This blog series has been updated from a previous series to reflect current and key marketing considerations for the current COVID-19 crisis and the days beyond.
In the post-pandemic landscape of COVID-19, having a solid social presence will be extra important for practices to attract clients, strengthen relationships, and stay competitive to navigate the economic uncertainty ahead. Here’s why:
- Social media use has more than doubled during COVID-19. According to a 2020 study by the data insights company Kantar, overall global social media use increased by 61% over normal usage rates with more people self-isolating and working from home (WFH).
- Companies are considering revisiting their WFH policies. According to a recent survey of 317 CFOs by the global research and advisory firm Gartner, 74% of CFOs plan to shift anywhere from 2% to 27% of on-site employees to permanently remote positions post-COVID-19 to realize the cost benefits of a remote workforce.
- Companies are projected to more aggressively use social media in the future. According to strategic business advisor and best-selling author Bernard Marr (in a March 20th, 2020 article for Forbes), “businesses are going to become more reliant than ever on their digital strategy,” including “ones that may not so much as had a Facebook page before,” and he doesn’t see a reason why digital strategies couldn’t “carry on providing long-term value when the world eventually gets back to normal.”
Said simply: By indicator and projection, social media promises to be more competitive in 2020 (and beyond) as companies vie for the attention and business of more people.
To help your practice compete and thrive in the days ahead, we have broken down what can feel like an overwhelming social media strategy into a doable four-step process:
- Creating your social media strategy (see below), a critical first step that will pay off in time-savings and results down the road.
- Tips and tricks for simplifying and optimizing how you use social media platforms.
- Expert advice on search engine optimization (SEO) to help ensure your posts go the distance.
- Content planning—what to write and where best to share content to optimize reach.
Before we get underway, let’s get familiar with some of the most popular social media platforms your practice can use to reach more pet parents, just in case you’re already not familiar with them:
By far, Facebook is the largest social networking site in the world and one of the most widely used. With more than 2 billion active users worldwide and 233 million active users in the U.S. in March of 2020, Facebook is extremely relevant and important to your social media strategy.
- Upside: Facebook is simple, fun, and effective, with few limitations and built-in analytics to help show you what works best for your audience and grow you reach.
- Downside: Organic reach (unpaid posts) is down due to Facebook’s evolving algorithm.
With over 1 billion active users monthly, Instagram is a global platform for businesses to showcase products and/or services and build audiences.
- Upside: Instagram generally tolerates posts with 11+ hashtags, which improves the discoverability of posts by Instagram users.
- Downside: Like Facebook, Instagram’s algorithm prioritizes user news-feed posts according to accounts with which a user already interacts.
With over 380 million active users worldwide, Twitter is a simple way for businesses to distribute content and engage audiences.
- Upside: According to Twitter’s Q3 2019 letter to shareholders, Twitter has 145 million monetizable daily active users.
- Downside: Posts are limited to 280 characters, and according to research by eMarketer, Twitter’s user base is only expected to grow 0.3% in 2020.
Now that you have a bit of information about three of the most popular social media platforms, let’s dive into your social media strategy.
Create Your Social Media Strategy
While it may seem more appealing to just jump in and start posting content, doing so without a strategy can result in lost opportunities and time. A well-thought-out, actionable strategy can help you better understand your goals and how to realize them.
The checklist of questions below highlights questions you should ask yourself before planning the actual content you will develop to achieve your social media goals.
What do I want to accomplish with social media this year?
Your goals should be specific, measurable, and attainable. For example, instead of saying something vague like “I want to gain more followers on Facebook,” say something specific like “I want to gain 50 new Facebook followers over the next three months.” Or connect social goals to business goals, such as, “I want to increase engagement by an average of 30% over three months to increase appointments by 5% over the same period.” Ultimately, your social media goals should align with some of your practice’s business and marketing goals.
Who am I trying to reach?
Naturally, you’re trying to reach pet owners, but it’s important to understand the needs and unique concerns of different pet owners. Spend time researching pet forums, magazines, and other sources to get to know your audience on a deeper level, or simply ask clients about what pet subjects they would find most interesting to read about. You may discover pet owner demographics that you never knew existed and thereby new ways to reach people.
What type of content meets their needs?
Once you know who your audience is, you will have a better idea of what subjects to cover on social. To keep things fresh, try to include a variety of educational content, entertainment pieces, behind-the-scenes posts like staff profiles, and specials.
How often should I make posts?
Consistency is key to building credibility, reputation, and audience trust. In terms of frequency, studies generally agree on the following for Facebook and Instagram:
- Once per day on Facebook is optimal (with no more than two posts per day)
- Once per day on Instagram is optimal (with no more than three posts per day)
- For Twitter, three to five tweets per day is viewed as the magic number, although the takeaway from a recent Track Social study is that the more you tweet, the more value you get out of your Twitter account.
When is the best time to post?
Metrics from your social media channels will reveal when your followers are most active online. Overall, optimal daily times for posting have changed due to COVID-19. With more people working from home and self-isolating, recent data from Sprout Social show:
- Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10-11 a.m. are optimal times to post on Facebook. In fact, posting any day at 11 a.m. showed a slight peak compared to the rest of the day.
- Monday, Tuesday, and Friday at 11 a.m. and Tuesday at 2 p.m. are optimal times to post on Instagram.
- While engagement patterns on Twitter have more or less remained the same as pre-COVID-19 patterns, Friday from 7-9 a.m. appears to be the optimal time to tweet, peaking at 9 a.m.
Where is the best place for each type of post?
Not all social media platforms are built the same and have the same user preferences and/or expectations. A text-heavy post may flourish on Facebook, for example, but flop on Instagram, where images tend to perform. So, the “best place” for a post depends on what kind of post it is.
Will I always get consistent results if I plan right?
No matter how much planning you do, you cannot get perfect reactions from pet owners or other audiences every time you post. There are just too many variables for anyone to ever achieve consistently perfect results. Planning a social media strategy is like an investment fund. Some days, there will be growth. Other days will see declines, but so long as your overall investment shows growth over time, you are on the right track.
- Get to know some of the most popular social media platforms.
- Create a social media strategy using the above questions.
- Watch for our next post— tips and tricks for simplifying and optimizing how you use social media platforms.
In the meantime, here are some related practice marketing articles to get you inspired:
- 15 SEO and Online Marketing Terms That Every Practice Should Know
- How to Use the Power of Story for More Effective Testimonials
- How and Why to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing