Chandler Bruns, Social Media Manager, Rooster Strategic Solutions

“I know I need to do social media better. But I don’t have time. And I don’t know where to begin.”

Does this sound familiar?

That was the note I received from a self-proclaimed “one-man marketing department” at a medium-sized ag company. He’d read an article I wrote about how to improve social media without spending a ton of money and reached out to see if there was anything I could do to help his company.

Specifically, he wanted to:

  • Improve product messaging
  • Improve brand awareness
  • Do more with video
  • Communicate better with dealers

He was also worried about costs. Somewhere along the line he got the notion that you have to spend a lot of money with an agency to implement an effective social campaign, and he simply didn’t have a lot of money set aside in his budget.

Before agreeing to help, I did a little social stalking, looking at their public channels to see what I could about their previous efforts. I didn’t find anything egregious. In fact, I didn’t find much at all – some sporadic sales messages on Facebook and Twitter, a couple of notes about farm shows they attended, some sharing of content their dealers created. There didn’t seem to be a cohesive plan behind their efforts or any regular cadence.

All this is typical. Many of our clients are also “one-person marketing teams” tasked by their management to set up and coordinate social media campaigns without getting the necessary resources they need to succeed. Heaped on top of everything else they’re doing, they need to “go do some social.” Like the manager in this story, they know they need to do social media but they’re not totally sure why or if it works or how to measure it. They don’t have time to learn how to do it correctly. They don’t have the people to run it. And they’re just not sure where to start.

On top of all that, there’s a rampant misunderstanding of costs regarding social media among many CEO’s, CFO’s, and other upper management types who, because they do a little tweeting on their own, don’t believe there should be any significant costs involved with the company’s social channels.

Does any of this sound familiar?

It does to me. I hear it from clients and potential clients all the time, including the one in this story. So it wasn’t hard to put together different proposals that could help meet his objectives, ranging from a formal social audit and list of tips and tricks he could use to improve social performance to a comprehensive, hands-off program where Rooster did all the planning/execution/measurement.

Once he understood that the price of social wasn’t nearly as bad as what he’d imagined, we were ready to focus on the following steps.

  • Increase the number of followers. The company had 200+ followers on Twitter and Facebook, many of whom worked for the company. We landed on a goal of 4,000, and it’s important to note that the goal isn’t to increase followers for the sake of numbers or for pride. You definitely want the right people. And in a world where 1.5 million American farmers use Facebook and 300,000 are actively using Twitter, 4,000 was a reasonable goal for this company. We suggested they make use of relevant hashtags and tag other social media accounts to incorporate into social posts, and use a current dealer list and relevant machinery/agricultural publications to follow their active social media accounts.
  • Create a messaging calendar. Start with your company’s important dates, holidays, and public events. Build in regular cadence from dealers or distributors. Leverage content from similar/adjacent companies. Many of our clients are initially worried about “overwhelming” their followers with messaging, afraid that customers will get bored and stop following them if they post too often. The truth is that most companies don’t have the bandwidth to overwhelm their followers even if they wanted to. And besides, the goal isn’t volume for the sake of volume ­– it’s to create a regular schedule of sharing.
  • Create better content. We recommended the “7×1” rule of social: For every sales pitch that you share, you need seven posts that aren’t sales pitches. Use organic posts that build off each other; the higher-engaging organic contact that you produce improves your online presence and brand awareness, as well as your reputation. Define the target audience and use paid social as a means of ensuring that the right messages get to the followers you’re most interested in reaching.
  • Make better use of video. The company in this story had a fair amount of video on YouTube; many companies do, but in this case, they weren’t optimizing the videos on social channels. Video content on Facebook usually gets higher levels of engagement than picture or text-based posts. The more viewers and Facebook likes you get, the higher the chance that your content will be found by potential new Facebook followers. Creating great content regularly can help you build a stronger following.

There are several advantages in following a strategy like the one we recommended for the company in this story. For one, it’s not expensive. Equally important, it doesn’t consume a crazy amount of time; by honing a few things and using much of the content that already exists, you can build a stronger following and enhance your social media presence and effectiveness.

If you found yourself nodding along while you read this, and if you identify with some of the challenges of the company in this story, I strongly recommend that you reach out and start a conversation on how to improving your own company’s social performance.