It may have taken some of them a while, but businesses have finally caught on to the importance of social media. According to last year’s Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Industry Report, 97 percent of businesses use social media for marketing purposes, and 92 percent feel that it’s important to their success.

But even as companies ramp up their social media efforts, they continue to struggle with how to best optimize social content to achieve desired business outcomes: 91 percent say they have difficulty deciding which specific tactics are most effective, according to the same report.

Key Findings:

  1. Most marketers (84 percent) routinely post on at least three social media networks, with 70 percent posting at least once a day.
  2. Marketers most commonly cited the use of visual content, hashtags and usernames as important tactics for optimizing social media content.
  3. Over half (57 percent) use software tools to manage posting, and these respondents experienced less difficulty optimizing their social content.
  4. Most Marketers Use Three or More Social Networks

    Of the marketers who took our survey, the vast majority (84 percent) said they actively posted content on at least three or more social networks—most likely including Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn.

    Number of Social Media Networks Used

    With so many marketers posting content across such a broad spectrum of social channels, businesses that are only active on three or fewer sites may be at a disadvantage. In a world where more businesses actively post on 11 (or more) social sites than on just one, promoting content on Facebook and Twitter alone may not be enough.  However, it seems that a sizable (but unknown) number of users “are using social channels in a non-useful manner: posting randomly, without a goal, and without a true understanding of what can be accomplished on any particular social channel.”  In other words, there’s a big difference between posting frequently and posting strategically. A sound social media marketing strategy will not only involve publishing a lot of posts—it will involve publishing the right ones.

    Most Marketers Post Frequently, Plan Content in Advance

    Most marketers (70 percent) said they post content on social media outlets at least once a day, with 19 percent saying they post more than three times daily. Conversely, only 16 percent said they post fewer than once a day, and 14 percent had no set schedule for posting.

    The fact that so many businesses are posting so frequently and consistently is even more impressive, considering that many post across a large number of sites in which content guidelines vary widely (for example, Twitter limiting posts to 140 characters, or YouTube requiring video content).

    Number of Social Media Posts per Day

    When marketers were asked how far in advance they schedule their social content, 41 percent said, “several days to one week,” making that by far the most popular timeframe for planning posts.

    How Far in Advance Posts Are Scheduled

    Taken as a whole, the data demonstrates that many marketers have an established plan for consistently generating and posting content. As a result, businesses that fail to post consistently will likely struggle to build brand recognition and engage audiences, when faced with competitors that have adopted more regimented social content delivery strategies.

    Visual Content, Hashtags Are Most Important Tactics

    Marketers most commonly cited images and hashtags as crucial elements of social media content optimization.The fact that a significant majority of marketers viewed all seven of the below tactics as important reflects that most believe optimizing their businesses’ social media content requires a multifaceted approach.

    Most Important Tactics for Optimizing Content on Social Media

    Everyone knows images increase engagement, but how do you know which images are going to resonate with your audience if you don’t know who your audience is?  You must know your audience.  Also, don’t forget to invite your social audience to visit your website.  If you don’t ask people probably won’t even bother to see if you have a website.

    When you know exactly who you’re trying to reach and what you want them to do, you’ll have the right information to develop the PERFECT social media campaign!