To anyone who has had to plan and execute a social media strategy, you understand how hard it is to stay on top of the ever-changing social media landscape. Social channels are constantly rolling out new features, and it’s important to distinguish passing industry fads from trends that can spur growth.
In this post, I will show you that there is a significant benefit to investing your time in developing and implementing a social media strategy. If you read through the end, you will learn how to develop a social media content strategy that has the potential to drive significant traffic to your website.
We will go over how our social media strategy went from an afterthought to a priority and got our blog and website 230% more monthly visitors from social media.Learn how updating @Hubstaff's social media strategy boosted traffic to their blog by 230%. Click To Tweet
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Hubstaff’s social media began as no-mans land
Jay Baer is one of the expert marketers who point to social media as a new convergence of marketing and customer support, a tool that is an equal part of the sales, support, and marketing worlds.
However, when I joined Hubstaff, there was very little in that area that was being done. We had an excellent advertising expert who took care of social advertising, but without good content there was only so much he could do.
I started out on the team with a focus on content, so I was more heavily involved in the blog than anything else. One of my to-dos for each blog post that went live was to share it on social media via Buffer, a useful social media scheduler.
However, this meant that our social channels were dominated by our own content (not biased at all and totally credible, right?), instead of great, relevant information from all around the Internet. There was almost no difference between visiting our Facebook and Twitter pages and our blog homepage.
This was a huge mistake because people were reaching out to us on social media. Our page was relatively quiet (aside from trying to broadcast our blog articles), and it had the personality of a snail. Whenever we had a visitor check out our profiles, instead of hitting “follow” or “like,” they’d see our monotonous content and bounce.
The co-founders knew it, and since Hubstaff was growing, they decided we need a full-time social media person. It was especially important considering how closely correlated the social media referrals were to our overall traffic:
Mid-October 2015, I was officially assigned to handle our social media channels.
Here are some numbers about what our traffic from social looked like in September 2015, right before we started updating our social media strategy:
- Blog visitors via social: 1,827
- Main website visitors via social: 606
- Mentions on Twitter: 124
- Link clicks on Twitter: 66 (keep in mind we only shared links)
- Facebook followers: 636
Gathering data and establishing guidelines
To be perfectly honest, I had handled social media channels before, but I was no strategist. I created content for social media and scheduled it to go out. I hadn’t dealt with social editorial calendars, analytics, creating guidelines, or anything like that.
Thankfully, many of my team members knew what they were doing. That first month, I let spam slip by because I didn’t know where to look for it on our Facebook page (whoops), continued posting like an automated bot, and made other embarrassing mistakes.
During this transition period, I developed a few things to help guide me and anyone else who might deal with our social media.
The first was response guidelines, which covered how to answer questions and other queries we got on our social profiles. The second was a tone and voice exercise, to try and distil the personality of our brand so I could adjust my writing accordingly. Finally, I compiled all of my duties in a social media weekly checklist, to make sure I didn’t forget to do anything each week.
If you’re interested in taking a look at these initial guides, I’ve compiled them all in How to Speak Hubstaffian on Social.
My main goals were;
- Reply to 99% of mentions on Twitter and Facebook
- Delete all spam comments and posts from our Facebook page
- Send out interesting, useful, and relevant content through our social channels
Overall, for the first few months I had responsibility for our social media strategy, I was reactive rather than proactive. That changed when we got some professional advice from Mojca Mars, a social media consultant who knows how to leverage social media for agencies and consultants.
Working with a consultant
Mojca Mars is truly fantastic at what she does, and the hour consulting session we had with her shaped our new social media strategy moving forward. She pointed out what we were doing well, and what needed improvement.
For anyone who needs more direction with their social media strategy, or is simply not as experienced with social, I highly recommend getting some expert feedback. If you want to hear more, she was on Hubstaff’s Agency Advantage Podcast and shared some exclusive resources with our listeners.
Here’s what we learned from our session with Mojca:
Show benefits, not features
Our social media “about” information was tailored towards us, instead of our clients. Our description talked about us and what we did, but it didn’t explain how we can help businesses.To succeed on social media you have to make it about the customer, not your product or service. Click To Tweet
Our old info: “We make remote employee tracking and management easy through time tracking software with screenshots and activity levels.”
Our new info (still a work in progress): “Increase your remote team productivity and make management a breeze with accurate time tracking, screenshots, GPS locations and more.”
Actionable tip: Keep the customer at the center of attention.
Be careful with automation
According to Mojca and a few other sources, Facebook penalizes third-party schedulers, so the posts you send out with them get less reach.
*Note: There’s a lot of evidence that this is no longer the case. Here’s another point of view from Buffer.
So, Mojca suggested we schedule any Facebook updates through the native Facebook scheduler. I noticed a few benefits since doing this, which include the customizable aspects of the Facebook interface. For example, I can select the image that’s associated with my link previews, and tag a company in my updates. Here’s how to tag a company in an update:
Actionable tip: If you use a third party app to schedule your Facebook updates, try mixing in a few natively scheduled posts to see if they perform better.
Quality, not quantity
I was posting too much on Facebook, and it was all links. Our engagement rate was low, and we were basically throwing information at our followers without having any conversations with them. If our engagement was consistently low, our updates would start showing up less on our followers’ newsfeeds, and it would become a vicious cycle.
Not only were we posting too much, our content was mostly links. Links are okay, but the problem with them is that people have to click away from our social media pages in order to gain value (the information). We are redirecting traffic to web pages that aren’t ours, instead of engaging with people on our social media platforms.
Instead of posting three or four times a day on Facebook, I scaled back to one. I was more lenient with the numbers on Twitter, but rarely did I exceed six tweets in one day (excluding @ mentions).
I also began diversifying the type of content I was posting. I used Canva to create images that I could share on Facebook and Twitter, providing value to our followers without them having to go anywhere else. I also started posting things like quotes and passages from places online. I would cite the source, but I’d also make sure our updates were worth reading even if people didn’t want to click through to a link.
Actionable tip: Get your engagement up by posting once or twice a day, and don’t make your viewers go anywhere in order to get value.
Don’t be boring
Easier said than done, I know. But in our case we really were boring. I erred towards the side of professionalism, and that rarely fits on social media. In order to infuse some personality into our social, I started focusing on what Hubstaff had that other companies couldn’t share.
Here are a few things I came up with;
- We have a 100% remote team, who shared their opinions about time tracking software and remote work productivity.
- We share our journey through our growth posts. The article you’re reading now is part of the series, which documents our failures and successes on our journey to grow Hubstaff.
- Our team travels quite a bit. We’re all over America, Asia, Europe, etc. I never get tired of seeing what the team is up to in our team calendar, or hearing about their adventures on Slack.
I took the blog posts that showcase our team’s unique view of remote work and spun them into images, which I shared on our social media channels. This one got some great engagement on Twitter;
I also started sharing our customer success stories and testimonials, taken from our case studies. It’s always great hearing the nice things people say about Hubstaff, and sharing that out to our social followers both strengthened the brand and added to our credibility.
In the future, I’d like to post photos of the cool places our team is working from.
Actionable tip: Get personal and share tips and experiences that are unique to your brand.
Benefits of having a solid social media strategy
Mojca’s advice gave me a great place to start improving our social efforts. I began replying to every tweet, sometimes with gifs (more on that later), tagging relevant companies and people on Twitter and Facebook, and starting conversations with our followers.
I put much more thought into what I was sharing, and I’ve seen engagement rates rise and how funny some of our followers (and fellow brands) could be.
Overall, it was a success. Don’t take my word for it, here are our numbers and the metrics I use to track our success:
The spreadsheet above contains accurate numbers from our various dashboards like Google Analytics, Facebook Insights & Twitter Analytics. Even though the follower growth across our social media channels has mostly been organic, it’s only in the case of Facebook that we advertised our Business Page, for a short period of time, to get in front of our relevant audience more quickly. We are strongly against purchasing of any kind of fake following across our social channels as we love to keep it real!
Our current social media strategy focuses on personality and value
We are more human in our communication. I read every Tweet and respond to almost all of them (the exceptions are trolls or tweets that are way out there and make no sense), plus I have three levels of alerts set up so I don’t miss any mention of us that we weren’t tagged in. For these, I use Mention, Notify, and Google Alerts.
One of the best things I discovered handling Hubstaff’s social media accounts is the joy of gifs. (How do you pronounce “gif” by the way?)
We have a heavier focus on customer satisfaction. In fact, we connected our Facebook and Intercom accounts so that all Facebook messages get sent directly to our support team. That means all the technical questions that I’m unable to address go straight to the people who can, cutting out the middlewoman and allowing us to get questions answered more quickly.
Our strategy is ever-evolving. We scale and grow with a process of trial and error. We’re observing what our audience enjoys, what they find useful, and the content they engage with. Most recently, we held Remote Work Month in April 2016 and shared our guest blog posts with the hashtag #GoRemote (which you should feel free to use to start conversations on remote work, by the way).
Our monthly numbers in March 2016
Here’s where we stand now. I’ve compared them to our numbers in September (included earlier in this post) and included the percentage increase over the course of six months:
- Blog referrals – 2,364, a 29.3% increase
- Website referrals – 1,824, a 201% increase
- Twitter mentions – 300, a 142% increase
- Twitter link clicks – 275, a 316.7% increase
- Facebook followers – 36,300, a 5,607.5% increase (That’s 35,664 new followers)
What I learned
Social media has evolved from being simply a channel to reach your target audience, into a method for developing relationships and providing value. When I first started working with social media, its potential was lost on me. Six months ago, I would have only seen one or two people sharing our content or reaching out to us online every few weeks. Today, I regularly send out thank yous to great people who share our articles and engage with us through social media. The response has been amazing, and the opportunities are expanding as we reach out to influencers and other great remote teams to talk about collaboration and chat about our experiences so far.
Have you seen success with your social media strategy? I’d love to hear about your wins (or struggles) in the comments below.