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Speaking in an Empty Room

I was consulting with a potential client yesterday and started looking at their Facebook and Twitter pages. Once a day, every day, they would post a question that had very little to do with anything at all. "What was the last movie you watched?"

Once a day, every day, they wouldn't get a response from anyone. It was awkward in a social media way. There was no engagement. The reason was easy to find - their 3000+ Facebook fans had not been engaged with their page for a long time (meaning that nobody was seeing their posts in their news feeds) and their Twitter profile had 40 followers.

"I've heard you say that questions drive engagement," she told me as I started pointing out the challenges. She was correct - I have said that many times before and it's true. The problem is that questions do not work if nobody is listening and they're not the right way to get people to listen.

I don't envy her. She took over a Facebook page that had been getting updated by RSS feeds for over a year and a Twitter account that was autoposted from Facebook. The remaining followers and fans were spam bots. Nobody was listening. It was an empty room.

There's an old saying that says, "fake it 'til you make it" and that applies in this type of situation. There are still people who will visit the profiles because they show up in search and are linked from the website, so one still has to post quality content during the rebuilding period (stage one in our three stage process), but questions aren't the answer (pun intended). At this stage, it's important to show those who do visit the pages that you're posting quality content, but you don't want to highlight the fact that nobody is paying attention at that point.

Statements, facts, pictures, videos, and occasional links work best at this point. Through ads and engagement-driving posts, you'll be able to get your following back up and engaged. Once that happens and you're on to stage two, it's time to start asking questions again. Until then, avoid them.

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No Cats or Dogs

For a few months now, I’ve been discussing the idea that local businesses should never fall into the trap of trying to be funny or interesting through the use of irrelevant pictures and memes. “No cat or dog pictures” has become a mantra of sorts with the concept being that businesses should try to stand out, not fit into the mix on Facebook and other social media sites.

As some have argued, there are definitely exceptions to the rule. One such exception is when the interesting dog or cat picture is relevant to the business or local area. Here’s an example of an acceptable dog picture post on a business Facebook page:

Acceptable Car or Dog Picture

It’s local – this is the mascot for the school in this Honda dealership’s local area. It’s epic – how often do you see a dog that regal? It’s informative – many in the local area may not realize the fact in the description on the post. The results were that this relatively small Facebook page got decent traction on it with 20 likes and a share. It’s not fantastic, but it’s better to have local flair than to be random with funny pictures.

There’s another exception to the idea that local businesses should not post cat and dog pictures that was pointed out to me the other day: veterinarians and pet stores have every right to do it. In the spirit of being thorough, it had to be said.

Social media marketing is not about being popular. It’s not about getting likes. For local businesses, it’s about reaching people in the community with a business message. To do so, it’s important to play the “Facebook algorithm game” to earn the right for posts to be seen. This is one of the reasons that businesses resort to memes and funny pictures, but they don’t have to. They can find plenty of interesting content closer to home that is both relevant and important to their fans.

Stand out. Don’t fit in.

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Are your posts fresh or recycled

Be sure to check out the Internet Sales 20 Group in November to learn more about this topic...

Look, I get it. I understand that it’s hard for vendors and OEMs to produce a social media solution for their dealers that scales properly while still bringing in good content. I do not, however, understand the concept of not even trying to mix things up. There’s an easy road and a hard road for automotive social media, but there’s also the right road, the one that scales properly while still maintaining individuality and creativity at the core of the service.

I know this for a fact. I’ve developed it.

It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t hard, either. It took some time, plenty of planning, a ton of testing, and an unyielding principle to do for clients what I would want done if I were at a dealership, but the results have been astounding (beyond my own expectations) and the effort is exactly as it should be – enough to make a strategy that helps dealers sell more cars but not so much that it become cost prohibitive. Every dealer and vendor should examine what they’re doing in social media and decide whether or not it’s worth risking your dealership’s reputation by reposting content from someone else.

Keep in mind, sharing is perfectly acceptable. If you see something on a different Facebook page that your audience will enjoy, share it! Don’t do it too often – it’s not algorithmically viable to have shared content filling your page – but it’s better than grabbing it and reposting it. What’s worse is to grab it and repost it on a bunch of other dealers’ pages as well.

I first noticed this during the Toyota Corolla launch a couple of weeks ago. We posted an image of the new Corolla and it did very well for our client. Minutes later, it was posted again. And again. And again. There’s no telling how many Toyota dealers had the same content posted almost simultaneously, but it wasn’t a case of imitation being the best for of flattery. It was ridiculous, but I let it go. Maybe someone was in a hurry. Maybe our post was just that compelling and needed to be shared. I didn’t think it was a standard practice, but now I know differently.

You deserve better. Your content should be unique regardless of how widespread your marketing company is. Again, and I cannot stress this enough, it’s scalable and extremely effective to post 100% unique content on Facebook for hundreds, even thousands of clients. It’s not acceptable to take shortcuts for the sake of a vendor’s bottom line. It shouldn’t be this way. There’s way too much potential with social media done the right way to allow laziness or cost savings to supersede a client’s needs.

That’s it. Sorry for the rant. This stuff gets me riled up.

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Conversation

This isn’t going to be a long post (I know a lot of mine have been too long, lately) but that doesn’t make it any less important. It’s short because the concept is simple. Unfortunately, many are missing out on this easy technique.

There are plenty of types of content that you can post on Facebook, but they invariably fall into one of two categories – conversation and conversion. You’re either posting to help spark conversations that are on topic with your industry or you’re posting content designed to drive conversions of some sort to increase business. In some cases, a post can fall under both categories, those these types of posts are normally not as effective at achieving either goal.

The point of conversational posts is simply to earn the right to post conversion content. You have to earn this right from two different entities. The first is Facebook itself. The EdgeRank algorithm is very fickle. Because people are less likely to interact with content that is pushing the big sale this weekend than if they’re seeing an image of a concept Hyundai crossover, too many conversion posts can hurt you in the algorithm. Facebook knows the activities that happen on their site including a lack of activity. In other words, it’s not just those unavoidable occasions when people will hide or report your content. Your EdgeRank is hurt when people simply do nothing, when it appears in their news feed but they scroll right passed it without engaging.

The second entity for which you have to earn the right to post conversion content is the user base itself. People get fatigued. If they see post after post of “sale-sale-sale” appear on their news feed, they will eventually block you. They are much less likely to do that when the conversion posts are spread out, when there’s real conversational posts hitting their news feed and drawing their attention. Then, when they see the conversion posts, they’re less inclined to offer negative feedback because they get it. That’s one of the toughest things for businesses and marketers to accept. People get it. They know that you’re running a business and they’re accepting of the occasional conversion post as long as they hold a good sentiment towards your company and social media presence because you’ve earned their trust through strong conversational posts.

The conversion posts are the easiest to grasp but are much harder to deliver properly. It isn’t about advertising the big sale or the oil change or the individual vehicle that you just took in on trade. It’s about presenting the big sale, the oil change, or the unique vehicle you just took in on trade in a way that is engaging to them.

John Hinderer Pilot

The example above is not ideal. It’s not a super rare find or a killer manager’s special. It’s just a car, but there’s personality in the way that it was presented. That’s one of the keys. The second key is that the conversation that ensued as a result of the post included very responsive action. Someone in the local area inquired further about it. That’s good. It’s better that the response came with instructions on how to proceed.

These types of posts would not work if that’s all that ever got posted by the dealership. Most people passed this post up because they weren’t in the market at that particular moment for a used Honda Pilot. Even those who aren’t buying today will eventually need something, but more importantly you’ll want to get engagement from those people because of EdgeRank. Someone might not be in the market, but one of their friends might be. When the person not in the market likes, shares, or comments on your posts, there’s an increased likelihood that their friend who is in the market will now see the proper posts as a result.

Mix it up. There’s no magic formula. If I were cornered with a knife to my throat and forced to answer the question about the proper mix of content I would say something like 6:1 – six conversational posts for every conversion post, but I’d be guessing and generalizing. The reality is that it’s different for every page, every market, every demographic. Some can get away with 3:1. Some can only muster 10:1. Whatever is right for your page and your business is the way to go. It’s not a copout response. We spend a lot of time determining the personality and limitations of each individual client and the ratios listed above are real-world ranges that we’ve seen and applied. The key is finding what works best for you.

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Relevant Questions

During a discussion with a potential client, something came up that surprised me. It shouldn’t have considering the types of information that are floating around the internet and being spread by “gurus,” but it did.

“I post pictures to Facebook and links to Twitter,” she told me.

That was the sum of their strategy. In a way it sort of made sense – rather, I can see how someone can make sense of it – but it’s not a proper strategy and definitely isn’t the way to take full advantage of these networks.

Yes, Facebook likes images and Twitter likes links. That much is clear. The challenges are many, but the most important ones can all be summed up in one word: fatigue. People get sick of seeing variations of the same themes over and over again from a page or profile they follow. It’s easy to see that a picture of a hot classic car can get a ton of engagement and it’s even easier to fall into the trap of constantly posting hot classic car pictures from that day forward. Unfortunately, it doesn’t leave room for business-relevant posts and it turns your fans and followers off.

There are four primary Facebook post types (not including special post types like Offers):

  1. Pictures
  2. Text
  3. Links
  4. Videos

Now, there are variations that go along with some of them. For example, pictures can be broken down into albums and each album plays differently with the algorithm based upon posting source, success of previous posts in that album, posting frequency, etc, but those are the four basic types.

Twitter has even more distinct options:

  1. Pictures
  2. Text
  3. Links
  4. @Replies
  5. Pure Retweets
  6. Quote Retweets
  7. Vines/Videos

Dealers must mix it up on both networks to find the highest level of success.

 

On Twitter…

A Twitter account that posts nothing but links will be the most unfollowed account type out there. When you mix it up on Twitter, you’ll reach more people. Many don’t even look at any posts with links in them, preferring conversations. In fact, text posts (particularly those that properly use hashtags) are by far the most engaging.

Pure Retweets give your Twitter profile itself a look of diversity, as do @Replies. When people visit your dealership Twitter page and see that you have Retweeted others and that you’re talking to other users, they’ll be much more inclined to follow you and engage with you.

Pictures and videos go inline, so posting them directly to Twitter (or through tools that allow native embedding – Buffer does, Hootsuite does not) allows people to see the content without clicking away from their stream. This gives the content more exposure than simply posting a link to it hosted elsewhere.

 

On Facebook…

There was a time not too long ago when images ruled completely on Facebook. They’re still the most prominent today, but not in how the algorithm treats them. They run a close second to text posts, the content that gets presented the most to people in their news feed.

Does that mean you shouldn’t post links or videos? Of course not. You just have to use those types sparingly. I do not believe in posting formulas or generalizations, but if I were forced to give a baseline frequency of post types, I’d recommend 50% images, 30% text, and 10% each for links and videos. Again, this isn’t a standard or even a best practice. It’s a starting point from which you’ll be able to find the formula that works best for your dealership.

Everyone has different strengths, different fans, and different personalities. Finding the right mix is about testing, retesting, and then re-retesting. The key is to have a mix. Don’t go stagnant. Go bold. Do it right. Find success.

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Article originally appeared on AutomotiveSocialMedia.com.

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Hamlet

Everyone who plays in the Facebook page strategy game has their opinions about the types of content to post. Car dealers and vendors have tried different things over the years. Some have found success while others have let it fall off completely, dismissing it as unimportant or too time-consuming to mess with on a daily basis.

For those who are doing well or wanting to do well with engagement on their pages while still demonstrating real ROI, here are some content types that have worked well for us. It’s important to mix things up on Facebook. Fan fatigue happens regularly, especially when a dealer or vendor finds a particular type of content that works well. They tend to favor this type of content in their posts. Some even go so far as to post only one type of content such as cool cars. Your fans watch. They know. By the 10th car in a row, they start to get tired of seeing them regardless of how cool they are. Mixing it up is important.

While there are definitely more than three content types that can be effective, the three below are the ones we’ve found that can account for the vast majority of your posts and still keep your fan base growing, liking, and generally engaging with your page in their news feed.

 

Local Content

Honolulu at Night

It’s extremely important to understand that this type of content only works well if your page has been built with mostly local fans. We’ve covered before that nearly all of your fans should be local, that having too many fans out of the area can actually hurt your ability to use Facebook for marketing to real buyers. If your fan base is not over 90% localized, you should get that fixed before posting a bunch of local content.

Once you have that established, it’s time to take advantage of what you have around you. The local area is always loaded with interesting places to visit, amazing places to photograph, and intriguing people to highlight. This should be the focus of your localized social media posts.

Local places are easy. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a major metro or out in the country. The people around you area like to see the local area highlighted on Facebook and they appreciate the businesses that do the highlighting. In the example above, we were given an easy pitch to hit. The fans are completely localized (they had 26 fans when we started so we had a clean slate with which to play) and the area is a gorgeous one: Honolulu. As a result, getting nearly 400 likes on the post was a piece of cake and didn’t require a huge amount of Facebook ad spend to make it happen.

While local places might be the obvious choice, there are others. For example, highlighting other loved local businesses or organizations is easy. A post with a picture of a popular local diner, for example, could lead with “We visit Stan’s Diner every Sunday for the pancakes…” These types of posts won’t be as popular as scenes like the one above, but it’s good to spread the love to others. If they see it (and if you have a strong enough Facebook page, they will) they will appreciate the mention.

Lastly, focusing on local people is always a hit. One popular post we did last year highlighted the three local baseball players at the high school that made the all-state roster. It’s something that can be universally liked by the community, particularly if you’re in a small town.

 

Automotive Content

Automotive Content

Not much needs to be said about this. Being in the automotive arena, there’s never a shortage of “carporn” out there for your fans to ogle over. There can be a temptation to flood your page with this type of content, particularly after you’ve had your first viral post, but don’t get too car picture heavy. Again, fatigue will follow if you do.

Something that a lot of dealers are starting to do is to post helpful tips on subjects such as car maintenance. These are great but again they should be used sparingly. Most people aren’t out there changing their own oil and the internet is loaded with how-tos if they ever get the inclination to do it themselves. An occasional post or a quick tip doesn’t hurt.

 

Dealership Content

Waynesville American Cruisers

Some dealers do this too much. Some never do it at all. It’s expected of local businesses that they should be at least a little business-centric with their posts. These are often the most important posts because they are intended to drive foot traffic, website traffic, or both.

Doing it too much can put a strain on the algorithm and force your posts to become virtually invisible. It’s not all about “me, me, me,” on Facebook (at least not for businesses) and this will turn people off. They don’t have to report or unfollow you to have a negative algorithmic effect on future posts. If they simply pass over your posts in their news feed without interacting with it, there’s still a negative effect.

One common trend has been to post pictures of happy customers in front of the car they just bought. Doing this too much is a big mistake because of the algorithm. It’s a post that has an isolated chance of getting liked. Remember, just passing over the post is enough to cause some damage to your page and people won’t normally like pictures of people they don’t know. There are definitely ways to make it fun and get people to promote their own images to friends and family, but that’s a longer discussion than we have time for in this post. The short of it is that if you do post images of happy customers, keep it to a minimum.

* * *

As I mentioned above, there are tons of different types of content that can be posted. However, there is also plenty of content that should never be posted. Keep it relevant. Remember, you’re a business and people want to view you as such. Trying to sneak into the conversation by posting funny cat videos is an easy way to turn the wrong people off to your posts.

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Driving Sales Christmas

I start to sound like a broken record whenever I recommend to businesses that they need to be as human as possible on social media, that the venue is one dominated by people, and that brands are most successful when they stay professional but avoid being robotic. I’ll continue to say it as long as it stays true, something that is currently slated to be relevant indefinitely. One of the hardest but most effective ways to humanize a business on social media is to inspire, to post ideas, actions, and images that are not business related but that compel the human factor into the mix. It’s risky, but when done right it can be a beautiful thing.

One thing that should be understood is that “inspiring” does not necessarily mean posting Winston Churchill quotes or fighting climate change with likes and shares. On social media, an inspiring message can be one that expresses an idea that fits with current circumstances. Reaching out during tragedies like the Sandy Hook shootings, for example, is an inspiring message. It’s one that is extremely risky even for local businesses and should be avoided by those who do not have a connection. The exceptions, rare though they are, happen when contributions and solutions are offered. For example, Jet Blue was able to fly family members and letters to CT quickly and without charge. Their gesture rang sincere; they didn’t make a big deal out of it. They didn’t have to. People on social media took care of the “promotion” of the action for them.

Jet Blue Sandy Hook

The other opportunity that is available to every business is the seasonal inspirational post. We have the opportunity as businesses to participate in a human way during holidays and other events by expressing the personality of our companies. That is not the same as running a Memorial Day Special or Christmas Savings Extravaganza. It’s about inspiring through humanity. This is where most businesses fall short. All too often we get generic. This is worse than saying nothing at all.

On one hand, you have the standard, “Wishing all of our fans Happy Holidays from your friends at ABC Motors!”

Meh.

On the other hand, you have what Driving Sales did. They did something fun and turned it into an image that is both noticeable and memorable. They conveyed a couple of messages that helped with branding – they’re fun, they like where they work, they have a “hip” atmosphere (notice the beanbags), and they put effort into their message. It’s the last part that makes the difference. People enjoy effort. They like to know that a post was more than an afterthought or a business requirement recommended by the internal social guru. They like creativity. They reward those who can make themselves stand out from the crowd.

It’s definitely not required to use this type of technique. Some businesses prefer to keep it professional at all times and there’s nothing wrong with this. If you choose to post the occasional inspiring post, be sure to make it work. Don’t go half way. If you want to make an impact, take it well beyond what your competitors are doing. If you’re going to be boring and generic, you’re better off keeping that in the professional realm and avoid the inspirational posts altogether.

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A couple of weeks ago, Facebook started cracking downon fake accounts and false likes. The network is finally at the point to where they believe quality is more important than quantity for their advertising model to work and they're right. Dealers should do the exact same thing, maximize quality of the people liking their page, if they want to delve into the high-potential world of Facebook sponsored posts.

The last statement needs some qualification. If, like many, you do not see the value of Facebook sponsored posts, we'll start there. If you have seen the value and you're already playing with it, skip ahead and let's learn about pruning.

If You Do This, Facebook Sponsored Posts WILL Work

There has been an open debate for a couple of years now about the effectiveness of Facebook advertising in the automotive industry. The reality of it is that it will notwork for most dealers. If your Facebook page is weak, if your fans are not localized, or if your goals are not geared around branding and exposure, then Facebook ads won't work for you.

If, on the other hand, you:

  • ... have a strong Facebook presence with multiple daily updates, an active community who like, comment, and share your content, and a strategy that is geared towards ramping up your EdgeRank before blasting out your "money shots", AND...

  • ... your fans are mostly localized, AND...
  • ... you view social media as more akin to television advertising where you're getting your brand and message out to people when they're not necessarily looking for a car but when they are psychologically in a place of enjoyment and relaxation...

... then Facebook advertising can be of great benefit to you. The primary reason for this is the cost. It's cheap! You can blast out a sponsored story to be viewed by thousands of people for tens of dollars. Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, a strong Facebook page can outperform television for branding and exposure as long as you understand that the goals are the same.

If your goal is to generate direct leads from Facebook, there are definitely strategies that can work for you but that's extremely specialized. It can be done, but it's not easy. It requires some commitments at the dealership that most are not willing to do and I could argue that the same amount of effort put into search marketing has a higher yield. That's a different blog post altogether, but if you're Facebook page is a strong branding and exposure tool, then you should...

Prune

Size isn't everything. It's important, probably more important than most would give it in today's cynical-towards-fake-Facebook-likes world, but it's not nearly as important as focus on the local market.

Facebook offers localized advertising options to allow you to grow your local market. That's what you use to get fans. Keeping them and actually appearing in their news feed is a function of quality and engagement, but getting them is done through marketing, Facebook ads, and in-store promotions.

Facebook sponsored posts do not target a geographical location. They work on your fans and friends of your fans. It's for this reason that you create your own targeting by limiting your fans to the local area.

You do this by pruning.

If you do not run sponsored posts and have no intention of doing so, there's no real need to prune. The distant likes aren't necessarily hurting you that much. Sure, it's a perception concern (another blog post altogether) but the real damage comes from affecting your sponsored posts budget.

If you go through and remove the fans that are not in the local area, you will be able to maximize the relevant exposure of your sponsored posts. Does that mean that all of your fans should be in our direct market area? No. Having someone in San Diego like your Los Angeles Honda dealer Facebook page is fine. What you don't want is that person in Dallas liking your page and taking up budget with her Dallas-based friends.

Even worse is the person in Indonesia who likes your page. Foreign likes, particularly those in east Asia, have friends who are much more likely that domestic fans to like your post. While this might seem like a good thing for artificially inflating your numbers, it's not. It's better to have one local like your post than to have 10 irrelevant likes. Yes, the exposure would go up with the irrelevant likes, but it would not be exposed to anyone you actually want to see your posts.

If you have enough fans, you can prune down to 1000+ local people. This is a great starting point and Facebook sponsored posts sent to those people would give you incredible exposure for very little money. It's true bang for the buck.

If you do not have enough fans, keeping domestic likes is fine but still get rid of the foreign likes. Build your page up with as many localized fans of possible until you're to the point that you can start hyper-targeting the locals only.

When you get to that point, the $10 here, $20 there that you spend on sponsored posts will get you as much (possibly more) quality branding and exposure than thousands of dollars worth of television advertising.

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It took listening to my own words in a Twitter conversation for me to realize that I had barely brushed over the most important aspect finding the right times to post on social media for business.

This is Part IV of the series on timing. Please read Part I, Part II, and Part III first.

While engaging with @Activyst, one of @MariSmith's Twitter fans, the ideas surrounding the differences in opinions about the best times to post became clear...

That's how the conversation started, but in my head I took it further. How would time zones affect timing? Audience type clearly affects it, especially when considering local businesses versus worldwide businesses. It's easy to simply say, "test it out," but are there best practices that can streamline the process and come up with conclusions faster? These questions led to these ideas...

 

Establishing a Baseline

Technically speaking, "test" shouldn't be the very first step. You must first analyze what's happening with current posts before trying to improve on them, so analyzing to create a baseline is an essential start. Social media analysis comes in many forms for brands, particularly on Facebook where success can manifest in different ways. Likes, comments, and shares are one measurement. Reach is another, and while it's often affected by the comments, likes, and shares, there are other factors that come into play. Those using Sponsored Posts, for example, may find that their ads perform better at different times than non-sponsored posts.

 

Facebook allows you to look back at the posts that were most popular. If you're using static posting times, it's possible to look back. You will have to count the posts to determine the exact times; for example, if you know you post at 5:30am, 10:30am, and 7:30pm, then you'll have to isolate the three posts during a particular day to know which was posted at what time since Facebook only shows you the date they were posted once it gets beyond 24 hours.

There's good and bad to the way that the Facebook news feed and advertising algorithms work. Because your past influences your future, it's often hard to go back too far to find success because the influencing factors have changed. You have more or fewer fans, you have been removed or added to news feeds, and the way that you posts become popular is in a constant state of change. Still, you'll need to start somewhere.

Once you have an idea of both the type of content that was most popular as well as the times that they were posted, it's time to make your first adjustments and start...

 

Testing

This is the easy part, actually. Start posting at different times and see what works best at which times. Keep track of your results, of course, and keep in mind a few factors:

  • It's not just about times but also days. Posting times differ from day to day, between weekdays and weekends, etc.
  • Take note of external factors. For example, if there are large trade shows in your industry at the time, it can affect what people are seeing and talking about on social media.
  • As long as the external factors are minimal, use a week for each test component. For example, this week you can post at 6:00am and 2:00pm. Next week you can try 5:30am and 2:30pm. Then, the following week you can go back to the initial 6:00am and 2:00pm, but this time you'll flip-flop the post types such as posting images in the morning and links in the afternoon.
  • Avoid analyzing in real time. There's no need to monitor your stats constantly. Wait for the week to be over before looking back at the data.
  • Stay consistent with your use of Sponsored Stories. The test won't work if you're promoting the Monday morning post one week and not promoting it the following week.

This entire process should be ongoing for a while. A month if often not enough to get a real feel for what works. Mix and match. Throw in additional posts every now and then. Most importantly, don't let the testing get in the way of business needs. If you have a big sale in a couple of weeks and you really want to make it successful, post more, advertise more, and make it happen.

 

This isn't very hard. It just takes patience and persistence. It's your business. They're your customers. Focus on your goals and let the data guide you. If it works, stick with it. If it can work better with some adjustments, try them. Analyze your results regularly and you'll have a much better understanding of how to reach the most possible people.

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They say timing is everything. In social media, quality of content is almost everything. The rest of it does come down to timing.

****This is Part II of the series on timing. Please read Part I first.****

There are two primary components to timing that should be considered when planning out what content to post. You must remember the type of content to post at the different times as well as the goals of the content itself. To do this, you have to keep a strong MAP (marketing action plan) in place to guide you in order to have the right posts going out at the right times.

 

Type of Content

The personality, fan base, and availability to monitor the social channels all make a huge difference in the specifics surrounding your posting, but here are some general rules to keep in mind:

  • Inspire in the morning. If your personality type is the kind that has you posting motivational quotes, positive affirmations, or even Bible verses, this should be the first thing that comes out of your social media mouth in the mornig. If you're not quite so "deep" in your business social media personality, starting off with something fun and entertaining works just fine.
  • Business in the middle. If you're posting 3 or more updates a day, the middle of the day is when these come to play. That doesn't mean lunch time - as stated in Part I, your best times for business posts actually avoid lunch. Post prior to 11am or after 3pm for your best results.
  • Be thankful in the evening. This is when you should be posting about others. It could be a charity you support, a customer testimonial, or even something from outside of your business such as industry news. If you have nothing like that top post in a day, resort back to entertaining or inspiring text or image posts. Remember the mentality of your fans at different points in the day. In the evening, they are hopefully home from work and enjoying their evening casually scanning their social media. They don't want business-oriented posts popping up at them.

There are always exceptions and these suggestions are more of a guide to get your thinking in the right place rather than hard rules. Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. Remember to take into account their mentality and likely location when seeing your updates. At night, for example, there's a decent chance that social media is happening as a second-screen experience. In other words, they may be watching television and surfing social during commercials. It's not a great time for hard-hitting business offers or long videos. Short videos, on the other hand, such as 30-second customer testimonials, can perform better in the evening than they do during the day.

 

Keeping Goals in Mind

As a proper MAP will dictate, you should be thinking ahead and planting seeds at the appropriate moments. For example, if you know you have a big sale coming up in a couple of weeks, you may want to post teasers about it every other day for a week, then every day leading up to it. This isn't the time to get boring; make them fun and increasingly informative whenever possible.

 

One of your goals may be to prompt your happy customers to write reviews on the various sites out there. This is hard to accomplish with social media, but there's a silver lining that has become more important lately. With Google, Yelp, and other review sites pulling down reviews left and right, it should be noted that the people who are able to be influenced to write reviews when prompted by social media channels are the highest quality. That's not to say that they'll write good reviews. It means that the personality type associated with these people is such that they are probably already active on the review sites and have a much better chance of having their reviews stick.

 

If, like many businesses, your goals with social media are strictly surrounding branding and name recognition, you have the luxury of posting at an extremely regular level. You could even schedule the majority of your posts well ahead of time. You also have the luxury of being able to post more often than businesses with goals that surround driving traffic to their website or landing pages.

 

This might sound odd, but if you are doing this strictly for the branding, you'll want to schedule your posts at the exact same time every day. Facebook batches images that are posted within 24 hours of the last one within an album. Unfortunately, they create albums for you based upon the source of the post. This includes scheduling with the native scheduling tool itself. So, if you are wanting to schedule 3 images a day, you'll get maximum exposure by scheduling them with three separate tools, including the native tool.

 

Posts that go up to Facebook.com itself manually are not constrained to these parameters. Unfortunately, everything else currently is, including mobile uploads, Instagram, and Pinterest (though Pinterest allows 2 posts in 24 hours before batching them).

 

As with the types of posts, this set of tips on goals is a miniscule idea-sparking teaser rather than a comprehensive guide. Because the goals of different businesses can be as diverse as the businesses themselves, it's important to put your own goals together (or contact us for some advice) based upon your specific business needs.

 

Days of the Week

If you want to get a leg up on your competitors, this is the easiest way to do it. Understanding when and how people are engaging with businesses on different days of the week yields some facts that surprise many (myself included).

 

The weekends are the untapped goldmine of social media for business. Fewer people check their social feeds on the weekends, but those who do check are much more active than they are during the week. Likes go up by a lot. People are more thoughtful on the weekends as well, meaning that they will watch longer videos, read longer posts, and check out entire albums rather than scanning through individual pictures as they do during the week.

 

Wednesdays weren't that bad just six months ago. Now, they're dropped below Thursday and Friday as the least engaging day of the week on social media. Don't even think about asking why - I have no idea. All I have is the data.

 

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Remember, you're a business. You're not welcome on social media as much as individuals, but that doesn't mean you can't accomplish your goals. You just have to do it right. Think of it like television advertising. We all believe we don't like commercials. That's a common stance. However, there are certain commercials that pop up that are entertaining or informative enough that we'll actually talk about them with friends. We may even look them up on YouTube to see them again. I'll leave you with one such commercial that I still watch every year or so since first seeing it during a Superbowl.

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