2018 has been a crazy year so far in the social media world. With the Cambridge Analytica scandal coming to light (and the congressmen showing their complete inability to ask a technical question – No Senator, I do not think those internet cookies come in a chocolate chip). To ever-changing updates and algorithms optimizing for relevance while scrambling for security and a war against bots…all the while digital media platforms are competing against each other (Facebook & Google are basically a duopoly) or in a complete state of disillusioned entitlement (ahem, Snapchat).
Some advertising agencies are even going back to the traditional forms of media like TV and um…paper?
Why? It’s not because digital marketing isn’t effective. And it’s very unlikely that they’re doing it as a “statement” though it may be presented that way. It’s really because most marketing and content strategies are ineffective. And it normally almost always has to do with their content.
What I am going to cover is some tips and tricks (lets’ call them “hacks”) to help you get the most out of your social media efforts. Content strategies and distribution.
This article focuses on three core social media channels for brands: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And how to get your content in front of the most eyeballs possible at the lowest cost.
If you’re reading this on LinkedIn, you’re already doing something right. And If you want to know more about LinkedIn strategies, I’d suggest following Suzanne Nguyen and Goldie Chan. And Jeff J. Hunter.
YouTube is also extremely relevant—and the second largest search engine in the world—you can use the video content suggestions in the Candy & Substance section below to upload to your YouTube channel.
1) The “Secret Sauce”
Don’t overcomplicate social media. There are plenty of fancy marketing buzzwords and even more of those guru-ninja’s who tend to overcomplicate simple processes. And there are complex processes that do require specialists.
The secret sauce to maintaining an engaging social media channel is to post quality content consistently while engaging with your target audience and occasionally putting a couple dollars behind the right stuff. Before we dive in, here are some statistics to emphasize the importance of standing out in today’s digital frenzy.
Every minute there are:
- 3-million new Facebook posts
- 500 hours worth of YouTube videos uploaded
- 66,000 Instagram uploads
- 449,000 tweets sent
- 8-million Google Searches
- 14,400 new WordPress posts
- 150,000 emails are sent | (Source: SmartInsights)
2) Lies, Damned Lies and Analytics
Social media is social. Whether on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn or Pinterest, people use social media to display themselves to the world the way they want to be seen.
Unlike the conventional business world, however, marketing on social media is a bit different because your main competitors aren’t other businesses. They are the friends, family members, and social acquaintances of your target audience.
If you’re wondering why your content isn’t being liked or shared, ask yourself, “Is this content something that is going to make other people look and feel good?”
When in doubt, look at the data and analytics. All the major platforms offer their own version. You can also subscribe to a variety of services that will collect your social data and organize it in a way that is easy to interpret.
I see this question asked all the time in social media manager groups on Facebook: “What’s the best analytics platform for Facebook?”. If you’re not sure of the answer, I’ll give you a hint…Facebook.
3) Content Hack: R&D—“Research & Duplicate”
I used to call it “ripoff and duplicate” but people are just so sensitive. Either way. don’t actually steal content from other people.
Study other techniques and styles that have performed well (i.e. gone viral) on social media and duplicate the efforts while tailoring content to suit your brand. Look at the top performing posts of your indirect and direct competitors, study their content. Look at what successful strategies you can apply to your content.
And if you’re not sure where to look, start with memes. If you don’t think a brand can be built with memes online, then I guess, Fashion Nova, Tai Lopez, The Clever Investor, Gary Vee, and Wendy’s aren’t brands. (this last part was said sarcastically. they are brands.)
It is important to focus on engagement when studying content. Likes, Shares, and Comments. Comments, especially where other people are tagging their friends, are a solid indicator of success.
Create content for your business by modeling the top performing posts of your competitors. You can even boost these posts to the people who like your competitors’ page. You can use an array of free stock photo sites to source copyright-free images, then reconstruct the content for your brand.
Create this content on Canva, Photoshop, and there are now dozens of great apps like Wordswag and Typrorama that you can use on your phone. I literally create content on my phone while watching Netflix.
The image below was created on Canva while using a stock image from Pixabay.
Some awesome free stock image sites:
4) Content Strategy: Candy & Substance
Suzanne Nguyen is a master of content strategy and always creates content that is digestible and re-watchable. She used to leverage Facebook’s live video to interview social media mavens like Gary Vaynerchuk and yours truly. And now she’s taken over LinkedIn.
Suzanne not only leverages a combined fan base while building her personal brand but also creates content that can be recycled for other platforms like a website or on YouTube.
You can do the same by interviewing experts and customers in your field.
Dennis Yu—top-shelf Facebook advertising expert—suggests that you create videos interviewing your customers. Find things that are interesting and leverage people with high authority, create a 1-minute video—and don’t sell. Then develop a hyper-specific audience and spend $1 per day targeting these people—strategy outlined later in this post.
Candy Content: Another simple yet elegant tactic of Suzanne’s is in creating a series of short video uploads which is often a collection of posts she’s done on her stories throughout the day.
Create video clips to make short, bite-sized and information-rich videos. Both Snapchat and Instagram Stories are great for this practice. These often have emojis and filters to help capture attention and add a playful tone to a professional message.
Always keep your target audience in mind—not every social media channel is appropriate for every audience.
5) Boosting Posts: Unicorns + $1/day on Facebook
First off, before spending any money on advertising, bear in mind: “No amount of paid media is going to turn bad creative into good content.” – Gary Vee
In order to find the good stuff, hunt for unicorns. Larry Kim is the ultimate Unicorn Whisperer, and one of his many brilliant tactics includes testing your content on LinkedIn and Twitter and then posting the most engaging posts on your Facebook page. This strategy will help increase your organic reach and engagement.
To take it up a notch, boost them after they have proved themselves worthy of a dollar. Facebook will even suggest which posts to boost based on their performance.
If something is performing at 90-95%, add a dollar or two and boost to the people who like your page and their friends. By the way, if you’re boosting posts, Facebook will start making the suggestions for you.
The $1/day strategy by Dennis Yu is a brilliant and very cost-effective approach to establishing brand awareness to a targeted audience whom you can later retarget with a more direct ad.
Side note: If you’re focusing on engagement and reach on your Facebook page (vanity metrics and social proof for y’all social media managers trying to look good), make sure that your boosts aren’t also promoted on Instagram.
However, if you’re focusing on link clicks or lead generation (as you should be), Instagram is fine to run the ads. You’ll see the option when you boost, though, for traffic and specific conversions, you’ll definitely want to explore the ads manager on Facebook.
6) Twitter Optimization & Automation
Twitter is a great social media platform for getting some extra traffic to your website while building a community around your brand. You don’t necessarily need a large fan base, either.
Simply use the right hashtags and post quality content and have it continuously tweeted through an automation app like Social Jukebox [now, I say this but don’t actually use social jukebox. It was a bit glitchy – just enough for me to say “f*ck this”. That said, it is a cool idea and hopefully the glitches have been worked out by now].
I personally schedule my (and all my client’s tweets) via Buffer and use the structure below. And I’ll rebuffer the top tweets while adding new content over time. It’s OK to recycle content on twitter because nobody will notice. And if they do and say something, then congratulations, you got a conversation on Twitter.
· You can optimize your tweets by using MuchBetterTweet (see image below)
· Use Hashtagify.me to find the optimal hashtags on Twitter
7) Instagram Post Optimization
In order to gain optimal reach and engagement on your Instagram posts, use the following tips. Each suggestion will help open your content to more people. Hashtags are particularly useful in getting more likes per post.
- For Instagram hashtags, use DisplayPurposes. This is an online app which will give you the optimal hashtags based on the keywords you provide…try using 2 to 3 keywords at one time. And if you’re a retail location consider using your town as one of the keywords.
- You can post your 30 hashtags in the first comment—just do it quickly for them to register (if you disagree with this strategy, then you’re wrong. Go ahead. Argue in the comments. I need the engagement.)
- Tag and mention people and brands in your posts when relevant—using the @ followed by their name
- Try different image filters to maximize aesthetics
- Check-in at a location when doing your posts. This doesn’t need to be the town you are currently in. But people looking in the area will also see your content. I check-in all over the world but honestly never leave the square mile where I live.
8) Instagram Stories & Live
Stories is a total Snapchat ripoff and has been a huge success for both Instagram and the brands using the feature.
Posting on Instagram and not using Instagram Stories is like sex without foreplay.
Stories allow for a more intimate conversation with your audience. Stories are great for telling stories (yup), sharing behind the scenes content and sharing lifestyle stuff.
Posting 3-6 Stories per day can have a tremendous impact on your reach, engagement and brand awareness. Gary Vee says do 7-25. That seems like a lot, but he knows what he’s talking about.
Take advantage of new features which include @-mentioning other people and adding hyperlinks (swipe up!) to your website or blogs. Geotags, hashtags, and there are new features all the time. Just try them out. More than once.
Live is another killer function. It’s great for the algorithm, great for reach and if you’re doing something really cool or interesting, you might as well show it off. Live videos will also be available for 24 hours, similar to stories. AND you can do shared livestreams.
If you’re in a strategic partnership or working with an influencer, this is a great option to really get some eyeballs on your message.
9) Posting Times & Frequency
A common question people ask is, “When is the best time to post?” The answer is a double-edged sword—, especially on Facebook and Instagram. If you’re posting at the optimal time, chances are, so is everybody else.
When you post at non-optimal times, you’re not competing as heavily with everyone else. With less competition, you may get more engagement. So instead of fretting when to post, just post.
Try things out and find your own groove. You’ll know what performs well based on the number of likes, shares, and comments you receive.
Facebook & Instagram: Less is often more. Don’t think you can force your fans to engage with your page by adding more content.
The best method is to post sparingly—3 to 5 times a week—on Instagram or Facebook. 10 times a week should be a maximum, depending on your brand. Don’t forget to boost the most engaging posts.
Starting out on Instagram, you can post 3-5 times per day. If that seems like too much work, settle for one time per day. Oatmeal is better than no meal.
Twitter: More is more. Twitter is an extremely loud social media platform, consider it the junk drawer of your social channels. Feel free to post as many times as you want, whether once per day or every half hour.
If you want some real data, read this: Best Times to Post on Social Media: 2018 Industry Research
10) Endgame: Emails & ROI
Why talk about emails in a social media article? Well, the ultimate goal for businesses using social media is to increase sales and maintain relationships with customers for continued sales.
Email tends to convert at a much higher rate compared to social media.
Social media is the ultimate tool to capture those emails, however. Communications via email tend to be much more intimate than a string of comments on Facebook. “If you have 2,000 email subscribers, 2,000 Facebook fans and 2,000 followers on Twitter, this is what you will get:
- 435 people will open your email
- 120 Facebook fans will see your message (probably not anymore lol, thanks Zuck)
- 40 Twitter followers will see your message”(Source: Martin Zhel of MailMunch)
Leverage your social channels to build your email list.
Gifts and raffles are great incentives to get someone to submit their contact info. If you’re a tax consultant, offer a tax-preparation checklist. If you’re a restaurant, offer a free dessert, tacos, whatever. Get creative.
I actually just ran a little giveaway for my Shopify and was getting $0.50/email with super-basic targeting (I could have gotten the emails down to $0.20). I used the platform, ViralSweep. It’s $50/mo but if you plan on doing this a couple times per month, it’s totally worth it. Especially if you already have an audience or are working with influencers.
12) Don’t Buy Likes
If you’re buying followers for your accounts, you’re not a growth hacker. You’re just a hack. If you do this, then congratulations, you just played yourself. Seriously. It’s not good for your profiles.
Adding fake followers (or buying “real followers”) to your social accounts and assuming that they will engage is like filling a restaurant with mannequins thinking that they’ll order and eat.
You’ll be fighting an uphill battle against ever-changing algorithms if you adopt this strategy. I have seen Instagram and Facebook accounts decrease in engagement after a client has purchased likes for their profile.
The algorithms will take into account a lack of engagement in proportion to the fan base and continue crushing reach until the profile is more irrelevant than it was before buying the followers.
OMG Even More Hacks
- Use Buffer, a very user-friendly and cheap social media management tool, to schedule your tweets, and then rebuffer your top tweets. Actually use it to schedule to all platforms if you want. $10/mo
- Share all of your blog and YouTube content to Google+ (wait, this still exists?)
- Create blog topics based on the engagement of other posts and FAQ’s you come across in your industry (not sure where to start, go to Quora and look at the FAQ’s for your industry.
- Convert top blog posts into videos and top videos into blogs
- Leverage influencers for both content and major pushes (Yes, it requires a budget. And I know plenty of people willing to spend $30 on lunch but not invest in in ads or influencers. SMH)
Remember, social media is social. In order to get your content shared, you need to create content that will make people want to share it. Be remarkable. If you don’t know what that means, read Purple Cow by Seth Godin.
When creating content, put yourself in the consumer’s shoes and answer the questions that they are asking. Provide value. Show the solutions to common problems in your space. It is not a crime to give away free and valuable information—unless you work for the government.
The ideal customer will be the one who sees your value and respects your position of authority and is willing to pay for your expertise. Build and distribute, the right people will come. Hopefully.