The five Ws of effective social media management

Posted on May 10, 2016

 

When trying to find a solution to a problem, a common approach is to use the five words that most questions begin with – who, what, where, when and why. Commonly known as the ‘five Ws’, we can apply the five Ws to almost any situation to increase our understanding and awareness of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Even something as simple as having breakfast can be run through the five Ws process, and may help you realise how many decisions you make subconsciously:

  1. Who did you have breakfast with? – Your partner? The dog? On your own?
  2. What did you have for breakfast? – Cornflakes? Bacon butty? Sausage roll from Greggs?
  3. Where did you have breakfast? – In bed? At home? On the train to work?
  4. When did you have breakfast? – The crack of dawn? Just before leaving for work? At noon?
  5. Why did you have breakfast? – To stop you being hungry? To use up the last of the Rice Krispies? Because it’s routine?

The answers to these very mundane questions can reveal a lot about how a person behaves in a morning, and how they could change their habits.

With something as crucial as social media for business, analysis has greater importance. Whether consciously or not, every post and tweet you make should have the five Ws in mind. Let’s take a look at how each of them apply:

Who?

Always remember that while the digital age has increased the level of automation in our day-to-day lives, it’s still humans at the heart of business. Through effective use of Facebook and Twitter, we’re not really trying to appeal to search engines or web crawlers, but people.

A good way to get a snapshot of who is following you is to visit the Analytics section of your Twitter account, where your ‘Top Follower’ may be key. Take a look at the sort of subjects they are tweeting about and what sort of interaction they get. You may want to interact with their tweets yourself, provided you have something relevant and respectful to say.

In any case, it’s worth reviewing who is following you and what sort of nucleus of viewers you’re building, then tailoring your content accordingly.

What?

Having established who you are talking to, you now need to work out what you’re going to say. This is, after all, the backbone of your social media output.

The key here is to look at what other people are talking about, and then to join the discussion in your own way. Think of it in the same way as a conversation in a pub or restaurant where five people are talking about one subject, and one is constantly changing the subject and talking about something else. Do you want to be that one person?

A look at trending hashtags is the quickest way to get the gist, and usually you’ll find something relevant to your business. On Tuesday, for example, #backtowork was trending – what business couldn’t use that?

Where?

This may seem a funny question to ask about social media management. You might be tempted to answer ‘in front of a computer of course’, but remember that most online traffic is now mobile. Bear this in mind when sharing links – are you sharing something that can be easily read on a mobile device?

If you’re out and about with your business, why not add your location when updating your Facebook status? Aside from showing that you’re a well-travelled professional, it may increase your prominence in the newsfeeds of potential clients and customers in the areas you’re visiting.

When?

Almost as important as what you’re saying is when you’re saying it. For instance, if what you do is business-to-business, is there much value in tweeting at 11pm? Probably not, but if you run a takeaway restaurant or late-licence bar, there might be.

One way to get a good overview of the best times to tweet is to get a Tweriod report on it. This free tool will advise you on when your followers are online and at their most active.

If you find that 9am is the best time for you to be on social media, it doesn’t mean you have to log in to Facebook and Twitter first thing every morning and do your bit. Facebook allows you to schedule your tweets, so you could actually schedule several days ahead at a time that suits you. Twitter doesn’t offer this facility, but the free service TweetDeck can do it for you, and across several accounts should you need it to.

Why?

Lastly, remember why you are using social media. Is it solely to get interaction? It shouldn’t be. As you’ll no doubt have noticed, some of the most engaged-with social media content is of poor quality. You might be tempted to bash out ‘share if you wish it was Friday’ or ‘retweet if you like cake’. Some of your followers probably will, but it doesn’t say much about your company. It’s irrelevant content, and sooner or later Facebook and Twitter may begin to recognise it as such. If, however, you can combine relevance with something like this, then you can have the best of both worlds.

The main reason for using social media is to make your business into an authoritative and engaging social resource on the internet, thus leading to more custom through your website. Talk about your sector in a way that everybody can understand, appreciate and want to share with others. Pure volume shouldn’t matter – it’s about quality of your followers, not quantity – and the right reach for your industry and what you do.

Of course, there is a sixth question – how? How do I keep on top of all this while still running my business effectively? Well, remember that there’s always help out there, and that the experts here at Engage Web can take control of some or all of your social media needs, allowing you to focus on your speciality.

John Murray

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.

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