If you’re serious about internet marketing, then you need to step up your social media game.
Research in 2019 shows that over half of the world’s population is now on social media—an increase of 9% over 2018.
But far too many marketers create ineffective social media strategies that only turn away followers instead of winning them over.
They’re too pushy, too friendly, or too predictable.
But how can you make sure you truly engage prospects on every social network without burning through relationships and losing the attention you’re trying to get?
By the end of this article, you’ll understand how to grow your brand on social media the right way, engage followers like never before, and build lifelong fans.
Even better? You’ll learn the best strategies to keep social media management under control without spending your entire workday on social networks.
Let’s jump in!
1. Be authentic and provide real value
Before you get started with social media marketing, think carefully about why people use social media in the first place.
While there are exceptions, few people log onto Facebook or Pinterest to chat with their favorite brands.
Instead, they’re there to socialize, the see pictures from friends and family, and to find something entertaining to do.
As marketers, we’re clearly intruding.
As we start marketing on social media, one of our biggest objectives is to be authentic and make the experience enjoyable for people who are on social media just for fun.
If you want to succeed, you need to befriend your audience. Develop a persona your fans like and enjoy interacting with.
Think of the type of friend you’d like to have on social media, and emulate that persona. Be fun, humorous, and personable. Agree with fans, be honest, and make every interaction pleasant.
While this isn’t necessarily easy—and certainly can’t be done with just a “quick hack”—this is the true secret to successful social media marketing.
Once you can bridge the gap between “marketer” and “trusted friend,” you can accomplish just about anything on social media. But it takes time and effort to build up that reputation.
2. Show credibility (beyond just a brand account)It’s easy to set up an account for your brand.
Just upload a logo, enter the name of your company, and you’re set. But building credibility is much harder than that. Vanity doesn’t have a place on social media, so you need to go beyond.
First, show that you’re a real person and not just a brand account. Sure, there are times when you’ll need to present an “official” brand response. But for day-to-day interaction, show you’re a real human.
This is especially important if you’re the owner of a small business.
Second, explain what your credentials are. People are most likely to trust leaders on social media, rather than nameless social media managers.
A 2018 study by Brandfog showed that customers are 93% more likely to purchase from a brand after agreeing with the CEO on social media, so feel free to share your title and credentials.
Finally, be accessible. While it’s great to have someone in charge of social media, it’s equally important to show that you’re a team and you work together.
Include employees from across the company in your social media marketing.
3. Don’t market too hard
So far, we’ve covered what you should do on social media: act like a friend, show your personality, and be honest and authentic.
But too many marketers spend time trying to market, and as a result, they lose a lot of the credibility they could have otherwise gotten by being more natural.
If you’re trying to make social media less overwhelming, it can be easy to use copy-and-paste strategies to keep customers engaged.
If you use lots of hashtags, constantly promote products, and repost old content too frequently it likely means you’re trying to find shortcuts to effective marketing.
Instead, take a step back and think about the true types of value you can provide to users. Don’t be on social media purely to make a sale, because it will backfire.
4. Create great content that earns shares
Want to know the secret to doubling your social media traffic?
The answer lies in creating amazing content. If you’re not creating content that deserves to be shared, guess what? Your fans and followers won’t share it.
So the best strategy to go viral is to work hard at creating great content and doing an excellent job promoting that content.
(We’ll cover specific strategies to boost the effectiveness of your promotions in an upcoming section.)
The best way to do this is to write content that over-delivers on the promise of its headline. That doesn’t mean to write weak titles—on the contrary, write incredible headlines and create content that’s even better than expected.
As you keep creating content, you can start picking up trends on the types of content your audience likes and building more and more effective content to keep people engaged.
A great metric to track is the bounce rate, which is the rate at which people leave your website after just one page.
If social media is only driving people to look at one page, then leave, you should probably work to create a more engaging experience on your website.
5. Set up your posts for success
We’ve established that you need to write great content to get people to share it.
But that’s not the only secret to a successful social media marketing strategy. You also need to put the effort into promoting that content the right way.
Great content without a great promotion strategy simply isn’t making very good use of your time. Here are the most important elements you can put into place to ensure people see and share what you create.
We already mentioned that your content should over-deliver on the promise of the headline, but you still need to have the ability to write great headlines.
First, test different headline options. One way to do this is by posting different variations to Twitter before promoting your article, and see which tweet gets the best traction.
Next, you can experiment with using numbers in your headline. Odd numbers tend to work best, but again test and see what’s best for you.
Social media cards
Different social networks have different types of metadata. Optimize for it to make sure your article shows up well in the feed of a user.
When planning URLs for your content, you want to make sure they’re clear and show users where they’ll go when they click.
If you don’t have a clear direction in your URL format, you might get visitors to click away not realizing what you have to offer with your site.
Another option is to use a custom URL shortener, which can also add a new element to your brand on social media.
(Social media sites usually recommend against generic shorteners like Bit.ly, since they don’t let the user know where a link will go.)
When a post is shared on social media, the text is usually chopped down to just a few sentences. Make sure those first few sentences in the snippet say exactly what you want.
Use keywords and phrases that clearly explain to the user what the post is about to encourage more clicks. And of course, keep the whole snippet interesting and click-worthy.
6. Use amazing images
Without images, the internet would be a very different (and dull) place. So when you’re creating content, be sure to include some captivating photos or graphics to ensure you grab the attention of your fans.
Plus, social media leans toward visual content and you’ll be more likely to succeed if you include powerful images in your content. Including an image boosts your chances of success.
A few best practices for your images include to keep it simple, focused around one subject that tells your story as clearly as possible.
And make sure you include an image that works well with different types of social media display resolutions and layouts. Don’t let an important feature get cropped accidentally.
7. Optimize everything for mobile
In 2019, nine out of ten people accessed social media on a mobile device. Are you reaching those people as effectively as you could be?
There are a handful of factors you need to consider to effectively reach people on mobile devices.
First, ensure your website displays correctly. If users click through to your website through social media, you want to present them with a great layout they can quickly use and understand.
If you don’t have a mobile-first responsive site yet, now’s the time for an update.
Next, you want to make sure you coordinate well with social media and ensure your profile picture, cover photo, and any media you share displays well on mobile.
Remember that mobile devices range in sizes, so test on a handful of display resolutions in addition to your device.
8. Build a reputation for your name and brand over time
With every piece of content you publish, you’re gradually shaping the reputation both for your brand and your personal name over time.
The only question is—are you shaping a reputation you’ll be proud of?
While it’s nearly impossible to understand exactly what ranking factors play a role in the traffic Google sends your way, there’s a good chance that brand reputation plays a key factor.
While Google moved away from their “authorship” feature years ago, much of that data is still available and search engines likely know who is authoring each post.
With that in mind, it’s a good idea to think carefully about what you’re putting your name on. Make sure you’re creating quality content because what you write today could influence your social media influence and search engine rankings ten years from now.
9. Optimize your conversion rate using psychology
When it comes to your social media strategy, it’s easy to get carried away with vanity metrics like social shares, clicks, and likes.
While these are important components of a successful social media campaign, the real data isn’t in engagement but in conversion rate and sales.
As you measure your campaigns, look for metrics like new subscribers and customers to understand whether you’re succeeding or not.
The Internet is full of strategies for boosting conversion rates, and the best methods are based on proven psychological principles.
For example, you should make it absolutely clear what the desired action is, include a bit of curiosity in the headline, and use short, punchy language that draws the reader in.
10. Don’t be afraid to get creative
Want to start seeing huge success?
One of the best fresh tips for social media is to start coming up with your own ideas. By using the strategies of your competitors and social media experts, you can only get so far.
But when you start coming up with your own methods, the sky is the limit. You can put your creativity towards your biggest campaigns in social media and discover strategies others have never even tried.
Some of the most creative campaigns we’ve seen involve using social media to coordinate an offline adventure, experience, or giveaway.
Other brands have used social media to surprise fans with custom-made images, gifts, or other unexpected rewards for their loyalty.
11. Explore new social networks
You already know you should be on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
But did you know that the average American has 7.1 social media accounts as of 2019? That means if you’re only on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you’re missing four other accounts.
You see, different audiences prefer different networks. And it’s your job as a marketer to learn which social media platforms will give you the best return on investment.
Start exploring the most important types of accounts for your target market. For example, if you’re in an international market you might consider WhatsApp, WeChat, and QQ.
Professionals are more likely to be on LinkedIn, teens on Snapchat, gamers on Twitch, and so on.
Don’t get stuck in a rut with your social media accounts. Talk to your audience, learn what sites they visit, and test and experiment with a presence on all of them.
The best social network for your brand might even be one you’ve never heard of.
If you’re a marketer, social media can bring your dreams to life.
Never before in history has a single brand been able to keep up conversations with fans and potential customers around the world, all with the tap of a few buttons.
You have a huge amount of potential influence on social media, but only if you use it correctly. Show your true face to fans across the networks you use and be true and authentic.
It’s also a good idea to create content that deserves shares and engagement. Don’t take the attention of your fans for granted, because you’re always competing for every second.
Use the best principles, education, and lessons you can find to make sure your social media campaigns become successful. But just as importantly, think outside the box.
Don’t be afraid to come up with new techniques and strategies others aren’t using. The creativity you use can set you apart from others in your field.
How will you start growing your brand on social media?
About the Author: Richard Eaves is a Digital Marketing Specialist for Smart Traffic, a multi-award winning agency. He developed a passion for SEO while working as a webmaster, and has gone on to help a multitude of SME and blue-chip companies with their digital campaigns. His particular specialties are technical onsite SEO and content development. Catch up with him on Twitter.