This is a guest post by Stephen Moyers of SPINX Digital Agency.
Social media is the new frontier of marketing. The relative youth of the platform means that it’s ripe with potential and exploration, but as there are few proven paths to success, pursuing it can also be a frustrating endeavor. So why use it at all?
According to a study by Shareaholic that followed 300,000 websites for over 4 months, social media referrals now account for 30% of sites’ overall traffic.
While there was no one single, effective social strategy identified in the study, clearly something is working. Or, more accurately, a combination of somethings.
Most businesses know that posting regularly across their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts is important. And by now, the people tasked with managing those accounts understand that there are basic tactics for driving engagement and increasing sales.
Unless, of course, those tactics don’t apply to you.
The key to using social media marketing effectively is to try a variety of posts to see what sticks. Sure, generally speaking, visual content works well, as does responding to individuals through comments, tweets, etc.
But if you’re looking to expand your arsenal, shake up your strategy, or are trying to replace old, failing tactics, check out some of these creative ways to build an audience in social media.
1. Tailor content to the platform
Many businesses make the mistake of posting the same content on all of their social media pages. If your company just hasn’t allotted enough time to create or manage a campaign, then it’s understandable. However, this tactic probably isn’t going to get you much overall traction. In fact, it may actually be a waste of time.
Every channel has its own particular demographic that expects specific types of posts. If you want to increase engagement, make sure your Pinterest pins aren’t all duplicates of your Facebook content. The posts should reflect the medium.
Pizza Hut is well-known for its humorous and effective social media pages. While some of the content overlaps, the company does a good job of using Facebook for visual and promotional posts, and Twitter for short, funny thoughts on pizza.
2. Re-purpose old content
Evergreen content can be a goldmine for social media. If you have a blog post from a year ago that scored particularly well with users and wasn’t topical, make a few tweaks or update the context and post about it again. Or, if the subject is suddenly relevant to a current trending topic, re-post and re-frame it.
Re-purposing not only adds to your well of content, it saves time. Making a few quick changes or simply linking to it through a new Facebook post consumes a much smaller chunk of your day than writing an entirely new blog.
3. Try longer posts
The common wisdom about social media is to keep your posts short. This isn’t a bad idea as many successful posts typically consist of limited characters. However, each social network is different, and with the exception of Twitter, you can experiment with your post lengths to drive engagement.
Typically, B2Bs can be expected to have a little more success in this realm. Their audiences generally are more interested in information than, say, a cat video. Social networks like LinkedIn and Google Plus are ideal for auditioning long-form messages to your audience.
G+ user and consultant, Mike Alton, published a massive (at least by social media standards) post on how to create an ideal LinkedIn profile – with great success. The post earned over 100 +1’s and shares, and generated dozens of comments.
4. Throw a curveball to your audience
It’s important to keep a consistent brand voice in your social media profiles. Varying it up too much can reflect poorly on you, or even worse – confuse users and followers about who you are and what you represent.
However, the important caveat here is that, for some brands, spontaneity is an important value as well. If you post the same kind of content over and over, it becomes routine and boring. People are more apt to tune you out.
Netflix has recently become an example of how to unexpectedly vary up a social presence with great results. Rather than following the standard procedure for dealing with a customer, a service rep suddenly started communicating with a frustrated user as if they were in separate space stations.
The conversation eventually went viral on Reddit.
5. Change up the format
Along the lines of providing unexpected content for your users, you should switch up the format once in a while. The typical structure is copy followed by a link, hashtag or image, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Indeed, people are more likely to notice if you present content in a unique way. Most networks allow you to tweak the format, and customize the look of your post.
Does this provide more value to your users? Does the alternate format mean that the content contains greater importance than usual? No. But in the world of social media marketing when posts are more often scanned than read, making this small change can make your post more attention-grabbing.
6. Focus on inbound traffic
According to Hubspot, social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing. This statistic highlights one important thing to remember: social media is a great way to drive traffic to your website.
That doesn’t mean that every single post should be self-promotional. Always look to provide value to your followers by including posts that link to other profiles / articles. However, everything you create should be relevant to your brand either indirectly, or through direct calls to action that encourage people to visit your website.
Not only will inbound traffic help improve your chances of securing leads and sales, it’ll boost your SEO rank as well. Google factors social signals (i.e., clicks, shares, etc.) when determining the popularity and legitimacy of your website. It’s yet another reason to create compelling inbound traffic.
7. Provide structure for your replies
Asking questions or polling your audience can be an effective way to increase participation, as long as you provide some structure for people to follow. Tossing out an open-ended question might inspire people, but if you ask something like “Happy Friday! What are your plans this weekend?”, most users will just keep scrolling past your post, uninterested.
Instead, get specific about your question and your desired response. It almost becomes more of a game that way. You can try fill-in-the-blank queries, or compare 2 options, and ask people to state their preference by Liking for one, Sharing for another.
Target does a good job of utilizing this tactic with success.
8. Stand out from the crowd – stay positive
For all of social media’s great potential, it’s also an open forum for jerks to criticize people and brands behind a cloak of anonymity. But at this point, negativity has almost become cliché online.
You can separate yourself from the herd and add some pleasant optimism to people’s days by only posting positive content. In fact, according to one study, brands that posted happier tweets gained more followers than those who posted only about themselves, used swear words, or employed other neutral or negative tones.
9. Turn mistakes into opportunities
At some point in your social media game, you’re probably going to make a mistake. Whether it’s a poorly worded tweet, a not entirely appropriate image, or you forget to sign out of your company account before posting to your private account, blunders are pretty much inevitable.
The good news is that there’s most likely an opportunity to be found here. Your audience is human and appreciates that no one is perfect. If possible, find the humor in the situation and make it work for you. Apologize if necessary and humble yourself with a self-deprecating joke. It will undoubtedly endear the brand to your followers.
Stephen Moyers is an active tech-savvy blogger who loves to write about online marketing, social media marketing, and various technology topics. He is currently associated with Los Angeles based SPINX Digital Agency, which provides a range of digital services like social media marketing, website design & development and many more. You can follow Stephen on Twitter @StephenMoyers.