Social Media is an important part of every digital marketing playbook. But many marketers still struggle with using it effectively. Shoutlet CEO Jason Weaver spoke with CMSWire offering some ideas to optimize social media, especially when it comes to Facebook and Twitter.

Keeping a Handle on Social Media

According to Weaver, many marketing departments don't use social media properly because it is always changing. For example, in recent years, Facebook has added the "like" feature, upgraded to timeline, changed the way its news feed looks and most recently added a graph search function.

It's keeping up with these constant changes that separate weak marketing from strong marketing. Those who are able to adapt quickly will be far more successful than those who don't.

To give some context: in a recent Facebook survey only 16 percent of fans see posts that business make on their fan pages. Another report pointed out that while many retail companies, like Target and eBay, have a Twitter page, only 27 percent who have an account use it as an engagement tool.

In another example, with the Facebook timeline feature, brands have to be continually adding content in order to appear relevant to a user's news feed as the stories with the most engagement appear at the top.

When marketers first starting using social media it was all about getting fans...and they had to figure out how to monetize this," says Weaver. "As your news feed algorithm changes you have to figure out how to move with the times."

He adds that most of these adapting problems stem from other long-standing issues, such as not knowing how to reach an audience and not knowing what type of content they want to see.

With these facts and numbers in mind, Weaver has tips for marketer on how they can optimizing social media, despite the continually changing platforms.

Facebook Insights is Key

One of the first things Weaver says marketers should be aware of is the power of analytics. In using Facebook Insights, marketers can gather information on user traffic and they can tell when exactly in the day they should be publishing content as Insights can determine when user engagement is at its highest.

When it comes to achieving a higher rank in a news feed it happens if they [fans] are interacting with your content, pushing it and sharing it, so it's a lot of looking around the Facebook Insights and truly understanding who your fans are and creating content around something that will stick with them."

Therefore, businesses should not just concentrate on posting a status update or highlighting a new product, but looking at user data to find out what exactly they should be posting, and when and who this content should be directed to. In doing this, marketers will better their chances of reaching customers through news feeds if they plan their content.

A Picture Goes a Long Way

As was mentioned by the statistic about Twitter, it's not enough that a business has a Facebook page or a Twitter account; they have to keep updating these accounts. In turn, it's not enough just to post text-based updates or links. Marketers have to be aware of what exactly they are posting, in what form and how well received it is.

The highest engaged piece of content is an image and this goes for Facebook and Twitter, as well as Pinterest."

Weaver adds that with along with Facebook's acquisition of Instagram and the launch of photo-based sites, like the aforementioned Pinterest, it shows that the image is a powerful, social machine.

Have a Call to Action

The last thing that Weaver says marketers should be aware of is a "Call to Action." He says that sometimes marketers tend to just post information announcing a new product, but they should try to get consumer attention by seeing what they think of the release.

It seems like a simple thing, but a lot of brands need to tweak the way they talk to their audience to encourage that two way dialogue."

Using Facebook as an example, he says that the social network rewards companies who have more engagement by putting them higher in the news feed, so by being more conversational, a business can improve its brands' standing and consumer base.

While marketers need to understand social media and use it to its full potential to be successful in digital advertising, Weaver says they can't lose sight of the customer as the most important part of their marketing platform.

80 percent of your marketing should be education for the audience; information that they're want to interact with and it's not disruptive to their user experience," he says. "Only 20 percent of the content that you push out should be promotional based."