So it’s been pretty well established that using social media for business has some amazing benefits, but it can be challenging to know how, where and what to post. What if I told you that your brain can process certain types of information within as little as 13 milliseconds. To put that in perspective, it takes you 300 to 400 milliseconds to blink your eye, which is 1/3 of a second. This means that your brain can identify what it’s looking at approximately 30 times faster than you can blink your eye – crazy! What this means is that you only have the smallest window of time to either make an impression and convince a viewer to stay with you, or get lost in the ever-growing bombardment of images that flicker across our screens on a daily basis.
So with that in mind and with so many businesses online these days, how do you get your social media posts to stand out and hold a viewers attention long enough to stop scrolling? Here are 14 things you need to know:
1. Each Platform is Unique
When posting to social media, remember that every platform is unique. They all have a different purpose and audience and so posting to each of them needs to be thought out so your posts can’t be generic.
2. What do you enjoy on your social media feed?
Think about what catches your eye in your own feed when scrolling through social media. What words or images stick out, is there a question that needs answering, or want to answer? Does it make you laugh or smile, or make you curious to find out more, does it make you think twice? In order to get people to stay, and moreover to perform an action (like click through to a blog) you need to give them a reason, a compelling offer, there needs to be something in it for them. Simply presenting information on offer won’t work (even if it’s useful information, which of course it should be), you need to sell why they NEED to know that information.
3. Image and Copy are not mutually exclusive
Words and images are equally important: you might notice the images first so they are vital in capturing attention but if your copy (or text, if you’re new to the marketing world) is rubbish, then the image isn’t going to keep them there, let alone get them to take any further action.
4. Each platform has algorithms that prioritise
You no longer get shown random information or whatever is most recent. Social media prioritises information that is important to you, i.e. which friends you most respond to, what businesses you most engage with, what videos you watch for longer periods of time, what types of posts you have previously shared, commented or liked. These platforms are constantly getting information about you and some probably know you better than you do (which admittedly is a little creepy so try not to think about it too much)!
They also give preference to videos and live-video streams. It’s worth noting that over 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute and almost 5 billion videos are watched on Youtube every single day. This means that watching video online is fast becoming the number one way people are consuming video, and is expected to overtake a number of hours watched via television in the near future. This sees a major shift in how people engage online, and social media is making a way for this by prioritising videos.
So what does that mean? If you are not getting any response to your posts, the likely reason is that they’re not making it high enough on the priority list to be seen by the people that matter – your customers. In order to be seen your content needs to be relevant to your audience so they engage in it and you get bumped up higher on their ‘priority list’.
5. Have a ‘call to action’
This is just a marketing term for saying ‘ask people to do something’. Having a great introduction to your post is important but by nature, people are compelled to do what you ask them so telling them to actually “read this now” will inevitably get more clicks.
6. Encourage tagging
They’re called ‘social’ media networks for a reason. People like to interact with their friends online and when they find something they like its great they can share it. Asking them to tag friends, makes them think about who else would share their interest and – bonus – gets you some organic reach (i.e. you didn’t pay to have new people see your brand).
7. Check your posts!
There’s nothing worse than sending content into the vastness of cyberspace and its got an error! May not seem like a big deal to say “your” instead of “‘you’re” but grammar is supremely important to some people (I once had a person take the time to call me and tell me I had written “kid’s” instead of “kids” in a blog post). So where possible get someone else to review your work before posting, or even better (and more time efficient), use a browser extension like Grammarly. Also, when you’re posting links, (1) make sure your photos have come through in the link and that they’re good ones, not random ones, and (2) make sure the text that has been pulled through isn’t random meta data but actually informs people about the post.
8. Say it like you mean it
Every Brand has a ‘voice’ or a tone and social media should be aligned to this, but still relevant to the platform. For example, you may be a service-based business like a lawyer so maintaining professionalism is important, but if you’re posting to Facebook, your content still needs to be easy to read and not contain too much legal jargon for fear of alienating your audience. Similarly if you’ve got a hospitality business like a food truck, keep true to your brand by being colloquial and fun, perhaps using emojis and the occasional acronym like YOLO, but be sure to still write in English (“Cumon in 4 awsm food” is not going to leave a great impression!) Also, be genuine in your writing, so people can get a feel for ‘who you are’ as a brand.
9. Every post should have a purpose
Don’t be putting in all the time and effort to reach your audience and not give a thought as to what you’re hoping to achieve. Each post should have predetermined purpose, whether that be:
- to create brand awareness
- to promote share value
- to get clicks to a website
- to promote page engagement
- to get more followers
- to connect with followers (social media is a great way to start conversations with followers or answer questions, which could turn in to leads or advocates further down the line)
10. Hashtags and keywords are important
Social media is searchable, which means if you’re not using relevant keywords in your posts, or hashtags then you will not be found – and the people who are actually searching for information that you offer are far more likely to turn into customers.
However, be mindful of how you use them, and also careful, especially with hashtags, as they are used by a lot of businesses and you want customers following you, not competitors. A great tool to use to find relevant hashtags is hashtagify.me
11. Use positive language
You want people to have a good experience when interacting with your brand. That doesn’t mean you can’t poke any pain points (for example: “Not bringing in enough sales from your emails? Check out our 9 email subject formulas to make sure your next email gets noticed!”), but make sure if you do, that you offer the happy and positive solution (i.e. your business). There is enough doom, gloom and gossipy nonsense in the world without businesses becoming that way too – and honestly, why would people want to interact with your brand if it’s grumpy or boring anyway? Be positive, proactive and upbeat.
12. Make sure your post matches your page
Don’t promise the answer to a problem and then talk about something totally different, or use one image in your social media posts and then not have anything like that on the click-through page. It confuses people and they’re more likely to get irritated or confused and leave your site.
13. Use the insights available to you
See what your current followers (and subsequently supporters), have responded to. Use the valuable insights tools available to you on most social media platforms to find out what it’s getting clicks, shares, comments, repins, re-tweets etc. so you can make more of that type of content.
14. Optimise your images for different platforms
The first thing that is usually going to catch a person’s eye is the images you’re posting, and each platform favours different sizes. If you use one standard size your image is going to get cropped somewhere along the line and this looks unprofessional. So be aware of each size. We’ve let you know what sizes are best below for some of the bigger networks:
- Instagram favours square images, and if you have text that goes the width of the post it might get cut off which looks unprofessional and clumsy
- Add text to your images if the intent behind it is unclear because when your post gets featured in the Discovery feed, there will be no captions unless it gets clicked on
- Make sure your overall ‘Theme Feed’ is consistent. The best Instagram profiles not only look amazing image by image but also when you look at the page as a whole and all the images have a similar style and colour.
- Be aware that when you upload an image to Facebook it will keep the whole image in your feed, but if you share content as a link (i.e from your blog or website), it will get cropped and if you have your logo for example in the bottom corner it may only show a portion
- Videos uploaded to Facebook will autoplay as soon as they appear on the viewer’s screen, but videos from an external link (such as YouTube or Vimeo) will not and the user will have to click-off of Facebook to view it meaning it will get fewer plays
- It’s imperative to have a headline, caption or topic on your image as all the best pins do, and if yours doesn’t it will more than likely get overlooked
- Longer images are preferred (so not square like Instagram, or horizontal like Facebook, but vertical). The longer the better, but it needs to be in proportion and not look like some giant zoomed in image.
– Thankfully Twitter seems to be less discriminating when it comes to image sizes, but be aware that they too will automatically crop images shared from links
– Linked in favours the same size linked images as Facebook (saving you some time and effort – yay!) but will display uploaded images in your news feed at whatever size you uploaded them
So there you have it – your comprehensive guide to getting the most out of your social media posts, and avoiding some common mistakes. Happy posting!