There's no denying that building a successful organic social media strategy has become more difficult. However, it surely isn't impossible - and we're about to show you why! Read on to discover five impactful ways to improve your organic social media performance.
The demise of social media reach and effectiveness has recently been lamented by business owners and social media marketers alike.
But make no mistake, organic social media is a still an effective way to grow your brand awareness and, if you have good organic social media strategy that’s even better. It removes barriers to purchase, informs people about how your product works, and answers customer service enquiries – all while building a community of engaged fans.
Brands can definitely achieve success with their organic strategies, and once you master how to grow social media organically, you can too! You just need to pay close attention to these five essential tactics.
1. Keep your audience front and center
If you only take in one of these essential tactics, it should be this one - you can’t succeed in the competition for organic attention if you’re not producing content tailor-made for your audience.
People use social media to be entertained, educated and engaged, but, of course, details vary from audience to audience.
Know your audiences better than they know themselves
You have to know who you’re trying to attract and craft your brand’s voice, style, personality and content to suit.
If your audience are moms who work 10am - 2pm, then pick up the kids, help with homework and rush to get something on the table for dinner - but ALSO love baking on the weekends, drinking Sauvignon Blanc while watching The Bachelor and scrolling Instagram - then THAT's who you need to appeal to.
I realize that’s very specific - but that’s the point - you should be as specific as you can. You can even give your audience persona a name if that helps, in this example let’s call her Tracey.
Understanding your unique target audience segments is the foundation of any successful organic social media strategy.
Work out what Tracey likes to see on her newsfeed, and what prompts her to engage.
You know she’s sneaking away to check her phone (or does she use her iPad? It helps to know that too) in between work, raising children and running a household – so you need to understand how she uses social media.
Does she prefer video, what colors and styles of content will attract her?
If you're personally nothing like Tracey, understanding her can be tricky - so find a Tracey in real life and put yourself in her shoes to make sure your brand’s social media presence passes the audience test.
The purpose of your brand being on social media is for Tracey (and all the other Tracey’s) to recognize you're the brand for them and make an emotional connection - before they’ve even had time to think about it.
Think about your brand’s style and what it conveys to Tracey or whether your content is attractive or off-putting to them.
This affects how your content performs organically in the newsfeed. After all, the more personalized your posts, the higher the chance your audiences will engage with them, which will increase your organic reach.
2. Stand out from the crowd
Your brand is more than your logo and tagline. A lot is communicated by the combination of your logo, brand elements, fonts and color palette which should marry perfectly with the realities of your brand experience.
Think about the last time you bought cereal. You can tell which brands are fancy, which ones are environmentally friendly, and which ones are budget, just from looking at the packaging. They all do the same thing, but something makes you buy one or the other.
You want your organic social media activities to be effective. After all, you’ve gone to the effort (and expense) of creating specific content, and it has a job to do.
Your posts' first job is to Stop The Scroll. You want your audience to stop scrolling for a second and check out your content.
But you first need to earn the attention of your target market before they can engage with you and each brand achieves this differently, which goes back to knowing your audience (remember Tracey?).
Not only do you need to convey the traditional aspects of branding by sticking to your visual style, but you need to pay attention to your brand tone of voice too.
Social media branding is more than branding in the logo/colors sense. Every interaction with a user is part of your brand personality. Each review, every check-in, the private message replies – your whole presence down to the last detail says something about your business, and therefore your brand.
In a competitive market with savvy consumers who have unprecedented access to information – give them a reason to choose your business over your competitors.
3. Invest in content to improve your organic social media strategy
Once you’re sure who you’re producing content for, the next consideration is how to produce quality content consistently. It’s no good blowing your entire budget on feature film style production and trying to make it fit each of your social media channels.
You want to be able to commit to regularly giving your audience more of what they love to consume, and an engaged audience will expect consistent quality - they’ll know straight away if you’ve dropped the ball.
If you use professionally shot images, and this is what garners you the most engagement, a poorly-lit iPhone photo will stand out - and not in a good way.
Investing in the content process
Whether it’s written articles, video, or graphics, investing in the process is vital. As mentioned, consumers are in the power seat. You won’t earn their attention with sub-par content.
You may need to purchase specific equipment such as lighting, microphones, tripods and editing software if you plan to produce your content in-house - or put some creatives and copywriters on staff.
Some brands will enlist content production houses to help them create quality content consistently.
Whichever avenue your brand uses, there needs to be a strategic approach to your content production.
Know your specs
Your social media content also needs to be designed or edited to suit the platform you’re posting to. For example, if you’re making video for IGTV, make sure it fits vertical format. Same goes for Facebook and Instagram Stories.
As social media channel specifications change over time, it’s best to go direct to the platform for this information as they provide up-to-date guidance, such as this handy guide from Facebook.
Credit where it’s due
When sourcing content photos and static images, don’t make the mistake of googling them and using whatever you find. Existing content must be checked for copyright, so if you can use it, be sure you credit as appropriate.
Avoid re-posting watermarked images as this looks lazy and lowers your credibility. There’s loads of high-quality free image sites like Unsplash and Pexels where you can source quality images for free, plus paid stock sites like Shutterstock to help convey your message visually.
If you’re creating your own graphics there’s tools like Canva to help you make original graphics like quotes, quickly watermark your own photos, or re-size and edit as required.
Organize your content in a calendar
Now you know who you’re creating content for, what specifications it needs to adhere to, and sourced or created your content, it’s time to organize your posting to keep it interesting.
A content calendar is a great way to make sure your content theme and format doesn’t get too repetitive and stale.
Add original photos, video, polls, and product updates to articles that link back to your website.
Make changes easily by keeping a digital calendar of your proposed social media posting as content invariably comes through that’s more time sensitive than your evergreen content.
The nature of social media is fluid, so leave spaces in your content calendar to post these time-sensitive messages in amongst your scheduled content.
Utilizing a content calendar will also help you to post consistently – which increases the effectiveness of your organic social media strategy.
You don’t have to post daily on every platform. In fact, if you’re just posting for the sake of ticking it off your to-do list, you’re probably not considering your audience. Choose days and times that your audience will be most likely to engage with your content (remember Tracey’s schedule?), so you can make the most of your organic reach.
Planning your posting allows you to concentrate on creating specific audience-first content that fits the platform and gets posted in a timely manner.
4. Dive into data
Data doesn’t lie, but interpreting that data into what’s meaningful to your brand varies based on your goals and audience. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be complicated.
Get familiar with your social media metrics, and track what’s important. With organic social media this is most likely to be reach, engagement (likes, comments, reactions), shares (or retweets), video views, and link clicks. Understand your numbers and get a feel for your brand’s benchmarks so you know when something either under or over-performs.
Facebook allows you to export your page insights, giving you a treasure-trove of data, or you can enlist the help of a social media management tool to help you overview your data in a less manual fashion.
With Socialbakers Analytics (now Emplifi), you can get a granular overview of your key performance metrics across platforms in a single spot.
It gives us a warm fuzzy feeling when posts perform well, but keep a close eye on your negative feedback too. If you’re getting a lot of “hide post” or worse, “report as spam” responses from your audience, you need to go back to step one. Facebook takes this negative feedback very seriously and it will strangle your organic reach if you continue to rack up negative feedback.
Social media is constantly changing and evolving, so monitor and test new things – testing and refining your content formats and themes means you’ll be guided by what your audience responds to, which will ultimately improve your performance.
5. Shift your focus away from selling
One very common mistake on brand pages is people talking exclusively about themselves. Organic social media MUST be social, and no-one wants to talk to the guy who only talks about himself.
You can talk about your products, their features and how they make people’s lives better. You can post about your latest sale or promotion, but it must be broken up with other types of engaging content to provide value through variation.
Your organic social media is a place to let your audience get to know and trust you as a brand, where you can learn more about what they like. Don’t ruin that by shoving your sales messages in their faces.
You can’t go up to someone in a bar and ask them to marry you (well, you can – but it probably won’t work out) because you haven’t done any groundwork. They don’t even know you.
Organic social media is the same. It helps you establish a relationship with your audiences, so you can nurture them towards purchasing with paid social media campaigns later.
Organic social media marketing is not dead.
That's why, if you’re blaming the algorithm for lack of engagement, it might be time to stop and think about your audience, reconsider your content and dive into your analytics.
Sometimes going back to basics really is the best way to improve your organic performance on social media.
About the Author
Carma is a Social Media Marketer, Trainer, and Strategist. Her years of experience means she's at home in all aspects of social, from strategy to paid distribution - and everything in between.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on socialbakers.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.