Important Lessons: How Social Media Is Like a Garden

Our office is currently using the analogy that social networking is similar to a garden. If you have a plan and take care of it, you can create a vibrant social media presence for your business.

The studies confirm that well-managed social media programs reap great rewards. There is a direct relationship between the time spent marketing on social media and the results.

  • Social media has improved sales for at least half of marketers who have been using it for more than three years.
  • 75% of participants reported that their website traffic increased after investing as little as 6 hours per week in social media marketing.
  • The vast majority (a staggering 89%) of marketers said that their social media efforts helped their business gain exposure, even with minimal time investments.
  • Half of marketers who invested between 1 and 2 years in social media marketing reported that they also gained new partners.

Do the following five steps to cultivate an active social media presence.

1. Plan your day.

If business owners and marketers create a Facebook page and Twitter account or commit to any other social media platform, they will often post without rhyme or purpose and wonder why no one is flocking to their Page or account. Some people (usually celebrities and big brands) have found success on various platforms. These are the rare exceptions. Even well-known businesses have to invest time and energy to build a large audience online.

Make a plan to ensure that your social media efforts are worth it. Start by defining who you are targeting and what type of content they will be interested in. Decide which social media platforms your business should be present on and what content you will share via each. Create a schedule. Use an Excel document to create a schedule for posts and status updates. You can also download a template for social media publishing from the HubSpot inbound marketing team.

2. The right tools

As you will learn below, posting frequently is essential to the health and performance of your social profiles. This keeps them going! When you manage many social media accounts, it can be difficult to keep track of all of them. There are tools available.

These tools are like the hoes, shovels, and rakes in your social media garden. It would be best if you planted your seeds faster and more efficiently. When you use a social media dashboard like Hootsuite or Buffer, scheduling posts across multiple profiles is easy and time-saving. Pornography is a great tool for businesses that are heavily invested in Pinterest. This tool is useful for scheduling pins.

Many other apps exist to help you make your life easier. According to a 2013 Report (PDF) by Syncapse, 35% of Facebook fans have liked a Page to enter contests. ShortStack, a third-party application developed by my company, can make running a Facebook contest incredibly easy. Although I’m biased, a third-party application can indeed save you time and help ensure that your contest follows Facebook’s rules.

3. Remove the weeds

Analyze your social media efforts every so often, say once a quarter. This will help you determine what’s working and what’s not. Last summer, my marketing team took a drastic step: it stopped posting to our Facebook page for an entire week and then drastically reduced postings for two more weeks.

We knew we were taking a risk, but it was necessary to identify the low-engaging material that was driving downPage’sage’s engagement metrics. We had a hypothesis: Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm only showed our content to fans who were already most engaged with us. We thought that by limiting our posting to once or twice daily or not posting at all for a week, Facebook would display our content to a larger audience when we do decide to post. After our three-week test, we discovered that our theory had been proven wrong. (See more below.)

4. Attention to detail

Social media is essential for your business to stay relevant to your audience. This is what we learned through our Facebook experiment. Here’s what we meant by “hard lesson” and what happened after each experiment.

  • Week One: During our first week, we reduced the number of posts from 3-5 per day to only one.
  • Results While our Talking About This numbers dropped, the reach of the status updates we post remained about the same.
  • Week 1: We did not publish anything in the first week. We posted one status update the day after our seven-day break to gauge its engagement.
  • Results: What’s Our Page Talking About? This number dropped, and engagement for our first status after our posting break was remarkably low. Our average post reach dropped from 3,000 to 600.
  • Week 4: We decided to post two times daily in our final week.
  • Results Although the reach of our posts increased a bit, it was still lower than what we had seen before our experiment. The Talking About This numbers also remained lower than our previous average.

Through the experiment, we were able to determine what kind of content is most popular with our audience. We learned that it’s fine to post frequently (within reason) as long as you stick to the content that our audience enjoys.

Our average reach for posts has increased to 8,500 since our “Facebook Silence” experiment. We also see that our Talking About This numbers are finally returning.

5. Keep it Watered

Your social media presence is no different. If you do not maintain it on a daily basis, it will eventually die. This is perhaps the most important lesson of all.

After two weeks, we began posting regularly onPage page again – about 3-5 times per day. The reach of our posts had not recovered completely by that point. Our three-week experiment of minimal posting left a lasting impression. Slowly but surely, we are increasing our Talking About This metrics and reaching. Our garden is reviving!

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