Facebook. Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Google Plus, Periscope, Tumblr. The world of social media has become incredibly massive and complex since Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, Chad Hurley, David Karp, and other social media pioneers first came on the scene more than a decade ago. (Pop quiz: Can you pair these pioneers with their respective social media invention? Test your knowledge at the conclusion of this post!)
If you’re a skeptic of social media’s reach and influence on consumers, consider the following findings from an October 2015 Pew Research Center study of U.S. social media adoption:
- 65% of the population uses one or more social networking sites (200+ million people!)
- 76% of all Internet users regularly utilize at least one social media platform
- The fastest-growing segment of social media users is the 65+ cohort (it’s not just for kids anymore)
- Globally, there are 2.3 billion active social media users, 85% of which use mobile devices to access social media channels.
If you’re blogging, writing articles, creating videos, etc., as part of a content marketing plan, social media needs to be a core component of your program. These platforms—especially the big four: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube—not only extend the reach of your original content, they also play a critical role in search engine optimization (SEO). Your content and website have a much greater chance of landing on page one of a Google or Bing search when social media is part of the program. It’s like giving your content a B12 injection—it comes alive!
This week, we continue our “10 Simple Steps” blog series with proven tips and tricks for maximizing your ROE (return on energy) with social media. Here are 10 simple steps for increasing engagement on social media:
1. Engage with key influencers. Think of social media networking as in-person networking. What’s your goal at any major business function? To connect with people who can help you grow your business, right? The same goes for social media platforms. Find the people who have the greatest number of connections and strongest engagement and engage with them: “like” their posts, tag them in relevant posts, share their content, direct message them, invite them to meet up in person. Court them just like you would an influential business associate, and then ride their coattails for new connections.
2. Punch up your visuals. Just as with blogs and websites, social media posts require stunning, relevant visuals. Images are no longer optional. Have you looked at your Twitter feed lately? Gone are the 140-character, straight-text tweets about what the poster ate that morning. On social media you have a few milliseconds to catch the readers’ eye. Powerful images and catchy headlines are your best bet.
As we discussed a few weeks ago, there are a number of websites that offer free and low-cost stock art. But the best source is you. Get in the habit of taking photos. In most cases, your smartphone is just as effective as a digital camera. Don’t overthink photography.
3. Ask your followers for feedback. A simple trick employed by social media experts to boost engagement is to pose a question to the audience at the conclusion of posts. Let’s say your latest blog post offers tips and tricks for staging homes for resale. When promoting it on Facebook or Twitter, post something like: “7 tips for perfecting home staging http://tinyurl.com/fakeurl What are your tricks for home staging?” Data proves that social media posts that end with a call to action fare considerably better than those without.
4. Track your audience. HootSuite, Buffer, TweetDeck, Social Mention, Topsy, Brand24. These are among the dozens of free audience monitoring tools that can help you determine which topics resonate with your audience, which followers carry the most influence, which hashtags are trending, what people are saying about you and your company, who is searching for properties in your markets, etc.
5. Create an editorial calendar (and stick to it). Consistency is the key to growing your audience and engagement on social media. Having a simple, straightforward editorial calendar will force you to develop an editorial strategy, and will help you perfect methods for curating and creating content.
6. Let your personality shine. Too many social media post come off as robotic and emotionless. Just as with blog writing, social media posts should be authentic and charismatic, with a conversational style. Here’s a simple trick for writing online content: Envision yourself presenting to a room full of potential customers, and then write with that tone. Let your personality radiate!
7. Master the art of hashtags. The octothorpe (yes, that’s the official name for the hashtag symbol) is a powerful tool for expanding the reach of your content. By adding “#” to the beginning of keywords in social media posts (#homestaging #realestate #homesales #chicagohomes), your content will be cataloged with similar content from across the web and exposed to thousands, if not millions, of users outside your social media network. There are a number of hashtag tracking tools that will help you determine the ideal terms to use.
8. Participate in conversations. Join a group or forum on LinkedIn. Host a Q&A session on Reddit. Answer real estate questions on Quora. Participate in a Twitter chat. There are dozens of avenues for becoming the center of conversations that align with your business and brand. Sites like Quora and Reddit can position you as an authority, drive traffic to your website and social media channels, and bolster your SEO performance.
9. Be responsive. If someone direct messages you, don’t delay in responding. If they retweet your post, “like” their tweet. If they tag you in a post, thank them. The more engaged you are in the process, the more likely your followers will respond to what you are posting.
10. Publish during peak times. What good is a piece of content if no one sees it? Every social media platform has unique peak days/times for posting. For instance, the ideal window for Facebook posts is Wednesday afternoons, around 3 pm. The worst time: early mornings and late evenings on the weekend. Buffer offers tips for perfecting post times.
In the coming weeks we’ll continue our 10 Simple Steps series with advice for punching up your blog and article writing.
Now it’s pop quiz time! Can you pair the social media pioneers with their respective invention? Good luck!
Tom Anderson Facebook
Jack Dorsey Pinterest
Reid Hoffman Instagram
Chad Hurley LinkedIn
David Karp Twitter
Ben Silbermann Myspace
Kevin Systrom YouTube
Mark Zuckerberg Tumblr
(Answers: Tom Anderson: Myspace; Jack Dorsey: Twitter; Reid Hoffman: LinkedIn; Chad Hurley: YouTube; David Karp: Tumblr; Ben Silbermann: Pinterest; Kevin Systrom: Instagram; Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook)