Are you looking to learn about the right, results-driven way to communicate on social media platforms? Like traveling to foreign countries, bouncing between social media outlets to distribute content, engage with an audience or fan base, and provide customer service requires a different language. Each social media channel—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, etc—has its own dialect. Being fluent in Facebook doesn't mean you know how to properly communicate on Twitter.
With that said, there is a right way to approach social media communication and messaging. Here are the 5 pillars of a perfect social media post. Following these principles will give your social posts a foundation to build upon.
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1. Think about your audience and write every post aimed at a specific persona.
Who are they? What are they interested in? When is their "digital rush hour"? What do your Facebook insights say about who they are and when they are on FB? What outlets and social media platforms do your personas use?
Publish posts during your audience’s virtual rush hour. It's important to hit them when they're actively consuming social media content. In short, "strike while the iron is hot." Every persona and each industry will be active on social channels at different times.
For example, a teenager that a B2C company wants to resonate with will be active on social media at different times than a professional millennial who is a B2B's main persona. And, different personas will gravitate towards different social media platforms. That teen loves Snapchat; are you active on Snapchat? That young professional spends a lot of time on Instagram and LinkedIn. Does your business communicate on those channels?
Here are the general "virtual rush hour" times for a handful of social media channels.
- Twitter's max traffic is around 1 PM.
- Facebook lights up after 5 PM.
- Pinterest users post most around 11 PM, they're night-owls.
- Email's best ROI will happen with early morning correspondence. Most forwards are at 7 AM.
- 10 AM is the virtual rush hour for Google+.
2. Provide a tangible value to your audience with every social meida post.
What value are you offering your reader? Pick one of these four types of value propositions. According to Guy Kawasaki, each social media post, regardless of platform, must demonstrate one of these types of valueable offerings:
- Informative: "What happened?"
- Analysis: "Why did that happen?"
- Helpful: "This is how you get it to happen."
- Entertaining: "This will make you laugh."
You need to earn the right to ask for something from your fans (ie, selling) by providing value. At Red Wheel, we use National Public Radio as a metaphor for the social media value offerings. Internally, we often remind each other to “be like NPR" when it comes to social media, content distribution, and compelling fans and followers to click on or engage with social post.
If you’re an NPR listener you know, the radio station offers 360 days of non-stop value to its listeners. Their entire business model is predicated upon the idea of value and delighting listeners. And, that incessant commitment to value gives ballast to the 5 annual days in which NPR asks for something in return.
The key to delighting customers and keeping lasting relationships with your inbound-generated clients is to be like NPR! What value are you offering? You must inform, analyze, help, or entertain before you earn the right to ask for something in return.
What's that mean? Don't sell on social without first providing value.
3. Be brief and make the posts shareable.
Twitter's mo is brevity. The 140 character limit is one of Twitter's distinguishable traits. It's important to apply the same sense of language economy to all social media channels.
Just because Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram don't stipulate character limits doesn't mean you should be writing lengthy epics on social media.
Think about this for a second: The average attention span in 2000 was 12 seconds, and in 2012 the average attention span has shrunk to 8 seconds. What's that mean for brands and businesses on social media? You must be clear, concise, and compelling in your social media posts.
Try to keep Facebook posts under 140 characters and Tweets under 120. These guidelines will make it easier for fans and followers to digest your message and will enable Twitter followers to retweet your content.
4. Embrace hashtags.
Hashtags are an integral aspect of shareable content. Hashtags are like glue, they tie content and topics together, and enable your posts to reach new readers. Find, test, and embrace hashtags that tie your content topics together. Examples include #SocialMediaTips, #RealEstateStats, #BestHotelPools, and #B2BMarketing.
Generally, one hashtag for Facebook posts, up to three for tweets, and up to five for Instagram are considered standard. And, save the hashtags that resulted in good engagement somewhere so you can stay consistent and keep the conversations rolling.
5. Give 'em something to look at!
Every social media platform out there is a visual channel. Obviously, Pinterest and Instagram are all about images, but Facebook and Twitter success is dependent on compelling photos accompanying your content.
Photos on Facebook generate 53% more likes and engagement than photo-less posts. And, tweets with an image get 2x more engagement. Think about your audience's behavior on social media. People's overwhelming majority of time on social media is spent scanning their newsfeed. And, a visually arresting image is your chance to attract eyeballs and engage.
Don't ignore the power of imagery on Twitter, especially. Images are your opportunity to add to the tweet with a graphic that includes text. Plus, you now can link up to 10 Twitter handles in an image without those handles working against your character count.
Visual content and social media go together like peanut butter and jelly. Every social network out there features and promotes visual content, and you need to as well.
Last, but not least, size matters on social media. Here's a great guide for the up-to-date dimensions needed to optimize your social media posts, from HubSpot.