Growing your socials is a tough gig.
There’s SO much information out there on how to do it right – tips, e-books, webinars, online courses – and if you’re anything like I was in the early days, you’ve downloaded, read or paid for it all.
It’s overWHELMING. Your list of social media ‘should do’s’ is a mile long and you’re going ‘round and ‘round in circles trying a zillion different tactics but not sure which – if any – is getting you results.
Not to mention, you still have a business to tend to, and the time suck of social is meaning NOTHING is getting done.
Sound familiar? EXHAUSTING, right?
Trust me, I get it.
In fact, that’s the very reason why I started this series of ‘behind the scenes’ blog posts. For a few months now, I have been honestly and transparently documenting EXACTLY what I am doing to grow The Course Cartel social media accounts – the successes, wins, failures and all.
Rather than tell you what to do, the idea is to show you how I do it.
Hopefully by doing THAT I can give you insight into what has worked for me and what hasn’t, and give you a better idea of where to concentrate your OWN social media efforts.
And so here we are, at installment three.
If you’ve been following along, might have noticed that this post is, well, a little late.
Two MONTHS late, to be exact.
In that time, I’ve sailed through Croatia on a yacht, sipped sangria in Barcelona, I’ve eaten my weight in pizza in Italy and… drum roll… I GOT ENGAGED in the Greek Islands.
Yep! That happened.
Before I went away on holiday, I did spend many weekends writing blog posts and scheduling social media to try and keep things at The Course Cartel ticking away whilst I was away on holiday.
The plan was to continue to keep an eye on it, keep up with engagement whilst lying on sunbeds in Greece and just generally making sure that I kept up with my momentum – and more importantly, with my social media goals.
Good intentions, right? Only that it didn’t really happen. The internet was crap, the drinks were cold and, frankly, I was just having far too much fun to be overly worried about my follower growth, engagement rate or stats updates.
So yeah, this post? It’s a summary not just of the past month like the first two, but the past THREE months.
And as you will see, the results for each month are a very mixed bag. It goes to show that your results really do match the level of effort and attention that you put in.
I mentioned at the outset that my sole objective for The Course Cartel accounts for the first six months would be brand awareness and engagement.
But what does that even mean, I hear you say. IT’S BEEN THREE MONTHS SINCE YOU EVEN SPOKE ABOUT THIS STUFF, STEVIE!
In a nutshell, these are the goals I set myself to reach my six month brand awareness and engagement objectives.
- Grow social media following to 2,000 on Facebook by December 2017 (42 per week)
- Grow social media following to 2,000 on Instagram by December 2017 (42 per week)
- Grow website traffic to thecoursecartel.com to 2,000 unique visitors a month by December 2017
- Increase mailing list to 3,000 by December 2017
- Test out other social media platforms to see whether they will assist with longer term objectives, as well as driving traffic to The Course Cartel.
- Network, grow and nurture and engaged audience of people who value my content and are highly engaged.
These goals, were – for me – realistic and achievable.
SUMMARY OF THE PAST THREE MONTHS
What a mixed bag the results from the past three months are.
From awesome, to terrible, to.. well, slightly LESS terrible.
Which, to be honest, reflects the amount of effort and work that I put in for each month.
In month one, just before leaving on holiday, I was on a roll.
My motivation was high, and I was really starting to gain good momentum. That was reflected in my consistency of posts, and in the quality of the posts that I was putting out. I was forward planning, and scheduling my posts at least a week ahead.
It showed. I easily hit my target.. and then some. Gold star for this little social media strategist!
In month two, *Europe* meant that my socials were neglected.
I posted sometimes, but no more than the automated posts that I had scheduled in before I left. Mostly, my posts pulled automatically from Instagram and so were not unique to the platform.
And again, it showed. Month three was similar.
Let’s dive into more detail.
There’s a reason that I will continue to do this particular series of posts forever and eternity.
In fact, month two of this series wasn’t only my best performing post for the three month period, it was my best performing post EVER. By, like, a LOT.
It reached over 12,000 people (10,000 more than month one), and received 1,300 post clicks and over 160 engagements (like/comments/shares). That’s what I call going viral.
Here are my next three most popular posts:
1. An article I wrote in SmartCompany magazine on ‘Why Social Media Likes Don’t Pay the Bills’.
Although far less popular in comparison to my unicorn of a stats post, it still reached in excess of 2,500 people and received great engagement.
2. An article I wrote on ‘9 Eff Yes or No Questions to ask about your struggling socials’.
Similar reach and levels of engagement.
3. An article that I wrote for Owners Collective on Six Things that you need to do to nail your socials.
All three are original, long form blog posts over 2,000 word with really in-depth content on different subjects relating to social media.
I’m not gonna lie.
Writing posts like these and articles on social media for the blog and for relevant publications is time consuming. Usually, they take an entire Saturday. But, it’s really clear from my insights that they were – easily – my strongest performing posts.
My next best performing series of posts were ‘mini blogs’ posted directly onto Facebook where I shared social media tips directly into the caption.
For example, this post on the Blue Ocean marketing strategy.
Some of these posts performed really well – there were about five or six that were a stand out success.
It’s clear that providing valuable information is something that works well for me.
And so, I shall continue doing it!
Next month, I will also concentrate on posting more – something that has been on the ‘to do’ list since I launched. Given that valuable information performs best, I will be sourcing articles and linking them as a way of increasing my frequency of posts.
Watch this space!
One interesting insight from the runaway success of my most recent stats post is that I posted it onto my Facebook with a video slideshow rather than an image of the post.
It reached 10,000 more people than the firs stats post I put together, something which may in part be due to the post being a video – a format preferred by Facebook and which generally reaches more people – rather than a static image.
The lesson? To look at incorporating much more video into my Facebook content plan. This is easy to achieve using the in-built Facebook slideshow format, in which Facebook automatically creates a video out of several static images.
I received 372 new likes to my Facebook page in July, over 300 more than I received in either August or September.
Which meant I hit the magic 1000!
Here’s what I did:
For each week in August, I ran this $30, week long ad targeted at an audience that I had previously tested and had gotten good results with.
It continued to perform well, with 30 – 50 new likes each week as a direct result.
I received the remainder of the likes to my page as a result of sharing a couple of different posts in relevant Facebook groups.
The first was my second stats post, which included links (JUST LIKE THIS ONE) inviting people who liked the post to follow my journey by liking my page. This results in close to 100 new likes.
The second was another blog post that I shared about 9 ‘eff yes or no questions’ to help sort out your struggling socials.
Note that I didn’t do any advertising on Facebook to attract likes in either August or September, but still attracted 50 likes each month – which, admittedly, is well under my intended goal.
This was interesting to me though, as I really didn’t do anything else to build the page. People seem to be naturally starting to land on my Facebook page. My guess? This is a result of guest posts that I have previously done in places like SmartCompany and Business Chicks, each of which have calls to action referencing my socials.
BEST AND WORST PERFORMING POSTS
Here’s a list of my top liked and commented posts.
My engagement-on-a-rooftop-in-Santorini post was the clear post winner for the past three months ! CAN understand why – well played fiance, well played – ha ha!
But seriously though, there’s a lesson in that. One thing that I have made a conscious effort to do over the past three months has been to start incorporating more of me into my posts.
And, it’s THOSE posts, where I share details of my life and behind the scenes insights into ‘Stevie’ stuff, that have really performed well.
Why? Well, my theory – especially in the case of service-providers – is that people ultimately do business with PEOPLE. That’s why I strongly recommend considering how you can inject more of you and your personality into your socials, not only to increase engagement but also to get people to know, like and trust you enough to maybe one day do business with you.
It’s all about creating connection. Check out this blog post for more on that.
Let’s talk engagement.
Instagram is owned by Facebook. And we alllll know what has happened with organic reach on Facebook a couple of years ago – and, if you don’t, here’s the short story.. it died.
The truth is, it’s really only a matter of time until Instagram suffers from a similar fate.
Why? Because there’s limited inventory for content and there’s a growing user base of over 600,000,000 and counting. AND, because Facebook/Instagram is a business that needs to please its shareholders and make money.
Money comes from serving ADS, which further limits available content inventory.
Together, these factors necessitated the introduction a few months ago of the ‘Instagram algorithm’, which meant that instead of showing posts in your feed chronologically in a linear format, posts instead started to be shown based on whether a person would be likely to engage with them.
These days, what THAT means is that not every post is seen by every person.
To date, this hadn’t been TOO much of a problem. Engagement hadn’t been affected much, and for most people it has been business as usual.
In the last month or so though, some people have started to report that the previously off the charts levels of engagement that Instagram had to date provided is starting to … drop.
My theory? For those who have switched to business accounts, Instagram is starting to tighten its grip and ‘business page’ content is starting to be seen by less people – exact as it did with Facebook.
So, what does this mean for MY stats this month?
Well, INTERESTINGLY, nothing. I have less likes and comments over the month due to posting less, but the actual level of engagement has pretty much stayed the same.
Why? Well, here’s my theory – and it’s not one shared by some other social media peeps, so hear me out.
I purposely haven’t shifted to a business account on Instagram due to my fear that business pages will end up suffering the same fate as they have on Facebook. As a result, the changes that others are seeing in terms of decreased engagement on their business accounts isn’t something that I have personally witnessed.
My theory is that business accounts are starting to be squeezed, but my account has been (so far) exempt as it’s still a personal account.
Sorry – that was a long winded tirade, but important to mention – and definitely something that i will be watching over the next few months.
In August, I hit.. Drum roll… 1000 followers. Hurrah!
And even better, it increased another 100 almost instantly when I posted about my milestone in a relevant Facebook group.
Since hitting the magic 1000, I have noticed that my average number of new followers has been steadily increasing – at a greater pace than they did PRE 1000.
Do people see more validity in accounts with more people? Is there more people engaging and thus more people seeing my account and following? Not sure – interesting, though.
Over the course of the three months, there were a couple of other significant spikes in my number of followers.
Both times, they were significant influxes of new followers from one particular industry – hairdressers the first time, and the legal profession the second time. I reached out to a couple of the new followers to ask where they had found out about me, and both time it was due to someone having posted a link to my Insta in private industry Facebook groups as a good social media resource to follow
SUMMARY AND LEARNINGS
We all know social media is supposed to be social. But the VERY BEST thing about the past three months? The ACTUAL, in-real-life friends and networks that I am beginning to develop of the back of my Instagram account.
They say that your vibe attracts your tribe, and that must be true because I am meeting so many legends (ha ha ha). Seriously though, it’s the best and most unexpected by-product of my biz.
One thing that I have really been trialling on Instagram is including a call to action at the end of every single post. Mostly, they are engagement focused – and, damn do they work.
Here’s a couple of my most recent posts – both included CTA’s encouraging comments. And BOTH had in excess of 30 comments on each (my average otherwise is six or seven).
I’d highly recommend that you start doing this, too. It’s a GREAT way of using social to either a) increase engagement (therefore creating community AND conquering the damn Instagram algorithm) and/or b) invite people to take action off social – to click on a link, or visit your website, or subscribe to your newsletter. Which, of course, gets you one step closer to a lead or sale!
- Show your face
I always bang on about the importance of professional photography.
Especially as a service-based provider, having good quality images of yourself along with captions that tell stories together creates connection with your ideal clients.
So, I took my own advice last month and booked myself in for a lifestyle shoot down on the Gold Coast. I’ll be honest – spending 3 hours posing for photos isn’t my idea of a good time.
The upside, though? At the end of it, I came away with 150+ photos to roll out across my socials over the next few months.
I’ve posted a couple of these, and honestly it’s already had a noticeable impact. My levels of engagement, the number of people messaging me with business enquiries and the number of new likes and followers to my page have all increased.
In my opinion, if you are a service-provider and you want to get good traction from your socials, this is non-negotiable.
- Content marketing WORKS
When I started The Course Cartel six months ago, my sole strategy was to provide as much value on social as possible by educating my audience about how to do service-based social well. Never, ever have I been salesly or pushed a service or product.
And yet, I still get regular leads via Instagram DM and the contact form on my website asking what my services are. I am yet to officially ‘launch’, and I already have more work than I know what to do with.
My point? It’s time consuming, and you need the right strategy, but the bottom line is – CONTENT MARKETING WORKS.
‘Til next month!
Design a Simple Lifestyle Business With High Profits, Working 5-Hour Days & a Tiny Team
Get one actionable step each day for two weeks, and then weekly thereafter. It's 100% free — join 7000+ others.