community and within the industry. Sharing the involvement you have in your industry and community can help showcase the work you do and continue to build your reputation as an advocate.
Social Media Best Practices
Following best practices is essential to being effective on social media platforms. Here are the latest best practices you should consider incorporating.
Video content has grown in popularity significantly in the past few years on all social networks. This means more people are viewing and sharing video content more than ever before.
You can upload pre-recorded videos or you can also take advantage of easy-to-access video tools such as Facebook which has built-in Facebook Live. These are videos where you can broadcast to your audience immediately. Think of how you can share behind-the-scenes of a day-in-the life at your farm, ranch or facility, or host a live chat with a question and answer with a subject matter expert. Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn all offer a “live” feature as well.
2. Be concise with your posts
Get to the point with what you share on social media. Capturing your audience’s attention is critical and many brands have seen better success with shorter content. Keep your posts under 120 characters for the potential for higher engagement from your audience on all social platforms.
3. Consistency is Critical
Finding the answer to the question of how many times you should post on social media is difficult. There is no one correct answer for all advocates. Instead, consider posting with a regular cadence for consistency. You want to find the optimal frequency that is a balance between providing a higher chance of your content being seen by your audience without annoying them, and ensuring you can maintain that consistency. Posting consistently is more important than posting frequently. The same is true for only posting quality content; you should ensure that your share the highest of quality content, rather than posting for the sake of frequency and quantity.
If you decide to post twice a week on Facebook, you will need to create a content plan to fill that schedule. The one social media platform that does require more posting frequency is Twitter. Due to the nature of newsfeed, it is important that your tweets are timely and relevant.
The best social media publishing frequency is: when it’s worthwhile.
– Jay Baer, Convince and Convert
4. Post content when your audience is most likely to be online.
Unfortunately there is no “perfect time” to share your content; however, the best time is whenever your audience is most likely to see it. This would help increase the opportunity for engagements—likes, comments, shares, retweets—with your content.
Think of when your target audience is most likely to be using social media. Many people tend to scroll through social media at three peak time periods: first thing in the morning (before 8 a.m.), around the lunch hour (between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.) and in the later evening hours (after 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.). Of course, this is dependent on who is using the social media platform but generally, these are the best times of day. This will differ depending on the audience location with considerations of time zones.
5. Always include a call to action
You should always compel your audience to complete an action. You can include a link to where they can find more information to reach you. Keep in mind that a call to action does not always have to close a sale, it could simply provide an opportunity for additional value such as the ability to sign up for a newsletter, download a recipe, etc.
6. Engage with your audience.
Posting content is just one part of the equation for social media success. You need to be checking your posts to see if people comment so that you can join in the conversation in a timely fashion and answer any questions or concerns.
The challenging part for most advocates is coming up with the content that you need to share on your social media. It can be resource intensive to do this well, so the trick is using a content framework called “CCC.” Essentially, there are three main ways to gather content to share on social media:
CREATE: This is when you create a unique asset such as write an article, take a photo or create a video. Be efficient when you create content. If you write a blog post, be sure to share the link to the blog on your social media to promote it.
An example of this type of content is the video that Beef Advocacy Canada created about “What is the Environmental Impact of the Canadian Beef Industry?”
CURATE: Curation of content refers to linking or sharing content that someone else has created or posted but is relevant to your brand. You don’t have to create all of your content. You can search the internet and social media and SHARE other content that is relevant. Just be sure to always give credit to the original creator by tagging them.
Here is an example of a tweet from @BeefAdvocacy that utilized curation:
COLLABORATE: You can establish partnerships with content creators and other brands to create new content, so the onus is not entirely on you. Collaborating and sharing content with others in your industry and associations can be a powerful way to position your farm, ranch or organization.
How to Keep your content organized
A content calendar helps you plan all of the content you want to share on your social media channels. It will also ensure that you are sharing content in a consistent pattern and that you do not lapse in posting.
Creating a content calendar does not need to be difficult. Keep it simple. Use a calendar template, a spreadsheet or a different method that works best for you. Start by identifying important dates, milestones, local events and holidays; these are opportunities to create and share relevant content.
Here are some additional resources to help you build a content calendar:
How to measure success
This is the LAST step in a social media strategy. At minimum, you should review at least once a month to ensure you are on track.
Most social media have analytics you can use to measure your progress. Examples of metrics include:
Facebook: Page likes, post reach, engagement
Twitter: Impressions, engagement, link clicks
YouTube: Minutes watched, average view duration, likes, shares
Instagram: Likes, followers, comments
Be sure to have a corresponding metric to whatever social media goal and objective you set in your social media strategy. Also, consistently track your success month to month. You can create a simple spreadsheet to track what metrics matter to you. This can help you establish what is working and how you are progressing.
If you have been active on social media for awhile, it is valuable to review the analytics of the content you have previously shared. Review your content posts to see which posts received the most engagement from your audience (likes, comments, shares, retweets).
Here is a link to a guide from Canadian Beef on how to enhance your social media outreach in our industry.
What type of content to share on social media