Social Savvy: Look in the rearview mirror to plan for the future - December 2022

By Sharon La Riviere

Social media is an essential marketing strategy that demands a lot of thought, attention and effort, so you want to ensure your time is being well spent. When planning your next moves, you should take a step back and “look in the rearview mirror” to reflect on what you’ve done in the past to inform and help you plan for the future. Now is the time to evaluate what you did in 2022-what worked, what didn’t and what insights you gleaned. To figure that out, follow these steps.

A good first step is to review metrics from your social media channels or business pages where you have been active throughout the past year. Measuring your social media effectiveness requires reviewing key metrics that can help determine the value of your efforts. Each social media channel provides different metrics, so refer to your business page’s insights or analytics section to determine what is available. If possible, download or pull the data into an Excel file monthly. This will allow you to track month-over-month progress and can be helpful in identifying trends and key insights, such as popular and engaging content.

While there are many different metrics you can track, here are the ones I’d recommend:
• Followers or ‘likes’-the number of followers or people who ‘like’ your page; include the increase or decrease of followers month over month
• Reach-the number of people who saw your posts
• Engagement-any action someone took on your posts, such as a ‘like,’ comment, share, video or link click
• Engagement rate (%)-calculation of engagement divided by reach

If you are running paid ads, there are a few additional metrics you may want to capture to determine if your time and money are being well spent.
• Spend-how much money you spent to promote a specific ad
• Results-the number of times your ad achieved an outcome, based on the objective and settings you selected (example: awareness, video views, traffic to your website, etc.)
• Cost per result-calculation of spend divided by results

Once you’ve compiled the individual post metrics, include a total or average for each month for each of the metrics identified above. This will allow you to easily review the results to see if you are making improvements compared to previous months.

It is not enough to capture metrics; it’s important to analyze them to help define future plans and improvements. Questions to think about are:
• Do you see any trends in the metrics? Do certain post topics or themes have higher engagement? This shows the content was valuable.
• Do certain types of projects get more attention? Are videos more popular versus images?
• What worked well?
• What didn’t work as expected?
• Did you meet the goals you set?
• Did anything surprise you?

Write down the answers to these questions and take the time to think them through, as this is one of the most important steps in the analysis and planning process.

In addition to your own metrics, it is also important to pay attention to and research new trends in the industry and on social media. Staying on top of what your customers are asking for and interested in, as well as what social media experts are seeing and predicting, is a key piece to planning your strategy. Think about:
• What are the latest trends in the industry, e.g., colors, patterns, formats, etc.?
• What types of projects are customers looking to hire you for? Maybe it’s traditional kitchen renovations, outdoor spaces or even dog wash areas.
• Are there new or popular social media platforms on which your customers are active?
• Do shorter-form videos (less than 30 seconds) get more engagement than longer versions?
• Do photos showing yourself or your team throughout the project process get more attention than sharing only the finished-project image?

These are just a few questions to ask. I’d also recommend doing your own research-ask your customers, your team and your friends what content is most interesting to them and what social media channels they use. By doing both external and internal research, it will help you understand the full picture.

Now that you’ve gathered and analyzed a lot of data, it’s time to turn it into an actionable plan. Ask yourself:
• Do you see a correlation between your own social metrics and trends?
• Do these trends make sense for your business model?
• What are the main topics, categories or messages that had the most engagement?
• If you’re posting on more than one social channel, did the types of content that performed well vary? Maybe short-format video did better on Instagram, while images had a better engagement on Facebook.
• Are there new types of content or formats that you want to consider testing, e.g., TikTok style videos with catchy, trending music and sounds or quick how-tos and tips and tricks?
• Are there new social channels to try to reach your target audience? (For more on which channels resonate with different demographics, refer to my July 2022 “Social Savvy.”)

Social media is a component of your overall marketing strategy, so you want to try to ensure the plans you make align with your broader goals. If not, you could end up wasting your time focusing on the wrong metrics or not gaining traction with the audience you are trying to reach. The first step should be setting your overall business goals and then establishing specific social media goals that contribute to the entire mission.

Think about ways to continuously improve what you are already doing by incorporating new strategies and methods. Don’t wait until year-end to determine the effectiveness or challenges of your efforts. Your plan should be flexible so that you can adjust what is not working well and repeat what is throughout the course of the year. To win in marketing, you must be willing to experiment and take risks, but understand that failures may happen. Remember that anything you learn from your failures is what allows you to grow.

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