My biggest advice about social media is to become an obsessed user yourself. “Duh!” You’re probably thinking. “Surely Jane isn’t just writing a blog post about ‘you should use social media’”.
But honestly, pretty much everything I’ve learnt about social media is by playing around with it. By doing that, you:
- Learn how the algorithm works, and
- Figure out what kind of content to create
How you should use social media…
Understand the algorithm to maximise engagement 💪
Now I don’t mean that you need to derive some kind of complex mathematical equation, but rather, to understand why a piece of content has performed well, and of course, why something has tanked.
When we look at engagement, we look at a number of factors:
- The outfits featured
- The model or influencer
- The pose
- The lighting, background and filter
- The caption
- The posting time
- Hashtags used
- And the length (for videos and blogs)
So once you work out what works for your audience, you’ll have a better idea of what kind of content to create.
So for example, logically, you would think that you should feature your best sellers on social media. But actually, there’s normally a big difference between what sells and what performs on social. For example, leopard print is trending right now, and selling well for us, but it’s just not performing on instagram.
So doing this kind of analysis, we know which styles do well on instagram, for example, sequins. We also work out which models resonate better with our audience, so we know who to book more. We know that for us generally, a clean background does well, so we keep our shoot studio minimal, white and sparse.
But of course, you can’t just keep posting the same things over and over again, cos it’ll get stale. So you do need to find a balance between posting what you know works, and still keep testing out new trends and styles.
But the algorithm keeps changing!?
There’s been a lot of frustrations for business owners as Facebook and Instagram change their algorithm to better monetise it. There’s a lot of people who say that Facebook organic traffic is dead… and I was one of them.
But as you can see we’ve managed to make Facebook still work for us, mainly through creating original video content. Some of our videos have amassed millions of views, which is really exciting.
I think the key here is to embrace change and to keep up with them. Otherwise, we’ll become like the bricks-and-mortar chain stores that used to be so big but did themselves such a big disservice by not getting on the online store and social media bandwagon early enough.
And it’s particularly exciting for a small business, because when the algorithm changes or a new feature is brought out, it kind of puts everyone back to even playing fields. Every algo change is a new opportunity to find new growth hacks and to be the first to do it can be very rewarding.
Work out what kind of content to create 💪
So understanding the algo tells you how to optimise your content for engagement. But the most important thing when it comes to creating good content , is that your content needs to be:
- Relevant to your audience
- Helpful or entertaining (or ideally both!)
This is particularly important for longer form content such as blog articles and videos. When we plan our content, the first question is whether the purpose is to help our customers, for example, a tutorial video like ‘what to wear for an interview‘ or to entertain like ‘‘annoying things people do’.
Something that we’ve found particularly helpful is to think of the title and caption before filming, to help set the direction for the content.
Don’t beat yourself up when your content fails. Trust me, we’ve had our fair share of fails. But you know what’s great – when something fails on social media – it means not many people will see it! So you’re fine! Don’t stress, just make sure you analyse why it didn’t work, so you can learn from it and do better next time. Cos’ if you do fail too many times, then the platforms will play down your future posts. But again that’s business right? It’s about testing, making mistakes, learning from the mistakes. Too many mistakes in a row, and you may run out of money. It’s all about how quickly you can learn and adapt.
Why I think it’s important to become a social media fiend yourself is because you need to understand how you, like your customers and your followers, want to be communicated to by brands. I built Showpo up in the early days with no money by nailing Facebook marketing, and it was because I was such a Facebook addict, and I knew what I liked seeing, so I knew what content girls like me wanted to see. (And that, in a nutshell, is relatable memes and cat videos.)
Don’t forget that at the end of the day, social media is a socialising platform. It can be quite intrusive to bombard someone with too much product-focused content. Of course, I’m not saying not to feature products, particularly in your paid social content, cos’ at the end of the day we’re trying to sell something, but there needs to be a balance, and for us, we post cat videos and our own original content that’s helpful or entertaining to relate to customers, so they see us more like one of their friends, rather than just a store.
- Be sociable: be relatable, humorous, light-hearted
- Be yourself; be authentic
- Be consistent
How to manage it all?
For everyone who’s thinking “I’m already busy enough with my business to spend time on Facebook, and Instagram, and YouTube, and Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest”.
First of all, you don’t need to be on all the platforms. It’s better to nail one, then to do a half ass job on all of them. In this very globalised and digital world, you can start very niche, and still have a big following.
For Showpo, we built up Facebook. Then when Instagram came along, shifted a lot of our attention to that. Then when Facebook bought Instagram, we realised that the risk of relying on just one company, so started building our YouTube channel.
You want to be where your customers are. And where they want to see content from you. So for us, we don’t really bother with Twitter. Out of all the platforms, it’s not really for our demographic. And those within our demographic on Twitter that are on Twitter, they’re not on there to see tweets from us.
You do need to remember that your time is precious, and everything you spend time on, comes with an opportunity cost of what you’re not doing. So you need to think about the return on investment of spending time on each platform.
The simple solution may seem like that you can just repost the same content on all the platforms, but this isn’t a good idea. The content you put out needs to be native to each platform.
Because each platform has an optimal format, which if you adhere to, optimises engagement. What you can do is repurpose content for each platform.
For example, if we make a video for YouTube, it’s in a landscape widescreen format. We try to keep these videos under 10 minutes. If we want to post this on Facebook, we’ll shorten it so it’s punchier, because the Facebook audience is less patient, and we’ll reformat it to a 5:4 format, because people are scrolling and not going to turn their phones to the side. We try to keep this under 3 minutes.
If we want to post this to our insta, we’ll make it even shorter and square. For insta stories or IGTV, it’ll be in 16:9 and even shorter. And normally, rather than trying to tell the whole story via insta, we’ll use it as a trailer to move our large following from insta, to our YouTube channel, which still has a relatively small following.
And also, since there’s probably quite a large proportion of your followers who follow you on multiple platforms, they don’t want to see the same thing again and again.
In summary 💪
Test everything, analyse the results, and double down on what works for you. Because it’s different for every industry, every brand and every platform. What works for Showpo, won’t necessarily work for you. And 8 years later, we still far from having the perfect formula. You do have to take a risk sometimes. And again, it’s just like every other element of starting and running a business, you wanna try those idea that seem a bit risky because no one else has done it yet, sometimes they fail, but the crazy risky ideas that work will be the most rewarding.
What have you been surprised about with how you should use social media?
More from Jane:
- How Often Should I Post To Instagram?
- Instagram IGTV: Everything I Know So Far…
- 9 Steps To Building Your Personal Brand
- Jane Lu’s October Business Month Speech