Think back to school, and learning about the scientific method. Roughly, you start by asking a question. You do some background research, come up with a hypothesis, and design an experiment to test that hypothesis. Through your experiment, you make observations and collect data, which you then analyze to help form a conclusion about your hypothesis and the initial question.
If your hypothesis is “I think my job seekers are on Twitter”, or “I think I can increase my traffic by posting to Facebook”, then that’s where you’ll begin.
(Apologies to any actual scientists who object to my oversimplification of the scientific method.)
Decide on Your Social Media Goals
For any kind of testing, first figure out what you want to know. What am I testing? Am I testing out my messaging? The type of content I share? When I share it? Where I share it?
Even before we answer those important questions, we must establish our end-goal in using social media in the first place. You’ll likely think of many, and you may want to track all of them. When you’re getting started, it may help to think of your goals occurring in stages. For example, you might approach your goals in this order:
- Gain followers
- Increase job seeker traffic to main site
- Increase job alert email sign-ups
- Increase job views
- Increase applications
- Increase job seeker returning traffic
For now, let’s assume our end-goal is to gain followers on our chosen social media platform, and increase job seeker traffic to our site. What we want to test is which social media platform performs better at achieving our end-goal.
Your Chosen Social Media Platforms
Based on the demographic research of your target market and which platforms they most likely use, you should decide on 3 social media channels to focus on for your first round of testing.
(Again, don’t neglect creating your account and completing your profile on the social media platforms you’re not yet experimenting with – you may want to use them down the line! In any case, you don’t want somebody else taking your name.)
Let’s say we decide to focus on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. We’ve created our accounts, completed our profiles in a way that’s consistent with our brand, and we’ve already started following other accounts, liking their pages, etc. (This type of activity should be continuous, as a part of our regular social media management routines.)
Plan Your Content with a Schedule or Campaign
Using tools like Hootsuite, Klout, or Buffer, you can plan out a calendar of social media sharing, and automate the actual publishing of your planned social media content.
There are many ideas and methods you can borrow from to start populating your social media with content, but let’s first focus on what type of content you want to share:
- Job Posts
- Tips, insights, or questions
- Original content pieces like blog posts
- Relevant news/content from other sources
- Calls to action
It’s a good idea to vary your content somewhat. If everything you share is shameless self-promotion, without any offer of value to the people you’re trying to attract, you may wind up repelling them instead. Many marketers adhere to the 80/20 rule – that is, the idea that 80% of your output should simply be interesting and useful content without a blatant agenda, and 20% should be self-promotional/persuasive calls to action.
For Twitter, if you decide you want to try posting 15 times a day, your schedule might include:
- 3 Calls to Action
- 6 Job Posts
- 3 Calls to action
- 2 Tweets with tips, insights, or questions
- 2 Original content pieces like blog posts
- 2 Relevant news/content from other sources
Only 20% of your daily tweets are direct calls to action, and the rest is content that’s interesting or useful to your audience. Notice, however, that most of the content still directs back to your site. You may want to vary this over time, to see what helps you gain new followers vs increase traffic.
Tailor Your Content to the Platform
Post on Facebook in the afternoon, before 9am on LinkedIn, and post lots throughout the day for Twitter. That’s the gist of the advice out there for when to post on social media, but you can try an optimizing tool like Buffer’s, which analyzes your followers and suggests the best times to post.
Last week I mentioned different preferences in format and content types that each platform has – as you learn more about using them, you’ll discover certain nuances. Facebook likes it when you upload an image, Twitter posts must be under 140 characters. Make sure you know what you share looks like when it’s published. If it cuts off images or mangles the Meta Description, it may reduce the effectiveness the post might have had otherwise.
Tracking Your Tests
Social media and individual social platforms present a wide array of metrics you can track – some even offer their own statistics and analytics. Likes, impressions, favourites, retweets, shares, pins, comments – the list goes on. Sometimes you’ll see them combined into a percentage of “engagement”. It’s easy to get a little distracted or lost when delving into these numbers, so decide from the start which you think matter in relation to your goals.
If we stick to the goals we outlined above, we’ll mostly be interested in new followers gained and URL click-throughs. We can track URL click-throughs via the individual platforms we’re using, as well as our own website analytics. Think about using a trackable URL on the content you share, coded so that you know where and when it came from.
Ultimately, there are many variables to keep in mind throughout your testing process. Time of day, messaging, images, platform used, etc. A week’s worth of testing might not tell you much, but running the same test with 20 followers vs 2,000 followers may produce different results. Consistency counts for a lot – one tweet sent out into the vast wilderness of the Internet isn’t going to have much impact. But 5 tweets every day for 5 weeks? You’re bound to see some effect, and if you keep iterating and learning from your results, small ripples in the waters of your social media may soon become waves.
One thing I want to emphasize is that while consistency is important, it shouldn’t hold you prisoner to a lacklustre model. Re-evaluate or look for new ways to increase your efficiency and efficacy – or up the stakes and add new, more aggressive goals.
Social media, the Internet, technology, and your audience, are not static elements. They are ever-changing in both big and subtle ways, and what works well today might lose its magic by next year.
Review your messaging and branding every once in a while to ensure it still matches your goals as a business and how our approach your market.
Read more posts on how job boards can use social media to their advantage: