Social media platforms can be great tools to promote your brand, promote your business, find new customers, get sales leads, find new employees, and build personal repo, but they don’t “just work”. They’re tools, not machines — you have to use them, not put in some inputs and wait for them to do their magic on their own.
Social Media Firm CEO & online marketing expert Scott Levy, in his book Tweet Naked, provides the vital details entrepreneurs need to create their social media strategy that will boost their brand and their business.
In this edited excerpt, the author explains the importance of the content you’re posting on social media and how you can get your hands on more of it.
On your social media pages, there are at least 1,000 ways to get people to engage, such as asking questions, offering daily tips, or posting quotes and fun facts. You should definitely post video and photos: Pictures and videos are shared 40 percent more than text. Contests can also be a tremendous way to engage for two reasons: People like the idea of winning something, and if you give away a $100 or $200 prize and 10,000 people have shared or retweeted your post and spread the word about the contest, you win.
You want to put content out there that’s useful, helpful, and makes you a resource or reference; you’re essentially baiting people to participate. So your content must be clever, creative, entertaining and, perhaps, a little controversial. You want to achieve that wow factor that comes from people seeing something new and unusual that they then want to share with others.
You need to devise a plan that incorporates all forms of content: conversation, pictures, videos, blogs, and links between your platform and your website. For instance:
- If you’re running a contest, you need a prize that your target audience would love and then present the contest with graphics and photos.
- If you’re taking a survey, you need to know what questions will draw your audience’s attention and how the answers might benefit your company (hit their “passionate button”). You might even want to offer an incentive for responses.
- If you’re posting photos or videos, you need to have them ready and sized to meet the demands of mobile users. You’ll also need to test all links in advance to make sure they’ll go where you want them to and that they’re working.
While you’ll want to post often, you’ll realize in short order that quality content can get used up quickly. Your social media team will need to have sources at the ready. If you have 10 people on the team, some will be engaging while others are scouring sources of interesting content, whether it’s quotes, jokes or the latest news story. Some will be brainstorming about how to educate and share your company’s expertise and how to be helpful, while others will be positioning photos for your Pinterest page or editing a video for YouTube.
If you’re on your own or working with a partner, you may need to have a simple plan of simply jumping in and engaging in conversations on the various platforms with your fans and followers, rather than continually posting content.
You’ll constantly need source material, and a big part of your social media team’s job is to follow both influencers and news in your industry, as well as to compile a range of content sources.
Content curation–that is, utilizing content from various outside sources–is often part of a social media strategy. Content curation directories and aggregators gather, organize and provide content from a host of notable sources and sort them by theme or topics. These sites typically republish original content and link to the full entry, though some also provide interpretation and commentary.
Top directories such as Alltop.com can lead you to an extensive collection of blogs for almost any kind of topic, from numerous reputable sources. Then there are aggregators in specific categories, such as Inbound.org, Hacker News, and TechMeme for the Internet marketing and technology fields.
DailyTekk.com, a technology blog, compiled a list of the top 10 social media sites for content curation:
- Storify.com. Building the story layer above social networks.
- TweetedTimes.com. A personalized newspaper from your Twitter feed.
- Keepstream.com. Organize your tweets with curation.
- TweetMag. An app that uses your Twitter feed to create a simple magazine.
- News.me. Your news from Twitter and Facebook.
- MassRelevance.com. Social engagement platform of curated social content.
- MyTweetMag.com. Curate content with Twitter.
- Lynk.ly. News curation from your Twitter and Facebook feeds.
- ChirpStory.com. Create stories from tweets.
- Dashter.com. A WordPress plug-in that curates fresh content to your site.
Social media platforms also offer content opportunities such as Twitter Stories, LinkedIn Today, and the Explorer section of Google+ or the Google RSS feeds, which send you syndicated news stories throughout the day. You’ll need software such as Feed Reader or News Aggregator for this or one of the many other RSS feeds.
Current events, news stories and trends are marvelous sources of content, and commenting on news stories that are relevant to your industry is smart. You can easily add links for integration across platforms. You want your customers or potential customers to follow you everywhere, so it’s crucial to present content in a way that’s specific to each platform. For example, if you run an animal shelter and a major oil spill is the story of the day, Tweet something about how that spill will affect wildlife. On Facebook, you might ask people to join you on your visit to the areas affected by the oil spill and let them know how they can help endangered animals and ocean life. On your Pinterest board, you might post photos from other sources, as well as your own photos once you arrive in the affected area. Then you might go back on Twitter to tell followers that you have new photos of how the oil spill is affecting wildlife.