Social media marketing success is somewhat elusive. Online users are fickle and often unpredictable. Some companies “wing” their strategy and end up with hundreds of thousands of followers, while other companies plan extensively on a rotating basis, yet never get their social profiles to get off the ground.
You don’t have to be a rock star on social media to earn a respectable ROI (and enhance the power of your other inbound strategies, like SEO and content marketing), so try not to lose yourself in the “all-or-nothing” mentality that social superstars and viral pieces of content might have you believe. Instead, it’s better to focus on small, manageable changes that make your social media campaign iteratively better—and these don’t take a marketing degree or hours of study.
In fact, I’m willing to wager that I can help you produce better social media posts in the course of five minutes. I’ve structured this article in a way that will allow you to skim the headlines and still leave with my basic takeaways—a process that should take no more than five minutes. Then, if you’re interested in more details or concrete examples, feel free to return to the body below those headlines to get the full picture.
The most successful posts on social media are ones that earn comments, responses, and shares. The best way to get people to engage this way is by asking questions—and oftentimes, the simpler the question, the better. For example, you might share a piece of content that details an upcoming software product release. Ordinarily, this piece won’t attract much attention on its own, but if you include a question like “what do you want to see in the upcoming release?”, you could easily inspire more comments, interactions, and shares.
Though some of your posts can and should be evergreen, don’t forget the value of news and trending topics. People seek this material out frequently on social media, so if your brand produces it, you’ll earn higher visibility. Post an opinion on or a reference to a recent event, and try to be as timely as possible. However, you’ll want to keep it appropriate and avoid sparking a political debate.
As another way to encourage more engagement, consider offering a contest. These can be large in scale, such as asking your users to submit photos for a month-long competition, or small, like offering a caption contest for an amusing photo of your own. The prizes don’t have to be massive—the key is to give people a reason to engage with you.
Social media isn’t a place for long-form posts. The shorter your content is, the better. When drafting posts, comments, and responses, always take a second look to see if you can make your content even more concise. Remove any filler words, and try to find even simpler ways of saying what you’re already saying. Doing so makes your social content even more approachable.
People engage with visual content far more than written content. Include an image or video with as many posts as you can—preferably all of them. The options here are limitless, so draw upon your creativity. You can post images or videos as the central point of your posts, or use them as supplementary items to call more attention to your written material. Either way, you’ll catch more eyes.
People share things that evoke a powerful emotional response, whether that’s amusement, surprise, sympathy, excitement, or fear. Include strong language, powerful visuals, and significant themes in your best posts to incite these strong emotions and increase the chances for engagement and social sharing.
Any time you have the opportunity to include a mention or a reference to a real person on your team (or a follower in your audience), do so. People trust other people more than they trust brands, and even something as simple as a name or a face can make them trust your posts a little bit more. It’s also a good idea to include personal brands working in conjunction with your main organization brand—but that’s a topic for a different article.
This is possibly the most crucial tip in this list. Nobody becomes successful on social media by picking a strategy and blindly sticking to it. Even the best strategies on paper can come up short—and strategies you wouldn’t expect to work could have amazing results. The only way to know for sure is to try them all out and see, and that means experimenting with the type, frequency, and angle of your posts. You’ll be surprised what sticks.
Remember, your goal here is to produce “better” social media posts—there is no black and white here, even though we all aim to produce viral posts capable of earning a million shares. Focus on what you can do to make your social newsfeed a better place for your customers, and make each of your posts just a little bit more inviting, more insightful, or more entertaining. These little changes add up, and you’ll see a difference in a matter of weeks.