Running a business means wearing several hats. We are often overloaded with staffing tasks, financial tasks, inventory tasks–it’s hard to find time to focus on the product or service your company actually provides! And then, after the sixtieth hour of the  week, you get a ping on your phone or laptop from social media and the thought comes to mind that it would be much easier with one less thing online to worry about.

It’s because of this that we decided to write an article on hacking the social media game to produce more with less. By answering common questions about social media, we hope business owners will better understand the important areas of focus when working with time and budget constraints.

Questions Business Owners Have About Social Media, Answered.

How important are social media analytics numbers?

In short, it’s more important to look at overall trends in your analytics numbers than to look at the numbers themselves. Why? Well, for one, the system was created to attract users–both people and businesses–get them to want to remain on the platform, then create a dependence on the platform that can be monetized. Younger platforms build this loyalty by allowing more organic reach in their infancy, but it is harder to gain and maintain high engagements and reach numbers on more mature platforms. So, as we explain the following question, because reach and overall analytics are on the decline as a whole, unless you are investing much more into your social media budgets, it is common to see a decline in reach and a less engaged audience across popular platforms.

Another reason to look for trends rather than hard numbers is that numbers can be deceiving. A large number of followers means nothing if they are not your target market. Engagements mean nothing if that person isn’t interested in your brand, product or service. But upward–or even just consistent–trending of your target audience using relevant material means a much stronger social media strategy than high-engagement posts that return low ROI.

What numbers should I be paying attention to?

Currently, the general consensus is that reach is one of the more accurate and insightful statistics to follow. Namely because the reach will be controlled by the algorithm to push toward the most likely audience members to engage. Once reached, those reach numbers are concrete.

Engagement, on the other hand, is seen less and less as the prime focus because each platform has different types of engagement and audiences who engage differently, as well as social media fatigue playing a role in how often people engage with a post (even if it’s funny, interesting or relevant).

We don’t “engage” with traditional media such as commercials and print, yet we may very well “be engaged.” The same rings partly true on social media as the medium is more widely used.

Why is my social media reach and engagements declining?

Over the last several years, businesses are noticing a major decline in organic (or unpaid) reach, but even numbers on paid advertising through social media platforms are getting less bang for the corporate buck.

When a platform is newer, the goal of the platform is to build the number of users. They obtain this goal by creating a platform that is free, and doing whatever it takes to encourage users to join and interact on the platform.

As the platform matures–and in the case of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and several others–the goal becomes to make money, sustain the platform and attract advertisers to make the platform more appealing to investors and board members. So, the platforms monetize what they can to sell users things like advertising and increased reach. So, in essence, businesses “pay to play” on social media. The best way to do that is to convince businesses that through monetary compensation, they can reach prior numbers and expand their overall business reach on social media.

Currently, the average post on Instagram has an organic reach of only 13.51% and only 8.6% of Facebook. That’s a 29% decline from the previous year. Not only is this a product of an ever-evolving algorithm and monetary design, it can also be explained as social fatigue. The more platforms, the more information, the less engagement. Simply put, we are exhausted and over-stimulated and this leads to an audience being less engaged as we become apathetic to loads of information.

What is the “secret sauce” to maximize social media presence?

There is no “secret sauce” or algorithm that is shared with the public. Regardless of the confidence in their delivery about how they have “cracked the code” and what they promise they can deliver, the truth is, absolutely nobody outside the top executives of these social media companies know the algorithm for success. Most influencers and social media experts are really just analyzing data based on trial and error.

The most important piece of advice someone can give you about social media is to remain true to yourself and your brand. Keeping it relevant, consistent and of high quality will ultimately drive better long term results than a gorilla campaign that is confusing, off-brand, inconsistent or sloppy–even if the initial interactions, reach or views are higher. For example, it is better to post when you have relevant updates–be that twice in one day, or not for several days–than to schedule out daily posts that have disengaged your audience due to irrelevance. Same goes for post length. Do what feels right for your brand and audience. While some may argue long captions are boring and hurt your engagement or reach, few understand that clicking to “read more” of the caption is actually an interaction and can help boost credibility and organic reach. Doing what works for your audience should lead you in content decision making.

Do I need to be on all platforms? 

No. A common misconception is that you must be on ALL platforms if you are wanting comprehensive social media. Just like with post composition, it is important to be authentic when deciding what platforms to focus on, and to focus on doing the best possible job on the platforms you choose. “Jack of all trades, master of none,” they say. So find what platforms suit your brand and audience, and choose platforms you are comfortable, understand and feel connected to.

Few engage with my business on social media. Do I even need to be on it?

We always recommend some sort of social media presence on one or two platforms. Even if you are a B2B business, consider putting your efforts into platforms like Google Business and LinkedIn which have a solid base of professionals to attract and engage with.

Social media is like an online Yellow Pages listing. Your presence on social media isn’t just about likes, comments and reach–it establishes your commitment to the growth of your business and customer relationships, shows credibility, helps gain confidence in your product or service within your industry, and helps build link backs and SEO to make you more relevant online. It acts as an evolving resume of your breadth of work, and an updated and relevant version of your website.

So, while a social media presence can be tedious and overwhelming to business owners, it is important to maintain your presence. The key is to focus on authenticity, relevance and your audience, and not get caught up on ambiguous social media stats.

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