I was recently working with a client who had hired two interns to create content for his insurance company. The two young guys updated the company’s Twitter feed four times a day, Facebook twice a day, and posted content to Google+ and Linkedin daily. At first, everything looked good, but the actual results were terrible.

The CEO was pissed, and he wanted to give up on social media. As I was looking over the Tweets and Facebook posts these social media experts had created, I quickly figured out that the problem was in the quality of the content they were putting out. The content wasn’t inspiring, it wasn’t creative, it wasn’t something I would share with my friends or colleagues.

Today, creating content for the sake of creating content is useless.

Creating great content is an important aspect of every company, whether it’s a small business or a huge brand. Still, so many companies don’t understand the rules of the game.

Here are my top 10 social media tips:

1. Give value, give value, give value, and finally ask

You have probably seen quite a few businesses that have a Facebook page and a Twitter handle, and all they tweet and post about are their new products or services. Please don’t do that. Instead, focus on putting out awesome content related to your niche and then promote your stuff once in a while. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t sell on social media (that’s the main goal), but you should be smart about it. The age of disturbing the consumers is over. The old kind of marketing strategy worked 10 years ago, but today, it’s just not effective. Don’t expect your audience to use your service or buy your product if you are constantly interrupting and not providing real value.

Figure out how are you going to create value for the audience. You can write blog posts, start a podcast, or start doing something with videos. The focus has to be on the quality of the content. Think of it as a friendship, where in the beginning you have to establish trust. When the trust is there, you can promote, sell your services, and you will be surprised about the improved results.

2. Your content has to be native

What I mean by that is that you shouldn’t put out content created for Twitter and throw this same exact content to Pinterest and then publish it to Facebook, Instagram, and to Google+ as well. You have to take the time to learn the differences about every single platform. Every social media platform has its own language, and it’s your job to make sure that you’re not a tourist there. Don’t be that guy who posts a funny cat GIF or motivational quote to every single platform including Pinterest and Linkedin (yes, that happens).

You can determine the target audience by answering these questions:

-Who are they? (gender, age, background, etc.)

-What kind of services do they use?

-Where are they from?

-What expectations do they have for certain platforms?

When you have the answers to these questions, you have a general idea of what kind of content you should create.

3. Act like a real person, not like a brand

Be emotional, be real, be authentic. Take time to figure out what your voice is and what you are representing. The truth is that nobody wants to see cheesy stock photos and replies to comments that are way too formal.

Put yourself into the shoes of the customer and think if you would rather do business with a company who actually puts an effort into giving value and helping the customer, or one that’s super formal and distant. I usually tell my clients that they should respond in the same manner on social media that they would respond to their cousin who they haven’t seen for years. Not too formal, not too casual. It will take some time, but you will find the sweet spot.

According to Gallup, 94% of social media users use it to connect with friends and family. Don’t forget that. If you interrupt the consumer too much, you will lose their interest. Respect your audience, and they will respect you.

4. Analyze everything

There is no point in putting out content when people are not going to see it. It’s not smart, and it’s costing you money. Figure out when your audience is online and most active and post then. There is no magic formula for that, you just need to test and see what gives the best results.

When it comes to post length, there is a rule of thumb that a blog post should be more than 1500+ words. Quick Sprout research showed that longer posts get shared more.

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Only Seth Godin gets away with his 150 word blog posts. When it comes to picking a day to publish a blog post, Mondays and Thursdays are the best days according to Hubspot, who did a study on 170,000 blogs.

5. Make a plan

Yes, I know that making a plan can be time-consuming, and it may seem like a useless move. Still, when it comes to social media, you must have a detailed strategy before you even start creating the content. Believe me, this will save you so many headaches. You have to know how many times a day you post a tweet or when you have to upload a photo to Instagram. I’ve seen business owners who try to remember all of this, and believe me, it never works out well.

Find answers to these three basic questions:

-What social media networks are you going to focus on?

-Who is in charge of creating the content?

-How often are you going to post to certain platforms?

One thing to watch out for is that if you’re not active on a particular social media platform, there is no point in keeping it there. There is a high chance that a potential customer wants to have a conversation with you, and you’re not there to respond. Don’t let that happen to you. Be active on particular platforms, and put your focus there. It’s better to do a great job on 3 platforms than a poor job on 15.

6. Automate smartly

Scheduling posts is a smart thing to do because it can be a hard thing to keep track of all the time. Just don’t forget that, and don’t schedule too much ahead because trends change quickly, and you need to be on the top of everything.

When it comes to interacting with your customer, you should never automate that aspect. Don’t you just hate when you send a company a message and you get an automated message back? Everybody hates it; don’t do it.

7. Be personal

It’s the easiest thing you can do, but it’s so bloody effective. For example, if you get a new follower on Instagram, there is a feature called “Instagram direct” which lets you send a photo to your follower. Send a photo of yourself with a smiling face, and you will be amazed about the feedback.

My personal experience has been that 9/10 people have positively responded to that and have been fans ever since. When it comes to Twitter and Facebook, you can use text or even video. Be creative. Don’t forget that every blog post you put out and every tweet you reply to will help confirm your business identity.

8. Be part of the conversation

It’s a pretty good feeling when your favorite brand or celebrity answers your question, isn’t it? You can make your audience feel the same exact way by answering every question, feedback, and complaint. Don’t worry, you can usually answer the question in just a few words, but remember never ever leave customers’ comments without a reply.

When a potential customer sends a question, recent research by Lithium Technologies states that consumers have high expectations for brands. According to Lithium, consumers who tweet to a brand expect a response within the hour. When the tweet is related to a complaint, it increases to 72%.

9. Pick the social media platforms wisely

Don’t give up on a social media platform just because you didn’t find it relevant to your company. I remember Gary Vaynerchuck talking about a businessman who heard about Snapchat when it had just launched. The CEO read a few articles about it and understood that it was only used to send cat photos and selfies. The businessman made up his mind quickly that his business couldn’t use this platform, and he left it behind. The truth is that you can make everything relevant if you’re creative enough.

10. Keep your eye on new platforms and features

You don’t want to be the last one to learn about a new platform which could be beneficial for your company. People who started using Instagram or Snapchat right when it came out have a massive advantage over people who started taking it seriously when it was already popular.

When it comes to changes and new features of old platforms, you have to make sure that your company is taking full advantage of them and not just leaving them behind. Many people have no idea what Facebook dark posts are, Instagram direct message, or Snapchat story. Learn how to use them effectively, and figure out if you can make them relevant to your business.

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Conclusion

Social media marketing may seem like a living hell when you first start off, but it gets easier as you go along. Start off slowly and you will see how beneficial it can be for your company. Don’t forget that the reason why so many great brands and businesses use social media is that it produces actual results.


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