I work in social media. I post pictures of my cat, I have tweet conversations with my peers, I share posts I find interesting with my communities, I take instagram images of food that I'm about to eat. I have a busy community of fellow social media users doing the same. It works.
I manage feeds for my clients, I post stories about their company, I respond to engagement they get, I share posts that are on target for their communities. I hope that by doing this I'm providing content which will stand out in the increasingly populated news feeds of others.
I find it really frustrating when I come across content which promises the earth and delivers a snow globe. The focus on producing as much content as possible often means that the quality of the content is underwhelming and lacking relevance. Yeah sure, populating the news feed by following your busy social strategy will get your content read, but, does it add value? Asking yourself the following 6 questions should help to limit the amount of transparent content appearing in our feeds.
1. Why am I posting this?
Without the answer to this question upfront, sealed within your mind as a goal, your content will end up with about as much direction as a spinning top. You should be asking yourself ‘why’ at every point of your content strategy journey. If your answer isn't 'to provide relevant and valuable content to the community’ then ask yourself again and again until it is. If you can’t reach that answer, don’t post it!
With an increasing amount of social media users, your company blog, Facebook page and or Twitter feed is no longer a secondary aspect of your business. It’s the go to area for most people when they want to find out about you. It should reflect your brand or the brand you are managing the social media for. If, when they get there you aren't giving them value for their click, users will quickly lose interest. Are you willing to put your brand reputation on the line because of a lack of direction/thought process? Probably not.
Make an impact, just make sure it’s for the right reasons. Not because you have to post regularly or because it's a KPI of yours. Be sure it gives people something to learn from, not fall asleep to.
2. Who is this for?
Not everyone who follows you is waiting on the edge of their seat for your next post. The majority of your community will only tend to look at your content if it speaks to them directly. By this I don't mean populating Tweets with user handles;
Hey @john @paul @ringo – read this story that you will find really interesting (9 times out of 10, they won’t)
Address your audience needs and tailor the content accordingly. What do my followers want to read? How can I produce content to match that? Speak to them, without addressing them. Interest them without holding a gun to their heads.
Find the right tone of voice for your company and stick to it. There is no point using overly educated terminology when talking to users of a teen hair care product, similarly don't use confusing street slang or text speak when your consumer base is mostly adults who may not understand. Find the right tone and stick with it, this won't happen overnight but will benefit you in the long term.
3.What do I want to achieve?
Are you looking for more web traffic? Answers to a question? More Followers? Work this out before you write your tweets or status updates. This will allow you to give a clear call to action increasing the likelihood of decent and relevant engagement.
What you want to achieve dictates the type of post you generate. Want click throughs? Add a link. Want engagement? Make sure you add a question. Want more shares? Use imagery. This sounds incredibly simple and it is, but it’s something which is missed on many occasions.
4.When am I posting this?
Consider what your audience are up to at the time you post. This is a tactic frequently used in TV advertising. We won't see a children's toy advert following the watershed for a reason. The kids are mostly in bed. Your social strategy needs to adhere to the same logic.
Knowing when your audience are online is integral to the post’s success. According to Sysomos your Tweet will receive 92% of any retweets within the first hour of its life. Remember that perfect tweet you posted that lacked any engagement? Yeah, it was probably posted at the wrong time. Find out when your audience is using their social networks and capitalise on it.
5.Where am I posting this?
Do you understand the differences between your social platforms? If you do brilliant, go forth and post. Remember that each platform should have its own content plan, even if the content is similar, not all content works across different platforms.
In my spare time I run a pretty cool food blog. We post our recipes to Tumblr where the blog lives, then we distribute the content to both Facebook,Twitter and Instagram. Each of these three platforms has a separate community to my Tumblr and thus I repurpose the body copy of the post to suit them. Do I then go and post my recipe to my Linkedin profile? No. Why you might ask. Simply put, it’s not an appropriate platform. I’m not a chef, I have no connections in my professional network who would gain anything from it being there. Also, it’s already on four other more relevant platforms.
There are all too many instances of people and companies blanket posting content across multiple platforms. Stop it, it looks sloppy. Turn off your ‘Share to Facebook’ option when you tweet and vice versa when you status update. Remember, your Facebook community is likely to be different from your Twitter followers, likewise with Linkedin, G+ and the rest. So don’t offend them by sharing from another platform that they aren’t a part of. Social media followers are precious commodities. Make them feel loved, not like just another face in the crowd.
6. How else could this be said?
I find that caution when writing posts for social media helps to prevent silly mistakes. Rewrite your content several times. Yes, it's time consuming but a poorly worded update will only mean less engagement. It will also dramatically decrease the risk of you damaging your online reputation. Poorly worded content distracts users. Makes them question you. Don’t let that happen.
I read a tweet yesterday which read ‘Manchester was found in the 1st century’ ….really? Was it lost before that?
There is too much pressure to post now, this second. You should be able to know in advance what you are posting and allow yourself the time to make sure you are posting the right update first time, every time.
You, Community Manager, Tweet Officiando, Facebook Champion are the best judge of this. What would you click on? What makes you interested and how did it do it? Think of those posts and shape yours in a similar fashion.
Sharing directly from a website article? Take a moment to reword the pre written message to at least make it sound like you wrote it. After all people, you are the one posting it. Tailor it to sound more like you or your brand.
Simply put, if you wouldn’t read it. Don’t post it!