Writing Better Posts will Get Your Message Further in the Social Stream
The social marketing space is extremely crowded and loud. Twitter alone has approximately 500 MILLION tweets flying out PER DAY! (approximately 6 million every SECOND) Twitter is a stream flowing wild and full with interesting content and … not-so-interesting clutter. Your goal on your social media channels is to share interesting and helpful content that others find good enough that they pluck it out of the stream and pass it along through ReTweets and shares.
To help your social media messages stand out and be read more often, here are 5 things to keep in mind:
1. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind.
Being controversial isn’t a bad thing on social media channels… occasionally. Tell us how you feel about something, while still being civil. People want to chime in and agree with you… or disagree with you. If you are just quoting everyone else, it gets old. It’s like that old saying, “Be yourself…unless you’re a jerk, then be someone else!”
2. Become a better writer!
Punch a bit of drama, humor or even intrigue into your tweets and posts where you can. Can you say it in a way that is more entertaining or humorous? “Craving that last piece of cake” can be tweaked to read, “I kept hearing my name being called in a seductive voice. I turned to find the last piece of cake winking at me.” Just more fun to read and pass along! “Busy day ahead” can be made more interesting AND helpful by telling us a bit about you with, “Working with clients to tame their clutter today-I love scary closets” or “Busy day ahead expanding minds–this could get messy!” [READ: 7 Skills Every Social Media Marketer Needs]
3. Share it More Than Once.
We all know that once is never enough for anything great, so why not share your post more than once. Unless it is time-sensitive, put that post out today in the morning and then again perhaps tomorrow afternoon. Keep in mind that people are not sitting at their computer or on their phone JUST reading your posts (I know…shocking!). I’m sorry to burst that bubble, but people are reading lots of content and perhaps they missed your post today but will catch it tomorrow. Try adding two different images to your posts and see which captures the attention better. Speaking of images…
4. Add more photos and videos to your posts to allow people to SEE what you are saying.
Social media is all about photos, videos, and all things visual. Make sure and utilize this on your posts. While there are LOADS of great sites to find stock images [see: STOP USING THESE CRAPPY IMAGES ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS] you can also create your own with photos you snap, images you create with tools like Canva or other tools, or fun Gifs you find or create!
5. Be quiet sometimes.
On any social media platform, my philosophy (that even I do not follow at times) is BE HELPFUL, BE INTERESTING, or BE QUIET! If you post tweets when there is nothing interesting or helpful to say…you might start being ignored. Of course, we are talking about SOCIAL media, so there are times you are socializing and chatting it up with folks, but if you are just posting what you are doing without asking yourself “Can I make this more interesting or helpful?” you might want to just go for a walk.
YOUR TURN TO SHARE: Of all the posts you have shared in the past week, what was it that grabbed YOUR attention and inspired you to pass them along?
Here is our FREE resource to help you use Twitter to build your business — Download Now:
Sometimes I think I should have been a nun instead of getting into marketing and social media. Not the kind of nun that sings, like on Sound of Music or Italy’s “The Voice,” but the kind in the 1950’s who walked around with a ruler, ready to smack children on the knuckles when they used crappy images on their social media posts!
There are only a few things that send me over the edge when it comes to how poorly some companies are using social media: One is when they don’t respond to a comment or question left for them on one of their social sites, proving they don’t really want people to talk to them, they simply want everyone to read their stuff.
Another is when people use those idiotic services like TrueTwit validation to make others on Twitter prove they are not robots by going to a robot site and jumping through a bunch of hoops. (See a past post for more on that rant here).
And the one that my team, here at SocialKNX, has heard me preach over and over again (with my ruler in hand) is when people and especially brands, use crappy images on their social media sites. I think my issue started back in the days when Microsoft’s Screen Bean characters were all the rage in corporate presentations and marketing material.
I wanted to rip things apart when I would see them. (Anger management courses have helped a bit.)
But today it’s even worse when great visuals are available everywhere and the cameras we carry in our back pockets take fantastic photos, there is just no excuse for poor images being used on our websites, blog posts or social media sites.
Every social platform allows for very large images and we want to take advantage of every pixel we can. I love using Canva to ensure we are sizing the images correctly. Their templates for social media sites are very helpful, and they do a pretty good job of keeping up with the ever-changing sizes.
Here are some of the types of images that will get knuckles cracked, and why:
Clip Art (of any kind)
These just have the same smell as my great grandmother’s TV room. They are old and stale. A great photo of an actual boy on a tricycle or a cool close up of a tricycle would be more intriguing and interesting than this one. Take a trip this weekend and snap some great photos to use instead.
Oh, these are bad on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to start! First, any of the overly staged, fake corporate team photos tell the world you don’t even try. You may have purchased these photos from Shutterstock or iStockPhoto, but you didn’t look past the first 3 or 4 choices. A personal favorite is the overly enthusiastic team meeting photo that shows everyone giving high fives around a flipchart! Come on! Show us, REAL people, doing real office activities. I know they are harder to find. You have to look at new collections or unique sites like Unsplash. Better yet, get your own team members to pose for a few shots, or look for great photos that depict the message you are trying to convey. The fake-looking, overly-staged pics are called corporate porn. They should be banned and someone should lose their job for even looking at them on company computers!
No explanation needed! You’re just embarrassing yourself if you are using these anywhere. Don’t make me get my ruler out.
Where to Get Great Images
So where do you go to find these GREAT images? Here are 12 stock photo libraries to get you started. You will still have to look through their collections to find the great ones.
The photographs from the first 8 sites are free from copyright restrictions or licensed under creative commons public domain dedication. This means you can copy, modify, distribute, and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.
However, some photos may require attribution. We’ve done our best to identify which license they fall under but we still advise you to do your own research and determine how these images can be used.
The last 3 resources are paid stock photo sites that are great for those who blow through hundreds or thousands of images a month. You need more than one place to find just the right image to tell your stories!
Here you go:
Unsplash – This website offers amazing and beautiful photos absolutely free. It’s one of my favorites.
Pexels – Pexels is another great resource offering high quality and completely free stock photos licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license.
StockSnap – This website offers many similar images to the paid subscription sites (probably the images that didn’t get purchased from them). They are free and free from copyright restrictions.
Life of Pix – a great collection of high-resolution images with no copyright restrictions.
BURST (by Shopify)– All photos are licensed under Creative Commons CC0 and can be used as you see fit.
Picography – Beautiful free images to use however you’d like.
PicJumbo – This site offers free images you can use without copyright restrictions and you will also find a “premium” level for more hidden gems.
StyledStock -This site offers free “feminine” stock photography for every woman entrepreneur. The collection is totally free for your commercial & personal works.
Pikwizard– This site offers over 100,000 completely free images on the site and over 20,000 are exclusive to Pikwizard. They have a lot of pictures of people in business settings which is helpful for corporate accounts.
Deposit Photos– a typical subscription stock photo site. You must pay for individual photos or buy a monthly subscription to download the images.
Shutterstock– a typical subscription stock photo site. You must pay for individual photos or buy a monthly subscription to download the images.
iStock Photos– a typical subscription stock photo site. You must pay for individual photos or buy a monthly subscription to download the images.
If you are using a tool like Canva, they also have an incredible library of images you can access (many are coming from Unsplash and other sites listed here). They are included in your pro-level membership or may cost $1 each if you are using the free version of Canva.
Don’t forget that photographer inside of YOU. You can take some great pics with your mobile devices and then add a bit of pizazz with apps like WordSwag, A Beautiful Mess, or even Instagram. Don’t settle for boring images.
Do you have a type of image that makes you cringe? Do you have another great resource that you use for great images? I’d love to continue the conversation here in the comments or on our DIY.social Facebook Group. I also would love to know if you have a String Bean graphic.
You are trying to keep up with all of the posting and tweeting that everyone has said you should be doing as part of your social marketing. You spend an hour in the morning LIKING and commenting on the posts from everyone else, you write a few tweets and post what you are working on in your LinkedIn profile and on Facebook. So when is this supposed to start working?
Social media is one ingredient in your social marketing success recipe, well it’s actually several different ingredients. You also have email marketing, your blog, videos that you create (You are creating videos aren’t you?) and many others. Like 50 different ingredients sitting on your counter top, it’s not until you mix them together that you can make something delicious!
Here are 4 steps you can take to cook up a LIKES to LEADS plan this week:
Create a “lead magnet.”
A lead magnet is something your target audience would gladly exchange their email address for. Perhaps it’s a list of case studies, or a checklist that will help them do their jobs better or faster. Do you have a webinar you have recorded and can give away in exchange for that email address? These are examples of lead magnets. Create these in a Word doc and save this as a PDF. Now upload it into your website as a media file. (Your web manager can help you with this if the last place you want to be is the back end of your website.)
Create a landing page to capture the email addresses.
Before you get intimidated by this task, there are a couple options to make this easy. One– have your wonderful web manager create this. It is not difficult. Two- you can use a great tool like Leadpages. Leadpages has hundreds of templates for you to quickly customize and link it with your email system (Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Infusionsoft, etc.). You really don’t need any advanced graphic skills, only about 30 minutes to set each one up. Regardless of who is creating the landing page, you need to decide what information you want to capture from these leads. The less information you ask for, the higher your conversion rate will be. People don’t want to give their name, address, phone number, email, date of birth, blood type, etc. Ask only for what you need. If you are going to want to follow up with a phone call, then you need their name, email and phone number. (I believe you should always grab an email address) When your landing page is complete, you will have a URL that will be used in the next step.
Write a short blog post that can tie into this lead magnet.
Example: If you have created a lead magnet with your “Top 50 Secret Tips for Getting Ahead on Your Job,” perhaps you can write a blog post or a series of posts about productivity, professional image, working with difficult people, tips and tactics for overcoming office politics, and the list could go on and on. At the bottom of your blog post you are going to have a CTA (call to action) such as, “Download Our 50 Secret Tips for Getting Ahead on Your Job,” and add the hyperlink to that text with the URL from your landing page. Ideally you would want to create a nice graphic to embed your link into to call more attention to it at the bottom of your blog posts.
Now come the social media ingredients.
Craft tweets, Facebook posts, LinkedIn updates, Instagram graphics (whatever platforms you are using) that will point people to your blog posts. You can also create posts that will take people directly to the value offer’s landing page. You might have a few tweets and posts like, “New Tactics to the Old Problem of Dealing with Office Politics” and add the link to your blog post. You can also create a few posts that read, “Download our 50 secret tips for getting ahead on your job” and link directly to the landing page for that lead magnet.
And like any great meal, you will want to repeat the process and make something for next time! While you certainly can use the same value offer and CTA at the bottom of several blog posts, if you can continue to create one or two new ones each month, you will be able to mix them in and keep people coming back for more of your delicious content.
If this all sounds yummy, but you simply don’t have the time or desire to do it all yourself, call us and we’ll cook up the greatness for you!
Gina is the president at SocialKNX. She loves writing, exotic travel and spending time with her husband and two mini-doxies in their Chicago home. She has only been known to completely unplug when climbing Kilimanjaro, and even then she carried her phone and solar-charger hoping to get a signal.
(And we’re not talking bland or corny visuals in your marketing)
They say “a picture is worth 1,000 words,” and when it comes to social media marketing, this is one adage to adopt. The use of visuals on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and blogs are generating more activity than word-only posts. Businesses with social media campaigns need to utilize photographs and videos to demonstrate their brand image, to show customers appreciation, to highlight community contribution, and to tell their story.
Here are 5 reasons that visuals should be used in social media marketing:
You’ve got 3 seconds.
Images are powerful. When consumers are searching and scrolling through the clutter on the web, generally their attention span lasts no more than about 3 seconds per item. That is all they time you have to capture your audience with content. A visual that they can connect with will grab their attention much more effectively than words they may not take time to read.
Visuals are the best form of communication.
More than 90% of communication is nonverbal. Visuals can quickly enhance a written message. Images actually increase the understanding of those on the receiving end of the message. When we hear a piece of information, studies show three days later we remember 10% of it. Add a picture and we remember 65%. It is no wonder that the very first written languages consisted of pictorial representations!
You connect on an emotional level.
Marketers don’t have to share the most professionally edited pictures and videos, but if they can share photos and videos of real humans laughing, caring, loving, and expressing gratitude, or share heart-warming, funny, or inspiring photos, viewers will engage on an emotional level, thus making them connect more with the business relaying those images. Look for images that create a feeling.
You’ll increase your following.
Businesses who use visuals have much higher numbers of subscribers, followers, reposts, and likes than those who use words only in their social media campaigns. Whether because they are able to “pin” an image, or because they enjoy sharing an engaging video with their network, people are more likely to follow, respond to, and repost images than words.
You’ll focus your market.
A business that knows what their target market appreciates should share images and videos that reflect what their target market values. By “following” consumers back and even reposting or responding to the visual messages they are sharing, businesses can develop ideas for what their target market values and they can quickly find visual content – content that is already of interest to their target market – to re-share with their audience.
Reagan Sowa received her bachelor’s degree in marketing from Southern Methodist University. After working in various marketing positions for a few years, and helping her husband start and grow his business, she received a master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Denver and now teaches Business and Marketing. She loves connecting with people, as well as skiing, running, writing, and reading, but her favorite thing in life is raising her two amazing children.
Instagram is rapidly growing in social media popularity – perhaps even soon to pass Twitter in “user-ship.” Increasingly, businesses are finding success in attracting new customers by utilizing Instagram as a marketing tool. But how can you use Instagram for your business?
Here are 8 tips for increasing traffic to your business through the use of Instagram:
Get Real: Show the world the REAL you on Instagram
Often, businesses fret over the quality of images they post on Instagram. However, most Instagram users appreciate the fun and creative pictures that utilize the filters already provided on Instagram. Avoid the time, worry, and cost associated with professional photos, which may come across as sterile to the average Instagrammer. Rather, post pictures on Instagram that people will relate to. Take fun, funny, or inspiring photos and enjoy the editing options already provided by Instagram. Let people take a peek behind the corporate curtain and see your business on a regular workday.
Tell a Story with Photos on Instagram
People love stories. Use Instagram’s 15-second videos to show production processes, teach something, hear from an appreciative customers, or to make a fun stop animation show and tell for your business. Here’s a great one from Home Depot wishing their fans a happy Friday or the one from Starbucks showing how simple you can make the videos…nothing over-produced.
Use #Hashtags on All of Your Instagram Posts
You can build your brand’s Instagram community by following your followers and looking at which hashtags your customers tend to use. Instagram users search for specific images through hashtags (think of it as a tagging system to find content). Using hashtags offers a quick way for new consumers to find you when searching for images of products or services you are already offering. Keep a list of popular hashtags that are used in your industry and by your customers. If you have this list in a Word document or an Evernote file, you can easily copy and paste each time you post a new photo or video.
Talk Back to People on Your Instagram Page
People love it when you acknowledge their comments and respond to them. Any time customers comment about your product, or post a picture with your product, either repost it or respond to them. They’re more likely to repost your comments and get even more people interested in your business when they know you are truly interested.
Make it Fun!
Offering contests and incentives make it fun for users to follow you on Instagram. Encourage customers to post “selfies” on Instagram (including #TheNameOfYourBusiness) with your product in various places in exchange for a prize for the most exotic or fun location. Encourage people to like your posts in exchange for free products or services. You can also ask customers to vote on a particular new product or service that you have provided or may provide. Then post a picture of the free products and services offered to the winner (making sure to tag them with @WhoeverWon) and link it to Twitter and Facebook.
Make it a goal to post images a few times per week. The more consistent you are in posting pictures, the more likely you are to develop a steady, reliable fan base. Like any social media platform, posting once a month is just not going to show people that you are active and interested there. Talk to your entire team (every single department or person can SHOW and TELL about their role) and have people contribute photos that could be used.
Ready, Set, Action!
When you post pictures or videos, ask your customers to respond. (And don’t forget to respond to them!) Ask them to tell you and the rest of the world what they think of your product, how they do something similar, where they go for inspiration, what they appreciate, etc. If you are sharing an example or something going on at an event, tag people in the post by putting @TheirName (don’t be annoying and spammy by tagging people for no reason).
Kill 2 Tweets with One Stone
Lastly, you can link your Instagram posts with your other social media accounts for greater reach. Linking your photos to your Twitter or Facebook accounts automatically and quickly increases your exposure, as well as traffic to your business. Because Twitter may post your Instagram post as a link, you can use a site like IFTTT.com (If This Then That) to create a formula, or recipe, to post your Instagram photos as a native Twitter post each time. In this case, you would want to remove the auto-post connection between Twitter and Instagram, otherwise it will double post.
We’d love to hear from you. What ideas do you have for using Instagram in your business mix? How are you currently using Instagram in your marketing mix?
Do you feel overwhelmed by all of the social marketing activities? We would be thrilled to chat with you on ways we can help. Just contact us today!
By Reagan Sowa
Reagan Sowa received her bachelor’s degree in marketing from Southern Methodist University. After working in various marketing positions for a few years, and helping her husband start and grow his business, she received a master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Denver and now teaches Business and Marketing. She loves connecting with people, as well as skiing, running, writing, and reading, but her favorite thing in life is raising her
two amazing children.
Social media marketing is much more than Facebook posts and tweets; blogging now needs to be a major component in your marketing strategy. It is your hub from which all social media spokes spin off of. It is the sun in which all social planets revolve around. It is the ….OK, you get it. You know you need to start blogging, or kick your blog in the rear and post more than once every 4 to 6 months! Whether you are just getting a blog started, or you have finally realized that content marketing is critical to your business’s success and you are recommitting to it, I’ve compiled 10 tips for new bloggers or those fairly new to social media marketing, that will help you get it on the right track.
Write about what you know and love.
All social marketing is best when you can be SOCIAL, which means being yourself or sharing information that you are passionate about. When you write out of a place of passion, instead of a place of obligation, your readers will know it, connect with it and love you for it.
Write as if you are writing a letter to a friend.
Some people make the mistake of writing for Google instead of people, stuffing blog posts with so many keywords and phrases that it is hard to read. Others write as if they are writing an academic text book and they fill their posts with words that require the readers to keep a Webster’s Dictionary close at hand. As you sit to write your blog posts, imagine a friend or potential customer sitting across from you, asking for help with a specific business challenge. Now begin writing to them with the helpful answers they need.
Always end with a call to action.
You may feel that your goal is to simply educate or inform, and that you don’t want to come across pushy or salesy, but if you don’t present a “Next Step” or offer a way for your readers to find more information from you, you could be doing them a disservice and losing return visits. Point people to your email signup form to receive your helpful tips via email, or offer a free TOP 10 List of resources you have compiled. Even asking your readers to contact you or to follow you on Twitter is a call to action. Don’t let the end of your blog post be the end of your relationship with your readers.
Write 500-1500 word posts.
If posts are too short they may not be indexed by Google. While Google loves longer posts with a greater opportunity for relevant content, and search terms that people are looking for, the content site, Medium says, the average reader wants to spend no more than 7 minutes reading an article (approximately 1,600 words without photos or graphs—or 980 words with a couple great graphics). If you don’t have enough to write about, save it and do a little more research. Is there a study or more content that you can link to in your post? Can you find any supporting data or perhaps a post that shares an opposing view? This could help you elaborate more on your topic. Be sure you are providing enough value for people to want to come back and read more next time. If your posts are too puny, you leave your readers feeling malnourished.
We all know that making time to write, even occasionally, is a big commitment, but if you want to grow your readership and community of followers, you need to blog on a consistent basis. Blogs that posted regularly (more than once a week) were proven to increase subscribers twice as fast as those that posted once a month. You will need to change your daily routine and behaviors in order to make time for daily writing. Can you wake up 30-minutes earlier to spend time writing, or if you are more of a night owl, can you get your quiet writing time in while everyone else dozes off at night?
Be patient when starting your blog.
This is definitely not the Field of Dreams. If you blog it, they do not necessarily come. Blogging is a commitment and it takes time to build a readership and work out the tone and direction of a great blog. There is a lot that goes into the building and nurturing of a blog. Whether it is learning to tag your posts and photos, discovering all the places you can promote your posts, or inviting influencer friends to comment on a post that they may be passionate about, and you may not have it all ironed out when you first start blogging. Don’t wait until you have it all figured out to start blogging. Start, and just know that you will tweak and morph it along the way. Be patient and over time your blog will begin to shine!
Build your email list—no more putting this off.
Going back to #3 above here, you must start today, gathering an email list of people who enjoy your content enough that they would exchange their email address for it. You may not have a newsletter or an email campaign YET, but as you build your blogging readership and your social media communities, you will want to have your list established to use at some point. One of the most common regrets I hear from business owners and marketers is that they didn’t start building their email list when they first began. If you don’t have an email service, go to MailChimp or Constant Contact and sign up right now…or right after you finish reading this post!
Write great titles and work in keywords if you can.
It’s not always possible without sounding like an obvious marketer, but where you can, use verbs–more action–less nouns. You want your blog post to be opened and a snappy title helps that happen, but you don’t want to be so clever that you get the wrong audience finding the post and leaving as soon as they realize it wasn’t what they thought. I once wrote a post about one of our community managers having the skills of Magnum P.I. when it came to digging in and finding the right people to connect with. The problem was, I created a clever title, “Hiring Magnum P.I.” and it featured a great photo of the mustache-clad Tom Selleck. We had the highest bounce rate of all time. Everyone in the universe searching for the famous mustache man found my post and quickly left when they realized it was a site filled with social media tips and posts. If you need help crafting that perfect blog post title, check out this great “Headline Analyzer” from Advanced Marketing Institute.
Put your keywords in the first 100 words.
Like your blog title, you want to work in your keywords early if you are able to do so in a natural way. Google and other search engines are scanning your content to see if it is relevant to those searching for answers. If you draw out your opening without getting to the point and giving hints in the form of keywords, you may not gain Google’s favor. After writing your post, go back in and see if there is a natural way to work in your keywords and still sound conversational. If you stuff keywords unnaturally, not only will you lose the quality of your content, but Google could slap a penalty on your page for doing so.
Make your post “referrable.”
Before you hit publish, ask yourself if someone would send this to a friend. Is this a great reference for someone to use, or just a half-baked post that needs a bit more time under the broiler? Sometimes we are so eager to get a post out, that we jeopardize the quality. Think of the posts that you love to share with your friends and followers. What makes them shareable? Great quality, helpful tips, timeless information? Keep that in mind as you write your posts.
We’d love to hear your blogging tips. Share them with all of us in the comments section and let’s help each other continue to grow and improve our blogs!
If you are looking for DIY tips- check out this site, “Beginners Guide to Successful Blogging.” If you need help actually writing or loading your content or having someone help regularly augment your blogging activities, contact us. It’s what we do!