Our marketing intern, Gaia Jinsi shares social media tips and tricks to grow your following and increase engagement on each platform.
Social media has opened up the world in a way never seen before in human history. As its influence, versatility, and power skyrocket, so do the questions surrounding its use. How do you best make use of your Internet presence to gather potential clients, consumers, and donors?
To marketing executives who didn’t grow up with it, social media can be puzzling, ever-changing, and incredibly broad. Generation Z and Millennials, however, are some of the biggest content creators of the Internet and understand its ins and outs in a different way than the generations before us do. The average person within the 16-34 age bracket has eight active social media accounts!
As brands across the globe scramble to understand how best to leverage these channels, allow this Generation Z-er to share some advice to enhance presence and increase engagement on each platform.
Which Platforms Should You Be On?
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, LinkedIn…it seems the number of social media platforms available grows daily. Most businesses, brands, and organizations (correctly) assume that a Facebook page is the minimum but figuring out which other social media to spend resources on requires a good deal of self-reflection.
Who is your target audience and what do you want from them? If you’re looking to make lasting connections with industry experts, specific people, or large organizations, try networking-based LinkedIn. As a software company, you probably don’t need Instagram, but as a charitable organization an Instagram account with pictures of smiling children or communities affected by your cause might be worth considering. When looking into Twitter, remember it’s about short, fast-moving conversations and that 42% of its users expect a response to their inquiries within an hour. The rules are flexible but think about the features and content style of the platform you’re looking into and whether they fit your purposes.
An Overview of Best Practices
Regardless of how many social media platforms there are, there are a few things that are more or less universal and important to understand.
- If the platform offers it, get verified. Facebook and Twitter are famous for this and it adds to your credibility.
- Attach images to your posts. Visual content is more than 40 times more likely to be shared than other types of content, and the human eye has a tendency to notice design before anything else. They don’t have to be very detailed or even original, stock images or representations still help your audience process your message better.
- For platforms that have messaging capabilities, respond to messages quickly. 33% of consumers would rather reach out through social media rather than by telephone. People get impatient quickly if you don’t check and respond to messages several times a day, and Facebook even rates how frequently you respond to messages at the top of your page.
- Some platforms involve or imply more posting than others, and misjudging just how often to post is one of the top reasons for an unfollow. If you personally have an account on a certain platform, think of how often you check it on your own time when you reflect on how often to post. Platforms that involve detailed, long-form content usually don’t need as many posts, but conversational, short-form platforms need original content sometimes multiple times a day.
- Engage your audience. Ask questions, run polls, and use other features that involve seeking actual responses from your followers. Debates surrounding your content makes you more memorable. Twitter polls in particular have follow up notifications to see final results, drawing consumers back to your page.
It’s hard to outline best practices for every platform that exists while maintaining brevity! For now let’s focus on three of the biggest and most common ones for brands: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. While it’s tempting to post the same content across all social media accounts, each platform has its own personality and features just waiting to be used.
“As of this morning, the Facebook community is now officially 2 billion people!” CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted at the end of last month. That’s more than four times the population of the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada combined! Facebook is probably the most recognizable name in the social media world. Using it correctly can multiply your outreach astronomically.
- There are conflicting statistics about the best days of the week and times to post, but it’s pretty safe to assume that engagement is higher if you post outside of working hours.
- Stream live videos. Facebook Live videos are watched 3x longer and garner 10x more comments than non-live videos do, and video is the biggest and fastest-growing source of traffic across the entire Internet. Events, conferences, and Q&As are some of the more common types of streams. Dedicated followers also get notifications when you go live, so it draws more attention than other content does.
- It’s useful to regularly scrape and analyze the public information on followers’ profiles to better cater your content. For example, if you are a wealth advisory page with an audience who primarily has bachelor’s degrees but not master’s degrees, it is better to avoid heavy jargon in your posts while still providing insights on saving and investing.
- Go easy on the hashtags. While this functionality exists, it isn’t as well-known of a feature as Twitter’s is and isn’t used in the same way. In fact, excessive hashtags hurt your search visibility. Instead of tagging a post with #technology, #philanthropy, and #luxury, use those words in the body of your post.
- Many users check Facebook multiple times a day, so try to post visually engaging content at least twice daily. Photo and video posts also show up at the top of some types of page previews. Facebook is good for both long-form and short-form text posts, but short photo-heavy text posts with links to longer content elsewhere are more visually appealing. For example, if you’re in the luxury industry, you could post a link to a blog post on your website, the link will be more appealing if it features a striking image of either the new ‘it’ bag or the hottest travel destination.
Known for its character limit and viral hashtags, Twitter’s content is often falsely equated Facebook’s. However, some of the most successful and beloved brand presences started with tweets, such as American restaurant chain Denny’s and its infamously quirky Twitter.
- Post short, visual-heavy original content at least twice daily. You have to be mindful of the 280-character limit, and Twitter archives tweets with images and videos differently than it does text-only tweets. You can add up to four images per tweet and for posts that don’t offer picture opportunities, it could also be good to attach your logo as an image.
- Have interesting conversations and respond to replies at least thrice daily. Twitter is made for quick, short-answer conversation. Retweeting and talking to other businesses boosts your and their visibility, and clients and individuals enjoy being acknowledged. It also helps to have some personality rather than bland, corporate-sounding conversation. Make sure to do your research before you tweet anything too zany, though.
- If you follow the right people, it reflects well on who you engage with and how. Following back anyone and everyone who follows you looks lazy. However, following (and getting followed back by) influential industry leaders boosts your credibility, and following clients who consistently engage makes them feel heard. It’s also a good idea to try to follow fewer people than are following you.
- When used correctly, hashtags are a great way to get involved with the Twitter-verse beyond your followers. Invent your own hashtags and get involved in appropriate trending topics to offer consumers new, interesting ways to engage with you. Check its previous usage just in case, but otherwise get creative!
LinkedIn and Facebook were launched within a year of each other, and LinkedIn has enjoyed a similar boom in the world of professional networking, resume showcasing, and industry expertise. It’s an excellent tool to reach out to specialists and professionals about the more technical aspects of your product and to market yourself as knowledgeable in your field.
- Assume that your audience has background and specialized knowledge. The fastest growing LinkedIn demographic is current students and recent college graduates, and the focus on professional prowess means that the people reading your posts probably already know a great deal about what you’re saying. Using industry jargon, technical terms, and other trade-specific knowledge cements an image of credibility and field mastery.
- Maintain Showcase Pages. Showcase Pages are subsections of your page dedicated to specific products, services, and fields. If you’re a large organization, you can make a Showcase Page for each branch or product. They show up at the very top of your page, so they’re prime space to advertise and self-promote. Consumers can also choose to follow Showcase Pages individually instead of your general page if they’re looking for updates about a single industry or product rather than information about all your industries and products. If you don’t make use of this feature, LinkedIn’s “people also viewed” algorithm may display your competitors next to the top of your page instead.
- Though it’s up to you whether to post daily, try to post at least a few times a week. The average user spends 17 minutes a month on LinkedIn, which is far less time than is spent on most platforms, but original content is still important. You don’t want to clutter your followers’ feeds and risk being unfollowed. That being said…
- Keep your profile fresh. A static profile is a stale profile, which is deadly in a network based on professionalism. Product updates, organization news, and Showcase Pages are just a few of the ways you can engage your audience in new and innovative ways without overtaking their feed too often.
In general, it’s useful to consider your own browsing habits when reflecting on how best to use social media, as you too are a consumer. Younger, more frequent users’ eyes often see things that professionals may miss. Perhaps try asking your college and high school interns for social media advice, you may be surprised how much they have to offer.