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Get Noticed on Social Media

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.

 

Pizza Hut

 

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.

 

Google+

 

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.

 

Netflix

 

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.

 

Tweet

 

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.

 

Target

 

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.

Why Your Brand Needs a Social Ritual

Sticking to a content schedule is tough.

Even the word “schedule” has the ick-factor. It makes you feel like you’ve behind before you’ve even started.

So… switch up the language and make it fun. Instead of a schedule, have a ritual.

Having a social ritual means creating a particular kind of content, in the same way each time, and doing it on a regular basis.

To put it simply: do a cool thing on social media, and do it regularly. It’s just like a schedule, but with added magic dust.

Examples of social rituals from the A-Listers

  • Marie Forleo releases a new video released every Tuesday, “Q&A Tuesday”
  • Danielle LaPorte sends a “Truth Bomb” to all her social media platforms every day.
  • Havi Brooks blogs about her week and her wishes every weekend.
  • Curvy Yoga focuses on a yoga pose every month.
  • Sounds True releases a new podcast every weekend.
  • And at Social Caffeine, we make sure we publish at least two blog posts a week.

Why rituals are awesome

  • Rituals build engagement and community. People can comment on your blog or show up on Instagram and hang out with you, your product and each other.
  • People have a chance to engage with your product or thing, over and over again. Unless you are selling something that people only need to buy once in their lives (ie: a house?), your biggest customers are going to be raving fans who can’t get enough of you. Make it easier for them by bringing your product into their lives over and over again.
  • Trust. Showing up regularly helps people trust you and your product. You move from being an “occasional website click” to a trusted partner in their life.
  • Accountability for you and your team. Having a social media ritual forces you to show up for your community in a way that just “blogging whenever I feel inspired” doesn’t. It also helps create accountability for your community: they have to commit to something that will make their lives better.
  • You get to know your followers and fans. You get to know their struggles, needs and dreams and so you can help them better.

Examples of how you could use rituals in your business

If you help people…

  • Eat healthier, you could set up a “new ingredient of the month”, along with a simple recipe for your community to try.
  • De-clutter, you could run a weekly challenge on social media like “Say goodbye to something Day”.
  • Stop procrastinating, you can give your community a small challenge every week.

3 things to consider before you get started with your ritual

Showing up regularly is a challenge. You have to come up with a new angle on the same topic over and over again.

And – with apologies for using the ick word – you also need to have a scheduling system for when you are busy living your life and can’t show up on that particular day.

Make sure you choose your ritual carefully, and remember to have fun in the process. If you enjoy your ritual, your community is likely to enjoy it as well.

Rock n Roll Social Media

How about building your social media strategy on Rock ‘n’ Roll?

Let’s see what the Rolling Stone’s top 10 artists of all time have to say about the social game…

1. [Jimi Hendrix] Listen to Your Audience

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.” – Jimi Hendrix

One of the great things about social media is all the data that’s available to you. You can find out what your customers think of your brand with a simple Twitter search, or by asking them directly. You can even engage with potential customers to find out how your business can help them.

As social media expert Marcela De Vivo puts it:

To build community, start conversations, deepen existing relationships, keep up with brand mentions and watch for customer service opportunities, you have to listen.

Want to know more about social listening? Check out our article here.

2. [Elvis] Expressing Yourself is Sexy

“I’m not trying to be sexy. It’s just my way of expressing myself when I move around.” – Elvis Presley

When you’re using social media, express yourself and be authentically you. Don’t hide behind a mask of “professionalism” or business speak, and never, ever use corporate jargon.

Expressing yourself doesn’t mean it’s all about you. On social media, your focus should be on your customers and what they need. But it does mean letting your personality shine.

And as Elvis points out, when you do that you can’t help but be sexy.

3. [John Lennon] Don’t Reveal Everything

“Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.” – John Lennon

One of my favorite stories is Charlie and the Chocolate factory. Why? Because it appeals to the imagination. It plays up to our idea of what chocolate factories should be like, with chocolate rivers and magical bubblegum and squirrels who sort out the nuts.

Real chocolate factories are much more mundane.

Social media is all about being open and transparent. But that doesn’t mean you should reveal everything. Some things are best left to the imagination.

4. [Bob Dylan] Take All the Inspiration You Can Get

“Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it.” – Bob Dylan

Engaging an audience on social media isn’t rocket science. As long as you listen to what your followers want, and do what you can to meet their needs, you’ll be grand.

That said, even the best of us can run dry on ideas when it comes to staying fresh on social.

What to do when you need inspiration?

Previously, we’ve recommended the Copycat’s social media strategy. Here’s how it rolls:

  • Pay attention to what others in your niche are doing on social media.
  • Also keep in the loop about what brands outside your niche are doing on social media.
  • When you see a big success, or an idea that grabs your attention, note it down.
  • Think about how you can incorporate that idea into your social media strategy.
  • Ask yourself: how can I do this better? Take the ideas you’ve found, and add your own unique twist.

5. [Keith Richards] Tell Your Story

“Everybody’s got a different way of telling a story – and has different stories to tell.” – Keith Richards

Your story is your identity. It tells you where you’ve come from, and it shapes where you’re going.

That’s why it’s vital to know your story and have your own way of telling it.

In days gone by, stories were controlled by those with power – the media, politicians, big business. They were the ones with the resources to tell stories.

Today, anyone can tell stories – and that includes the story of your brand.

So, telling your story isn’t just about telling stories. It’s about everything you do. It’s about all your interactions with customers. With every customer you talk to, you create a story for them to tell. Make the most of that opportunity.

6. [Chuck Berry] Learn from Your Mistakes

“Don’t let the same dog bite you twice.” – Chuck Berry

We all mess up from time to time. On social media, mistakes are even more embarrassing because they’re public.

At the same time, mistakes on social media show that you’re a real human being. You’re not perfect. So don’t beat yourself up too much. But don’t repeat your mistakes either. As Chuck Berry points out, when a dog’s bitten you once, you’d do well to avoid it in the future.

7. [Little Richard] Treat Everyone With Kindness

“I’m very much a gentleman in what I do.” – Little Richard

Yes, some people can leave you wanting to tear your hair out.

However, losing your rag will only be bad for your business.

The moment you log-on to social media, remember everything your Momma taught you about saying please and thank you. And make sure everything you say would make your Momma proud.

8. [Aretha Franklin] Know Your Boundaries – and Stick to Them

“Politics are not my arena. Music is.” – Aretha Franklin

Being vulnerable, open and honest are all excellent traits when it comes to social media. The more real you allow yourself to be, and the more openly you share, the easier you’ll find it to engage your audience.

That said, you shouldn’t feel compelled to let it all hang out. Some things are best kept to yourself, whether that’s because you value privacy in certain areas of your life (such as family), or because you’ve got a wide range of interests, but you want to keep your social updates focused.

Know your arena, and stick with it.

9. [James Brown] Be Grateful

“I just thank God for all of the blessings.” – James Brown

It’s difficult to do a good job of anything if you’re feeling angry, resentful or jealous. That’s especially the case when your job involves engaging with people.

Come to social media with an attitude of gratitude and goodwill towards all people. Put your audience first, and treat everyone who engages with you (even the difficult ones) knowing that most people act with good intentions, even when they don’t feel like it.

Need to let off some steam before you can feel grateful? James Brown has a helpful hint here, too:

“The one thing that can solve most of our problems is dancing.”

10. [Ray Charles] Share From Your Soul

“What is a soul? It’s like electricity – we don’t really know what it is, but it’s a force that can light a room.” – Ray Charles

We’ve already covered the Ray Charles approach to social media in-depth.

Here’s what we said:

Soul is essence, the essence of who we are and what we believe about ourselves. Soul is intensity and energy. Soul is who we are when we are our truest selves. Soul is the inner child, the dove of peace within. In religious mystical traditions, souls are sparks of light.

What if you could bring this spark, this force that can light a room, to your [social] marketing?

Marketing with soul draws people to you because they want what you have.