Do you sometimes wonder what REALLY counts for Social Media success?

It doesn’t matter how noisy the online world is, how many new recommendations are published everyday or how many people see your posts according to social media platform reports. You must FOCUS on what really counts.

To help you focus we must first look at Dark Social Media.

What is Dark Social Media?

Mark Schaefer recently published an article titled: I don’t know my online audience and neither do you.

He explains how there are people who contact him via email to let him know how they’ve been reading his articles and books for years and guess what? He never knew! These were quiet followers who read without leaving a comment, even though they LOVED what they read and they came back for more. Maybe they even shared his content and told other people about it. And there was no way to track this activity via platform analytics.

This is called Dark Social Media.

Brooke Ballard also explains about this important concept in her article: What is “Dark Social Media”? (And why it matters).

Brooke says:

“Dark social makes up the majority of social media interactions, and needs to be at the forefront of marketer’s minds.”

The ‘majority’ is around an astounding 98%. As Mark Schaefer states:

“we only capture in our analytics 30 percent of that 7 percent that is not offline word of mouth, which equals (drum roll please) … 2 percent.”

Did you notice how only 7 percent of word of mouth about your content is transmitted online? That means 93% of the talking about your content happens offline, in real life!!

I think knowing this is already making you feel better, isn’t it? Most of the content you publish online gets shared away from the Social Media platforms themselves.

What should you focus on, then??

We have arranged it as 3 pillars or basic columns that hold successful Social Media Marketing:

Find your Voice

Have Clear Goals

Plan and Take Action

3 pillars to Social Media Marketing Success

Pillar ONE: Find your VOICE.

Finding your voice is more than just BRANDING, without taking away from how important good branding is. Your Social Media Profiles must give visitors a feeling of your shop or website. Make sure that you are CONSISTENT as regarding visual elements like colors and typeface. It is also important to have the same USERNAME across social media platforms and maintain your business name and tagline consistent too.

Derek Hart of Go Creative Go specializes on Branding and he says:

“Your branding doesn’t stop at a logo; it’s the sum of what you project to clients and potential clients, from your logo to your type, colors, written content, and photographs, etc. Branding extends all the way down to what you wear in business settings. Fair or unfair, from your outward projection, people will decide what they think you’re worth.”

Mallie Hart, the other half of Go Creative Go explains about the even wider concept of Social Design.

Mallie talks about your brand’s ‘personality’ and how you should be able to portray this on the different social media platforms. Your voice should be present on your tagline, the tone in your social posts and the kind of content you create and share.

Mallie goes beyond this first pillar and includes content creation and curation which are defined by the second pillar (your goals) and implemented as part of the third pillar (executing your strategy).

A Note about the 3 pillar approach:

At this point we should note that Branding – Goals – Action are interconnected and each pillar should be adjusted once the other 2 are in place. Finding the right height and positions for your pillars as your Social Media marketing develops is paramount to the strength of your foundation for success. A stronger base will hold greater success.

3 pillars to SMM success

A recommendation: Get professional advice.

The best recipe for getting the first pillar right is to hire a graphic designer. Even though there are DIY tools like Canva and PicMonkey, you should get professional advice on your cover photos and other social media graphics at least a couple of times per year. You can then base your visual part of Branding on what the professionals have nailed for you over time. As time passes by, you’ll need to reconsider and adjust.

Pillar TWO: Define Your GOALS

Knowing where you’re heading leads to the right STRATEGY:

Are you using Social Media to boost your Ego or do you want business leads from your marketing efforts?

Dorien wrote an article where she questions Facebook advertising via Boosting Posts done with no purpose other than seeing those ‘likes’ rise. This is a Vanity Metric. You don’t need more likes for the sake of it. This would be ego boosting. You want to INVEST on Social advertising (it might not be on Facebook, it could be Google Adwords, Twitter cards, Pinterest promoted pins or LinkedIN Ads) to get RETURN that will benefit your business.

Brooke Ballard has referred to SOCIAL MEDIA ROI in several of her articles and she made a list of examples of Soft vs Solid metrics: (reproduced here with her permission)

SMM Soft vs Solid metric examples
Image reproduced with permission. Found at

Brooke recommends using a mixture of both Soft and Solid metrics and concludes by stating that:

“In an effort to get more executives and companies believing in the power of social media, we need to graduate from amateur and basic and start showing how important social media is to consumerism. And only by measuring the impact of Sales, Advocacy and a solid ROI can we start to do that.”

Here are some ideas for you to consider when defining your goals:

-Increase your business leads.

-Create a flow of new prospects.

-Stay Updated.

-Stay ahead of your competitors.

-Generate more Sales.

Now you should be ready to work on your strategy and take action.

Pillar THREE: Make a Plan and take ACTION.

Create a plan to define your Strategy and then implement it.

To get you started:

  1. Decide on a Budget. It is important to allocate a budget to your social media marketing. There are direct costs like tools that must be used and there are professional costs: You MUST hire a professional social media marketer to guide you during implementation. You can then take over, if you have the time to learn how to DIY, or outsource the management totally or partially to an agency or an individual.
  2. How many and which platforms are you going to get on? Different businesses are suited best to different social media platforms. The bottom line is to know where your potential customers are to meet your goals established on pillar TWO. Two or 3 platforms are a good starting point. You should post and assess every 6 months, not sooner, as one of the elements in this pillar is PATIENCE.
  3. Create a Content Plan: You must find content that is useful or entertaining and always relevant to your audience. For example, if you run a hair salon there’s a lot of material apart from hair styles you can share with your audience: fashion trends, celebrity gossip. Think in terms of the printed magazines they like to read when they visit your salon. So you must choose what to share and curate it by adding your own message. Then you must also CREATE content. If you don’t have a blog, create visuals using Canva with messages that reflect your business’ personality, share behind the scenes photos and videos that you can shoot using your smartphone. You can upload these directly to Instagram, Facebook or YouTube and then Pin them on Pinterest or Tweet them. There are many possible combinations. The aim is to remind your audience that you’re there for them, in a friendly and caring way: Say Hello, share what you’re doing as a way to start a conversation, ask questions, give them a Tip or Trick or a quick How To tutorial on something related to your business.
  4. Be Consistent: Whatever you decide to do, keep doing it until you can measure results. This doesn’t mean you cannot adjust along the way if needed, it just means you shouldn’t stop implementation of your plan until some reasonable time has passed. (‘reasonable’ will depend on the platform and your audience, but surely never less than 6 months).
  5. Quality should never be compromised. A good quality post will go a longer way than many rushed poorer quality ones. Don’t let perfectionism paralyze you but find the sweet spot and produce social media content that you like yourself. Remember this is part of your voice that we talked about in pillar number one. You can repurpose or repost higher quality pieces of content to ensure they’re seen by as many of your followers as possible.

In closing:

All of these considerations have been brought to our attention for years by many other marketers: 3 pillars could become 4 pillars, we’re not reinventing the wheel. Our aim is to help you make sense of the intricate world of social media marketing.

Let us know in the comments below if we missed any elements that are important in holding a successful Social Media strategy in place.

Is there any element here that you hadn’t thought about? What will you focus more on after reading this article?

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