Social media as a product marketing channel
Must-have or time-sink?
Social media has always been one of those awkward marketing channels.
I firmly believe that, to do social media well, you need to
dedicate consistent resources,
be creative, and,
focus on delivering value.
I'm old enough to remember when social media was all about copy/pasting your link onto 17 different platforms and hoping for the best.
This (thankfully) ain't the case anymore.
So, what's the challenge?
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Well, when you run a small team, focussing on social media can be a huge waste of time. A presence on Twitter or LinkedIn for a SaaS company might be valuable, but at what cost?
This week, I once again faced this challenge. Our social media queue was drying up and I realised we didn't have much of a strategy around filling it up.
Should we make social media scheduling part of our weekly routine, allocate (precious and scarce) resources to it, and develop our presence on a select few channels?
Or should we pick our battles, focus on what works (writing SEO-verified content, for example) and put social on the backseat?
After reviewing our current marketing strategies and analysing our social reach, I've made the following decisions.
1. No deep social media focus
I'd love to be a Buffer (strong Twitter game) or Away (strong Instagram game). But the truth is, I don't have the resources for it. I'd rather allocate this time and effort to email or content marketing.
2. Less, but higher quality
The decision above frees us up a bit.
However, it doesn't mean we won't do any social at all. Instead, we will focus on creating higher quality content. More specifically:
I've designed our work into roughly three segments: marketing campaigns, feature launch campaigns, and 'things that don't scale'. Social is perfect for feature launch campaigns.
We're making social media a core part of each feature launch campaign. This includes videos, illustrations, and threads.
Videos and illustrations
Social is a great channel to improve recency and inform an audience. SaaS platforms have the advantage of being ripe for illustrative content.
We're producing more video content that shows the work, the platform, the use cases, etc.
3. Inform and share
Depending on your niche, there may be lots of valuable content out there. Even if you didn't create it, even if it doesn't bring traffic to your website, you know your audience would love to read/see it.
We run a weekly newsletter on the broad topic of AI. We've got thousands of people signed up for this newsletter. We're taking the same approach for social.
Using Buffer, we've made one person responsible for queueing up great content we find on the interwebs to our social account. Simple, effective, and only takes about 8min per week.
4. Encourage behind the scenes & WIP content
People love people. People also love 'behind the scenes' content.
Sproutsocial's research showed, for instance, that 72% of consumers feel more connected with a brand when employees share information about their company online (source).
I love this approach. It's an opportunity for individuals at the company to shine, personalise the brand, to expand reach -- it's a win-win situation for everyone.
Now, as a manager, it wouldn't make any sense to force employees to share content on their personal social accounts. Instead, it's worth making sure they know it's ok to do so.
Built a new cool feature? Share it! Creating a new type of video format? Share it! Faced an interesting challenge this week? Substack it! (👀).
We're going into next week with these four decisions in place. Let's see what happens.
Along with these decisions, I'm launching a short and sweet experiment.
We're going to test the reach of video content through social media channels LinkedIn and Twitter, when using native videos vs. hosted videos.
Common wisdom says native videos (i.e. videos uploaded onto the social platform, as opposed to YouTube then shared) should get more reach and interactions. I want to see this for myself.
This experiment will run for 10 shares each (20 total). It will also become the benchmark for future iterations.