Many small businesses that start a social media campaign expect to be an internet sensation with just four updates. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. It takes time, consistency and research to start seeing follower engagement.
Just because it is a slow and steady race, doesn’t mean that you should give up on it. As explained in this previous blog post, the top ten benefits of social media marketing include: brand recognition, improved brand loyalty, opportunities to convert followers to customers, higher conversion rates, higher brand authority, increased website traffic, decreased marketing costs, improved search engine optimization rankings, richer customer experiences and improved customer insights.
If your small business is struggling to see results on social media, keep reading to learn about what it takes to go viral, when to post on social media and valuable insights into posts that trended online.
Building Follower Engagement
I’m sure you’ve all heard the term “viral” before, but what does that mean? “A viral post is something that has been shared, copied and spread across all social platforms. On Facebook in particular, going viral means that a post has generated a great deal of attention in the form of a high number of likes, shares and comments,” according to studioD.
While there is no guarantee a post will go viral, here are some tips from Sprout Social that can help increase user engagement:
- Know Your Audience
This could be the most important tip: know your audience. Sometimes having a million likes isn’t as important as having 15 likes from actual customers. When writing blog posts or social media updates, create content that is relatable and useful to your followers. Give them something they can use and share themselves; this is more effective than trying to post something that you think “everyone” will like.
- Make an Emotional Connection
Emotion is one of the biggest factors that motivate people to act. Whether it is eating, crying, laughing or exercising, if people are motivated to do something, they tend to do it. A study by Help for Depression found that the more positive language used in a post, the more “likes” it will receive. If possible, keep content on the lighter side and appeal to the emotions of your audience. Even when posting about a tragic event, try to appeal to a brighter future.
- Share Your Own Work
An easy way to get more eyes on a new website update or blog post is to share it on your social media accounts. When you share a blog post on social media, make sure you add interesting and intriguing commentary that will make people want to know more. This also brings traffic back to your website and will expose fans to other articles you’ve published.
- Integrate User Generated Content
This is a fun and appealing way to get followers involved with your social media campaign. An example of user generated content is the “Straight Outta” meme generator. The NWA film “Straight Outta Compton” got the internet community involved by offering a way for people to make their own meme (my personal favorite is credited to Khloe Kardashian). This not only became viral, but got people to market the movie without doing much. If your business wants to go the meme route, make it something universally appealing, relatable and fun.
- Create Useful Content
How can your post and information help other people? When writing blog posts and posting articles to social media, think about what people can do with the information and how they can use it. Writing “How-To” blog posts is one proven way to help readers and establish yourself as an industry leader. Sprout Social shared popular links that had high engagement in the weight loss field. Here are blog posts relating to weight loss that did well:
- How One Woman Lost Nearly 100 Lbs by Making Weight Loss Fun: 670,000+ shares
- Wine as a Bedtime Snack Helps With Weight Loss: 590,000+ shares
- 30 Detox Drinks For Cleansing and Weight Loss: 280,000+ shares
Notice that all of the headlines and content are very direct, clear and actionable. Someone reading any of these posts can immediately take action on what they’ve read. And because all of the posts have practical advice, people are more likely to share it with their friends because it’s helpful information.”
- Have Great Timing
We often recommend that business owners write a week’s worth of posts at once so you don’t have to come up with something every day, but staying on top of trends is also a crucial component. If your industry topic (baking, motorcycles, pets, etc.) has an event taking place or is dominating television, post live during such activities. This will allow you immediate and direct insights into what fans are saying and can lead to a conversation. Don’t forget to use or create a hashtag to generate a conversation feed on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
- Use Visuals
Visuals in social media is incredible important and cannot be understated. In an extensive study, BuzzSumo analyzed over 100 million article shares and found that articles with images are twice as likely to be shared than posts that do not. Keep reading to learn more about image requirements below.
- Get Your Content in Front of Influencers
This tip may be the hardest but more effective of them all. As Sprout Social explains, “Getting your content Tweeted out or mentioned by an influencer can take your blog post from behind the curtains and right onto center stage in front of thousands of new people. And there are two ways to get them to take notice:
- Hope that they stumble upon it on their own
- Tell them about it
A lot of people take the first approach. But if you want to increase the likelihood of getting influencers to discover your content, then you have to take a more proactive approach. That means reaching out and letting them know that you’ve just created an infographic, guide or blog post that you think they would appreciate.”
When reaching out to influencers directly, research articles they’ve already shared and add something new to the conversation. Also, if it’s possible, find out how they like to receive content. They may prefer to be tagged on social media, direct messaged or sent an email; this may not be mentioned, but better to check than not.
What Viral Images Have in Common
As mentioned above, visuals get twice as much interaction than posts that do not include a picture, meme or infographic. When adding images to your social media routine, keep these four tips in mind for optimum engagement.
- Bigger is Better
Whether you create the visuals yourself or find them online, make sure they’re as high-quality as possible. You want the photos representing your brand to be crisp and clear, not blurry or with a bunch of pixels.
- Use Faces
Whenever possible, include faces in your pictures. Even if your readers don’t know the people in the photos, they’ll still be able to identify with them better than with inanimate objects. Plus, sites like Facebook prioritize images with faces in their algorithm, making them more visible in users’ news feeds.
- Take Your Own Photos
Give your followers a look into behind the scenes at your business, or go for a walk outside and take pictures of anything relevant to your industry. Make sure you keep a camera on you all the time so you can snap a picture whenever inspiration hits.
- Invest in Photos
Depending on how many new visuals you need on a regular basis for your digital marketing strategy, sometimes it’s worth it to invest in a stock photo site membership. Some allow you to buy credits and purchase per photo that you need whereas others have subscription plans that allow you to download a certain number of pictures a month. There are websites out there that offer high quality photos for free, but it generally takes more time and effort to search through their images, so ask yourself how much your time is really worth as you make that decision.
As important as images are, videos also play a role in high levels of engagement. Check out this article on Using Visual Content in Social Media Marketing for even more information and tips.
When to Post on Social Media
As important as great content is, timing is everything. You could craft a picture perfect post, but if you schedule it at the wrong time, it could disappear into the internet abyss forever. Pair timing and content together for a great social media campaign and follow this guide from Tech.co for when to post on each different social media platform:
Facebook: The best days and times to post on Facebook are Thursdays and Fridays between 1 pm and 3 pm. Of course people love to burn time before the weekend on Facebook!
Twitter: The half-life of a tweet is just about 24 minutes (that’s short!). For best chances of likes and retweets, post at 12pm, 5pm and 6pm Monday to Friday. Since the life of a tweet is so short, you can share the same content multiple times a week or so later without looking like you’re repeating yourself. Just make sure you introduce the blog post, infographic or meme in a new way.
LinkedIn: Surprisingly, the most effective time to post on LinkedIn is on weekday evenings; the best time to post is between 7pm and 10pm.
Pinterest: The two best days of the week to post on Pinterest are Saturday and Sunday, with 8pm and 11pm being the most popular times for engagement. It is also important to spread your pins out so as to not flood your followers’ feeds.
Instagram: This platform has a wide open timeframe for posting; anytime on weekdays expect from 3pm to 4pm are good for engagement. This gives busy business owners plenty of time to get a post in during the day.
As mentioned above, there is no guarantee that your social media post will become an internet trend and “go viral.” What you can do, however, is use expert tips and advice to make your updates appealing to your customers and followers. Following tips from popular content, using the best images and posting at the most popular times on social media are all ways to give your content the best chance of high engagement. Contact us today for a free complimentary consultation with our CEO and check out these additional blog post for more information on going viral:
- Social Media Sites: The Most Popular Platforms – Part 1
- Social Media Sites: The Most Popular Platforms – Part 2
- The Evolution of Social Media for Business
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