by Caitlin Moore
We have said it before and we will say it again: content is king.
But what does that really mean anyway? What defines good content and how does it affect my overall strategy on social media?
Here are seven tips to help you gain momentum in your social media strategy.
1. Be authentic and natural in your social engagement
Your voice is important. With that said, it is equally important to remember that in any marketing situation, you are telling your brand’s story and sharing with the world why it is valuable to them. Social media was born out of interactions between real people in a casual format. Don’t forget, it all started as an exclusive network of “friends.”
With this in mind, think about the flow of conversation you would have in a social setting with your friends. You wouldn’t start the conversation with “Hello. BUY MY PRODUCT NOW!” It is a free country and there are no rules stating that you can’t do that, but we would be willing to bet the conversation would be cut pretty short. This communicates desperation and in some circumstances can make your brand appear less credible as a result.
Common mistakes that hurt your engagement and EdgeRank on Facebook, for example, are those who try to sell their product directly to their followers in much the same way. While this may be the end goal, you don’t want to bombard your followers with that message alone. Interact with them directly, make them feel acknowledged in your responses and listen carefully to the cues they are giving you when they post compliments or complaints. This information is valuable not only in creating an atmosphere where your message of “Buy now!” can actually be heard, it also gives you valuable feedback about your brand or product. You want to create real connections with real people.
2. Express yourself, within reason!
Along the same lines of staying authentic is genuinely expressing yourself – within reason. I don’t know what it is, but some folks on social media don’t seem to understand that this is a public forum that ANYONE can read. You must be careful with the message you send into the world. Even with the potential indescrepencies, social media is a great tool to identify and create comparability between you (your brand) and your prospects (your potential customers).
Think of the things you might share when you first meet someone: who you are, what you do, where you’re from and why you are here. Your brand on social media is essentially aiming for the same conversation. You want to leave an impression by not being too generic. Tell your brand’s story by peeling back the layers. Don’t be afraid to show off your personality and to have some fun! Of course, do so in a manner that doesn’t reveal any sensitive or overly personal information. You don’t necessarily know your audience’s comfort level with certain topics, so try to stay within a range that you are comfortable with sharing and that you feel would be appropriate for your audience. Also stay away from politically charged language, issues and rants. Again, think of that first conversation when making someone’s acquaintance. Since you are aiming to both keep and maintain your followers, staying within this range is desirable to achieving both goals.
3. Post more often, but don’t drown (or bore) your audience.
The “rules” for various social media platforms vary significantly on this piece of advice, due to time decay of the posts made to each. As an example, a general rule of thumb for Facebook is 1-2 posts per day, seven days per week. We say this, not to confine you to a rule, but to let you know that anything over that will negatively affect your EdgeRank and subsequently hurt your chances of being seen in your followers’ newsfeed. Anything under that will certainly affect how often your followers engage with you as your content is rarely ever seen to be liked, commented or shared.
Think about it – when was the last time you made a post to your business’ Facebook page? A few days, a week, a month – a YEAR? If you are in any of these categories mentioned, consider upping your posts to at least one a day with various content. This content could encompass an informative article relating to your industry, an employee accolade or birthday, your company’s anniversary – make it valuable to your audience to stop and take a look. What makes you stop and look at someone else’s content? We suggest trying a few different ideas and seeing what works best to create engagement. Then, replicate your own success!
Other platforms do not systematically filter out posts as heavily as Facebook does, so the guidelines are generally more lax on the number of posts for those (Twitter, Instagram, etc). Remember, anyone can unfollow you, so it’s still best not to make 30 posts back-to-back in a single sitting on any social media platform. On the opposite end of that spectrum, it’s just as harmful to stay quiet for too long as you run the risk of not being heard.
4. “Best times” to post are not the same for every page or platform!
One thing to consider is the audience you are trying to reach. Are they international? If so, are you timing your posts to effectively reach them during hours they would likely be on social media? What about the age demographic? Are they likely to be on during the hours you are posting?
We hear a lot of generalisation into the “best times” to post on social media. While there is some truth that can be applied to this logic, it is NOT the same for every single page! There is no exact hour or day or combination of those two that will catapult you into social media success. What we do advise is to think about your demographic. When are they likely to be on? Then look at your most successful posts. Were there any similarities in their timing? If you have the ability to look at the “peak times” for your chosen social media platform, does it reflect any truth to the advice you have received? These “rules” and guidelines are not set in stone. Be aware of your timing success rate and strategize around it. Replicating your own success is a good idea, but varying this strategy will give you a broader overall snapshot of your audience’s habits on social media.
5. Wait, wait, wait. So what’s “good” content?
The answer to this one is actually pretty simple, but yet not, all at the same time (I can feel you rolling your eyes at me, but just hang in there). Good content is anything that your audience responds well to. It means they like it and they want more of it! This takes some getting used to. You might have to try a few things before you find your sweet spot. Always keep in mind that it must be relevant to your brand and valuable to your audience.
If you sell cars for XYZ Carlot, you’re probably not going to be inclined to share a video of a girl being ‘terrorized’ by a manatee in the wild. (Recognize this trending topic?) That doesn’t mean you can’t jump on trends, but you must do so in a way that is relevant to your brand. In this circumstance, we could certainly say that buying a car at XYZ Carlot is a lot less terrifying than encountering a manatee in the wild. It is relevant because apparently, encountering manatees in the wild is terrifying for some, much in the same way buying a car can also have anxieties attached to it for certain people. It is valuable because it made us laugh, humanized our brand and made us a part of the overall trending conversation.
Valuable content doesn’t always have to be trending, either. Assuming you are an expert in your industry, what knowledge can you impart to your followers? Can you give us a prediction, heed incoming changes, or impart ways to make something easier? What about bringing us behind-the-scenes to your operations? These posts do very well in situations where the public cannot witness what it is that you do on a regular basis. Sometimes something as simple as a text quote or a nice thought can be your most successful post. Again, experiment with and vary your content.
An important lesson to learn is not to push any content that isn’t valuable to your audience. In cases like Facebook, this can hurt your EdgeRank. On other platforms, your audience can actively unfollow you entirely. If you notice something isn’t performing well – don’t panic. Change your strategy and go back to what was. After you garner more engagement with the posts you do know work, deviate again and watch how your audience responds. The ebb and flow is normal and may even surprise you at times. Just keep swimming!
6. A formula to get you started.
Starting with a formula is a great way to learn what works. Best practices are always helpful, but in some cases may not directly effect your own strategy. The only way to learn is to try! If you’re coming from a place of uncertainty, using someone else’s tried-and-true formula is a great way to get you acquainted with the process, but it may also lead to you getting swept up in generality. Once you become more familiar with the process, making bold leaps to differentiate yourself becomes more apparent. In the meantime, we’ll be here to help you figure out what works best for your business!