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10 Ways to Win with Social Media

While the social media landscape continues to evolve rapidly with new live-streaming networks like Periscope and Meerkat, the big three still remain dominant. Each network has its own unique tools and formats for locating and engaging your intended audience(s). If you want to compete in the attention economy, you’ll need to take advantage of the tools they provide.

Facebook

This is the big one: 1.5 Billion users and counting. On Facebook you’ll find a larger audience than any other social media network, and you can target audiences at a granular level by geo-location, gender, interests, profession, income, purchase history, and more. The one catch is that you probably can’t make the network perform for your brand unless you do three things: Pay-to-play, respect the algorithm, and hook the reader.

Respect the algorithm (but don’t be a slave to it)

 Facebook doesn’t want to flood users’ “newsfeeds” with branded content anymore than Google wants to serve unhelpful sites to searchers. Their users are their livelihood, without an audience to sell they have no income, so they put those users first. This is why Facebook pages no longer thrive on organic reach alone.

Similar to Google Panda’s “content quality score”, posts that perform indicate content worth serving. Your content has to be visually arresting, have a catchy headline, and ultimately be of value to your Facebook audience. Remember, paying for audience can get your ball or boulder rolling, but ultimately the content must serve the reader. Good is no longer good enough — you must be the best answer for your audience’s pain points.

But you’re looking to make money, not throw it away. So respect the brutal efficiency of Facebook’s algorithm (and Google’s several algorithms), but don’t obsess over it. After all, you have goals and purpose for your content, and your time is better spent writing useful, high-quality content than waging a costly war against the system.

Hook the Reader

The attention spans of online readers, and specifically social media users, have shortened considerably. Sure, Facebook won’t limit your post to 140 characters, but studies show that a 40 character headline on a link post (if it leads to amazing content) will reach an exponentially larger audience. Ideally that link post will also pull in a great image to catch the reader’s eye. Paste the link in, wait for the link-post info to appear, then delete the link. The entire box for the link-post serves as the link, so your only job is to write a catchy blurb to draw interest. As for the link content: you can edit the headline, summary, and even upload a new photo (if you’ve created solid content on the other end, you probably won’t need to edit).

Pay-to-play. This may sound counterintuitive to the spirit of community building and social media, but it works. While great content is still the most important factor for success on social media, Facebook’s unforgiving algorithm makes it difficult to reach your followers. On the up side, you can reach a much larger targeted audience by utilizing paid “post boosting”, and for now it’s still one of the cheapest ways to advertise.

Target your intended audience, set a budget, and watch your posts perform. You can ever utilize Power Editor to tweak a series of posts (called “ads”) set up under different campaigns, then upload the changes when you’re satisfied with your Facebook marketing masterplan. Paid reach won’t force mediocre content to perform, but it will help great content reach your intended audience–hooray for targeting! The best part is that paid reach will also keep your organic reach rolling. As long as the post is being consumed, liked, and shared it will roll forward. You only pay for some of the fuel, not the momentum.

This image (probably copyrighted by Facebook) is from a more in-depth article by Megan Marrs on Wordstream.

Twitter

Boasts a slightly smaller but substantially more active audience that can be engaged with in real-time, directly or publicly, at scale. There are so many opportunities with this wildly popular platform: branding, content marketing, community building, customer experience, and even product promotion. But even diamonds have a hard time being seen in a sandstorm, let alone shining. Here are three ways to find the right audience and be found: Lists, Cards, and Chats.

Utilize Twitter Lists

Getting organized consumes time, but marketing without organization or strategy wastes time. Think of Twitter lists as your customer list, email list, phone contacts, a directory, or all of these things. Lists can be either public, where people can subscribe and see that you have added them, or they can be private. Public lists are great for community building. Join them, search them, find people to follow–this is happy hour.

Private lists are for gathering prospects and targeting them. Not as sinister as it sounds, if you’re serving them valuable content. A more “grey hat” but legitimate use is to create lists of your competitors’ customers. Lists get you organized, so that you can reach the right audience(s). Then it’s all up to you. Be helpful, be honest, and remember that relationships take work and time.

These are the top six of my own public list titled “Social Media Pros”. Follow them for awesome tips & insights!

The Twitter Cards are in your hands

Cards are Twitter’s ad system. They allow you to structure tweets with media and target audiences. Using the various types of Twitter cards, you can craft content to purpose. Some are free, some are paid, and all require some tech-savvy. But they must be lucrative because Forbes came out with a “definitive” guide last year. I prefer the detailed, personable “Everything Guide to Twitter cards” –another gem from Buffer blog.

Twitter Chat with purpose

Chances are there’s already a Twitter Chat related to your industry or niche. The obvious big ones are centered around social media (#H2HChat, #HubChat, #Sbizhour, etc.), but there are plenty of others from #edChat (education) to #HayTalk (farming). The basic structure is simple: create a short, intuitive hashtag like those I’ve named; prepare questions which you will Tweet out with “Q1.”, “Q2.”, etc. and chatters will answer with “A1.”, etc.; set a time that doesn’t conflict with another popular chat in your niche; and finally, be prepared to engage, be helpful, and answer questions from your audience.

If you’re interested in starting a chat, participate in established chats to get a feel for it. There are also some helpful tools. I use Tweetdeck with columns for notifications, tweets about the chat hashtag, and favorites. That way I can watch the chat, reply when I’m mentioned, follow-back, and favorite to keep up with tweets of interest. There are also 3rd party Twitter clients, likeTweetChat and Nurph, that provide analytics.

Me and a few of my tweeps answer: “Q1: Why is it valuable to articulate a purpose/mission for your community?” on #Bufferchat circa 2015.

I’d also suggest more in-depth articles like Twitter Chats 101 Buffer’s Nicole Miller. In the first year of #BufferChat they reached approx. 60.6M Twitter users––definitely some ROI there.

LinkedIn

Long-form posts on LinkedIn Pulse

Even if you prefer to publish on your branded space, consider LinkedIn Pulse as a second home for your content. LI is a huge platform for reaching B2B customers and colleagues. Why not leverage that audience with LI Pulse? Compose and save drafts right in your browser. The tool bar resembles an e-mail client, but you can always compose elsewhere (Word, Google Drive, Hemingway, etc.) and then paste your articles into Pulse. Include, but don’t stuff, relevant keywords so that your updates can be found.

Share popular posts

Not every brand can afford to create content full time, but there’s lots of great content out there to share. Sharing shows that you value others’ content, and motivates others to do the same for your content. Make sure you actually read this user-generated content, because your share indicates a recommendation. Also remember, this shared content can and should support your own goals and messaging.

Under “Your News” you’ll find what your followers are publishing, and the “Top Posts” link will display trending stories. You can also search in the same box used for searching jobs and people by selecting “posts” from the dropdown menu on the left. Make sure to leverage @ mentions for the author, blog, or company you’re sharing from. Hashtags aren’t necessary here.

Grow your network using groups

Networking is the lifeblood of business, and LinkedIn is the B2B social network. But networks don’t nurture themselves, they require participation, conversation, and sharing. Before you jump into it, research the groups you should join. You can view statistics for any group, even those you aren’t in by looking at the group page, finding the cog icon (top right), then clicking “Group Statistics”. You’ll see stats about member locations, their industries, and more. Find a busy, relevant group or create your own. Participate in discussion, make friends and grow your reputation. You can even email your group once a week, but I’d recommend establishing solid relationships first.

“But that’s not enough LinkedIn-fo!” Craving more? Try Hubspot’s Ultimate List of LinkedIn Tips

Most Importantly

Don’t forget to be human

Success on social media depends on human-to-human relationships. Establish connections and nurture relationships with your social audiences. Be helpful, provide value, and in return earn the trust and attention of your audience. There are usually many options for customer’s to choose. Often what differentiates yours from another are the experiences they have throughout the customer journey.

two people drinking coffee

Have you tried any of the techniques listed above? Any great social media tips you’d like to share? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Note: This post was also published on LinkedIn Pulse and Medium.

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