Most sensible brand marketers, however, aren’t that hasty. Instead, they usually hold back and wait to see what happens with the post before putting money on it.
And they do this because judging content ahead of time is tricky.
Sometimes the strangest posts take off on their own, organically, whereas other times great ones go nowhere, even when sponsored.
But how can we do better than that? How can we have some idea in advance what content is going to be worth promoting?
Learning to boost
Well, one of the best ways to learn when to pull the ‘boost’ trigger is by looking at past performance. Find out what did well previously, and do it again.
Of course. But what if there doesn’t seem to be a pattern, or there just isn’t enough data?
Then the obvious solution is to look at what other brands are posting. See what is taking off on social media for them and then rework your content using their successful posts as a template.
Social media analytics
At its simplest, social media analytics can be carried out by looking at a few Facebook pages or Twitter accounts.
Once you have gone through a few pages though, it becomes apparent that it is quite difficult to get all the data you need to draw conclusions.
Luckily there are tools which are designed to help you. One which I use regularly for this sort of social media analysis is SocialBakers.
Using social media analytics you can:
- Find brands in your industry that post a lot and have significant engagement.
- Surf through the brands’ posts to get ideas.
- See if the brands’ sponsored posts are performing better than organic.
The last part is hard to do without some help as sponsored posts are not obviously tagged as such on the company’s page.
To give some idea of what I mean by social analytics, let’s go through a couple of social media posts from a bank in South-East Asia.
Krungsri Simple: Organic
Krungsri Simple is a consumer bank based in Thailand. Its marketers are very active on Facebook and update the brand page around 100 times every month.
The team has been very successful in attracting fans as well and now have over 1m page likes. In short, a great candidate for social media analytics.
From the data, we can see that the bank puts most of its effort into organic posts. Over 90% of its posts from the last 365 days were identified as organic.
So, what’s working for the brand, organically?
Looking at a number of posts, it seems that the bank’s most successful social media tactic is to ask its fans to like, share, and comment on a post in return for a small prize.
The point of these posts is to encourage its audience to share the brand’s messaging with friends while at the same time engaging with the post.
This serves the dual purpose of raising awareness as well as deepening the relationship between the brand and its fans.
One example of this tactic is a recent post which offers fans a chance to win one of 20 Starbucks cards worth 100 Thai baht (around $3 each, $60 in total).
In order to enter the competition, fans are required to:
- Like and share the post.
- Guess the right entrance point to a simple maze.
- Tag one additional friend.
Sounds like a lot to do for a $3 card, but the response has been tremendous. The bank received over 1,000 shares and had over 1,000 comments just from this post.
(By the way, asking for ‘likes’ and shares in this way used to be discouraged by Facebook, but Facebook seems to have reversed that policy.)
So, keeping in mind that the team only spent $60 on the prize, the post has performed very well. Even the most interesting content would struggle to get that level of response for that price.
It’s clear from the results that Krungsri Simple is on to something here. The marketers have found that the brand’s Thai audience is willing to go to great lengths to enter a contest.
Because of this, they can ‘buy’ more engagement with a few Starbucks cards than they can do through using sponsored posts.
So the lesson from these analytics is that it is still possible to get great reach and engagement organically. And if you can find this, then you don’t need to sponsor the posts.
Do note, however, that each and every entry had a response from the bank’s social media team. This campaign clearly required a lot of human effort, too.
Krungsri Simple: Sponsored
Another thing to look at is whether organic or sponsored (promoted) posts had more engagement.
Looking at the share of interactions over the past year for Krungsri Simple, we see that organic accounted for less than half of likes, shares, and comments.
This is interesting as, remember, more than 90% of the brand’s posts were not sponsored (organic).
So most of the engagement was with sponsored posts, even though these posts only represented around 6% of the brand’s posts in total.
So how do they do so well with sponsored posts?
Looking at a few examples, it seems that there is a pattern. Krungsri Simple regularly sponsors posts which feature new products such as credit cards.
Then, once sponsored, the posts act as a way for customers to ask questions via the comments.
The bank’s social media managers answer these questions to help customers get a better understanding of the product on offer.
One recent post was for a credit card with 16% cash back. Though the translation isn’t perfect, it’s clear that the cashback has some terms and conditions.
In the post’s comments it seems that customers have a few questions about the card – and how to make sure that they get the cashback.
Each question is then answered in detail by the bank’s social media team in the public comments, with some responses turning into a long conversation thread.
Krungsri Simple has found that social media works very well for launching a new product. The team posts up the product details and then sponsors the post to reach a very large audience.
However, the marketers also seem to have found, probably through trial-and-error, that product posts attract a lot of questions.
Each question, though, is an opportunity for the marketers to explain the product in more detail to the customer, and indeed other interested people.
Answering questions in detail shows off the company’s customer service skills, as well.
So, the takeaway from this campaign is that Facebook sponsored posts not only give a brand extra reach, but also provide an opportunity for its marketers to engage with new and existing customers on a deeper level.
Doing so requires a social media/customer service team dedicated to responding, though, as unanswered questions would almost certainly make the brand look worse.
So how can a social media manager sponsor posts like a boss?
A great place to start is by looking at what other brands are doing and learning from their example.
And while it is possible to do this on your own, using a tool like SocialBakers makes the job easier. It can help you identify the brands worth watching, research posts with high engagement, and distinguish organic superstars from sponsored posts.
Of course you will have to adapt any tactics you discover to fit your brand. What works for another company will almost certainly not work for yours.
But identifying tactics which engage fans and knowing how to execute them properly is certainly the first step to social media boss-ness.