As part of our ‘How to get get ahead’ series we asked Carly Jo Bell, who we ‘bumped into’ in a conversation on one of Just a Card’s Instagram posts in January and then took advantage of her brilliant social media audit (which she’s currently offering some spaces free for each month, hint hint). So, we thought as it’s #Justacard day today, it was prettying fitting that we release this guest post from Carly on all things social media strategy today. You can also check out her Instagram takeover of our feed tomorrow too. But first a little background on Carly herself.
Carly is a rebel Social Media Marketer that gives you the tools to use your platform well. With three years experience working with small businesses and solopreneurs, she brings her firsthand knowledge and innovative, relationship-first approach to the social media marketing world, encouraging her clients and followers to find long-lasting social media success in a way that suits them. A true proponent of a level playing field and spilling all the secrets, she is currently amidst a 6-month trial of her FREE Social Media School, which accepts 20 new applicants each month on a first-come, first-serve basis. With everything she does, she prioritises being a real human being online, so stop by her page and have a chat. She’s always happy to lend a hand and share a smile
I don’t know about you, but I’m so tired of everyone yelling at me (through a screen of course) about all of the things that I should be doing on social media. There’s so many voices yelling this, that, and another thing (3 steps to beat the algorithm! - you have to get more followers! - this is the only way to find success!), that it’s gotten increasingly hard to recognize which voices are an authority and which are just un-authoritative people echoing the other un-authoritative people whose voices are bouncing off of the walls of the echo chamber that is the world of social media. Plus, with how constant the social media world is updating, by the time anything in that world reaches the mass voices of the echo chamber, the information is likely now outdated.
Worse yet, everyone seems to have a mastermind or free downloadable that only gives some of the information away, the rest of which requires you to climb a paywall in order to gain access to something that may or may not actually be worth the money. Who knows what’s “worth it” anyway, considering the fact that it seems like everyone has a course these days (bold of me to say considering I’ve just launched a social media course myself).
So, what are we to do? How can you figure out what actually works for you, your business goals, and your target audience instead of just automatically implementing every single thing that every single person tells you is the “best” social media strategy? Simply put: you test it.
Social media isn’t one-size-fits-all, it never has been nor will it ever be, as much as many would like to convince you. Instead the best method is to look external for ideas and internal for answers. Only you know what’s going to work for your audience and your business, so instead of blindly following every single piece of advice the echo chamber is feeding you, you need to hold each method up to the light and measure it against who you are, what you need, and where you’re going. Just because it works for one person doesn’t mean it will work for another, and in fact, simply copying the strategies of one person (or even of the majority of people in your industry) will likely ensure that you only reach mediocre success - at best.
Think about it: the cover is never as popular as the original song. Even if it’s legitimately better quality, people love an original and everything after the original will always be compared back to it. You see the same with books that become movies. For a relevant social media example, it’s harder than ever before to become a massively successful influencer, but when the original round of influencers came out they easily forged a path. Why? Because a photo of a woman in a floral dress standing in front of the Eiffel Tower is only cool the first 5 times you see it. The same goes with posting the same sort of captions as everyone else in your niche, or of using the exact same checkerboard instagram feed theme that it seems everyone and their mother uses.
Using the Scientific Method for Social Media Success
Now, I’m pretty sure everyone that’s gone through a Westernised school system has learned it: the Scientific Method. Whether or not this brings back happy or anxious memories of being in science class, pouring semi-combustible materials into test tubes and wearing those dorky glasses, it’s important to remember for something that may not have even been around when you were in science class: Social Media.
I’m sure you’re thinking: Carly, you’ve lost me. What on earth does social media have to do with science experiments? In short: everything. There’s no magic formula to make social media “work,” instead it’s a combination of trial-and-error over and over and over again. Applying the Scientific Method to your Social Media strategy will make your process straightforward and endlessly easier to implement.
I’m not making any assumptions about your level of attentiveness in science class, but I’d wager that you haven’t thought about the Scientific Method since you had to do a pesky science experiment in the seventh grade. So let me refresh your memory:
- Ask a question.
- Do background research.
- Construct a hypothesis.
- Test your hypothesis in an experiment.
- Analyze the data.
- Determine the result.
I’m not going to ask you to put those dorky glasses back on, but it is time to jump into our experiment. Together, let’s learn to find social media strategies that work for you, cutting through the noise and clutter and learning how to pick out the truth from the echos.
Ask a question.
Start with the basics: with all of the information that’s floating around, I’m sure you’ve got plenty of questions. How do I beat the algorithm? What is the best way to get followers? How can I convert followers into customers? It’s not the questions that are hard to come by, but the (full) answers.
Do background research.
Once you’ve got your question, hit up the all-famous Google. Type that question in and read a couple of articles. Begin gathering your research: what are the “experts” saying?
Construct a hypothesis.
After reading a handful of articles on your topic, gather your ammo. For example, a quick Google search of “How do I beat the Instagram Algorithm” leads to a few articles all saying things like, “post photos consistently,” “post videos and stories,” and “reply to DMs and comments.” You could stick with these tactics, but I’d recommend going a step further.
How? By asking of them: why? What’s their purpose? In this example, their purpose is to increase authentic interactions between you and your followers. Think about it: video and stories help people get to know you as a real human being. Replying to DM’s or comments does the same. Thus, instead of creating a hypothesis purely off of what they’ve all told you to do (stay away echo chamber!), you’re going deeper into the real reason for why they’re recommending what they are.
Now that you’ve put your critical thinking caps on, you get to create your hypothesis. Your hypothesis here is basically saying, From the information provided and what I’m capable of/enjoy doing, I think that [this strategy] will [reach this goal]. I will do this by… From our algorithm example, our hypothesis is: From the information provided and what I enjoy doing, I think that prioritising authentic engagement and humanising my brand will help me rank higher in the algorithm. I will do this by creating video content, sharing more about my life outside of my business in Stories, and promoting genuine conversations in my comments and DMs.
Test your hypothesis in an experiment.
Finally we get to put everything to the test. I’d recommend “experimenting” for a minimum of 3 months before moving to the next step, as anything on social media takes 3 months to have a noticeable effect and 6 to find any real success.
Analyze the data.
You may or may not have heard of fancy things called “metrics” and “KPI’s,” so let me clarify them. Metrics are a fancy word for “numbers” or “measurements,” and in social media they refer to any of the numbers that you can see; i.e. how many people liked, shared, commented on, a photo or how many followers you have. KPI’s are key performance indicators, and these are the metrics that you choose to pay attention to based off of your hypothesis. In our algorithm example, your KPI’s (the metrics/numbers you choose to pay attention to) would likely be: your impressions and reach, and maybe your engagement rate. Every month, check-in on and document those KPI’s, and after 3 months do a full round-up of how they’ve performed.
Determine the result.
Now that you have all of the data, you get to decide: did that work? It’s ok if it didn’t, for now you know one more thing that doesn’t work! If it does work, awesome! Keep going with it for another 3 months, and try more and more nuanced tactics to see exactly what your audience resonates most with. As social media is consistently updating, you can’t get “comfortable” with any tactic, and just because it worked once doesn’t mean it will work again. So keep testing, testing, testing: developing and customizing your strategy every step of the way.
Even though this is scientific and all, I hope you don’t think it’s overwhelming. We so often treat social media as if it’s this serious, intensive thing, when in reality: if you’re not having fun on it, you’re doing it wrong. Nothing in your business is worth you losing your sanity over, especially not something so silly as social media (and that’s coming from a Social Media Marketer). So approach every day on socials as an experiment: test things out, try new tactics, and always keep learning. That will ultimately lead you to more success than following the rulebook ever could. I believe in you.
With love, Carly #WholeCo
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