I wrote this article to help friends and customers understand how to create compelling posts on social media to boost their business goals. It's not going to tell you everything you need to know about social media. Still, it will give you some fundamental insights into how to make better posts that lead to higher engagement with your audience.
Who is it for, and what do you want them to do?
This is a pretty broad point to cover and could benefit from a more comprehensive article somewhere down the track. But the upshot is this:
Know your audience and give them something that will add value them - not you.
If your post is all about self-promotion and bragging, then it's a shit post. Always be giving value in your media. Entertain, enlighten, enrich and engage.
Equally important, you should have a plan for the post. What do you want your audience to know, do, feel or click? Some common and sensible post goals are:
- To get likes, shares and comments. Seriously, if the post isn't worth one of these, then why are you posting it? Likes, shares and comments build your audience and demonstrate that your page has some ongoing appeal to your followers. This gives legitimacy to your brand and gains you even more followers.
- You want to generate some conversation or get some feedback. It's a bit like the previous point but more slanted towards getting value from feedback and an exchange of ideas on your page. Comments on a social post are usually massively rewarded by algorithms by extending the reach of your post.
- You want to drive traffic to your website with the offer of something free or value-adding. Part of your overall marketing strategy may be to lure people back to your website so you can tag them for future retargeting. (insert evil laugh)
- You want activity on your site or landing page, such as a special offer, sale or coupon or to contact you.
Call to Action (CTA). No matter what your goal is, make sure you include a clear CTA. CTA's are proven to increase the action taken on your post by factors up to 300%. A good CTA's might look like one of these:
- Click here to get your 20% off coupon
- Tag a friend who is this clumsy
- What do you think? Is it just a scam?
Choose an extraordinary picture.
In my opinion, the most critical factor for the success of your post is the image. Why? To understand this, you need to appreciate how we new media drones take-in information.
We are so used to being overwhelmed with information that we devise our own internal systems for disseminating which bits, we will give our attention to. We have become accepting of the fact that we cannot physically or psychologically absorb every single piece of information presented to us. So we each create our own mental filtering algorithms. Studies show that most people will start with the imagery associated with a post and then cull irrelevance from there.
Most of us will scroll down our phones on a platform like Facebook and scan between images and headlines - deciding which posts to give our limited time to. This is why I advocate that the image or first few seconds of video is so important. It needs to be extraordinary because "it's the picture that pauses the scroll". An image that disrupts our perception of ordinary or average, and pauses our scrolling has a stronger chance of conveying the message in the words that accompany it. It gives our message a better chance of getting through.
Understanding where the eyes go.
Closely linked with the point above, studies have shown that social media viewers have, on average, a very particular way of determining their interest in a post. And it usually goes something like this:
- Post copy
So when designing your post, you should keep this in mind.
- An extraordinary pic to pause the scroll
- A value promise in your Headline (see below)
- Confirm the promise in the ad copy and tell them how to claim their reward
The Headline - offer some value.
The Headline should offer some value to the viewer. Once the image has got their attention, it's up to the Headline to make clear the reward it's offering. If the bonus has value, the viewer will look at the post copy to get more information on the offer.
A reward should hone in on your ideal customer's pains and gains. Some examples of a cunning reward headline are:
- Save $50 a week with this app
- This shirt never needs ironing
- I promise you will LOL to this
- 50% off - right now!
Links and CTA
Links in your social posts is a pretty common practice, and in many cases, it's an essential part of the post. So here are my tips
- Shorten your links using a URL shortener such as bit.ly.
- Repeat your CTA and shortened URL. Don't ask me why this works but I promise you it does.
- Sometimes On certain platforms more than others; it has been found that posting the link in the description of the post can limit its reach. This is because most social media platform algorithms penalise a post for taking traffic off the platform. I recommend experimenting with the following:
- Dropping the link into the publisher to generate a link preview,
- Skipping this and merely including a shortened link with a CTA,
- Direct your audience to the comments section for the link
- A combination of two or all three
If you are selling products, link them.
This is something a surprising number of e-commerce businesses don't know about. Facebook and Instagram allow you to create a shop on the facebook business page. Alternatively, you can link to your Shopify site (or similar) and synchronise products that way. In any event, you can tag posts and images with products you sell, providing a direct link for consumers to visit your site click on the product. If you are not using this feature, I am busting to know why. If you want to know more about this feature, read this article I wrote.
How social media algorithms work and when to boost a post
Too many business owners don't understand how social media algorithms work - another blog for another time. The most important thing to know is that just because you post it, doesn't guarantee ANYONE is going to see it. You may have 2000 followers, but that does not mean that even 10 of them will see your post.
In most cases, a social media algorithm will work something like this: The platform will serve your post up to a small number of your most active followers. If they engage favourably with your post, the platform will display it to a few more of your followers and so on over a specific period. If the engagement is high, the post might be served up to more of your audience over a few days or even a week. But this is rare. In most cases, the platform will want posts to be recent, and so its useful lifespan is really only going to be a few days at most.
The more engagement your post gets, the more of your followers will see it.
Similarly, if your post performs poorly, the algorithm will punish it for being shit and stop displaying it to any of your audience. In some cases, the platform might even penalise your page if you consistently serve up underperforming posts.
You should also note that social media posts, in general, are rewarded for the value they add to the platform you post them on. Think of it this way, if Facebook's goal is to make their platform more social, for people to share stories with friends and groups, then you need to keep that vibe to reach more people.
Linkedin's goal is to generate discussions within industries and enable business connections, you should tow that line when you post there.
Paid ad campaigns aside, the decision to boost a post is simple. If it's getting a lot of likes, comments or shares, it's winning. And if it's winning, what potential value would it achieve with a boost? If the answer is a reward that is directly linked to your business goals, boost away. And If your post has a proven popular, keep doing more of the same in the future.