A few months ago I started discussing with one of my clients a new approach for the brand’s paid social media strategy, one that would see my Neo team working closer with the client’s social media and content teams – joining efforts beyond just the occasional spike in number of impressions. After several conversations, and looking into what the brand wanted to achieve, we decided to implement a strategy we refer to as purely – an ‘Always On’ paid social media strategy.
For those who work in social media the ‘always on’ reference would sound very familiar, as it is heavily used term from a social content planning perspective. The approach typically refers to developing a content strategy that consolidates the overall key messages that a brand wants to communicate through an ongoing stream of social content. What we decided to do is to extend the ‘always on’ concept to a paid social media approach. So rather than promoting content only in conjunction with campaigns, we would work closely with the community management team to define on a weekly basis how we can best utilise the content produced so that it is actually seen by a relevant and much larger audience than their existing community.
It’s now been three months since we implemented this strategy, and therefore it seems like a good time to look back and evaluate the results of the approach and see how they back up the initial insights and strategy we put forward.
Overall, with an additional minimum media investment, we’ve managed to get the brand’s social content – that was already being produced on a daily basis – in front of a more relevant audience that was 7x larger and 50% more engaged.
But before we go into detailed results, I’ll quickly recap the strategic rationale that led us to testing the approach plus a bit about what the process actually involves.
Why implement an ‘always on’ paid social media strategy?
Allow your best performing organic content to get maximum exposure. Lack of paid social support will limit the delivery of the brand’s messages to a very low % of the total social community (Facebook Zero, Twitter Timeline Algorithm).
Get your social content in front of the audience it was produced for – relevant content for a relevant audience. Relying on organic reach only means a complete lack of control over the audience you communicate to. You’re not only reaching a low % of your community, but the reality is that the demographics of a social community will not replicate the most relevant audience for the brand.
Get the right audience for your existing communities. Ongoing paid social efforts will lead to getting a more balanced and relevant audience to your communities. Long term that means your organic content’s reach will potentially be more relevant as well.
Relevant engagement. You get your content in front of the people it was intended to be seen by. So any engagement will be highly relevant for the brand and worth every penny you’ve invested in producing!
What are the steps involved in creating an ‘always on’ process?
– Understand business objectives and key messages
– Develop a paid social media strategy against key markets
– A process of social media audience segmentation and prioritisation across each social channel
– Bench marking to forecast investment vs. results
– Testing and optimising week by week
Has this approach worked so far for our client? Yes, and here’s why.
To assess this, I’ve analysed the results across two of the key channels – Twitter and LinkedIn – for the first two months of the process. I’ve split the numbers so that I can assess the direct impact of paid social investment vs. results achieved previously from organic only results.
Overall we’ve promoted around 15%-20% of the total organic monthly posts published via Twitter, and around 40% of the total organic monthly posts published via LinkedIn. All posts were boosted for a maximum of three days, and were assigned budget depending on the level of relevance for the brand at that given time – low, medium or high.Engagement rates went up on Twitter: from 1.77% engagement rate for the month that had no paid social to 2% during the first month of the ‘always on’ approach and 3% during the second month.
The ongoing paid social activity led to an increase in number of new Twitter followers by 20x and 15x during the first two months – when compared to the averages seen for organic content. Keeping in mind that we did not run any specific formats dedicated to ‘new followers’ during that time. While the organic number of impressions stays constant month by month, the number of paid social impressions targeted at an audience with interest in the content was 3x higher during the first month, and 7x higher during the second month.
For LinkedIn, we’ve seen the same increase in engagement rate for paid social content vs. organic content: 0.36% vs. 0.53%. Same as for Twitter, the LinkedIn activity brought 180 new followers over two months. Without using any specific formats dedicated to ‘new followers’.
So, while it’s only been a couple of months, the results suggest this is having a positive impact on overall engagement. One of the big successes of this approach, outside the results, is the brand’s ability to map its core business audiences onto its daily social media activity – rather than engaging with them in segmented bursts. An ‘Always on’ approach means a brand can sustain a level of dialogue with key stakeholders, as opposed to peaks and troughs. By not testing an “Always on” approach, brands will miss out on opportunity to make their social activity work harder!