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2015 Social Media

A new year, a fresh start. That’s the theory anyway. Why not make it real too – at least when it comes to social networking.

This is the ideal time of year to press “reset” on your social strategy. You can take a few moments to make sure you’re getting the best out of the time and money you invest in social marketing.

Even if you’re doing really well with social (great job if you are!), it’s still worth doing a raincheck. The landscape of social media is constantly changing, and there’s no right way of doing social. So it’s always good to make sure you’re on the right path.

Here’s how to make sure 2015 is the year you rock it on social media…

Find Out What’s Been Working Well

You’ve heard the phrase “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”. That applies here. Just because you’re rethinking your social strategy doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch.

Look over what’s gone well for you on social media in the past year. For example, you might notice that you’ve:

  • Interacted with an influencer (or influencers) in your niche
  • Received lots of comments from your fans or followers
  • Had a good amount of clicks on the content you’ve shared
  • Performed particularly well on one or two social networks.

You can get some of this information by looking over your social interactions. But you’ll get better information (and be able to see if you’re improving) if you track your metrics. We’ll come to that in a moment.

For now, notice what’s working, and commit to doing more of it.

Throw Out What’s Not Working

Spring cleaning is when you tidy up your house, and it often includes throwing out broken stuff.

The concept of spring cleaning actually comes from the Persian New Year, which falls on the first day of spring. On New Year’s Eve, people in Persia clean everything in their home, as a way of having a fresh start.

So far, you’ve looked at what’s working on social media. Now, it’s time to consider what’s not going so well. This can be tough – because it could mean it’s time to trash projects you’ve spent a lot of time on, or that mean a great deal to you.

When you’re considering what’s not going so well, you might look at:

  • Types of content that doesn’t get shared or commented on
  • Networks where you don’t get much interaction
  • Influencer’s you’ve been targeting who continually ignore you

And so on…

Of course, it could be that you can’t see what’s worked (or failed) on social media, because you’ve been doing very little social networking. If that’s that case, then throw out your laziness, and get to work at making a social splash!

Replace the Broken With Sparkling New Things

You’ve seen what’s working in your social strategy, and you’ve thrown out what’s not.

What’s next? By getting rid of what’s not working, you’ve freed up time to try out some new things.

Remember, social media is an experiment. Not everything you try out will work. But some of it will. So, try out what you’re drawn to, and see how it goes.

Here are some ideas for what you could do.

Find “Influencers” to Connect With

You’ve probably heard that it’s good to connect with “influencers”. Typically, these are people with lots of followers. More followers, more influence, right?

This is only true to an extent. A better way of looking at influencers is to think of the people who can help you because of their position, and the influence they have. For example:

  • If you’re a start up company, then “influencers” could be potential investors
  • If you’re a freelance writer, then “influencers” are the editors who could commission an article from you.
  • If you’re an ecommerce store, then an “influencer” could be a potential supplier you want to get in touch with.

For advice on how to connect with influencers, check out our guides here, here, here, and here.

Try Out a New Network

Which networks should you be using? That all depends on what you’re trying to achieve. For most businesses, we’d recommend you use Twitter and Facebook at minimum, but even those aren’t for everyone.

The right networks for you are the places you can best connect with your customers. For B2B businesses, this is likely to be LinkedIn. If you sell a highly niched product, then you might find the best place to connect with your customers is in an old-school forum. Selling interior design or craft products? Then you can’t ignore Pinterest.

So, take some time to investigate the niche networks that could be a good fit for your business. Then go join them!

Make Sure You’ve got the Basics Covered

The bread-and-butter of social media can seem boring, which is why we’ve saved it until last. But if you’ve not getting the basics right, then there’s little point in growing what you’re doing.

Two simple mistakes we often see are:

  • Not scheduling updates. Scheduling updates using a simple tool such as Buffer App will save you a ton of time if you’re not doing it already. It also has an added advantage: scheduling updates means you’ll be following the most basic role of social media – frequent updates.
  • Failing to track your metrics. Keeping on top of your stats is the only way you can discover what’s really working on social media. It also helps you see how you can improve. Tracking stats doesn’t have to be difficult – there are a ton of different apps that will do it for you.

Over to You

What are your New Year’s Resolutions when it comes to social media? What changes are you planning to make to your social strategy in 2015?

James Bond Competitor Analysis

Want to inject some buzz into your social strategy?

When you need inspiration for what to do on social media, there’s a really easy way to find ideas: “spy” on your competitors.

Social media is public, so you can easily check out what your competitors are doing. We call this the 007 Method.

You’ll be just like James Bond – but from the comfort of your office.

By checking out your competition, you can learn two things:

  1. What are they doing that works really well?
  2. What are they missing? Is there a gap you could fill?

With that in mind, let’s see what you should pay attention to when you’re spying on your competition…

How Do They Interact with Customers?

Social media is all about engagement. It’s a two-way conversation.

That said, it can sometimes be hard to figure out how to get your audience talking. It’s frustrating to post update after update, only to be met with stony silence.

Chances are, some of your competitors have great interactions with their customers. Observe what these competitors do to get their customers talking. Once you’ve found the “secret” of their success, you can follow a similar strategy.

What Voice Do They Use?

Every brand has a voice. For many brands, their voice is boring and corporate. But it doesn’t have to be this way, especially not on social media.

In fact, social works best when you’re willing to let your hair down and share what you’ve got to say in your own voice.

Developing a voice can take time. When you look at what your competitors are doing, notice how they manage the balance between being approachable and staying professional.

Also, look out for brands who haven’t bothered developing a voice – and notice the difference that makes to their posts.

How Do They Respond to Complaints?

There are few people in the world who take criticism well. But if your business is to succeed, it’s important that you respond professionally to complaints. This is especially the case considering that 9% of people who complain to businesses on social media expect a response in under five minutes! And nearly half (42%) expect a response within twenty-four hours.

Do complaining customers make your blood boil? If so, take a moment to calm down before you respond. And look at how your competitors reply to complaints. They might not feel calm, but they probably act calm on social media.

Hint: Do not follow this example.

What Types of Content Do They Create?

Ever wondered if you should be sharing on YouTube? Or if you need to start writing a blog?

When you’re wondering what types on content you should be creating, it’s worth checking out what your competitors are doing.

Are they creating…

  • …videos?
  • …images?
  • …blog posts?
  • …slide shows?
  • …infographics?
  • …Pinterest boards?
  • …something else?

Remember, just because your competitors are doing something doesn’t automatically make it a good idea.

Notice the types of content that get the most views, shares or comments. That’s the content you should put your effort into creating.

Need more ideas for types of content you could use? Take a look at 10 of our favorites.

What Topics Do They Focus On?

It’s not only the types of content you create that matters. It’s also the ingredients you mix into your content.

What topics do your competitors focus on in their content? You might find a broad range of ideas, which is great, because you can pull them together to create your own mix.

Remember to notice the topics that get the most engagement. If it works for your competitors, it’s likely to work for you.

What’s Their Content Publishing Schedule?

Do your competitors publish new content to their website daily, weekly or monthly?

What level of posting frequency gets the most attention?

If they’re failing to post content at all, then there’s a gap you can fill.

Where Do They Curate Their Content From?

You don’t have to create content to build an audience, though it’s always a good idea.

You can also engage people by becoming a curator. That means collecting the best content from across the web and sharing it with your audience.

Checking out the content that your competitors share is a brilliant way of finding sources for your own curation.

When Do They Post Social Media Updates?

In the morning? Afternoon? Evening?

If they post throughout the day, observe the times of day when their content gets the most engagement. It’s likely that these are the best times to post, too.

What Networks Do They Post To?

Social media can be a huge time drain unless you use it strategically. That means managing your time on social media well. It also means choosing the social networks where your networking can have the biggest impact.

Observing the networks your competitors use can be a simple way of scouting out where you’re most likely to find customers to engage with.

That said, it’s worth noticing the networks your competitors don’t use. If they avoid a particular network, it means one of two things. Either there’s a gap in the market, which you can exploit. Or, more likely, the network they avoid isn’t a fruitful one for businesses in your niche.

How Have You Used the 007 Method?

Have you ever checked out your competitors to pick up ideas on how to use social media? If so, what did you learn? Let us know in the comments section, below.

LinkedIn Invitation

You can have a lot at stake when you’re writing an LinkedIn invitation. You could be trying to connect with your dream employer, network with your ideal clients, or hook up with people to invest in your business idea.

What can you do to boost the chances that they’ll accept your invitation?

If you’ve done any research on LinkedIn, you’ll know that you should personalize your invitations (even though few people actually do so). We’ll come to that in a moment, because it’s an important strategy.

But before you write your invitation, there are a couple of things you should set straight.

What To Do Before You Send a LinkedIn Invitation

You need to get two things straight before you send out any invitation.

First, check that the person you want to connect with actually uses LinkedIn. Just because someone has a LinkedIn account doesn’t mean they actually check it. Look out for the following:

  • Do they have a photo? If not, then it’s probably not worth connecting.
  • How many connections do they have? Anything under 20, and it’s probably a zombie account.
  • Have they completed their LinkedIn profile?

Just because a LinkedIn account seems dead doesn’t mean you should avoid it (your invitation might win them over to using LinkedIn). But it’s a good warning sign that your invitation is unlikely to be accepted.

Second, make sure you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket. Don’t place all your hopes on one person. Instead, cast your net wide, and connect with lots of different people. That way, you’re bound to have some success, and you’ll discover a lot more opportunities.

Have a Reason to Connect

Next step is finding a reason to connect.

This could be that you just met someone at a conference, or have been chatting with them in a LinkedIn group. Both of these are good reasons to send an invitation. Remember to strike while the iron is hot!

Alternatively, you may have to find a reason to connect. The reason should never be about you, and always about the person you’re connecting with.

Good reasons for connecting include:

  • You share a connection in common (ask permission from the connection you share before you use this as a reason)
  • The person you’re connecting with – or their company – recently featured in the news

Hint: “I’m looking for a job at your company” is never a good reason to connect.

Write Your Invitation

You’ve done all the hard work already. Now it’s time to write your invitation.

The best personalized invitations are really simple and just 2 or 3 sentences long. Here’s a template:

Hi [First Name],

[How they know you, and a reason to connect].

Could we connect on LinkedIn?

Best wishes,

[Your Name]

In other words, the only part you have to fill out is the second paragraph. Here are some examples of what you could put there:

I really enjoyed meeting you at the workshop yesterday.

Daniel Jones mentioned that you’d be a really good person to get to know.

I appreciated the presentation you gave at the conference last week [Top tip: include your favorite line from the presentation].

I noticed that your company made record profits this year. Congratulations!

I really liked the blog post you wrote about [topic].

The key isn’t to write a lot. It’s to personalize what you do write.

Your Call

Do you personalize your LinkedIn invitations? If so, how? Let us know in the comments section, below.