Are you getting the most out of your social media marketing strategy?
Social media optimization (SMO) could be the best way to boost your ROI and generate more positive results from each campaign. After all, while 92.1% of brands in 2022 say they’re using some form of social media advertising, only a fraction of those have a strong strategy for optimization.
Learning how to enhance your social media presence by embracing the right content types, leveraging data, and scheduling your campaigns is one of the easiest and fastest ways to boost your results.
It’s also a lot simpler than you might think.
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What Is Social Media Optimization?
Similar to “Search Engine Optimization” (SEO), Social Media Optimization is a process of assessing, auditing, and improving your social media presence based on evidence and data. The good news is, unlike SEO, SMO is a lot more straightforward.
While SEO strategies can take months to generate results, SMO campaigns can start improving your social strategy almost instantly.
Many of these methods are much easier to implement than you might think too. For instance, something as simple as posting more user-generated content can immediately improve your brand reach while partnering with the right brands boosts your credibility.
The key to success is constantly analyzing and adjusting your social strategy to respond to what you learn about your preferred social channels and your audience.
Why Is Social Media Optimization Important?
Around 97% of Fortune 500 companies rely on social media and countless businesses agree the right social strategies can increase sales, boost brand awareness, and generate new opportunities. However, there are also significant costs associated with social media advertising too.
Social Media Optimization is how you ensure you’re paying the lowest price to get the best possible results. Much like SEO or CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization), it allows you to experiment with strategies, collect valuable data, and use analytics insights to guide decision making.
With social media optimization, you can:
- Improve your reach: SMO helps you understand your target audience and what kind of content you’re going to use to grab their attention. This boosts visibility which also leads to more clicks and traffic.
- Increase ROI: The data you collect from your SMO strategies will ensure you’re spending your marketing budget on the campaigns with the most potential. This means more return on your investment and less waste.
- Collect valuable insights: Your SMO strategy will help you collect insights into your target audience and your competition which you can use, not just on your social strategies, but on other marketing campaigns too.
10 Big-Impact Social Media Optimization Tactics
Part of what makes social media optimization so remarkable is that many of the most successful tactics are also extremely easy to apply. Here are just some of the big-impact strategies you can try.
1. Perform Proper Hashtag Research
Hashtags are one of the most useful tools in any social media campaign. They improve your chances of reaching the right audience, boost your content’s visibility, and more. In fact, Instagram posts with hashtags get 12.6% more engagement on average.
While anyone can use hashtags in their social posts, it takes some skill to ensure you’re leveraging them correctly. To boost your chances of choosing the right hashtags:
- Know your audience: Research your target audience and find out what kind of tags they use most often. It helps to know the kind of language they use too. You can use your competitors for insights into the hashtags that generate a lot of customer attention.
- Use a range of hashtags: Don’t just rely on popular hashtags. Make sure you’re combining trending tags with more niche, focused tags, specific to your target customer. It’s also worth experimenting with branded hashtags and geotags too.
- Research relevant topics: Make sure you’re up-to-date on the topics your customers are discussing. This will help you select hashtags that capture a lot of attention.
- Explore related hashtags: Don’t be afraid to use a combination of related tags. If your post is about makeup tutorial, for example, you can use related tags such as #Beauty, #MakeUp, and #Cosmetics
A well-chosen hashtag can make a huge difference to your campaign. For instance, when Tommy’s Superfoods embraced the hashtag #ThinkVeggiesFirst, it attracted the attention of a whole community of people looking to eat more plant-based foods. The company even increased its email list by 22% in 28 days thanks to hashtag research.
2. Use Better Visual Content
Visual content is an important part of social media optimization. Studies show visuals boost engagement around 2.3 times on average. First, to make the most of your visual content, get to know the guidelines and restrictions for each platform you post on.
The guidelines you’ll follow for a great Instagram Reel will be different from the ones you use for posting visuals on Twitter, for instance. Next, follow some basic best practices such as:
- Practicing your photography: If you’re going to be taking photos yourself for sites like Instagram or Facebook, work on getting it right. Experiment with lighting and choose a camera with high resolution for the rest results.
- Edit your content: Learn how to use tools like Photoshop and VSCO to enhance your content and make it look as professional as possible. You’ll at least want to adjust things like brightness and blur and remove red eyes.
- Experiment with different visuals: Don’t just use photos on your social media posts. Remember, you can also experiment with animations, graphics, GIFs, videos, and even mini video clips. Sometimes, infographics can be particularly appealing for B2B customers. However, you shouldn't forget about visual details, including creative logos of your brand, colors, slogans, and any other element that represents your company.
If you need an insight into how beautiful social content should look, take a look at @NatGeo’s incredible Instagram profile.
3. Write Engaging Captions
In a visually-obsessed world, captions are surprisingly easy to overlook. However, they play an important part in making sure your content makes the right impression. A good caption not only tells your customer more about whatever content you’re sharing, it also highlights your brand.
A good caption should draw attention to your unique tone of voice. Make sure the voice you use in your captions is the same as the one you’d use on blog posts, emails, and other forms of marketing so the experience is consistent. Next:
- Connect with customers emotionally: Think about how you can reach your customers through emotional terms and action words.
- Ask questions: Consider asking questions to encourage engagement and get people talking in the comments of your post.
- Tell a story: Give your customers a behind-the-scenes look into your business by telling a story they can relate to.
Airbnb is an excellent example of a company with a good grip on social media captions. Every post on Instagram tells a story about the host or the location being highlighted. The stories help customers imagine what it’s like to stay or live in that area.
4. Include Calls To Action
Speaking of writing good captions, strong social media optimization strategies should also include a call to action (CTA). A CTA is a quick piece of text telling your customer what you want them to do next. The nature of this message will vary depending on the type of post.
For instance, if you’re sharing a video about your latest Android app, you could ask your customers at the end of the video to download it for free. It’s also worth including this CTA in the caption for your post too to further push your followers to engage.
Remember, a good CTA should:
- Use the right action words: Action words can get people excited and convey urgency. Try saying “Last chance” or “Before it’s too late”.
- Be short and sweet: A good CTA tells your customer what to do quickly and clearly. Avoid overwhelming your audience with too many instructions.
- Match your brand voice: A CTA should still sound like your company and highlight your unique brand.
Check out Coding.ninja’s fun approach to the CTA in this carousel-style Instagram post. It works because it presents signing up for a scholarship as one suggestion in a list of good ideas (like applying sunscreen to protect your skin).
5. Employ An Analytics-Driven Strategy
As mentioned above, a great social media optimization strategy thrives on data. The more information you have about which of your campaigns work, and what your customers need, the more effective your campaigns will become. Learn how to leverage the analytics tools built into your social media platform. For instance, you can use Instagram Insights or LinkedIn Analytics.
You should be looking for information on:
- Engagement: Which of your posts get the most engagement, and what kinds of content drive the highest amounts of clicks, comments, and likes? Does engagement increase at specific times or do you find videos are more effective than standard photo posts?
- Audience insights: Collecting information about your audience, such as where they come from and what kinds of other companies they follow, can make it easier to optimize your campaigns. You can also use your analytics to gather data about audience gender or hobbies.
- Scheduling: Your analytics can help you time your post perfectly. Most experts say the best time to post on social media is at around 10am on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, but your analytics will show you exactly when your users are online. With that information, you can use a scheduling tool to arrange and publish content at the right time.
While built-in analytical tools are great, you can also find reports online to help you determine, for example, the best social posting times. Plus, it’s worth checking out the insights you can get from third-party analytics tools too.
6. Use Social Media Automation Tools
Speaking of taking advantage of the right tools on social media, there are also solutions to help you automate more of the hard work associated with standing out online. Finding the time to manage your social accounts, respond to customer comments, engage with influencers, and post at the right moment every day can be difficult, after all.
Tools like Later and HootSuite are excellent for helping you to plan your content schedule in advance and ensure everything goes out at the right time. You can also find automation tools to help with other aspects of growth, like attracting followers.
For instance, tools like Kicksta allow you to automate reaching out to potential followers of influencers and competitors in your industry and convince them to come and check out your account. This is a great way to accelerate growth, without putting too much extra pressure on your teams.
7. Advocate UGC
One of the toughest parts of achieving successful social media optimization is making sure you always have plenty of engaging and appealing content to share. A good way to strengthen your content calendar for social media and simultaneously improve the credibility of your brand is with user-generated content (UGC).
Compared to other content, UGC is generally considered more authentic, transparent, and appealing in the social media landscape. You can also encourage your audience to generate this content quite easily through the use of branded hashtags and competitions.
For instance, @AColorStory uses the #ColorStory hashtag to encourage people to share as much user-generated content as possible.
Alternatively, you can post a competition asking customers to share a piece of content (such as a picture of them using your product) on social media with a specific hashtag. This is an excellent way to generate social proof, if you have the right prize to offer.
8. Be More Social
One of the most common mistakes companies make on social media is they forget about the “social” part. There’s more to standing out on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn than simply posting endless content. People follow brands on social because they want to develop a relationship with the companies they’re connecting with.
To improve your presence from a social perspective, you can start by checking out trending community discussions in your industry and leaving meaningful comments. This is a great way to draw more attention to your brand and establish yourself as a thought leader while offering something valuable to your audience.
It’s also worth responding to comments in your posts regularly. While you might not be able to respond to every message, the occasional response is enough to show your customers you’re taking their feedback into account. For instance, @Dunkin occasionally responds to common questions among its audience by posting a screenshot and answering the query in the caption.
9. Partner with the Right Brands
As social media continues to gain steam as one of the most powerful tools in the world for marketing and branding teams, it’s fair to say there’s a lot of competition on every platform. It’s difficult for new and smaller brands in this landscape to stand out in an environment full of better-known companies.
A good way to give your business a much-needed boost and improve your credibility at the same time is to invest in some partnerships.
There are a number of ways you can use partnerships on social media. For instance, @NashyOfficial and @BalanceMeSkincare partnered on a giveaway to draw attention to both brands among their respective shared audiences. Remember, when partnering with another brand, you’ll need to find a business with a similar target audience to yours, that isn’t a competitor.
Other options can include working directly with influencers who have an existing connection with your target audience or even getting involved with other companies on social media events.
10. Go Big on Social Media Trends
Finally, one of the best ways to boost your social media optimization strategy is to make sure you’re up-to-date on the latest trends. The social landscape is always changing, with new and exciting evolutions happening all the time. Staying on the cutting edge will show your audience that you’re fresh and modern while also helping you attract new followers.
For instance, on Instagram, “Reels” are currently one of the most popular forms of content on the platform and they even have their own section on the “Explore” page, making it easier for customers to find you. Elsewhere in the social world, companies are getting involved with:
- Social selling: Social selling tactics like shopping pages and live stream selling are becoming increasingly popular among all kinds of customers. This could be a good idea for an ecommerce brand looking to grow.
- Video: Video of all kinds is great for grabbing attention on social media, from tiny Reels and TikTok posts to longer live streams and online events.
- Communities: Community engagement is growing more popular throughout the social landscape too. New features like “Twitter Spaces” have grown more appealing as customers look to connect more deeply with brands.
Optimize Your Social Strategy
Social media optimization doesn’t have to be as complicated as it seems. There are even social media optimization services available from leading marketing companies and branding experts if you don’t want to handle the process yourself.
With the top 10 tips above, you’ll have everything you need to start generating better results from your social efforts and improving your ROI.