Communicating with your target audience through social media has never been more important – but many people, companies and organisations struggle to maximise the impact of their messages. So here are our top tips on how to put together successful social media posts that hit the right tone and generate significant interest and interaction…
Brevity is king
Keeping your message short and simple is definitely best practice when it comes to writing on social media – obviously with Twitter you have a character limit to work with, but this rule still applies whatever the platform. So no superfluous words or information – particularly if your message is a call to action (asking someone to do something – sign up for a newsletter, make a donation etc). You have a point to make, so don’t waffle on; be precise, friendly and zippy with it.
Be casual… and creative
While it’s important to be specific, language that’s too formal or literal doesn’t really engage readers, so keep your tone casual and treat social media dialogue like a true conversation. So something like ‘Our January newsletter on home-grown food is out now – you can read it here’ is too dour, but something a bit more playful like ‘Ever fancied growing your own food in the garden? Find out how to get started here…’ would work better. Try and hit that happy medium of being clear enough to let people know what point you’re making, but creative enough to prove interesting.
Include an image, GIF or video
Everyone’s social media timelines are packed with messages, requests, promotions etc that they scroll through at a rapid pace to find something that quickly grabs their interest, so you need your message to cut through the clutter. A message with just text on it is unlikely to catch the eye, so help yours stand out by including a powerful, thought-provoking image, a short video or a flashy GIF – the funnier the better. If you want to tell people about a new product/service you’re launching, make a brief video highlighting its benefits (‘how to’ guides are very popular) of if you’ve just refurbished your premises a short video showing this will have a bigger impact than just writing about it. You could also use imagery like simple diagrams to emphasise a point or, if you have the flair, use a design software package to draw a cartoon or put together a neat infographic.
Ask a question
This is the best way to encourage feedback, especially if you’re including a link to something like a blog you’ve written. Simply ask your readers a question based on an issue raised in the blog in order to generate a conversation, and before you know it you could have a debate on your hands involving half a dozen people. Social media is there for airing opinions after all, and many users aren’t slow in putting their views across, particularly if the matter under discussion is a hot news topic. All they need is a little nudge. By asking questions you’re also putting down a marker for how you want your social media presence or blog writing to be seen in the public domain – e.g. an open source of content for people to faithfully contribute to, and comment on, if they wish – all the time raising your profile.
Ask for help
If you have a professional or human interest problem that you could use some help with, post a little request on social media. It could be anything like how to do something tricky/fancy with your iPhone, how to stop your cakes rising too much and cracking in the oven, or how to apply a short-term fix for a leaking garage roof. People love to answer/solve a problem and appear knowledgeable in public.
Don’t go overboard
If you plan on stating an opinion about a subject under discussion amongst friends/contacts, be careful not to go over the top. If you’re hoping to make a strong impact but write something that’s too forceful, you risk putting people off and them not taking you seriously in future. You want your comments to come across as well informed, helpful, caring or humorous and – while there’s nothing wrong with showing some passion – if you do get on your soapbox, be fairly subtle with it. Similarly, when you’re writing a post to promote your services, skills or products, don’t make it read like a direct pitch. It’s better to try and portray yourself as a problem solver – show people that you understand them and their situation by posting ideas and solutions to issues they have raised.
Keep it lively
As well as making incisive and well-considered comments on subjects that you’re familiar with and passionate about, you will also need to depend on more light-hearted and everyday issues in order to keep your social media pages looking lively. You don’t want to let your accounts stagnate by only waiting for an appropriate subject to talk about. Twitter in particular serves as a snapshot of people’s immediate interests, so you could always tweet something really simple like a nice picture of a sunset you noticed while walking the dog, a frog you’ve found in your garden, or a pretty landscape (the turning of the seasons is always good – ‘first signs of spring’ etc). These nicely fill Twitter’s thirst for short-term peaks of interest, and all the time you’re showing people that you notice things around you, bringing to life and humanising your profile. Live tweeting from any events you attend is also a good idea; whether it’s a great music concert or an unusual stand display that catches your eye at a trade show etc.
Offer useful information
Try and link your messages with delivering a handy piece of information. For example, if the weather forecasters are predicting an upcoming cold snap, the marketing department of a company that sells car de-icer products could jump on that and write a post about how it would be a good idea to visit their online store now to check out their special offers on de-icer – especially with a bout of cold weather around the corner, with perhaps a colourful image of the temperatures being forecast.
See things from your readers’ perspective
As with many things in life, you end up doing something much better if you take a step back and analyse it from the viewpoint of people on the other side of the fence. When you’re composing a post on Facebook or any other platform, take a bit of time to think from your readers’ perspective – would you appreciate and/or respond to this? If the answer isn’t a definite yes, then have a re-think.
Expand your network by being, well, sociable
Search the web or social media channels to look for people that work in your industry or those that share similar interests to you and drop them a line or leave an insightful comment on a post/blog they’ve written. Also search relevant hashtags in Twitter or subject groups in Facebook to see who’s writing about what you’re interested in. Getting to know the influencers within the sectors that you want to engross yourself in either professionally or personally (or often both) and cementing these new connections will ultimately help boost your online presence.
Congratulate or pay tribute to someone
Social media isn’t just for talking about yourself and what you’ve been up to – mentioning the milestones of other people helps show that you’re balanced and aware of the world around you. If it’s the anniversary of someone’s life/death/invention/discovery/major achievement then post a message about it on your social media platforms. The more famous the better, because you’ll attract more comments. If it’s not someone famous on a national scale but still someone important to you – a local charity worker who’s gone the extra mile, for example – then that will work nicely as well.
Run a competition
Always a strong way of attracting traffic, a simple competition can help draw people to your social media profiles for the first time. It could just be a picture caption competition inviting people to send in their own amusing comments on a fun image, a multi-choice readers’ poll or something to help boost a new feature you’ve launched. For instance, new bloggers often offer a prize (a bottle of Prosecco etc) for the best comment they receive in reaction to their first blog article in order to help establish an early following. People love a giveaway!