By Zuleyka Zevallos, PhD
Your Social Media Tip of the Week is about posting more effectively on Facebook. Some of the general rules work for many industries. For example, provide useful information (one to two lines maximum) and post a link back to your website if it’s your blog post, or to the original source. Be sure to get involved with the conversation – post at the times that your audience is online and respond to questions and comments. Yet these rules don’t necessarily work for all industries. Let’s go through some example of niche audiences for brands and organisations that aim to inform or contribute to social good.
How to Write
It goes without saying that you should be ingenious in what you write about and clear in your writing. Many small businesses, community and educational organisations make the mistake of only posting about their services and events in a perfunctory way. For example, “New report out now,” “Special on our products,” or “Seminar on community health starts tomorrow.” Don’t just hawk your products and services.
Write about what you know and be generous about sharing your knowledge and expertise. If you’re a health company, then write about the industry. Provide tips and research that will help your audience. If you’re a community organisation for children, then write about parenting advice and use research on children’s development.
Stick to your expertise. Provide advice that is balanced and well-informed, but written in direct, easy-to-understand langauage. The trick is to balance entertainment with education. Most of all – be creative. Post original information and useful advice.
The more you post is obviously better because there is more of a chance that more of your fans might be exposed to your posts. Your posts should be timed for optimum impact. Community organisations and small businesses are especially likely to post at the times that suit them, which may not necessarily suit their followers. They do not hire a social media expert to run their social campaigns. This means they might send out a flurry of posts at odd times of the day such as morning or night, but within a quick succession. Then they will forget about their social media at other times of the day.
Use objective data to determine the most successful posts, don’t just rely on your personal observations. Facebook provides information about when your followers are online, which can help you target your posts for maximum exposure.
Facebook works differently for personal accounts than it does pages. On your personal account, Facebook pushes your friend’s activity to the top hoping you’ll interact more regularly. For pages, it’s actually the opposite – posts are pushed downwards. This is why social media analysis tools are important to success. Facebook reports that only 16% of page posts are seen by followers. This is because Facebook tries to push businesses and organisations to pay for advertising.
Buying inflated “likes” won’t help you make a connection with your niche audience. In fact, you open yourself up to spam or inactive accounts that will lower your page’s visibility. Large brands that can afford to pay for online advertising get around this by investing a lot of money, time and other resources to manage their social media. If you’re not prepared to pay for advertising, then organic growth is slower, but it can be done!
Be persistent in posting high-quality material, and you will reap higher results over the long-term. If you run an international organisation or your audience is mostly overseas, then use a service like Buffer to schedule your posts at optimum times. Plus you will receive important data about the level of engagement on your posts, such as the number of people who clicked on your links and how many people interacted with your post.
Don’t Forget to Engage
Sprout Social reports that the proportion of consumer enquiries made on social media have increased by 178% from 2012 to 2013, but only 20% of these are answered by companies. This defeats the purpose of social media. For organisations, social media is both a customer service platform as well as a public relations medium. Don’t neglect the “social” aspect of social media.
Use Bold Images
Don’t just drop a link into a post. People rarely engage with click-only posts unless it’s a large news service. Even then, most news sites understand the power of a strong, high resolution image. Include great photos on your post (and of course credit sources and observe copyright laws).
Invest in making your own graphics that are specific for your industry and audience. Hire someone to do this for you or be prepared to start taking ongoing courses on design. You can do a lot with Creative Commons images (though be careful about licensing rules) and many photo stock companies offer plans to buy royalty free images. The latter are especially important for branding.
Designing professional and captivating images is very time consuming work, but if you’re serious about social media, make use of professional services or take the time to do this right. It will definitely pay off by lifting engagement. Make beautiful images that enlighten people’s minds and that people will want to share.
Length for Niche Audiences
The one-to-two-line rule about length may not suit niche industries. For example, community service providers that have an active audience seeking specialist information may be more open to longer posts.
I find it’s best to start with the above rules and then slowly test them. Write an occasional longer post at different times and on different days, testing to see engagement from your community. I have found some of my clients’ audiences as well as the communities that I run are hungry for longer posts, while other Facebook audiences I work with are happy with short and punchy or visually engaging posts.
Social media is about telling interesting stories and making people’s lives better. Even if you’re writing for a “captive” audience – such as loyal customers or community workers who are heavily invested in your message, your posts still need to be well crafted and visually interesting.