Traditional forms of advertisement, such as magazine ads, billboards and television commercials, still have their place in marketing plans. However, in the digital age, the vast majority of businesses are also relying on social media to reach consumers.

Some social media platforms are attracting more businesses than others. Consider these statistics:

  • In 2018, Facebook said that it was home to 90 million business pages.
  • In 2020, LinkedIn says that more than 50 million organizations use the social media platform to reach customers, employees and prospects.
  • In 2017, Instagrsam says 200 Million+ Instagrammers visit at least one Business Profile daily.

Benefits of Social Media Marketing

Why is social media so popular with businesses of all types and sizes? Social media platforms come with benefits that other marketing options simply lack. Take a look at what you can do with social media marketing:

Increase Brand Awareness

Billions of people use social media daily. Do all of those people know about your brand’s products and services? The answer is likely “no.” Social media offers you an opportunity to spread your brand’s message and connect with more potential customers.

With some skill and luck, your content might even go viral. Brand awareness can explode overnight if your followers feel compelled to share one of your posts far and wide.

Unless you’re a brand new start-up, some consumers are likely already aware of your business. However, regular posting ensures that you stay on their minds. This also ensures they know about your brand’s latest offerings and upcoming events.

Boost Authenticity and Credibility

Social media gives your brand a chance to be seen as credible and authentic. If you’re going for credibility, share industry news, host virtual chats with thought leaders and publish your own insights and research in blog form. For authenticity, you can adopt a voice that’s more informal and relatable. Playful brands with young target audiences might even embrace memes. Just make sure the voice you use is consistent with your brand identity.

Direct Traffic to Your Site

You can incorporate hyperlinks in your social media profile to steer traffic to your brand’s official site. Another strategy is to share your blog posts, infographics or other content on social media. Curious consumers will click on the content and find themselves on your site. The more your followers share that content, the more traffic you can expect to pull in.

Collaborate

Customers and clients aren’t the only people you can engage with on social media. You can also promote collaborative research between your business and others in your industry. This helps you and other businesses establish credibility and produce valuable content for consumers.

You don’t necessarily have to collaborate with brands that are in your niche, as long as you share similar goals and values. In 2018, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Disney collaborated on the #ShareYourEars campaign. The campaign, which invited followers to share pictures of themselves wearing Mickey Mouse ears, helped raise money for critically-ill children.

Interacting with your competitors on social media is a potentially fun way to call attention to your brand. For example, fast food restaurant Wendy’s has made a habit of playfully insulting other eateries on Twitter. The back and forth banter helps draw attention to all of the brands involved.

Generate Leads and Make Sales

Some social media platforms offer ad tools that help brands collect leads and make sales. For example, consider using Facebook Live to host a live video stream of your product in action. Below the video, include a link to a newsletter sign-up page. Consumers who want more information will have an easy opportunity to join your mailing list.

Address Concerns and Collect Feedback

It’s hard to please everyone, and people frequently use social media to voice their dissatisfaction with businesses. When your brand has a social media account, you can respond to those complaints in real-time. It’s a good opportunity to protect your reputation. The faster a brand responds to angry customers, the more willing those customers are to spend money on that brand’s services in the future. This is especially true on Twitter, suggests an experiment by Harvard Business Review.

You can also use social media polls to gauge interest in new products and services. Thinking about switching up the color of your product but not sure which shade will be most popular? Let your customers tell you on social media.

Use Targeted Ads

Some social media platforms have tools that help you target ads to very specific audiences. Target ads allow brands to spend money wisely rather than investing in strategies that only reach uninterested consumers.

Tools for Social Media Analysis

Just because a business has a social media page doesn’t necessarily mean that the business is using the platform to its fullest potential. Have you ever searched for a brand on Facebook only to find a page that was void of any business information or comments from followers? Or maybe the page only contained outdated details about past events or promotions. It’s not enough to have a stagnant social media page. Brands have to maintain an active presence if they want to reap the benefits of social media.

How can you tell if your business is maintaining an adequate presence or if you need to step up your efforts? Marketers can rely on tools to analyze social media performance.

In particular, take IZEA’s proprietary BrandGraph. IZEA began rolling out this first-of-its-kind social intelligence software platform in February 2020. Its unique features help marketers assess social media metrics to guide your social media strategy. BrandGraph helps businesses track engagement rate, identify super fans, measure sponsorship activity and more, including analyzing your social media:

  • Share-of-voice
  • Engagement benchmarking
  • Category spending estimates
  • Influencer identification
  • Brand sentiment analysis

All product names, logos, and brands are property of their respective owners. All company, product and service names used in BrandGraph are for identification purposes only. Use of these names, logos, and brands does not imply endorsement.

Here’s a breakdown of these five concepts, why they matter and how to improve them.

Share-of-Voice

In a traditional marketing sense, share-of-voice refers to how visible your advertising efforts are compared to your industry rivals. An established brand with plenty of television ads will have greater exposure, and thus a greater share-of-voice than a newer brand.

In the age of digital marketing, the definition of share-of-voice is a little different because brands aren’t the only ones driving the conversation. Nowadays it’s also possible to measure how often consumers mention a brand on social media. Are people constantly tweeting about your business this week? Or is it barely popping up in conversations on Facebook?

Why It Matters

Keeping an eye on your share-of-voice comes with some obvious benefits. For starters, a quick look at the data gives you an idea of how hard you’ll need to work to increase brand visibility. It helps you answer the questions: Am I an underdog in the battle for public attention? And how much content do I need to create?

In addition, BrandGraph allows you to monitor your share-of-voice over time. This is useful for determining which marketing decisions are (and aren’t) helping increase your visibility. An increase in share is likely a sign that your latest campaign is turning heads on social media. You can also keep an eye on how your competitors are faring over time. Are they taking effective measures to gradually dominate the conversation? And if so, what are they doing that you can learn from?

If you discover your share-of-voice is outpacing your competitors on a certain platform, you can reconsider your marketing decisions. For example, if your brand is extremely visible on Facebook, but not on Twitter, you might want to invest more energy into the latter.

How to Improve Your Share-of-Voice on Social Media

If no one is talking about your brand on social media, don’t panic. Use the following strategies to grab more attention from consumers.

Be active

You never want to be the social media account that’s outdated and unresponsive. Three steps can ensure your brand is always active online.

  1. Create a content calendar filled with posting ideas for the future. Trying to think of ideas at the last minute can be stressful and lead to uninspired posts. The calendar can include several weeks’ or months’ worth of ideas.
  2. Research the best times to share content on social media. This might differ based on which social media platform you’re using, who you’re trying to reach and what your industry is. If you’re a recreational brand using Instagram, a midday post on Wednesday will get more engagement than a late-night post on Sunday. On the other hand, if you’re marketing consumer goods on Twitter, your Sunday morning posts are most likely to get higher engagement.
  3. Use scheduling software to automate the posting process in advance. Networks like Facebook have built-in scheduling tools; however, third-party options are usually available as well.

Even if your social media strategy involves scheduled posts, be ready and willing to respond to comments as well. Actively engage your audience in conversation, especially if someone has an urgent complaint or suggestion. An entirely automated approach to posting will lead followers to assume you aren’t reading their comments.

Make headlines

Another way to get people talking about your brand is to do things that give the public something to talk about. You have plenty of options here. Some ideas include:

  1. Host a giveaway or contest on social media. For example, ask people to record themselves doing tricks on your brand’s skateboards and share their videos online. Publicize the contest and reward the person who posts the most impressive video.
  2. Create the kind of content that people feel compelled to share on social media. Offering colorful infographics that sum up complex ideas is one option. Humorous content also tends to go viral — especially if the style of humor has wide appeal.
  3. Raise brand awareness by giving an interview to a local news outlet, podcast or online publication. Are there things your industry as a whole can improve on? Do you see new opportunities for innovation on the horizon? Voice your opinions and try to strike up a larger conversation online. You might even want to add your two cents to an ongoing conversation.

Whether you’re sharing opinions or humorous content, don’t fall for the belief that “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” A controversial remark can certainly increase the amount of attention you get on social media. But, as you’ll see in a later section, public sentiment about your brand is very important, and you don’t want to generate negative attention.

Engagement Benchmarking

On social media, engagement refers to the level of interaction between your brand and consumers. When people retweet your latest Twitter post, that counts as engagement. If someone likes a photo on your business’ Instagram account, that counts as engagement as well. Comments from followers are also engagement.

Engagement benchmarking is simply when you compare your social media engagement levels to certain standards. For example, BrandGraph lets you compare your engagement versus industry competitors. You can also view the engagement rates of the most popular sponsored content in your industry as well as assess monthly engagement highs and lows.

Why It Matters

Engagement rates won’t give you much information about sales. Just because people are liking and sharing your content doesn’t mean they’re making purchases or even signing up for your newsletter. However, engagement can still tell you a lot about how your content is performing. Here are some examples:

  • If a post was widely shared, that should indicate your followers thought the content was useful or interesting enough to pass onto others.
  • If a post received lots of comments, that tells you the audience felt comfortable sharing opinions on the subject. Or perhaps you tapped into a subject of much debate.
  • On the other hand, if the post asked for feedback and you only received “likes” but no comments, you might want to reconsider your call-to-action.
  • If you have a low follower count but very high engagement, your audience is likely small yet passionate. However, a brand with lots of followers and low engagement could indicate the presence of fake followers or you need to step up your interaction efforts.

In addition, by comparing your engagement rates with those of your competitors, you can answer questions such as:

  • “Is my engagement rate below industry average?”
  • “Which competitors are best at engaging audiences?”
  • “Are my engagement rates high enough for me to restructure my spending?”

How to Increase Social Media Engagement

You can find many remedies to boost lackluster engagement on social media. Here are some suggestions:

Know what kind of engagement you want

Since engagement comes in many forms, you’ll want to set a more specific goal than “increase engagement.” Do you want more comments? Or do you want likes and shares? Your goal will affect which strategies you take.

Stay up-to-date on trends

Asking followers to share opinions on non-topical issues probably won’t help engagement rates. Instead, stay up-to-date and offer content that’s relevant to today. If you’re marketing for a local bakery, ask followers about their favorite seasonal treats. Marketing for a fashion brand? You’ll want to make sure all of your posts are relevant to the season as well. Plan this out well ahead of time, or revisit content from a previous year.

Use imagery

Remember that your content is competing for attention with a large number of other posts. Use colorful images or even emojis to help your posts stand out to consumers who are scrolling through feeds. Stock photos work well in a pinch; however, if you have images or videos of real customers, those might be more effective.

Encourage participation

While giveaways and contests can increase your share-of-voice, these strategies can also give engagement a boost. A competitive element isn’t always necessary though. You can simply encourage followers to be part of your campaign by asking them to submit user-generated content.

For example, Adobe, the well-known maker of image-editing software, used the #Adobe_Perspective campaign to encourage followers to submit artistic creations. And furniture brand Wayfair used the #WayfairAtHome campaign to invite its followers to share how they’ve been using the brand’s products. In both instances, the brands received publicity while increasing engagement. These types of campaigns can also foster brand loyalty since participants feel as though they’re producing content that directly supports products they love.

Offer incentives

Give customers a good reason to engage with your content. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to award prizes to the best replies. However, liking your followers’ posts and responding to them in a timely manner can be seen as a “reward.”

You might even want to take things a step further by giving a shout-out to loyal followers and amplifying their content. If they run a blog or host a podcast, share some of their work on social media and explain what you appreciated about it.

Use multiple platforms

To maximize both brand awareness and engagement, post content regularly on multiple social media platforms. Then, use links to direct traffic between your accounts as well as your brand’s official site. Try posting a link on Twitter that leads to a photo on your Instagram account. Or insert a link to your brand’s YouTube channel in your Instagram bio.

If you have the capacity to manage accounts on all the major social media platforms, do so. However, if you can only handle two or three accounts, make sure the platforms you use give you the ability to reach your target audience. For example, older individuals tend to use Facebook, rather than Twitter or Snapchat.

Experiment with calls to action

An effective call to action can make a big difference when it comes to engagement. Try out different wording, but always ask the reader to take a specific action, such as share, comment, like or follow. Build off of your successes, reusing wording that drives engagement and ditching wording that doesn’t.

Category Spending Estimates

Are you spending too much on your social media marketing efforts or too little? BrandGraph can help you analyze how much you’re spending on sponsored content compared to other competitors in your field.

Why It Matters

By monitoring your spending as well as your other metrics, you can assess how well your current social media strategy is working. For example, if you’re vastly outspending your competitors but seeing less engagement or more negative brand sentiment, you need to revisit your tactics.

On the other hand, you might find that your spending has paid off, and you’ve exceeded your goals. In this case, you might want to shift your budget around and focus on other areas that could use improvement.

Tips for Budgeting During Social Media Campaigns

If your analytics show that you’re spending too much on content, you’ll need to find ways to cut expenses. Consider these strategies:

Set SMART goals

Goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound can help you ensure you’re getting the results you want while staying within your budget. Saying, “I want to increase brand awareness” is a vague goal that’s hard to track and can lead to overspending. Instead, say “I want to gain 100 followers on Instagram by the end of the week.” Establish a step-by-step plan and budget around that specific objective.

Look for free resources and DIY guides

From free third-party tools to built-in tools on social media platforms, you can search for ways to manage campaigns while cutting costs. In addition, look for blogs and guides on how to do everything from basic photo editing to optimizing content for mobile viewers. A DIY approach can offer learning experiences and help you reduce spending as long as you’re not trading too much time for money.

Repurpose content

Become a pro at repurposing pieces of content, whether that includes images, videos or blogs. Repurposing content saves money as well as time. And, if you’ve already analyzed the content’s original performance metrics, you probably have a general idea of how useful it will be.

When repurposing content, be open to the idea of altering the content’s format. Let these ideas for repurposing content inspire you to come up with more:

  • Use sound bites from a video interview or product review in your brand’s podcast. You can even use a transcription of the sound bites and add it to other marketing material.
  • Borrow quotes from your blog and incorporate the wording in a visual ad. Think of how books tend to include words of praise from critics on the covers.
  • Celebrate business milestones or throwback Thursdays by reposting older content and tapping into a sense of nostalgia.

Not every piece of content is worth repurposing. If a particular post failed to spur engagement, you might want to leave it in the past. Content that contains time-sensitive information, such as references to discontinued products or services, will need to be readjusted to avoid confusion.

Understand influencer pay

You want to make sure you’re paying your influencers fairly without spending too much on content. How much do influencers make? That question generally depends on their audience size and the kind of content they’re making for you. In 2019, IZEA researched the costs of influencer marketing on various platforms and found the following information:

  • On average, the cost of a Facebook post from an influencer was $395.
  • The average cost of a Twitter status was $422.
  • The average cost of a blog post was $1,442.
  • The average cost of an Instagram photo was $1,643.
  • The average cost of a YouTube video was $6,700.

Note the significant difference in pay between a YouTube video and content for other platforms. This is likely due to the amount of work that goes into creating videos, as well as YouTube’s impressive user base size.

As these figures only represent averages, you can expect to pay more when working with famous influencers and less when working with less-famous influencers. When working with nano-influencers, consider giving them free products or gift cards as payment. Just make sure whatever you’re offering them is worth the value of their work.

Influencer Identification

When an Olympic athlete tweets praises for a fitness apparel brand, people take note. If a podcast host says they love using a certain type of software, that endorsement could reach hundreds or thousands of listeners. And when a local food critic makes an Instagram post about a diner’s delicious pancakes, their followers keep that eatery in mind.

These are examples of social media influencers in action. Influencers are considered credible voices in their respective fields, so their recommendations carry a lot of weight with the public. Brands have a lot to gain from identifying influencers and bringing them on board with marketing campaigns.

Why It Matters

When an influencer partners with a brand, the process is called influencer marketing, and it’s an important aspect of the future of marketing. Consumers like influencer marketing because it comes across as more authentic than traditional methods of advertising. According to research by IZEA, 63 percent of surveyed social media consumers said they find influencer content more compelling than scripted ads.

Authenticity matters to potential customers, and influencers have plenty of it to offer. Here are a few benefits of teaming up with an influencer:

  • Influencers can introduce brands to wider audiences. In the process, they also help brands build trust with the public.
  • Influencers can be bloggers, vloggers or photographers who can lend a brand their creative skills.
  • Influencers can review and endorse specific products to drive sales and generate leads.
  • Influencers can collaborate with brands to develop unique products and services. For an example of this in action, look to the 2019 licensing deal between fashion influencer Danielle Bernstein and fashion brand Onia. The brand and the influencer are now production partners.

Tips for Identifying Influencers on Social Media

Not every influencer is going to be a good match for your brand. In fact, a mismatch might appear inauthentic and fail to improve public sentiment. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can identify influencers who are ideal partners for your brand.

Look for organic influencers

Organic influencers are individuals who are already vocal fans of your brand on social media. BrandGraph provides businesses with a list of its organic influencers along with details on their reach and engagement rates. These are influencers you want to reach out to first because their enthusiasm for your products is already very high.

Not all of these organic influencers will have large audience sizes. Don’t let that bother you though. Micro- and nano-influencers (individuals with smaller followings) tend to have higher engagement rates than macro- and mega-influencers (individuals with large followings). Lesser-known influencers also charge lower rates for content.

Check for audience overlap

An influencer who is already praising your brand is likely to have some audience overlap with your target consumers. This isn’t always the case though. Make sure that the influencer is able to reach your target demographics and knows how to use the social media platforms you’re campaigning on.

Consider their knowledge and skills

An influencer who is seen as an industry thought leader can lend your brand more credibility. When you’re marketing home improvement equipment, the best person to partner with is someone who is known for completing impressive renovations. And if you’re marketing kitchenware, a professional chef can provide a trust-worthy assessment of your products. They can also contribute their knowledge to informative content, such as blogs and infographics, for your audience.

The influencer’s digital skillset can come in handy as well. You might find someone who can aid your brand with graphic design, photography or video editing. Does the influencer happen to have a great voice? A podcast might even be an option. If they’re an expert on using a social media platform that your brand isn’t currently utilizing, that could also be a plus.

Review past content

Partnering with an influencer who has a habit of making controversial comments can put your brand’s reputation at risk. With that in mind, take some time to review an influencer’s past content before forming a partnership. Do their views and values align with those of your business? Or is there anything in their content history that your customers might find troublesome?

Understand their goals

Get to know the factors that motivate each influencer and ask about their future goals. This will help you determine if your partnership will result in a one-off project or a long-term collaboration. Long-term partnerships come with increased trust and commitment between the brand and the influencer, and your reputations will become more intertwined.

Sentiment Analysis

You wake up one morning to find your brand is trending on Twitter. Don’t celebrate just yet. As many celebrities and businesses are well aware, sometimes names trend on social media due to negative news stories and a flurry of negative mentions. Sentiment analysis can help you monitor how the public feels about your brand.

IZEA’s BrandGraph lets you determine whether public sentiment toward your brand is positive, neutral or negative. The platform also allows you to compare your brand sentiment to that of your competitors. In addition, you can view sentiment changes over time, which is useful for measuring progress and spotting problem areas.

Why It Matters

Analyzing social sentiment helps you determine which marketing decisions are helping or harming your brand’s reputation. If public sentiment drops during your latest ad campaign, you likely have a serious issue to solve with the content. Is an attempt at humor coming off as insensitive? What steps can you take to address the issue?

Don’t just examine your brand’s public sentiment. Look at how the public is reacting to your competitors’ decisions as well. If a competitor’s refusal to switch to eco-friendly practices is harming their reputation, you might want to learn from their mistake. But if their new, light-hearted Instagram content is delighting the target audience, you should learn from their success.

How to Boost Public Sentiment on Social Media

If public sentiment for your brand is trending toward neutral or negative, you’ll want to take quick action. And if sentiment is already positive, there are likely still ways to boost it further. Here are a few ideas that can help:

Do good deeds

Embrace opportunities to do good things for your local community and the world at large. Many brands choose to continually donate to nonprofits. Luxury handbag brand Lutz Morris donates $10 of every bag it sells to Every Mother Counts, an organization that focuses on childbirth safety. And Build-A-Bear works with a number of charitable partners, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Shriners Hospital for Children. Other brands, like the online marketplace Etsy, choose to rely on sustainable design and construction throughout their workplace.

Good deeds can also be time-sensitive, as brands rush to meet the emergency needs of society. During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, some media outlets, such as the New York Times and USA Today, are removing online paywalls from relevant content. Meanwhile, U-Haul is offering limited-time free storage to college students, and CVS is temporarily getting rid of its delivery free for customers who need prescriptions filled.

Although these examples involve larger brands, even small businesses can find creative ways to help people in need. A local diner can host free meals for the homeless during the holidays. A small fashion boutique can donate clothes to those in need. A brand that specializes in animal toys can partner with a local animal shelter to help with adoption efforts.

Focus on valuable content

Some marketers spend too much time focusing on the question: “What content will lead to conversions?” Instead, ask “What will be most valuable to my target audience?” Is a brand podcast that discusses industry trends likely to resonate with followers? How about more video content?

If you’re not entirely sure what kind of content your audience will find valuable, just look to them for the answer. Review customer comments and poll results to get a better sense of what your audience wants more of from you. You might even find ways to make your products and services more user-friendly.

Research your audience

Unfortunately, audiences aren’t always as willing to share feedback as you might want them to be. Investing in audience research can help you get to know your target consumers. Some information you’ll want to collect on your potential customers includes:

  • Average age
  • Geographical location
  • Education level
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Income
  • Hobbies

This information can help you visualize potential customers and understand and anticipate their needs and desires. For example, younger generations may set different priorities on certain issues than older generations. Seventy-three percent of millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable products, according to Gallup, for example. And statistics like that can inform your marketing decisions as you consider how to appeal to your target audience.

Serving a lower-income audience? Recognize the importance of sharing free resources on social media, even if your brand didn’t produce those resources. Sometimes the best way to serve your audience is to amplify offerings from other businesses. It’s also a smart way to form business connections.

Take a proactive approach to problems

From damaged shipments to social media slip-ups, mistakes happen. Some issues might even be bad enough to damage your brand’s reputation. Be ready to act fast, offer apologies and take corrective steps when necessary. By being proactive, you can maintain consumer trust and show that you take customer satisfaction seriously.

Social Media Analysis Leads to Success

When it comes to improving your social media presence, you can always take a “guess and check” approach. However, allowing analytics to guide your decision-making streamlines the process and helps you avoid costly mistakes.

BrandGraph is specifically designed for marketers who need to navigate the complex hierarchy of corporation-to-brand relationships. It gives essential insights into your brand’s share-of-voice, engagement benchmarking, category spending estimates, influencer identification, and sentiment analysis. Request a demo of BrandGraph and find out how it can analyze your social media presence and ultimately boost your bottom line.

print