If you have any kind of online presence – as a brand, an organization, a thought leader – you’re already behind the times if you haven’t expanded that presence to include social media.
Assuming you have, and given the billions of people active on various social platforms, what could be preventing your social shares from skyrocketing?
There are various reasons:
- You’re putting all your eggs in one basket. Are you focusing all your efforts on one platform? This can be detrimental, especially if your target audience may be more active on other platforms.
- You’re spreading yourself too thin. On the other hand, you may be present on too many social platforms, making your efforts less targeted. This results in a strategy that is not optimized.
- Your message isn’t enticing clicks. You need to understand your target audience to know how to phrase your tweets or shares to increase click-through rates.
With these concerns in mind, here are actionable tips to rapidly grow your social shares.
The Top Platforms
For starters, recent research shows that the largest social platforms of 2014 were:
- Facebook, ~1.35 billion active users
- Instagram, ~300 million active users
- Twitter, ~284 million active users
- LinkedIn, ~187 million active users
- Pinterest, ~70 million active users
You can share whatever you want, wherever you can, but the key to rapidly growing your social shares is to let the right people know about your content. The “right people” can be broken down into two groups – your target audience and influencers who have reach.
For instance, with my personal project, StartABlog123.com, I don’t do any marketing on Instagram and only occasionally on Pinterest. However, if I were to start a fashion blog, I’d primarily focus on those networks because fashion blogging is image-focused.
Instead, most of my social media presence is focused on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, where I get a good mix of my target audience (people who may be interested in starting a blog) and influencers who can spread my message.
Now, let’s look at each of the five most active real platforms and discuss how to improve your social sharing stats on each.
Facebook exploded as a personal social network, but it has changed over the years, encouraging businesses to communicate with customers by paying for ads. Paid ads increase your reach, but that doesn’t mean you have to shell out advertising dollars to grow your Facebook presence.
- Keep it simple. Make it easy for your readers to find you on Facebook with “Follow us” buttons and “Share” button. Similar to an email subscription list, a large Facebook Fan Page can keep your followers up-to-date on new content and offerings.
- Add a unique, catchy caption to your updates. Don’t just post a link and use the same title. Make a bold statement, use an intriguing statistic, ask a question, and make sure your image shows up.
- Post during peak hours. Using Facebook Insights and BufferApp, you can determine the times when most of your readers are online and update your accounts to maximize your reach and engagement.
- Post shareable content aside from your own. Share articles from other sites that also provide useful, practical content your target audience would appreciate. Sometimes curating other online content can make you the “go-to” resource in an industry.
- Tag brands, influencers, and other fan pages in your posts. When sharing other articles, tag the person or page in your caption to notify them. They will usually re-share the page and help you reach more potential readers.
- Interact with your followers. When you get comments, reply. Encourage discussion. Give your brand a personal touch.
- Run contests. People love free stuff, even if it requires them to “Like” or “Share” your page, give you an email address, or whatever your requirements for entry are. A $20 Amazon Gift Card can convince thousands of FB fans to follow you, providing a far higher ROI than Facebook ads. Just make sure you follow Facebook’s contest terms.
- Share a positive message, quote, or meme. Facebook users love upbeat and motivational/inspirational updates they can share. While you can always post random quotes you like, it’s more powerful when you tie the message into your brand some way. For example, a cosmetics company with an empowering message directed towards women.
If you need practice writing copy, Twitter can be a great place to test different strategies and word combinations. Tweeting requires 140 characters or less, thereby forcing you to optimize your message to still get people hooked. Use these tips to get your followers and RT counts up.
- Write the perfect bio. Your bio should tell people everything they need to know about you – in 160 characters. Example: what you do, your goal, and a quip. The more interesting, successful or important you seem, the more likely people will follow you.
- Limit your character count. Leave space for readers to add a comment when re-tweeting. Generally, 100-110 characters is a good range.
- Tweet on the weekends. People are active on social media even during the weekend, so don’t slack off on your days off.
- Tweet often. Accounts with 15,000+ tweets usually have over 100,000 followers. The more relevant content you curate and share, the more opportunities you give yourself to be found.
- Use scheduling tools to streamline your process. Find the optimal number of tweets a day. This will help you manage tweeting over the weekend. BufferApp is a great tool for scheduling and has an in-depth study on the frequency of social media posts. BufferApp also gives you the opportunity to allocate 15 minutes a day to planning a handful of tweets throughout the day, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business.
- Harness the power of hashtags. Using the right hashtags will increase the likelihood of people discovering your tweets. Social tools such as Hashtags.org, Tagboard.com, and HashtagScout.com can aid you in discovering trending hashtags.
- Use the @ symbol to tag people. When tweeting an article, “tag” the author by using their Twitter handle. If you have a tweet that is relevant to certain influencers, tag them as well.
- Retweet other people, especially influencers. Give and take is what it’s all about. Retweet other people’s tweets. Be part of the community.
- Reply to tweets. Show your followers that you care about what they have to say. Whether their tweets are positive or negative, let them know they’re being heard.
- When you’re unsure about your social media strategy, learn from the best.
Originally perceived solely as the social network of professionals, LinkedIn is quickly becoming a great destination for your content and social media marketing strategies. If you want to expand your blog’s horizon, you can’t ignore the additional dimension LinkedIn offers.
- Create a professional and credible profile. Showcase your credentials and give yourself credibility. This is very important when reaching out to influencers, brands, and freelancers who will inevitably Google your name to learn more about you.
- Include a LinkedIn button on your blog. If your website or company leverages your personal brand (think Neil Patel of QuickSprout, CrazyEgg, and KISSmetrics or Rand Fishkin of Moz), make sure you tout your credentials via a LinkedIn account. It also helps if your LinkedIn account displays a high volume of endorsements.
- Endorse people. This feature alerts others to your presence, making them curious about you. This can lead to viewing your profile and even visiting your blog. Be careful in endorsing, and make sure you do it truthfully without expecting any endorsement in return.
- Send connection requests. And not only to people you already know. You can send connection requests to people you want to get to know via message. It’s definitely a lot easier to get someone’s attention this way, just make sure to write a personalized message instead of sending the generic, auto-populated text. First impressions count!
- Join (or start) a group and participate. LinkedIn Groups are a great way to find like-minded people to connect with. Join appropriate groups and build relationships by commenting, asking or answering questions and sharing your content when relevant.
- Publish content on LinkedIn. The LinkedIn publishing platform is relatively new but has finally been rolled out to everyone. Publishing content can increase your visibility and accelerate organic views to your site.
Instagram recently surpassed Twitter in popularity by hitting a whopping 300 million active monthly users. You can mine this data-rich user-base by doing the following:
- Stick to a central theme. Go back to your blog’s central theme and stick to that when posting pictures on Instagram. This keeps your users focused on what you have to offer and prevents you from losing your brand’s identity. Trying to be everything to everyone results in being nothing to anyone.
- Post regularly. There’s nothing like a stagnant account to make users unfollow you or forget your brand. Find your posting cadence (once a day, perhaps) and stick to it.
- Use hashtags. Increase visibility and shares by using hashtags. The same concepts that applied to hashtags on Twitter apply here. There’s no shame in consistently piggybacking on trending conversations to build brand awareness. Just make sure the conversations are relevant to your company’s image, products and/or services.
- Only post interesting, high-quality images. It’s all about photos, and your posts need to meet the high standards of Instagram users. Be picky about what you share.
- Use editing tools. Make your photos look better by editing them. Use Instagram’s built-in editing features, Photoshop, or a powerful photo editing service.
- No filter. While filters manipulate photos in a fun way, sometimes the best filter is no filter. Take a good photo and let it speak for itself.
- Show your Instagram photos on your blog and/or your Facebook page. Let your blog readers, Facebook fans, and Twitter followers know you’re on Instagram. Entice them to follow by displaying your Instagram feed on your sidebar. Here are some of the best WordPress plugins to show off your gallery.
Pinterest has been viewed as the underdog in the social game, but if your audiences skew towards women, you might find success here.
- Make it easy for readers to pin photos from your blog. Every blog post should have a shareable graphic or image; they increase engagement and click-through rates. Use a plugin like “Pinterest Pin It Button for Images”, which allows your readers to pin an image with one click.
- Organize your boards thoughtfully. Once boards are created and named, there’s no changing them. Make sure you put some thought into creating boards so that there is no overlap and users can follow the theme of each board easily.
- Use high-quality images. Pixelated, unclear or tiny images will not get pins. Don’t post boring stock photos that no one wants to admire.
- Write catchy captions. Add your own caption to your pins to make them more interesting. A generic or boring description makes visitors less likely to follow you.
- Repin, like, and comment on others’ pins. This is fairly self-explanatory – the more active you are on a platform, the more exposure you earn.
- Follow other boards with similar themes. This will increase the chances of follow-backs and, consequently, shares. Follow backs and cross-sharing are two ways to encourage an influencer’s followers to follow you as well.
- Invite other users to pin to your boards. Not only will these users probably follow you back, but they’re also likely to share your pins with their own audience.
What this collection of tips and tricks boils down to is best practices across platforms. There is no magic, silver bullet to creating social posts that get noticed. Like any craft, in addition to competence, it takes a bit of courage and creativity to rise above the noise.