A common phrase tossed around the marketing world is, “Content is King”. In the world we live in today, that couldn’t be truer. But in a saturated land of kings and jacks and deuces, it’s important to become an ace.
The Aces understand that “content is king, but marketing is queen – and the queen runs the household.” – Gary Vee
Social media is essentially the second generation of the Internet—often dubbed “Web 2.0” by internet nerds. As a business that wants to remain relevant in a constantly changing landscape, it’s important to understand the impact of social media, and more importantly, to use it effectively to get your message across to the right people. This article focuses on the three core social media channels for businesses: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. YouTube is also extremely relevant—and the second largest search engine in the world—you can use the video content suggestions in the Candy & Substance section below to upload to your YouTube channel.
Image Credit: Buffer
#1 The “Secret Sauce”
Don’t overcomplicate social media. There are plenty of fancy marketing buzzwords and even more “specialists” who tend to overcomplicate simple processes. And there are complex processes that do require specialists. The secret sauce to maintaining an engaging social media channel is to post quality content consistently while engaging with your target audience and occasionally adding a couple dollars to the right stuff. Before we dive in, here are some scary statistics to emphasize the importance of standing out in today’s digital frenzy. Every minute there are:
- 3-million new Facebook posts
- 500 hours worth of YouTube videos uploaded
- 66,000 Instagram uploads
- 449,000 tweets sent
- 8-million Google Searches
- 14,400 new WordPress posts
- 150,000 emails sent(Source: SmartInsights)
#2 Standing Out
Social media is social. Whether on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn or Pinterest, people use social media to display themselves to the world the way hey want to be seen. Unlike the conventional business world, however, marketing on social media is a bit different because your main competitors aren’t other businesses. They are the friends, family members, and social acquaintances of your target audience. If you’re wondering why your content isn’t being liked or shared, ask yourself, “Is this content something that is going to make other people look and feel good?”
When in doubt, look at the data and analytics. All the major platforms offer their own version. You can also subscribe to a variety of services that will collect your social data and organize it in an way that is easy to interpret.
#3 Content Hack: R&D—“Rip-off & Duplicate”
This may sound crude, but it’s easy to remember. Don’t actually steal content from other people. Simply study other techniques and styles that have performed well on social media and duplicate the efforts while tailoring to suit your brand. Look at the top performing posts of your indirect and direct competitors, study their content. Look at what you can apply to your content. It is important to focus on engagement when studying content. Likes, Shares, and Comments. Comments, especially where other people are tagging their friends, are a solid indicator of success.
Create content for your business by modeling the top performing posts of your competitors. You can even boost these posts to the people who like your competitors’ page. You can use an array of free stock photo sites to source copyright-free images, then reconstruct the content for your brand.
Create this content on Canva—or Photoshop. Canva is a user-friendly app for creating content optimized for online graphics. I prefer to use the Instagram style image creation on Canva since it works equally well on Instagram and Facebook.
The image below was created on Canva while using a stock image from Pixabay.
Some awesome free stock image sites:
#4 Content Strategy: Candy & Substance
Suzanne Nguyen is a rising star in the tech space and creates content that is digestible and re-watchable. She has had tremendous success in building her brand and business while creating very valuable content. She mostly leverages Facebook’s live video to interview social media mavens like Gary Vaynerchuk and yours truly. She not only leverages a combined fan base while building her personal brand, but also creates content that can be used later on other platforms like a website or on YouTube.
You can do the same by interviewing experts and customers in your field. Dennis Yu—top-shelf Facebook advertising expert—suggests that you create videos interviewing your customers. Find things that are interesting and leverage people with high authority, create a 1-minute video—and don’t sell. Then develop a hyper-specific audience and spend $1 per day targeting these people—strategy outlined below.
Candy Content: Another brilliant tactic of Suzanne’s is in creating a series of short video uploads which is often a collection of posts she’s done on her social throughout the day. Create video clips to make short, bite-sized and information rich videos. Both Snapchat and Instagram Stories are great for this practice. These often have emojis and filters to help capture attention and add a playful tone to a professional message.
Always keep your target audience in mind—not every social media channel is appropriate for every audience.
#5 Boosting Posts: Unicorns + $1 on Facebook
First off, before spending any money on advertising, bear in mind: “No amount of paid media is going to turn bad creative into good content.” – Gary Vee
In order to find the good stuff, hunt for unicorns. Larry Kim is the ultimate Unicorn Whisperer, and one of his many brilliant tactics includes testing your content on LinkedIn and Twitter and then posting the most engaging posts onto your Facebook page. This strategy will help increase your organic reach and engagement. To take it up a notch, boost them after they have proved themselves worthy of a dollar. Facebook will even suggest which posts to boost based on their performance. If something is performing at 90-95%, add a dollar or two and boost to the people who like your page and their friends. By the way, if you’re boosting posts, Facebook will start making the suggestions for you.
The $1/day strategy by Dennis Yu is a brilliant and very cost-effective approach to establishing brand awareness to a targeted audience who you can later retarget with a more direct ad. Side note: If you’re focusing on engagement and reach on your Facebook page, make sure that your boosts aren’t also promoted on Instagram. If you’re focusing on link clicks or lead generation, Instagram is fine to run the ads. You’ll see the option when you boost.
If you’re focusing on link clicks or lead generation, Instagram is fine to run the ads. You’ll see the option when you boost.
#6 Inviting Likes on Facebook Posts
For any engaging or viral content that generates a lot of likes on your Facebook post, click on the “Likes” on your post. Facebook will then drop down an option for you to invite those people to like your page.
You should look at Facebook as more of an advertising platform thanks to their algorithm continuing to stifle reach. That said, having some social proof while building a custom audience is a good idea. Here are some other growth hacks for your Facebook page.
#7 Twitter Optimization & Automation
Twitter is a great social media platform for getting free traffic to your website. You don’t necessarily need a large fan base, either. Simply use the right hashtags and post quality content and have it continuously tweeted through an automation app like Social Jukebox.
- You can optimize your tweets by using MuchBetterTweet (see image below)
- Use Hashtagify.me to find the optimal hashtags on Twitter
- Use SocialJukebox to continuously tweet your top content
#8 Instagram Post Optimization
In order to gain optimal reach and engagement on your Instagram posts, use the following tips. Each suggestion will help open your content to more people. Hashtags are particularly useful in getting more likes per post.
- For Instagram hashtags, use DisplayPurposes. This is an online app which will give you the optimal hashtags based on the keywords you provide…try using 2 to 3 keywords at one time. And if you’re a retail location consider using your town as one of the keywords.
- You can post your 30 hashtags in the first comment—just do it quickly for them to register
- Tag and mention—using the @ followed by their name—people when collaborating with others on content
- Try different image filters to maximize aesthetics
- Check-in at a location when doing your posts. This doesn’t need to be the town you are currently in. But people looking in the area will also see your content.
#9 Instagram Stories
An amazing newer feature launched by Instagram is their Instagram Stories. “Stories” are images and videos you post to your Instagram and expire after 24 hours.
Stories is a total Snapchat ripoff and a huge success for Instagram and brands using the platform. These are great for telling stories, sharing behind the scenes content, or sharing lifestyle stuff. Stories allow for a more intimate conversation with your audience. Stories are great for telling stories, sharing behind the scenes content and sharing lifestyle stuff. They allow for a more intimate conversation with your audience.
Posting 3-6 Stories per day can have a tremendous impact on your reach, engagement and brand awareness.
Below is a screenshot from my personal Instagram Story. On a good day with no tags, I normally get 30-40 views. By just tagging the location, I often receive 400+ views.
Take advantage of new features which include @-mentioning other people and adding hyperlinks to your website or blogs.
#10 Posting Times & Frequency
A common question people ask is, “When is the best time to post?” The answer is a double-edged sword—especially on Facebook and Instagram. If you’re posting at the optimal time, chances are, so is everybody else. When you post at non-optimal times, you’re not competing as heavily with everyone else. With less competition, you may get more engagement. So instead of fretting when to post, just post. Try things out and find your own groove. You’ll know what performs well based on the number of likes, shares, and comments you receive.
Facebook & Instagram: Less is often more. Don’t think you can force your fans to engage with your page by adding more content. The best method is to post sparingly—3 to 5 times a week—on Instagram or Facebook. 10 times a week should be a maximum, depending on your brand. Don’t forget to boost the most engaging posts.
Starting out on Instagram, you can post 3-5 times per day. If that seems like too much work, settle for one time per day. Oatmeal is better than no meal.
Twitter: More is more. Twitter is an extremely loud social media platform, consider it the junk drawer of your social channels. Feel free to post as many times as you want, whether once per day or every half hour.
Some Extra Hacks
Endgame: Emails & ROI
Why talk about emails in a social media article? Well, the ultimate goal for businesses using social media is to increase sales and maintain relationships with customers for continued sales. Email tends to convert at a much higher rate compared to social media. Social media is the ultimate tool to capture those emails, however. Communications via email tend to be much more intimate than a string of comments on Facebook. “If you have 2,000 email subscribers, 2,000 Facebook fans and 2,000 followers on Twitter, this is what you will get:
- 435 people will open your email
- 120 Facebook fans will see your message
- 40 Twitter followers will see your message”(Source: Martin Zhel of MailMunch)
Leverage your social channels to build your email list. Gifts and raffles are great incentives to get someone to submit their contact info. If you’re a tax consultant, offer a tax-preparation checklist. If you’re a restaurant, offer a free dessert. Get creative.
Here is an example of a social media campaigns to capture emails. There are numerous services online that provide campaigns at a low cost:
Image Credit: Heyo
Don’t Buy Likes
Seriously. It’s not good for your profiles. You’ll be fighting an uphill battle against ever-changing algorithms if you adopt this strategy. I have seen Instagram and Facebook accounts decrease in engagement after a client has purchased likes for their profile. The algorithms will take into account a lack of engagement in proportion to the fan base and continue crushing reach until the profile is more irrelevant than it was before buying the followers.
Even More Hacks
- Use Buffer, a very user-friendly and cheap social media management tool, to schedule your tweets, and then rebuffer your top tweets
- Share all of your blog and YouTube content to Google+
- Create blog topics based on engagement of other posts and frequently asked questions in your industry
- Convert top blog posts into videos and top videos into blogs
Remember, social media is social. In order to get your content shared, you need to create content that will make people want to share it. When creating content, put yourself in the consumer’s shoes and answer the questions that they are asking. Provide value. Show the solutions to common problems in your space. It is not a crime to give away free and valuable information—unless you work for the government. The ideal customer will be the one who sees your value and respects your position of authority and is willing to pay for your expertise. Build and distribute, the right people will come.
If you’ve read this far, thank you. If you want more social media hacks, this post will blow your mind:
Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.