During my internship at FleishmanHillard in Chicago this summer, I completed this social media audit for a client.
Social Media Best Practices
Prepared for Candy Co.*
Locate Your Audience: Your social media focus should lie wherever your target market spends much of their time online. For example, if the audience is middle-aged males, Pinterest would not be a great time investment. Careful research and analysis will reveal which platforms should be included in the social media plan.
Understand Social Media Platforms and Tools: Social platforms are not all optimized for the same content. Certain posts that work well on Facebook may not spark the same audience engagement on Twitter or Instagram. Some posts, however, can be slightly tweaked and shared across channels to grow engagement on Twitter and Instagram. Photo content, for example, is versatile since Instagram and Facebook are both photo-friendly.
Aim for Long-Term Success: It’s easy to get caught up in the number of “likes” and “followers.” However, numbers do not always garner the best results; 100 dedicated fans are bound to interact with a brand more than 3,000 uninterested fans. The primary focus should be to build relationships.
Establish Objectives: Setting reasonable objectives will provide the basis for measurement. Objectives should be easy to understand and should also be very flexible. Be prepared to tweak and completely reconsider objectives as some time passes and it becomes obvious what works and what does not. An example of a general objective would be to increase brand awareness within a certain audience or driving word-of-mouth recommendations. A more detailed objective could be, for instance, to respond to every customer service question within four hours of the post.
Create a Measurement Plan: Just like for traditional media relations, having a measurement plan set up for social media is crucial to effectively monitor reach and engagement. Retweets, shares and click-through rates can serve as good gauges to determine reach and interest with your audience. There are many tools (free and expensive) that can provide insights into what is successful. TweetReach, for example, is a free measurement tool that tells brands who is seeing tweets and how (and if) they are being shared. On the other end of the pricing scale, expensive tools like Radian6 allow for more in-depth analysis and insight into social influencers and keywords.
Draft a Content Strategy: After pinpointing objectives and measurement tactics, the next step is to decide what information and messages should be put on social channels. Keep in mind all posts should be “shareable” and should aim to ignite positive feedback from the audience in mind.
Develop a Style Guide: A brand’s voice on social should be conversational yet focused. Whether a brand wants to be casual or strictly informative, there should be a framework in place explaining how to “talk” to the audience.
Introduce Guidelines to Employees: Since employees are the best brand advocates, it’s vital that they understand the overall social media strategy and objectives. They should also be aware of what is appropriate on their own personal social channels since their name is attached to the brand.
Establish a Listening Structure and Interact: Designate roles for employees on social media to ensure there is nothing missed. There should be a person (or team) to make interaction the main priority. Someone should be assigned to regularly respond to posts about the brand on key channels. Candy Co. is currently very vigilant about replying to consumer mentions on Facebook and Twitter. This will continue to inspire interactions on social media.
Capture and Integrate Key Content: Creating original content to post on social media is perhaps the best way to ensure a brand is relevant online. To make posts relatable and timely, it never hurts to pay attention to conversation topics happening around the country, especially within key audience groups. A fantastic example of this was Oreo’s Super Bowl post. The reason this was so shareable and popular with social media users is because it put a creative, brand-focused spin on a bizarre situation. Be aware of sensitive issues, but if a brand can contribute to conversations already happening (like Oreo), there is a good chance it will further spark engagement. Brands should be careful not to overwhelm friends and followers with an abundance of product-focused posts. This can give off a “sales-y” vibe which is a turn-off to the audience. Keep in mind this “cocktail party rule of social media:” people connect when they have something in common. The person who only talks about themselves is the person everyone else tries to avoid (Drew’s Marketing Minute).
On Facebook, Candy Co. does an excellent job of posting fun, interactive content. A recent photo contest inspired lots of fans to submit and vote on photos that showed brand personality. Another recent post shared a fan letter which received 24 shares. Facebook is by far the most popular Candy Co. platform with 683K likes.
The Candy Co. Twitter page has 141 followers. The brand has done a great job retweeting and responding to mentions, but it does not publish a significant amount of original content. There is an opportunity on this platform to share fun, creative material surrounding Candy Co. while also nurturing relationships with brand advocates.
Candy Co. has 28 followers and 5 total posts on Instagram. Candy Co. has posted a significant amount of photos on Facebook that could, with some minor tweaking, be carried over to Instagram. A future photo contest, for example, could be conducted using both Facebook and Twitter since they are both well optimized for photo content. Instagram is almost exclusively used for pictures, but also allows for brief captions and hashtags.
Overall, Candy Co. should focus on integrating content throughout social channels. When channels are strung together, the overall messaging and objectives should make sense. Focusing on producing fun and original content on Twitter and Instagram will help to grow the following on these channels.
There are many long-term opportunities for Candy Co. social media going forward. Since these candies are light and easy to send, one suggestion would be to start implementing “surprise and delights” to key social media influencers. Surprise and delight involves going above and beyond to thank devoted fans by sending them product through the mail. To identify these advocates, simply type in “Candy Co.” to the Twitter search bar and pick out tweets from users who are especially passionate about the brand. These surprise and delight packages will excite consumers on social media and will likely result in other passionate followers. The Kleenex brand demonstrated a successful surprise and delight promotion by monitoring Facebook updates from consumers posting about how sick they felt. Kleenex then took the initiative to send 50 “sick kits” to some of these consumers telling them to feel better. This simple effort received an astounding 100% share rate, 650,000 impressions and 1,800 interactions (Adzag).
*The pseudonym “Candy Co.” is used throughout the document to protect the rights of this document that was written for a client.