One reason I started this column for Floor Trends is because I saw a need to offer social media marketing insights to a broad audience. Rather than answer folks one by one, I wanted the chance to share actionable information and ideas with many people at once. Though businesses and professional circumstances run the gamut, I get many of the same inquiries from the people I meet, those frequently asked questions—FAQs—that come up so commonly.
Here are three of those questions I’m asked most often, followed by my responses.
- How Often Should I Post?
- Should I Spend Money Advertising on Certain Social Media Platforms?
- Do I Have to Blog?
This is the question I get asked most frequently. It’s also the one that often reveals the person asking may not have the right—or complete—perspective on how all this social media stuff really works. Rather than fixate on frequency of posting, it’s much more important to direct energy to the quality of posts and how content fits into an overall, ongoing program that is intended to build relationships and inspire loyalty.
Do you have something worthwhile to share? Then by all means, go ahead and share it! Of course, you must use common sense. For example, you wouldn’t want to post too much within in a short amount and cannibalize your own news and updates. You also shouldn’t post just for posting’s sake; you earn attention and spark interaction when your posts are relevant, interesting, timely…or all of the above.
Despite all that, I do understand it’s helpful to define expectations regarding frequency of posts. As a foundation for the clients my company represents, we set a once-per-day posting minimum on all social platforms that have news feeds (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even Google+) and weekly attention for Pinterest and Houzz. We often end up sharing content more than once a day because news and items of interest present themselves at random, unexpected times.
I am often asked if it’s advisable to budget for advertising on social media. Specifically, people want to know if it’s worth spending on Facebook or committing to a paid program on Houzz.
Generally speaking, for retail businesses in our industry, I advocate for spending some money on Facebook in order to support common goals such as increasing showroom traffic, promoting a special sale event, or attaining new leads/prospects. It’s very important that you define what success will look like for any paid effort so that you can measure effectiveness and determine future spending. Also, I strongly advise that you incorporate all the Facebook marketing tools available to make your ad dollars go further. Embed the Facebook tracking pixel on your website, and import your email list into your account to create ‘audiences’ that meet specific demographics for better ad targeting. The great news is that you can start with small budgets on Facebook to test and assess what ads will bear the best results before you dive into bigger spends.
Houzz is a whole other ball of wax, as the saying goes, and frankly, I can sell this one either way depending on a retailer’s goals, target customer base, and the competitive landscape in the local region. I’ve seen paid programs on Houzz bring in highly qualified leads for companies that result in sales, and conversely, I’ve seen other companies all but toss money into the wind with the site. That’s why I always advise that businesses proceed with caution on Houzz. Do the homework, lock in on what may or may not be working for top competitors, and know what you are and are not willing to spend, as the required investments of money and time are not small. If you talk with an account rep, be ready to stand your ground, as this revenue-motivated site is quite aggressive in its approach to get retailers to sign on. Also, the site is in constant evolution, meaning its paid offerings may be affected (even inadvertently) as areas of focus ebb, flow, and shift.
In determining where to spend and how much, I recommend that business leaders look to the data they already have at hand. Your website’s Google analytics reveals what social networks are driving the most traffic to you site, so use that as a starting point. For example—in many instances, we find that Pinterest is the strongest driver of site traffic, and we simply heighten organic activity there rather than increase spending elsewhere.
I get some variation of the “should I blog?” inquiry just about every time I’m in conversation with a business person who learns what I do for a living. Usually, the question is delivered with a slight twitch of the head or a grimace, indicating how burdensome so many people find the task of blogging.
My reply often turns the grimace to a grin, as I’m a voice of reason and abundantly practical about the whole ‘blogging thing.’ I contend blogging is not a necessity for successful businesses, even in today’s digitally-driven, content-conscious marketplace.
For the love of all that’s good and holy, please know you do not have to blog in order to have a successful digital marketing program that supports your goals. Mind you, blogs can be highly effective, and some retailers have used this tool to bring about great results. However, I contend the majority of business blogs out there are not contributing to overall success, as they are stale and rarely updated or not maintained with awareness of SEO or trackable content strategy. The root issue is that people are busy—too busy to nurture a blog to be strong and useful.
Instead, I think many businesses are better off focusing on regular social posting and doing some targeted social media advertising. These tactics require less time to manage (your staff is already time-crunched!) and will likely bring about measurable results in much short order.
Those are the top three questions. Now here’s a bonus for you. This is one of the questions I wish more people would ask instead of jumping ahead or focusing on minutiae—on so much stuff that isn’t mission critical to overall social media marketing success.
What Should I Do Now?
Get your website up-to-date, not only in terms of content and look but also in terms of navigability, functionality, and the all-important mobile responsiveness. Social platforms will always change and go in and out of popularity. As a business person using these sites for commercial purposes, you have no control over any of the inevitable alterations, yet you can be subject to and affected by changing policies, procedures, etc. In contrast, your website is your property—the corner of the digital world that you maintain and for which you set the stage and create the user experience. You’ll always be well-served by keeping your site current and ‘ready for company’, so to speak, even as you link back to social media and tangential media that supports your customer connectivity.
Another important question all business leaders should always be asking is “what’s next?” In the realm of digital marketing, the horizon is always filled with new technology and opportunities. Let’s stay in touch via my website, msg2mkt.com, so I can share my take on what you need to know in the days ahead to boost your biz.