Back in middle school, it was tough to walk 10 feet without encountering a 24 x 36 poster with an Albert Einstein quote on it. I’m not sure what I learned in 7th grade science class, but I will always remember the popular Einsteinism that hung at the back of the classroom: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Einstein said this well before Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey were born, but I’m reminded of it frequently in my work as a social media strategist. Specifically, I’m reminded of it when I take a close look at a company’s social media activity and ask, “Are the posts resonating? Is the audience finding this content valuable?” It seems like a simple question, but it’s one that many companies forget to answer, or even ask in the first place. In many cases, brands get into autopilot mode, scheduling out tweets, LinkedIn posts and Facebook updates every week without taking a break to assess whether the posts are actually a) reaching the right audience and, if so, b) resonating with that audience. Fortunately, on social media, there are many metrics available that can help brands determine what’s resonating and what’s not. These include: retweets, favorites, likes and shares on posts, and link clicks. Metrics like these help brands understand what an audience values, measure awareness of company messages and optimize social content plans. When you start paying attention to the metrics, you begin to uncover patterns. For example, perhaps you’ll see that the best-performing Facebook content is generally posted before 11:00 am. Or that tweets with certain hashtags receive significantly more URL clicks than those with others. Or maybe that your most-liked LinkedIn posts tend to include a quote or stat. Identifying these patterns helps you develop hypotheses about what will resonate most strongly with your audience on social, which you can then test to confirm. The next step, of course, is implementing what you learn. Let’s not sugarcoat it: performing this type of analysis requires a time investment. It’s much easier to just continue blindly drafting weekly posts and crossing your fingers that something sticks. But you won’t get very far by posting the same content over and over again – especially if you’re hoping to improve results. Just ask Einstein.
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