• Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Is your social media strategy focused on managing your accounts? Then it’s time for a rethink

It’s time to shift to social media performance rather than just managing your accounts, according to the latest thesis from Hootsuite. But what does that mean exactly?

Think about it as moving from vanity metrics like followers and likes to something more impactful.  Social media is undoubtedly about engagement and community building, but Hootsuite’s argument is that there is more power in social media to drive direct impact—and most brands still don’t know it.

Where are brands going wrong?

People follow brands for a couple of reasons. They love and find joy in the brand or want to build a relationship. Social is the only media channel you have that is a true relationship builder; all other channels act like giant megaphones.

But brands are still struggling. In Hootsuite’s Social Media Consumer Report, over half (52%) of consumers said they were exhausted by self-promotional brand content. Where are brands going wrong? According to this study:

  • They are making assumptions about the audience instead of trying to understand them.
  • They treat social media like a megaphone.
  • They focus too much on the point of purchase and not what happens afterward.

Consumers want to be entertained, inspired, and made to feel something. They want to be a part of a community. And when they get these things from the brands they love, they are more likely to purchase from them and advocate for them. So, yes, relationship and community building are important. But it’s only the beginning.

It starts with knowing your audience

How do you shift from social media management to social media performance? You need first to find your organic audience. Who’s in it, and what are they doing? According to Hootsuite, the people who follow and engage with you look a lot like your top buyers. You can learn a lot from analyzing them, including psychographics, firmographics, and other information that you might not be able to find anywhere else.

Doing this work enables you to understand your audience’s habits and find commonalities. Armed with this information, you can buy media cheaper, expose different content, and create relevancy based on interest categories. You can even achieve long-tail reach through non-B2B social channels with ads.

Social is critical for content strategy, runs the Hootsuite argument, for three main reasons:

  1. It gives you immediate feedback on both content and creative before you spend too much time and money on a campaign. Consider social an organic test bed that lets you gather feedback on a topic, dissect it, and help you formulate the right message.
  2. You can understand and build a two-way dialog with your audience to help you build your strategy.
  3. Or you can build a campaign using social to drive metrics that matter (e.g., leads, advocates). In this case, social doesn’t have to be part of a holistic campaign; you can use it on its own and run direct campaigns.

With the right social strategy, organic growth will follow. However, you can’t control how much it will grow organically, so Hootsuite recommends augmenting it with paid to create controlled growth. One way to do this is by boosting organic posts.

Boosting posts also helps you optimize your paid social. For example, boosting an organic post on LinkedIn turns it into an ad and gives you an idea of how well other ads will perform. You can track results and adjust your message or creative for your ads, resulting in higher ROI.

From a B2B perspective, social media is one of the best ways to drive leads, from content lead magnets to webinars and podcast promotions. You can even leverage your employees to amplify your lead-generation strategy.

Then there’s determining churn. Hootsuite says you can determine churn based on who’s talking on your social channels. According to Hootsuite, one in nine customers is on social media, and these customers can tell you sooner than your customer service team what will happen with churn.

Hootsuite’s evolution

Most people likely know Hootsuite as a social media platform that started about fifteen years ago to help manage all social media accounts in one place, from posting to monitoring and all that good stuff. All those capabilities are still there, but there’s more to it, including the Owly AI writer that can help you craft your social posts.

But even more interesting is Hootsuite’s acquisition of Talkwalker earlier this year. Talkwalker is a social listening platform that monitors mentions of a brand or industry everywhere across the web.

According to Hootsuite, one of the reasons they acquired the company was for its AI capabilities. Blue Silk GPT is built from billions of real-time, unsampled data from across the web and social (30+ social media channels, 150 million websites, 187 languages). It can help find trends, hashtags, and topics before they blow up online. It also provides competitive analytic reports and a deep understanding of audience demographics, behaviors, interests, and sentiments.

Talkwalker helps Hootsuite connect the dots between insights and action, including shortening the distance between the two (sometimes up to the same day). Think about being able to attach your brand to a cultural moment (in an appropriate way) and getting feedback in real time on how your campaign is performing. Hootsuite can now build a feedback loop where the AI takes consumer data and generates insights. These insights lead to actionable strategies within Hootsuite that can be measured.

My take

Hootsuite suggests that social media managers are poised to become CMOs. They know more about what’s happening in the organization than any other marketing role. They post content from across the company, listen and respond to customers, work on campaigns, and help identify key messages and relevant content. It makes sense to say this.

However, most social media managers are straight out of college and aren’t highly paid. According to Hootsuite’s 2023 Social Media Career Report, 56% of social media managers say their bosses don’t understand social media. In addition, half of the respondents don’t have the budget to do their jobs well. So, the idea that they will become the next CMO feels hard to believe in the near future.

This doesn’t mean things won’t change in the future, but brands have a long way to go with this perspective on social media and their strategies before this would be possible.

For now, brands must focus on evolving how they leverage social media to drive performance. I suspect this will take a long time for most.

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