10 Tips To Gain Organic Social Media Engagement: Stir and Tell Podcast

Feeling stumped on how to boost organic social media engagement for your organization? DJG Head of Accounts, Drew Navolio and VP of Public Relations, Chris Martin, sit down this week for our second Stir and Tell Podcast going over 10 tips to fullfill an organization’s social media strategy and gain more organic engagement.
Posted: 4 years ago

Drew Navolio: Hello, and welcome back to the David James Group podcast Stir and Tell. I’m your host this week, Drew Navolio, with my guest and returning podcast participant Chris Martin. Chris, how you doing?

Chris Martin: I’m well, thanks for having me back, and it’s good to reverse roles too.

Drew Navolio: It is. I like to be on this side of the mic, this side of the book.

Chris Martin: Yeah.

Drew Navolio: This week we’re going to go with social media again.

Chris Martin: Yeah.

Drew Navolio: We’ve got a hot list of top 10 tips on how to make your organization fulfill their social media strategy.

Chris Martin: Yeah, it’s great. Thanks for having me. So social media engagement is a hot topic these days because everyone is realizing that their organic engagement has plummeted off the cliff the last 18 months for various reasons. So we’re here to give you some tips to help boost up your organic engagement.

Drew Navolio: Just real quick, because I’ve seen it, my clients have seen it. Why is the organic falling off a cliff? Usually, we say it’s an algorithm thing, but just real quick.

Chris Martin: Right, that’s part of it. It started with Facebook in January of 2018, and even before that, they changed their algorithm to penalize content that comes from business pages to individuals and promoted more regularly content between friends like you and me.

Drew Navolio: Okay, so go ahead. So we’ve got this list of 10 tips. Let’s start with number 10.

Chris Martin: So the first one is, look at your content and ask yourself “Does all my content look the same? Are the graphics all the same? Are the photos all the same?” Change it up. A good example is, we do a lot of conference promotions. So the conference, our work is done, it looks great, it looks cool, the client loves it and it looks great on the page. And then it’s used over and over and over again.

Drew Navolio: Mm-hmm, same thing.

Chris Martin: And I was reminded of this when one of our clients was doing a conference promotion, and we had everything scheduled out for two months and it was great and it was doing well. And then it kind of started to fade a little bit. And then they posted a picture of some of their staff member’s packing boxes for the conference, and the engagement on that post was better than the previous three posts combined.

Drew Navolio: Yep.

Chris Martin: So take a look at your content and make sure it’s not all the same. Same is boring. Photos. All posts tend to do better when there’s a photo or some artwork that goes with it than posts that do not have that. But if you’re going to have photos, invest some time and technique into making them better. There’s a lot of ways to do this. We see a lot of bad photos on social media, especially at conferences, again. So you want to make sure you have good photos. And a rule of thumb for me is if I’m using a picture of someone speaking in a conference with a person that works at that institution or hospital or association, are they likely to use that picture themselves? If so, good picture. If not, probably not a good picture.

Drew Navolio: Right. So 10 is to make sure you’re not doing the same thing, nine is photos. But similar to the example you gave, sometimes you wouldn’t think it, but a picture of people loading some boxes is actually going to break it up, be a little bit different. Makes it real, if you will.

Chris Martin: Right, yes.

Drew Navolio: Okay, so what’s eight?

Chris Martin: Eight is scheduling. It’s very common for organizations to schedule all their content on all their major platforms at the same time. And there are some good reasons to do that, but there are also some good reasons not to do that. Not every channel is the same. Your Facebook audience will be online at a different time than perhaps your Twitter or LinkedIn or Pinterest or Instagram. So know the habits of your channel and follow that accordingly.

Drew Navolio: Okay. I agree with that because I feel like sometimes we get asked: “Let’s plan out a year.” And I’m like, not a good idea. To assume that you know what people are going to be interested in over a 12-month period is a little bit audacious. But okay, good point.

Chris Martin: Again, the platforms aren’t all the same, so generate different content for different platforms. Instagram is different than Facebook, is different than Pinterest, is different than LinkedIn. So know the differences. Your fans do, your followers do too.

Drew Navolio: Okay.

Chris Martin: Are you forgetting some of the other platforms? Most people just have the bandwidth to cover Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn, but are you forgetting about Pinterest? Are you forgetting about Instagram? A lot of these other channels do very well, and they can drive traffic to your website in ways that maybe Facebook doesn’t.

Drew Navolio: Right. Okay. So let’s count it off. Let’s go from the top. 10 was …

Chris Martin: Ten was, does all your content look the same?

Drew Navolio: Nine was …

Chris Martin: Photos.

Drew Navolio: Okay.

Chris Martin: Scheduling, which platform works, and then finally, now we’re at tagging.

Drew Navolio: Okay.

Chris Martin: Especially on Facebook, you need to extend the reach of your content to other people that are not following your page. If you’re just reaching your fans and followers, you’re not going to do a good enough job. So make sure you tag where appropriate. So if you’re taking pictures of somebody at a conference, are you tagging that person, that person’s hospital or association or other organization? Make sure you do that.

Drew Navolio:  Okay, quick tip, how do you know who to tag? Because sometimes it’s like you’ve got to do the research to know. Like there might be an obscure person, not necessarily obscure, but maybe it’s someone in your industry that’s got a couple of thousand followers. You don’t necessarily know about them, but they’re a great person to tag because they’ve got a strong, real following.

Chris Martin:  Start with the basics. Who’s in the picture that you’re posting? Start with that person’s institution and broaden it out to other groups. So if you’re in an orthopedic association, for instance, you can maybe tag another orthopedic association that’s not your client. That’s okay too.

Drew Navolio: Great. Next tip.

Chris Martin: Planning, calendars. You talked about the year-long thing. That’s probably a ridiculous period of time. But one to two months isn’t.

Drew Navolio: Right.

Chris Martin: We like to operate on a one-month kind of schedule, but we’ve done two to three-month schedules for meetings and other kinds of special events like that.

Content CalendarDrew Navolio: Right. And the timing of it, when you say planning, three months, but it’s not … Well, some people might be, but are people doing it every day? How do you give yourself flexibility for something that comes up that you not necessarily knew or you were planning for?

Chris Martin: Think about your content in a ratio. And I’ve seen different ratios, but I like the 50/50 ratio, 50% our content, 50% other content from other sources. So if you’re curating half of your monthly content from other sources, that gives you the other half of your content budget to plan for other things. You can do spur of the moment stuff, things that come up. So if you have a budget of content that way, that’s set up in a ratio that makes sense, you can do it that way.

Drew Navolio: Makes sense. All right, what’s next?

Chris Martin: Are you merchandising your press coverage? So as an old PR guy, middle-aged PR guy, I should say, I see a lot of clients that get press coverage, hard-earned press coverage, but then they don’t merchandise it on their social media pages.

Drew Navolio: Right.

Chris Martin: So that’s a great source of content. It’s unplanned content. You can’t schedule it, because you don’t know how is it that that’s going to happen. It tends to come up quickly, but when it comes up, just schedule it that day. Just do it.

Drew Navolio: So that’s probably a term a lot of our either listeners or clients aren’t familiar with. So when you say merchandise, what’s the theory? What are you trying to essentially get at?

Chris Martin: You’re taking something that was done for one thing and re-merchandising it for another. It’s a way to be efficient with your content.

Drew Navolio: How is that different than like repurpose?

Chris Martin: It’s the same thing.

Drew Navolio: Okay.

Chris Martin: It’s a synonym.

Drew Navolio: It’s the same thing. Okay.

Chris Martin: Yeah. Video. Everyone knows that you should be doing more video, and a lot of people do video and it’s great, but are you doing the right kind of video? Again, you can have that planned and polished and perfectly edited video, and that’s good. That’s better than not video. But is that always the video that you’re using? Is all your video looking alike? Go back to point number one. Is all your content looking the same? If it is, maybe you want to change up. A great way to do that is, with Facebook, is Facebook Live. It’s authentic, it’s a spur of the moment, and it comes across as real on people’s news feed. The advantage too is that it ends up as a post on your page. The engagement on it is always pretty good, and you can always download that video afterward and then edit it and then repost it and repurpose it elsewhere.

Drew Navolio: So timing, because I feel like there is the debate over what’s the appropriate length. We in the agency marketing world hear a lot about five seconds. Like if you can do it in five seconds. And I’ve seen some really creative five-second videos, but I also do find myself occasionally watching a two-minute video. Does it depend on the audience? How do you know what the optimum length is? I mean, live, it’s like people have a tolerance for a longer live video because they’re seeing something happening in the moment. What about the produced videos?

Chris Martin: Remember that you’re competing with your audience’s news feed habits. They’re thumbing through their news via their cursor, and they’re doing it quickly. So if they’re stopping for dog videos and little babies and stuff like that, or sports, that’s great. So you’re competing against that. So be quick. Five to 15 seconds for most organization videos …

Drew Navolio: Still the optimum.

Chris Martin: It’s still what I like and still tends to … From the analytics I see, tends to perform better.

Drew Navolio: Okay.

Chris Martin: And that forces you to get across one idea. A lot of times clients and organizations spend a lot of their time because they’re so worried about covering all their bases, they want to cover three points or three messages. And that creates a longer video. Longer videos aren’t necessarily as good.

Drew Navolio: Right. So where does that leave us?

Chris Martin: Paid.

Drew Navolio: Okay.

Chris Martin: We talked about organic, and that naturally leads to a question of paid social media. Because even if you follow a lot of these tips, you’re not always going to see the organic results on every kind of post all the time. The nature and culture of social media are going to work against you at times. So you have to look at your budget for social media marketing and allocate some funds. I don’t really have a percentage. Often it depends on the meeting or the project or the event, but you need to set aside some budget for paid because you’re going to see better impressions, engagements, and then results like link clicks, things that matter. You’re going to get better numbers there. And we’ve seen that with our Facebook ads, for instance, with a lot of our clients. The event stuff where there’s good creative, there’s good targeting, and there’s a good budget, we see good results.

Drew Navolio: Yep. And I-

Chris Martin: So keep that in mind.

Drew Navolio: We’ve talked about this point, I think, on our previous podcast and definitely on the David James Group blog, but when we say budget and in that space, it doesn’t have to be $10,000.

Chris Martin: No.

Drew Navolio: And to experiment with the budget is that you’ve got $250, $500, see how things roll and kind of learn from those little micro-campaigns. Because you still can get a surprisingly far reach on social with that kind of budget.

Chris Martin: And you can do a week A/B test too if you have different creative you want to test. If you have a different copy, different lists, you can do all kinds of targeting, and you should, so you can see what’s working. The analytics are set up to tell you what’s working. And that leads us to the final tip. None of this is possible unless you take advantage of the analytics that the channels provide for you. Your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn page all give you robust metrics that tell you whether your content’s working. Or if you have a third-party app like Sprout or HootSuite or SpreadFast. All those work well, they give you metrics, they tell you on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis how well your content’s doing. So you need to follow those and read those regularly.

Drew Navolio: I’m a huge proponent, especially as someone who’s in the account side, so I’m the one reporting back when a campaign’s done or in the middle, what is it telling us? What’s the data saying? And I think my tip to anyone is, when you’re getting that information, whether it’s your team, your own internal staff, or a third party is giving you the information, bringing it back to the picture of the people moving the boxes. If you’re seeing a performance there, it is kind of hard to read into it, but there is sort of a bigger picture. You’re going to learn something, you probably had an assumption going in that is now debunked based on what comes out of it. Usually, there’s something. It’s not tremendous. Sometimes it is, but a lot of times you’re learning a little bit about the audience.

Drew Navolio: Lean into that if you’re confused by it or not certain why it is that that picture all of a sudden did well. Explore it a little bit. Talk with your providers, talk with your team. I think sometimes also they’ll get the data and they’ll dismiss an outlier. But the outliers are important to read, because you can build a lot around those things. So I agree wholeheartedly. I think not enough organizations examine their analytics, despite the fact that we’re in an era where you can get data on anything you want at any time. It’s a good reason that’s number one at the top, because no matter what the scope, you can get information on the performance of whatever you ran on social almost instantaneously.

Chris Martin: Amen.

Drew Navolio: All right, Chris, thank you very much. We appreciate your time. Great list. You’ll be able to get this podcast, accompanied with a blog post, and the complete list that Chris ran through on the David James Group website. Thank you for joining, and we will see you next time. Bye.

Chris Martin’s Tips Towards Better Organic Social Media Engagement

  1. Does all your content look the same
  2. Photos
  3. Scheduling
  4. Which platform? They all aren’t the same
  5. Platform part 2… are you forgetting LinkedIn and others, like Pinterest?
  6. Tagging… Do it.
  7. Planning with the use of calendars
  8. Are you merchandising press coverage?
  9. Video
  10. Paid

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