Leveraging Social Media Impact
With social media, the opportunities, techniques and methods for telling stories are boundless, and oftentimes the proverbial rules of traditional media do not apply—if a certain message isn’t gaining traction among your audience, you can always revamp the post with new copy, tone and/or image and try again.
A key to success with social media is hooking your audience quickly to engage them with your content, whether print, digital, video or podcast, for example. Social posts can drive awareness to new products and promotions, as well as drive users to long-form content on your website like press releases, leadership statements, company timelines, community news and blog posts.
Each social platform engages various demographics in different ways. For example, LinkedIn is largely a professional peer-to-peer networking platform, while Facebook is the most widely used of all social platforms and can be thought of as a community hub for businesses. Twitter can be thought of as differentiating your store so that customers choose you over the other three stores also located on a busy four-way intersection. If posts don’t stand out on Twitter (use of images, videos, polls, compelling and clever content), it’s difficult to cut through the vast flow of quick-hit information.
It’s also a good idea to research your ability to invest in a social media management platform, like Hootsuite, Sprout Social or Buffer. These tools offer capabilities like scheduling posts for each social platform that your company is on, and allow multiple users to create posts, engage in social listening, and schedule and respond to posts. These platforms also offer various levels of data and analytics to help measure the success of your posts and social campaigns. Most platforms will offer free set up and a free tutorial to walk you through the features and determine which level of investment would work best for your company.
Many convenience retailers rely on their social channels to quickly communicate with customers during a crisis. During the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, a NACS Retailer Member Survey fielded in late March 2020 found that Facebook was used most by retailers to communicate coronavirus response efforts to customers, followed by Instagram. (Note: Facebook owns Instagram, making cross-posting between the two platforms seamless.)
NACS spokesperson Jeff Lenard shared in a Convenience Corner blog post that in times of uncertainty, it’s important to look at your communications—including social posts—through a lens of how others feel and reassure your audience that the business is putting employee and customer safety first. Use social media to share how your business is helping the community by enhancing cleaning and safety protocols, donating food directly to food banks and donating PPE to health-care workers, for example.
Measuring social media impact allows companies and brands to make improvements to their strategies. Hootsuite, for example, identifies three steps to measuring return on investment (ROI), which begins with asking more pointed questions about what your company hopes to achieve:
- Define: What business challenges do you want social to help solve? For example, increasing efficiency, differentiating your brand or increasing customer satisfaction
- Measure: How will you map your business objectives to social key performance indicators (KPI)?
- Prove: Did you hit your quarterly business goals? If so, what contribution did social make?
By answering these questions, companies can better establish what social media success looks like. And remember: Measuring social media impact goes beyond “likes” to gain a more accurate representation of how well specific social messages and campaigns are performing.
Social KPIs can include all or a combination of reach, engagement, conversions and loyalty depending on a company’s goals. “It’s impossible to know for sure whether you’re making the right business decisions unless you measure your performance through social media KPIs,” notes Sprout Social, suggesting that measuring social KPIs also helps companies determine whether to stay the course on a social campaign or adjust the strategy.
There are many great resources available to help your company take a deep dive into creating successful social media strategies. At the end of the day, social media is powerful tool that can transform how companies think about how to meaningfully engage with their customers.