Posting on social media seems like the last step for many content marketers – you take the time to create content that shows off your brand, then place it on social media for consumption.
If you post it, they will read… right?
It’s not that simple. A strong social media presence for your brand requires constant work and detailed research, and a single mistake can undo hours of hard work and valuable good will.
“A perfect social media post for your business is one which generates awareness of your company or your product, drives sales, strengthens your branding, and/or engages your audience.”
Check out these 5 tips for crafting the perfect social media post, along with examples of companies that just couldn’t get it right:
1: Grab attention – for the right reasons
The goal of any social media post is to get attention – you want your users to stop scrolling, read what you have to say, and click through to your website, so your headline needs to stop them in their tracks.
Of course, there’s always the chance that you are getting attention for the wrong reasons, like this brand that apparently never saw Theodore Rex:
To come up with an attention-nabbing headline, follow these simple guidelines, and tailor your headline for each social media platform:
- Use numbers whenever possible: Lists are data-driven and have a high practical value.
- Keep your readers in the ‘now’: Use words like “This” and “How To” to convey immediacy and benefits
- Use conversational language: Simple, direct speech taps into the ‘fast thinking’ part of your readers brains.
- Stay positive: A positive emotional appeal will garner more shares than negative or data-heavy headlines.
2: Timing is everything
Social media is a time-sensitive game: Post an update at midnight on a tuesday and you may miss out on thousands of potential views and shares, and posting during a major media event may see your update buried in a sea of competing news.
Trying to jump on a current trend can have major risks, too! Check out this post from a non-delivery pizza brand who wasn’t aware that they were jumping on a domestic abuse hashtag, it looks like they could use a lesson on how to newsjack with class:
To time your posts perfectly, keep the following factors in mind:
- Post when your audience will be online.
- Create a calendar with the ideal times for each platform, there is no one-schedule-fits-all-platforms solution!
- Keep different regions, time-zones and countries in mind.
Check out this great guide from CoSchedule for timing your social media posts – but also stay alert and reactive. Any major news event can change the social landscape in a matter of minutes, so be ready to pull the plug on any scheduled posts that might send the wrong message.
3: Know the platform
Not all platforms are created equal: While each has potential depending on your goals, they all have different rules of engagement, and different audiences to reach.
While a divisive brand offering an open question-and-answer session might go over well on a more professional network like LinkedIn, it is certainly a risky venture on Twitter – as SeaWorld discovered with their 2015 #AskSeaWorld promotion:
As you strategize what to post where, ask yourself these questions:
- Is this the right content for this platform?
- Is this the right message for this platform?
- Is this the right length for this platform?
- Is this platform an appropriate place to share my brand?
4: Know your audience
Once you’ve settled on platforms to spread your message, you need to think about your audience. While your message might be fun and engaging, you need to consider whether it will read well to the people you are actually targeting.
Gap dropped the ball on this with a tweet during Superstorm Sandy – obviously people impacted by the event weren’t impressed by their attempt to cash in on a natural disaster and make light of a real hardship.
Engaging your audience on social media is about more than avoiding these kinds of mindblowing disasters, however. Too often, marketers are more concerned about getting their message out without attempting to tailor it to their audience.
To fully engage your audience on social media, follow these steps:
- Research your target audience – what they like, how they behave, and how they like to consume information.
- Craft a message that meets their needs and wants
- Engage users with your brand by consistently showing you understand them
- Nurture these relationships by building trust
“Successful gardening does not start with the harvest. The customer or audience life cycle almost never starts with a sale. It starts with planting, nurturing and then much later comes the harvesting part.”
5: Stay on top
Social Media is about more than just blasting your content megaphone-style at consumers – it’s about building real conversations to humanize your brand. This means that your job isn’t over when you hit ‘post.’ The conversation is just beginning, so stay on top and be ready to respond.
This doesn’t mean you should get in yelling matches with your readers, set up an autoresponder, or have canned responses ready. Just look what happened when retailer Kmart tried responding to criticisms over an early Black Friday opening by copy/pasting the same reply over and over:
As you monitor responses, engage in conversations, and deal with the eventual brushfires that come with social engagement, keep the following tips in mind:
- Be respectful – even in your disagreements
- Always ask for more – more details, more reactions. This is how conversation works!
- Don’t argue – offer a channel for a customer to discuss specific problems in private
- Know when to stop – sometimes (hopefully rarely) it will be time to simply stop talking.
6: Analyze your competitor
Your competitors can be a benchmark for what you should do and what you should not do. They execute social media strategies and produce data as a result. Analyzing the data will help you identify what works in your field and for your audience, and what doesn’t. Avoid futile strategies as you adopt successful strategies and modify them to work better for your brand.
7: Consider your brand
Have your brand in mind when creating your social media posts. Your content should give the audience a summary of your brand and business. They get to know what to expect.
Brand consideration should apply to all your social media platforms. Ensure that your platforms’ content is consistent and expresses your style and identity as a brand. This does not mean posting the same content everywhere; keep in mind that audiences vary from network to network, and tailor the content to fit the relevant platform and audience while maintaining your brand identity.
8: Use visual content
Images and videos attract people and create a form of engagement between the business and the audience. They also concisely convey messages while expressing your brand identity and style. Therefore, ensure you include images and videos in your content, with the following tips in mind;
- visual attraction
- high-quality standard
9: Customize your content
Customizeyour content to fit the requirements of the platform you want to use.
Modify your images into the established sizes for each social media platform. Ensure all your posts fit the required dimensions to avoid the frustration of viewing or reading content cut off on the edges. For instance, the ideal upload size for images on Facebook is 1200 x 630 pixels.
Also, tailor your written content not to exceed the required amount of words. For instance, the maximum number of characters you can use on Instagram is 2200, and after three text lines, they are cut with an ellipsis. With such long content, it is vital to have a creative opening line or caption that captures the reader’s attention and encourages them to continue reading.