How to be Your Own Social Media Manager
It’s hard to come up with fresh content day-in-and-day-out. Do you have a method you use to come up with Buffer’s social media posts? We need inspiration!
This is a tough one! It’s usually a combination of what’s happening in the company and what’s happening in the world, a lot of combing through different sources and seeing what’s popular with other brands. It’s not social media related per se, but the book “Steal Like An Artist” has some good inspiration about taking what’s worked for others and making it your own.
When new features pop up in social media (like Instagram’s IGTV), do you jump right in, or do you sit back and observe first? Why?
Absolutely! Some of the best opportunities for small businesses and brands to establish a niche audience on social media is to be the first to try out new and exciting platforms. That’s why I try to experiment with new features as much as I possibly can. You never really know what’s going to work or not and you just might discover a new channel for your business along the way.
What are the 3 metrics you always track? Why?
Each week I track our social media reach and our engagement (interactions – comments, shares, likes, etc). I do this to have a sense of how things are going and if we’re on the right track to reach our goals. Metrics are important, but my guiding principles are sharing consistently, being engaged, and making sure our content is on brand.
Photographer: Andy Yates,
Pictured: Mike Eckstein, Bonnie Porter Huggins, Alfred Lua
Social Media Experiments
Next, I wanted to talk about some of Buffer’s experiences with experiments, along with some tips they might have for others who are inspired by Buffer’s experimental trek.
I know Buffer does a lot of experiments; there’s a whole blog post about the plight here. Why?
Social media is ever-changing. For example, Facebook is constantly improving its algorithm, Instagram made its feed algorithmic two years ago, and the fastest growing content format, Stories, didn’t exist just a few years ago. What worked last year might no longer work now.
Conducting experiments helps us discover new strategies and tactics that others might not have yet. This can give us an advantage in our space and increase our social media and business performance.
(Oh, and always trying new things also keeps my work fun!)
Can you give a quick synopsis of 1-3 experiments you’ve performed and maybe what you found?
I recently ran two experiments — one on retweeting our own tweets and one on social media ads.
The first experiment
This one was a result of Twitter’s new rules, specifically a single account cannot post identical tweets. We used to re-post our best performing tweets every so often, which would also do very well. With the new rule, we experimented with retweeting our best performing tweets (rather than tweeting the exact content again). This helped us to generate 122 percent more impressions, 87 percent more engagements, and 90 percent more link clicks for our top tweets. You can read more about the experiment here.
The second experiment
I spent $100 on Instagram Stories, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter ads each to see which we could use to promote our blog post. (We were already using Facebook ads for blog post promotion.) Even though it was a small budget, I managed to learn quite a few things such as LinkedIn ads are too expensive for us, Pinterest ads seem to be great more for engagement than traffic, and Instagram Stories ads are very affordable at the moment. (These lessons are specific to our brand so they may not apply to your brand.) The main takeaway for you might be that it’s possible to find out a lot with just a small experiment budget.
For those who have never performed social media experiments, do you have any general advice on how to be most successful?
Having a framework for your social media experiments can go a long way. It helps to keep things organized, ensures that you are running the most appropriate experiment each time, and encourages you to record your learnings
Here’s a simple framework that we use:
- Set goals to access the success of your experiments
- Brainstorm ideas and form hypotheses
- Prioritize your ideas
- Test one idea at a time
- Analyze the results and note down your learnings
Posting Videos or Stories on Social Media
It’s no secret that video is still a hot trend (and these video-creating tips are still strong!) Buffer’s no stranger to leaning into this mode of communication, so I couldn’t let my time with them pass by without asking a couple video-related questions.
What platform has Buffer been most successful posting video on? Do you know why that might be?
Facebook has been, by far and above, our best platform for posting video on. One of the reasons is because Facebook is a wonderful platform for connecting with a highly-targeted audience in fun and innovative ways. Once we discovered a formula for creating videos that we knew would work on the platform, we were able to generate more than 2,000,000 video views in one year.
Our formula consisted of strategically identifying popular topics in the social media space using tools like Google Analytics and BuzzSumo and then repurposing those topics into short, fun videos. It worked like a charm!
Can you share one or two tips about how to use Instagram Stories to our advantage as business owners?
On Instagram Stories, I want to stress that it’s generally not highly produced content that goes on there so I encourage businesses to post behind-the-scenes or more informal content and not hold back from posting from the belief that it needs to be very polished content. The other thing is that Instagram is currently creating new features for Stories very frequently, I’d encourage businesses to try new features to see how they perform, it could go over really well with their audiences!
List your top 3-6 video creation tools (apps, equipment, or other)
My favorite tools for video creation are:
- Animoto (for editing),
- Pexels (for stock video),
- Canva for overlays and title slides, and
- Adobe After Effects for animations
Photographer: Alfred Lua, Pictured: Brian Peters
Curious About Social Media
We’re not all on the top of our game quite yet; some of us are just starting, in fact! Because of that, I thought it could help to ask about a few general social media topics.
Looking at the future of social media, what excites or inspires you the most?
The optimist in me sees social media as a way for people to learn more about each other, to build empathy and understanding, to break down barriers. I hope it provides more access to jobs, education and helps to level the playing field for people with physical, geographical and socio-economic disadvantages. There seems to be a lot of work that needs to be done to make this happen, but I’m holding out hope!
Instagram has launched a bunch of new features beyond just posting beautiful images on your profile. What is your favorite Instagram feature so far? You can still choose the old school posting, if that’s the most interesting to you!
It’s definitely Instagram stories! I just love seeing videos and photos that my friends and the people I follow on Instagram have posted throughout the day. Sometimes it feels like one big continuous “day in the life.”
What’s your favorite social media platform? Why?
It’s something of a love/hate relationship but probably Twitter. I love the fact that I can learn directly from some of the brightest people all over the world. For marketing, I think LinkedIn has amazing untapped potential, especially for B2B (business-to-business).
If you think about social media as analogous to physical meeting spaces, I think:
- LinkedIn is where people are going to be really receptive to B2B marketing. It’s like a trade show or conference; people are on it to do business.
- Facebook is like the pub, where you want to hang out with your friends. Do you want to be interrupted by marketers while you are chatting with your friends?
- Instagram is like a mix of an art gallery and a high street.
General Social Media Tips
What better than to have social media professionals pick their own brains to give us any tip they’d like? These are for your pleasure (and learning!)
Experiment! Don’t be afraid to take risks! Even if your metrics are down from something you tried, you still learned something valuable.
Pay attention to what other brands, in your industry and outside of your industry, are doing on social media and take inspiration from them. While the things they do will not always apply to your brand, you’ll never know until you experiment with them yourself. You might find something that works really well for you.
Of course, it’s best if you could come up with new, original ideas and test them yourself, though I think we all can learn a lot from others.
Sure thing. Focus on creating content with the mobile user in mind.
Fun fact: More than 90% of Facebook and Instagram users access the social network from their mobile device, meaning that it’s time for us to start considering the implications of mobile and how we might evolve our social media video strategies moving forward.
Even a small change like creating vertical videos can have a huge impact on your results.
Invest in it over time. Building a base is probably the hardest part of social media but growth is exponential. You might get just a trickle of followers and engagement to start. Eventually, engagement begets engagement and followership will start compounding. It takes a lot of time and effort in the early days (which is why tools like Buffer are so popular!)
Try to focus on just one or two social media networks, especially when you’re just starting out. That way you can really build up an audience and figure out what works on those platforms before moving on. I see too many businesses try and create every social media profile from the start and it’s easy to get overwhelmed when doing that.
This post is meant to give you more.
More information to expand your knowledge of social media, more ideas to ponder, and overall, more inspiration as you start a new day!
Did these Buffer Marketing team members drum up any ideas that you’d like to share? Share them in the comments below!