The world of social media is new, but not so new that there aren’t a host of “professionals” shouting their version of best practices to anyone who will listen. While some of these seem to be spouting nonsense, there are plenty of useful statistics available from reputable sources that collect and analyze raw social media data.
Dan Zarrella of HubSpot is a great example because his metrics are easy to read and make sense. This information acts as more of a topographical map than a road map in that it makes no promises to get you to your desired destination, but it does provide a lay of the land so you have a good idea whether you’ll be walking, swimming, or flying there.
Twitter is full of accounts that promise to get you “500 Facebook likes for $4.99,” or “1,000 new Twitter followers for the price of a day old baguette!” For businesses, and anyone really looking to make an impact with their social media, this is worthless. In social media, quality precedes quantity to the degree that if you aren’t posting quality content, having a large quantity of followers is actually a detriment to your goals. So what things really make an engaged social media user decide to “click?”
As you might be expecting, the answer is not a simple list for you to copy and paste in an email to your boss. It starts with your audience. You and your team need to establish a strategy that your desired audience will respond to.
Let’s imagine I am part of your target audience. I am a twenty-seven year old college educated male with interests in art, music, sports, and global politics. Beyond the established best times to post and optimum post length statistics, it’s the intangibles that are going to get me clicking such as:
Interactions between people I know
If I see that two accounts I follow have interacted with each other, I’m very likely to click on that interaction and see what the conversation is about. From there I’m likely to explore one (or both) of these pages, and then click on or follow one or two pages linking from there. Even if I was not setting out to check a certain page on social media, the interaction between two separate parties I’m interested in is enough to draw me in.
Don’t clutter your posts
I am likely to scroll past a post that is littered with too many #’s, @’s, and links, even if it might have value for me. When too much text (in an already limited space) is dedicated to content outside of the post’s main message, it takes away from the perceived value of the actual content. The same is true for canned headlines like “You Won’t Believe What 9 Things These Crazy Savages Do With Their Breakfast.” First of all, deep down, I probably don’t care. And second, I tend to feel insulted by the use of such saccharine bait. Unless you’re playing to a dense crowd, don’t make them feel that way.
Post with reasonable frequency
An account rattling off any more than two posts in quick succession or posting the same content day after day or multiple times in one day are both on the fast-track to an unfollow or unlike. But an account that posts once a week is not going to provide enough content to make me feel like they are truly a useful source of information. Be present but not overbearing.
Use eye-catching images
This means color, contrast, diagrams, and bold text. I am much more likely to stop and check out a post with an eye-catching image, even if the content turns out to be not exactly what I want. The same is true with language. Obviously, there wouldn’t be such silly headlines like the one I invented above if they didn’t work at pulling people in, but they are a fad, and our feeds will be devoid of them as soon as everyone gets used to them. Create your own headlines and use unexpected language to get readers’ gears turning and their fingers clicking.
Image credit: CC by Roxie Rampage