Have you ever wondered if your social media campaigns are actually doing anything for your business?
Social media is THE place to connect with our audiences and build our brands. We all know this. BUT, do you ever feel like you’re spinning your social media wheels unsure if you’re actually going anywhere? We’ve all been there.
Meet social media and marketing expert, Alyssa McNally. In this interview, she shares exactly how you can make sure your campaigns are making an impact by using data by learning how to set goals the right goals and measure campaign effectiveness. She also shares her favorite power tools that help her keep everything organized.
Read on to learn how to NEVER waste time or energy on a social media strategy that isn’t working!
Thank you for doing this interview! Let's jump in and start at the beginning. When did you become a social media marketer and what has that experience been like?
When I graduated college, social media had just started to become the most popular form of communication. Instagram had just launched, Twitter was picking up speed, and Grandma’s around the United States were starting to create Facebook accounts. And as the token millennial in my first job out of college, I was looked at to lead their social media marketing efforts.
I worked for several years as a marketing manager at a publishing company right outside of Chicago. They gave me the opportunities, resources, and time to really learn about social media marketing strategies. Fortunately, the projects also had budgets that allowed me to test out my marketing theories while promoting entry level authors, which always helps, right?
From that job, I transitioned to Nashville where I began freelancing for a few different companies running their social media accounts and campaigns, as well as writing and editing content as needed.
Which led me to a brief stint at a small startup called Gradient; an online magazine focused on exploring the human experience. But, as so many startup stories go, after a series of unfortunate events, that company lost their funding.
Finding myself pushed back into the world of freelance, I decided to launch my own small business. I still provide social media marketing for startups, but now I work on a contract basis with more than one company at a time.
What is your process for choosing and developing a new social media campaign?
My business is generally comprised of two different types of projects, campaign based or brand based, and they are exactly what they sound like!
If a company hires me to execute a campaign based project there is always a very specific goal in mind for a short period of time. They usually want to raise awareness about a specific product, to grow by a certain amount of followers or to increase sales.
Brand based projects require more time to implement. And generally, the focus is on developing brand awareness, creating higher conversion rates, and/or increasing their SEO all of which require several months of development and a lot more time to execute.
However, both types of project are very influenced by data. When I create specific social media goals and think through how I can reach them I have to know what their current customers look like before I start targeting who they hope to reach.
Data allows me to know who is already visiting their website, who has already bought into their brand message and product. Once I know that information I can quickly deduce the kind of person I need to target. Then I begin to identify opportunities to expand into different markets.
When it comes to social media channels, I always start by collecting demographic data (information like age, gender, and location) on the existing audience. Then I look at how engaged, or active, they are on each of the client’s existing social media platforms. I have to establish a baseline first of who they are currently reaching and who is already converting. Otherwise, once I begin to grow their reach it would be impossible to measure what is working and what isn’t if I don’t have this figured out.
Once you determine who your target customer is what is your process for setting goals at the start of a new campaign?
I always 100% of the time set goals before starting a new campaign or taking over an existing account. I do this for many reasons, the first being it helps measure success and show the client progress. Throwing money into campaigns or marketing agencies with no measurable goals is pretty pointless. I just think it makes sense to start with a baseline and work towards a goal. And if I miss the clues and the audience doesn’t react like I thought they would? It’s still great information about your customers! You can’t control the data, you have to follow whatever it tells you.
There are parts of social media campaign that are harder to track than others — like overall brand awareness and customer comfortability — however, those things are trackable, just not easily through most traditional analytic tools. You have to dig a little deeper for those!
Secondly, setting goals helps me create measurable analytics; it helps us adjust posts, audiences, and verbiage throughout the campaign to meet those initial goals that were set.
Tell us about a time you knocked a social media campaign out of the park. What factors influenced the campaign’s success the most?
One time I had a client who wanted me to help him with three very specific, measurable goals:
To expand their audience reach by 40% on Instagram within the next three months.
To impress and woo large corporate brands into buying their product by developing a more sophisticated brand presence.
To drive 100 visitors to our client’s website per month through organic engagement (not paid).
SOLUTION NO. 1
There was a little bit of trial and error on this one. But, once I got a strong grasp of how the brand was currently perceived, and then I was able to expand their audience engagement and reach on Instagram over 90 percent!
Through Minter, (see tool recommendations below) I was able to discover when their audience was most active on social media, which hashtags were getting the most traction, and what posts were attracting the most traffic and at what time of day. I kept measuring and adjusting as needed. I tested different types of posts, even tested a different language before eventually finding out what would work best for their audience.
SOLUTION NO. 2
Designing a curated feed so that large corporate brands would see a level of professionalism in their brand. Every photo and design was posted in context with the rest of the feed. The owner had other companies coming up to him complimenting him on their presence, and he was able to sign a contract with a large brand because they were impressed with his social presence.
SOLUTION NO. 3
The client’s online traffic increased and an average one hundred people visiting his website every month due to the actions that were implemented for steps 1 and 2, which was tracked by Google Analytics.
Now, what about a campaign that didn't go so well? What did you learn from that one?
I was working on a team that a company hired us to do a LinkedIn campaign. They wanted to increase awareness before a conference they were attending. While the client was actually extremely happy with the work we did, we were underwhelmed with the results and felt that we didn’t hit the mark.
The main reason we felt like we didn’t make much of a difference was that we started the project with very little knowledge about the client’s customer base. They did not provide any statistics, or understanding of how their target audience was spending their time online. We had to make educated guesses and launch with the information we had to work with. So, case in point, right? It’s all about the data!
What tools do you love for social media management, data and analytics?
Other than the obvious analytic tools that are built into each individual social media platform and Google Analytics, here are three that I love…
What one piece of advice would you give to a business owner looking to start or improve her social media marketing efforts?
My biggest piece of advice is…don’t have social media accounts just for the sake of having them. Create realistic goals for your platforms, post with purpose and take the time to understand how it is valuable to advancing your brand.
Where do you think social media marketing is going? Where should people be looking in the future?
A few things…
Everything will be more live, more authentic. Think about how your brand can be live, present and active with your target market.
Sales are going to just continue to move online, Amazon is changing the game, and it is cost effective for businesses to move their products online. And as a result, social media will continue to be oversaturated with sales, which will keep forcing social media marketers to figure out how to stand out.
At the end of the day, learn how to tell your story and focus on being authentic with your audience.
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