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Increase Sales in 2014 with These 2 Social Media Changes

You don’t need to change a long list of items to improve your social media in 2014. If you follow these two tips, and apply them well, you can see a world of difference.

How many Top 10 Tips for 2014 posts have you seen floating around the Internet since December? If you’re like me, they all start to look and sound the same.

This post is different. It only contains two tips, but they are BIG ones. These are two steps to take if you’re serious about increasing sales and brand awareness this year through social media.

Are you ready?

1. Get Serious About Your Social Analytics

When it comes to social media marketing, marketers have a tendency to look at metrics like growth rate, post impressions and engagement rate.

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These metrics are certainly important, but it’s time to grow up. Make 2014 the year that you connect social media and more traditional business goals.

  • Do you know if social media brought in any leads or revenue in 2013?
  • Do you know exactly how many leads or sales can be directly attributed to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn?
  • Do you know which specific posts drove the most leads or sales?

Tracking these numbers on a monthly basis, along with the rest of your marketing metrics, should be a focus in 2014.

You probably won’t find your lead gen or sales numbers alongside your engagement metrics in social media software like HootSuite or Sprout Social. You certainly won’t be able to get a pulse on them simply by looking at your Facebook Page or Twitter profile.

You’ll need to dig into Google Analytics to find the data you need.

The first thing I recommend doing is making each link you share via social media easily trackable.

To do this you will need to assign a unique ID to each web page you want to link to. For example, if you publish a new blog post about the 5 Best Chocolate Cake Recipes you might give it the ID: 5ChocCake. Or if you publish a new blog post about The Best iPhone Apps for 2014 you might give it the ID: iapps2014. It doesn’t really matter what name you give the piece of content as long as it is unique.

Then you will need to create a trackable link for that piece of content using its ID.

You can easily do this using Google’s URL Builder. To use the URL Builder all you have to do is enter the URL of the web page you want to link to, a campaign source (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.) a campaign medium (post, tweet, pin, etc.) and a campaign name (the unique ID you want to assign the page).

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Then you just hit submit and Google will create the trackable URL for you.

Now all you have to do is copy and paste this link into your social media post. (Don’t forget to change the Campaign Source each time you want to post the same link to a different social media site).

Once you start posting these trackable links on your social media pages, you can then begin viewing their performance in Google Analytics.

All you need to do is login and go to Acquisition > Campaigns.

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Once you are inside of the Campaigns section of your GA account you will see all of the unique IDs you assigned along with their individual performances.

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In the above example you can see I assigned a specific web page I was promoting with the unique ID “i10runners01.”

In Campaigns, I can see a quick snapshot of how that specific link/piece of content has performed (including how many sales it has led to). In this case over $1,600 in sales, which is the second highest of all the trackable links I’ve shared this month.

This lets me know that I should share more content like “i10runners01” in the future because my audience seemed to really like it. In fact, they did more than just ‘Like’ it, they clicked through and made purchases! Whoo!

When I click the campaign name in GA it will show me the link’s performance broken down by source (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) so I can see which source helped me drive the most conversions. In this case I was only sharing it on Facebook, so Facebook is the only one listed. If I had shared it on Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. I would see those sources here.

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This kind of serious, in-depth tracking for your social media posts will help you put a value on the ROI you are getting from each of your social media channels.

Naturally, there are aspects to social media that are important beyond basic number crunching. Providing top-notch customer service, increasing brand awareness and engaging with your target audience are all important.

Getting serious about your social media posts will help you amplify your existing social media efforts. You’re well-positioned to optimize your posts with information-rich content that audiences love.

2. Say Goodbye to Boring Stock Photos

Talking about social media analytics is heavy stuff, so let’s jump into something more fun: graphics. Make 2014 the year where you bump up your visual marketing a notch.

Stock photos are nice. “Borrowing” graphics made by other people that you found on Pinterest is okay (as long as you get permission and give credit), but why not invest some time in creating your own really impactful visuals?

Really great visuals stand out in a crowded Newsfeed or Twitter stream. They catch a viewer’s eye and demand to be noticed and shared or they spur action (filling out a lead gen form or making a purchase).

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There are two types of visual graphics that you’ll want to create this year:

  1. Highly shareable content
  2. Sales / promotional content

When it comes to creating highly shareable graphics, keep in mind that each image should fit into at least one of these categories:

  • Educational
  • Motivational
  • Inspirational
  • Egotistical (stroke the viewer’s ego)
  • Really pretty

Educational images will spell out the lesson right on the graphic in a visually pleasing way, like this workout graphic from Ellie (a women’s fitness apparel brand):

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Don’t try to go overboard and include a lot of long paragraphs in your graphics. Stick to bullet points or one-liners. It’s okay to only include one tip per graphic if including more will clutter it up with text.

This same strategy goes for motivational and inspirational visual content. If you’re going to include a quote or tip, keep it short and sweet, like in this example from Brooks Running:

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When it comes to visuals that stroke the viewer’s ego, use the same “keep it simple” strategy. However, when it comes to writing the correct copy here you have to be careful. You don’t want it to scream “I’m the world’s best” but you do want to not-so-subtly hint that people of a certain group (aka your target audience) are a cut above the rest.

Nike does a great job with this. Here’s an example of a graphic they created and posted to their Nike Running Facebook page:

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This graphic very clearly makes Nike’s audience feel like they’re a part of something special. And everyone loves feeling special.

Finally, as you can see from all three of these highly shareable graphics, your graphics need to be pretty.

  • The copy should be easily readable: Don’t use a crazy font; go with something simple like Arial or Helvetica.
  • The images should be sharp and in focus: Spend a little money on quality photos if necessary.
  • Your logo should be visible and clear: Don’t make it so tiny that no one can see it or make out what it is.

When in doubt, go for something simple and colorful. Bright colors are nice to use (if they fit your brand) because they stand out. This same color tactic is great for sales / promotional graphics as well.

You can create sales / promo graphics for:

  • Discounts
  • Online / in-store promotions
  • Contests
  • Limited edition products

Here is a great example from Rent the Runway:

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And here’s one from Birchbox:

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And just in case you think only online brands can successfully use sales / promo graphics on social media channels, check out the way Pet Supermarket is using a bright and colorful graphic to spread the word about a sale they are having in-stores:

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In 2014 take a cue from Pet Supermarket, Brooks Running, Birchbox and other brands rocking their social media accounts and design awesome visual graphics.

You can use stock photos if you need to, but don’t just post the stock photo with a caption. Get creative with the actual photos and make them super shareable.

The more people who share your content, the faster you increase brand awareness (and sales).

Now It’s Your Turn

Analytics and creativity are two words that are not used together often enough. In this case they make the perfect combination. Together they will help you take your social media to the next level in 2014.