By Chris Warden, CEO of Spread Effect.
It’s 2013. By now, we all know the importance of social media, and how an integrated content strategy is the key to good SEO. The one piece of the puzzle that’s lacking is just how to update your social accounts in a way that will drive more traffic, grow your target audience, and increase engagement with your current audience.
Many know the importance of social media, but few really know what it takes to craft a “good” update. Whether a Facebook status, a Tweet, or a Pin, status updates require more thought than your average social media user puts into them. Much like a blog post, your updates need to have a purpose.
Here are several ways to ensure your next social media update is a winner.
Get to the Point
Across both Facebook and Twitter, there statistical evidence to back up that the length of your status update directly correlates to the engagement numbers (likes, shares, retweets) you receive. Posts between 100 and 250 characters (3 lines of text) receive 60-percent more likes, comments and shares than posts 251+ characters. Keep it short and sweet.
Stick with Visual Content
Engagement numbers for visual status updates are over twice that of text-only updates. The Internet is quickly becoming a visual place, and sites like Instagram and Pinterest only facilitate this trend. We’re seeing a huge shift in the way content is shared and it’s very skewed toward images. Facebook, for instance, just announced a change to its status update box that will allow users to select a feeling or activity from a drop down menu that comes with an image.
For now, try this: the next time you want to post a short (text) status update, open up your image editor and add this text to an image. We’re seeing more and more traditional text updates added to images for higher engagement numbers. Give it a try on your social accounts.
Coca-Cola is a great example of a company that uses images to drive engagement. Give them a look for some inspiration on your own accounts.
Keep it Social
Social media is supposed to be social, right? Many marketers turn off the social switch completely by posting nothing but business-related updates. Mark Zuckerberg’s highest engagement numbers don’t come from status updates about new Facebook features, they come from his personal photos. Pat Flynn is another great example of this. Pat runs a popular blog and podcast, but he doesn’t hesitate to let his audience into bits and pieces of his personal life from time to time. This type of behavior keeps your audience interested, and engagement numbers skyrocket.
Hubspot is another good example. Their single most popular post on Facebook didn’t come from a free ebook or webinar, it came from a picture of the company Christmas party.
Watch Your Linking
On Facebook in particular, linking to blog posts that your audience might enjoy results in less engagement. If you’re linking to your own blog posts, you can deal with the lack of engagement, because it has the trade-off of driving traffic to your site. People aren’t engaging because they’re clicking through to read the link and not coming back. This is perfectly acceptable on your own site, but you’re not benefiting in any way from sharing content from others. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying not to do it, but remember that the engagement numbers are lower, so think twice about whether your audience is really going to derive value from you linking to the latest web comic or a list post on Buzz Feed.
Timing is Everything
Great social media practitioners know that it isn’t just about producing great content on social media platforms, it’s about when you send it. Saturday is the most popular day to post an update on Facebook, and 12 p.m. EST is the most popular time.
As far as Twitter? That really depends on where the lion’s share of your audience is from. Tools such as Buffer, HootSuite and Social Bro allow you to post your updates during times you can expect to reach the bulk of your audience.
When it comes to social media, the best results aren’t from off-the-cuff updates. Each update you deliver to your audience needs a purpose, and the way you ensure you’re getting the most from your time and effort is to plan, strategize and implement. Remember this next time you want to send out that update about how delicious your bagel is.
Chris Warden is a seasoned entrepreneur and CEO. Starting his entrepreneurial career at age 19, he has performed in numerous capacities owning and managing both offline and online companies. Chris now serves as CEO of Spread Effect, a leading content marketing and publishing company. He is a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) and often writes on topics of content marketing, SEO, and business development. He’s passionate about building and mentoring world-class teams and loves to chat with like-minded individuals. You can connect with Chris via Linkedin, Twitter - @ChrisWarden_SE, or Google+.