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      How to Promote Your Blog on Social Media


      You’ve worked really hard to get where you are. Go ahead, toot your own horn. You deserve it. We know running your own website can be lots of hard work — and that’s not even counting the challenges, learning curves and (probably) late nights you’ve endured in the process of getting where you are now.

      That being said, nothing is more demoralizing than putting your best efforts out there on the web for everyone to see, then scanning your analytics and seeing low page views on your blog or website. Sure, numbers aren’t everything, and traffic takes time, but likely you’ve started producing content with the hopes that you can get eyes on your site, and ultimately, the website you’ve worked so hard to create. We want that for you, too.

      Mobile phone screen with apps.

      In an effort to expand your marketing toolbox and drive rush-hour-loads of traffic to your site, we’re chatting social media — the deets of each channel and how to utilize various platforms to promote your blog. Goodbye, single-digit stats. Hello, Page views (with a capital P)!

      Social Media, an Overview

      For many of you — especially the web savvy and in-tune millennials — interacting with social media is as habitual as breathing. You do it without thinking. Scrolling, snapping, double-tapping; it’s second nature. You know social media well, especially in the how and when of your engagement with it — the average American spends two hours a day social-ing — but let’s look at it from a more analytical perspective. To start, some numbers:

      Internet users are social. That much is obvious. And from these numbers alone, we can see that social media is a big market, likely under-utilized or misused by many sites in generating traffic and promoting blog posts. Thus, tapping into these platforms means big business for the promotion and growth of your blog. How? Let’s analyze it as a marketing tool.

      Social Media as a Marketing Tool

      Time to don a new hat — that of a marketer. Ninety-one percent of retail brands use two or more social media channels, and 81 percent of small and medium businesses use some kind of social platform. To build and engage audiences, you need to be socially connected to generate more traffic to your site.

      Because social media platforms can experience a high volume of traffic and engagement, you’ll want to leverage those crowds to bring eyes to your website or blog. Plus, it’s a budget-friendly way to market your blog (hey, we know the purse strings are tight!)

      How? First things first. As we mentioned, you can probably garner a lot of useful social media info based on your own social habits, but consciously keeping your finger on the pulse of social conversation (think of it as honing your social listening skills) will help you better understand how to launch your social media plan of attack to build your site traffic.

      Plus, social media is always changing and evolving, so you need to be in tune with social platforms to keep up with the most effective marketing methodology for each one. Don’t sweat algorithms too much, just keep learning and testing what works best for your audiences.

      Social media channels also present a useful two-way system of accepting user feedback and gathering relevant user-generated content.

      Using social media as a marketing tool doesn’t have to be tricky. We’ll walk you through some social media marketing best practices, then investigate how you can you utilize each unique social channel to promote your content and start building traffic on your blog.

      Buckle up — and grab a pencil: it’s time for Social Media Marketing 101.

      Social Media Marketing Best Practices

      Social media marketing requires individual, customized efforts (as we’ll discuss later), but there are a few good-for-traffic practices of general application that you can implement in your efforts to market your blog.

      Link It

      Users won’t want to dig around to find your content or an obscurely-hidden link to your blog. Make it easy for them to locate you by putting a link to your site on all of your social media channels. Make it visible and easy to navigate. When your social media content engages them, they’ll want more — so make it simple for them to connect with you and access your blog or website.  Also, try to keep your handles consistent across your platforms. That will make it easier for audiences to find you — and easier for you to build a cohesive and recognizable brand. (Yes, even blogs have brands!)

      Autoblog's Twitter profile.

      Autoblog’s Twitter profile has a handy and convenient link to their blog direct from their bio.

      Make it One-of-a-Kind

      Even though most social media channels have the same basic underpinnings (sharing content, connecting with others, etc.), that is really the only tie that binds them. Each platform structure is unique and they each operate on different models.

      That being said, the way you promote your blog or website on social media cannot be one-size-fits-all. The marketing of your blog on Instagram will likely not work on Facebook, and what works on Twitter will definitely not work on Pinterest. You get the idea. Plus, social content just CTRL+C-ed onto each platform is not only lazy, but it could be off-putting to audiences — this repeat approach can appear spammy. You definitely don’t want that.

      As you develop plans to promote your blog posts on social media (see next point), take each platform into account. Tailor your content to each platform individually based on the mechanics of each channel. (Learn more about these models in our platform breakdown section to follow.) And know this: you don’t have to have 15 different social media accounts. It’s 100 percent fine to pick a few and focus on excelling at those. Know (and respect) your limits.

      The WP Beginner website on Facebook.

      The WordPress Beginner website adjusts how they present the same content on Facebook and Twitter.

      The WordPress Beginner website.

      The WordPress Beginner website adjusts how they present the same content on Facebook and Twitter.

      Stick to a Schedule

      With everything you have to do to keeping your website up and running (we know the to-do list is never-ending), you’ll need a way to stay organized — and keep yourself sane — as you promote your blog on social media. After you’ve planned out tailored content for each channel, schedule your posts so you can set them and go. Programs like Hootsuite or CoSchedule work excellently for this multi-channel scheduling.

      Plus, scheduling content ahead of time helps you keep content consistent and tap into the best posting times for each platform without forcing you to be online every second of the day. It will take time to figure out the best times and posting frequency for each platform, so don’t worry if you have to keep tweaking and refining your social media scheduling.

      Create Buzz with Campaigns

      Rather than just a here or there tweet or Instagram post, you can use social media to attract audiences to your blog in new ways. By creating social media campaigns (and using hashtags in the right places), you can implement focused, concentrated efforts that can yield a greater return on engagement and traffic to your blog. Plan timely campaigns by setting goals for your desired engagement and how that engagement will translate to new blog traffic.

      Girls Scouts on Twitter.

      Girl Scout’s ongoing #BecauseofGirlScouts Twitter campaign gives them a unique way to share content, and — bonus — invites lots of user-generated content from followers and influencers.

      Stay in Tune with Trends

      From now on, view (creative) bandwagoning as a good thing. As you hone your social listening skills, you can learn to tap into the pulse of virtual buzz and social trends on each platform and customize content to utilize the already-built hype to fuel your efforts to find new audiences. Whether you’re riding the wave of the #InMyFeelingsChallenge, the latest iPhone emoji, or an upcoming holiday (National Pizza Day, anyone?) or season, the natural conversation of buzz-worthy topics can serve as traffic-building vehicles.

      Maria of lifestyle blog The Glam Greek.

      Maria of lifestyle blog The Glam Greek utilizes the buzz of #NationalReadaBookDay to engage ‘grammers and promote her blog.

      American Airlines Facebook post.

      American Airlines uses Facebook to share content related to the trending #NationalCameraDay topic.

      Lego's Royal Wedding-themed Instagram post.

      Talk about relevance: Lego’s Royal Wedding-themed Instagram post was promotion perfectly timed.

      JetBlue's Star Wars-themed holiday Twitter post.

      Embracing the Star Wars-themed holiday with a smartly-designed tweet? Social media marketing brilliance. Kudos, JetBlue.

      Promote Across Networks

      Let your social media marketing efforts work together. Instead of merely recycling content across platforms, share unique content on each platform that connects users to the content on other platforms — for example, you could share a “behind-the-scenes” moment on your Instagram story while sharing a post excerpt or reader comment on your Twitter. This only-get-it-here method of social marketing will help encourage users to engage with you on multiple platforms — thus getting even more exposure to your marketing efforts.

      Optimize for Mobile

      Ready for a whopper of a fact? Here goes: 91 percent of social media users are accessing social channels via mobile devices. With the total number of mobile phone users reaching more than 5 billion (up 4 percent from last year), more people than ever are accessing their social media channels on the go. Simply put, this means that your content — both on social media and on your website — needs to be mobile friendly, optimized for smartphone-toting audiences, whether they are commuting to work, on their lunch break, or in line at the supermarket.

      People on train platform looking at their phones.

      Don’t Neglect SEO

      Just because you’re intent on upping your social game to bring increased traffic to your blog doesn’t mean you can ignore the necessary task of optimizing your content (and website) for search engines. We’ve got A-plus guides to SEO — check them out here.

      Keep Your Eyes on Analytics

      Because social media changes so often, and marketing on the various platforms can be a trial-and-error process, you need to keep tabs on what’s working — and what isn’t. A social monitoring tool like Sprout Social or Social Report can give you valuable insights on social media activity and the results of your marketing efforts.

      Also, take notice of the referral section of your blog analytics. Where is your traffic coming from? Are audiences flocking from Instagram? Then you’re doing well on that network — so keep continuing efforts there. Little to no crowds visiting your site from Facebook? Looks like you know where to evaluate and adjust. Staying clued in to analytics helps you not only keep your audience in mind, but also continue improving your way to blog success.

      Breaking Down the Platforms

      Let’s break things down. Since there are so many social media platforms these days (it seem like a new one pops up every day), we’re going to cover five main channels, identifying what marketing efforts might look like on each platform, and what’s important to know about each individual social network.

      Each channel offers you many different ways to promote your content, so it’s important to be familiar with each — including character limits, demographics, and optimal posting times. Still, the time to be a social media guru is now — the practices that are most effective on social media often change over time, so it’s essential that you keep up your social know-how. That being said, it’s time to log in!

      Facebook

      • Usership: One billion active daily users
      • Main Demographic: 18-to-29-year-olds make up 82 percent of users
      • Key Times: 9 a.m., 1–3 p.m, Thursday–Sunday
      • Ideal Posting Frequency: Once a day
      • Post Character Limit: 10,000 but only the first 480 characters are visible in the timeline. The rest are hidden with a “See More” link. So, hint: best to keep your post to 480 characters or less. The rest of your text will likely not get seen. In fact, reports show that the optimal length for engagement is less than 80 characters!

      Even though to some it may feel like the millennial version of Myspace (aka the web’s ghost town), in reality, Facebook is still ruling the social media game, with total users reaching almost 2.17 billion at the beginning of 2018. Plus, (with the exception of people over the age of 65) more than half of Americans in each age group are Facebook users. That’s a significant range. Because it largely dominates the social landscape, it’s important — even crucial — to understand the platform in order to promote your blog well.

      A recent Pew Research Center survey revealed that a majority of adult Americans — 73 percent — use Facebook. That being said, it remains a primary social platform, and while total time spent on Facebook daily has decreased over time to 35 minutes, it is checked the most frequently of any platform — eight times a day. Eight!

      Facebook allows you to promote your blog via your profile, pages, and in groups. Keep posts visual — meaning, include high-quality images — and consider putting your link in the text field instead of using the automatic link preview post. This hack has shown to help increase engagement on your post. Plus, another plug for visuals: images on posts are automatically added to your Facebook album so your audiences can access them (including your links) in one convenient place.

      Use engaging and inviting text on your posts, encouraging your community to share their thoughts and opinions. And even though it’s tempting — like, aren’t they awesome for turning posts into searchable content? — avoid using hashtags. They’ve historically not been great for engagement on Facebook.

      Staples Facebook post of a vintage lunch box.

      Loving this timely, fun, and engaging post from Staples.

      Switch up the times you post and the text you use to promote your blog content (keep it fresh!) in different areas of Facebook, whether that be on your main page or in groups. Don’t shy away from resharing evergreen content mixed with other useful and relevant content.

      K.M. Weiland's Facebook page.

      ‘Author and writing blogger K.M. Weiland uses Facebook to encourage conversation and promote useful blog content.

      If you’re looking to venture into Facebook (or other social) Ads to promote your blog, read up on social media advertising with a guide like this one.

      And the last word for keeping things mobile optimized: 19 percent of time spent on mobile devices is spent on Facebook. Just let that one sink in for a minute. Nineteen percent of all time spent on mobile devices. To build your blog audience, the content you share has to be mobile-friendly.

      Instagram

      • Usership: 1 billion monthly active users
      • Main Demographic: 18-29-year-olds make up 59 percent of users
      • Key Times: Weekdays (Thursday is shown to be the day with the highest engagement) at 5 a.m., 3-4 p.m.
      • Ideal Posting Frequency: 5 times a week
      • Post Character Limit: 2,200; 30 hashtags. The ideal length for captions is 138-150 characters, with 5-10 hashtags.

      You don’t have to be Selena Gomez or Cristiano Ronaldo — aka, Insta’s Most Followed — to effectively reach and target new audiences for your blog. Instagram is growing in big ways, (especially after its buyout from Facebook in 2012) meaning, the platform is ripe with possibilities for you to promote your blog or website.

      There’s a lot of love (and happiness) going around Instagram. Meaning, users double-tap more than 4 million posts a day. Because of this, the platform has the highest interaction rate of social networks, with 2-7 percent of users interacting with each post.

      That being said, there’s another stat to be aware of: 70 percent of Instagram posts don’t get seen. Yeah, you can blame the new algorithm for that one. Because ‘grammers are sharing an average of 95 million photos and videos each day, oversaturation can mean that audiences (including your potential traffic) aren’t seeing what you share. Because the network operates by using post page engagement for choosing content people will see, you need to work on acing your engagement game — meaning, getting people to interact with you. How? A few tips:

      Post Your Location

      Posts geotagged with a location earn 79 percent more engagement so let your audiences know where you are. You don’t want to give users your home address, but if you’re crafting content from an interesting location or visiting a site — share it!

      DreamHost post on Instagram.

      Yep, we’re on Instagram! Follow us for updates on our around-the-world adventures in hosting.

      Keep Track of (and Replicate) High-Performing Posts

      As you work to understand what’s effective on each social network and what isn’t, there will be (lots of) trial and error. Some posts will perform well, some won’t. That’s part of the learning and refining process. But to increase the likelihood of engagement (and ultimately, the traffic to your blog), keep a close eye on your analytics and replicate the elements of your most successful posts.

      Engage Yourself

      If you want people to interact with you, start showing some Insta love yourself. Comment and like social content from other blogs and websites similar to yours. Who knows, you may even (social) network your way to new, useful collaborations and partnerships. (See next tip!)

      Tag Team

      You don’t have to be ridin’ solo when marketing on social media. Likely, you will connect with other like-minded sites or businesses with whom you can mutually benefit in your work to promote your brands. Whether your partnering up for guest content on each other’s blogs, or simply promoting others’ posts, tag-teaming is always a good idea.

      Grammarly post on Instagram.

      Editing service Grammarly collabed with Glassdoor to provide valuable resume writing tips.

      Tell Stories

      A big part of Instagram’s recent growth is due to its Stories feature. It’s also helped increase the amount of time people are spending on the network — users under 25 years of age spent more than 30 minutes a day, while those over 25 spend more than 24 minutes a day.  Using stories — whether to link to new content, share sneak peeks of upcoming content, or build your brand — can help you increase your engagement and traffic.

      Employ CTAs

      Here’s a hopeful number for you: 75 percent (yep, three quarters!) of Instagram users take action — like making a purchase or hint, hint, navigating to a website — after visiting a post. Audiences are willing (and likely) to act, you just need to point them in the right direction. On your posts and stories, give your audiences specific instructions on what to do next — most likely, a link to visit your blog.

      Ace Captions

      Don’t worry. You don’t need to be a stand-up comic or prolific wordsmith to create captions that engage. But you should think about them. A lot. Hastily throwing up a haphazard caption isn’t just lazy — it’s a missed opportunity to attract new audiences to your site. Showcase your voice and the personality of your blog by crafting captions that are playful, smart, and character-conscious.

      Airbnb post on Instagram.

      Airbnb’s Instagram captions give you wanderlust with vivid details and a storytelling feel.

      Re-read before posting to catch spelling or grammar errors and to identify any other potential mistakes. Also, make sure to plan out and utilize relevant hashtags. Don’t stuff (hand-pick a few) with unnecessary or inaccurate hashtags just to get seen.  

      Utilize User-Generated Content

      Businesses and websites aren’t the only ones generating impressive content on Instagram. Often, run-of-the-mill everyday users can provide you with great social content. And if they’re sharing, commenting on, or otherwise engaging with your blog or content, that product is gold. Share it!

      Letterfolk post on Instagram.

      Letterfolk embraces the creative projects of their customers to promote their product.

      Gal Meets Glam lifestyle/fashion blogger Julia Engel.

      The Gal Meets Glam lifestyle and fashion blogger Julia Engel shares user-generated content with customers of her dresses.

      Be Business Minded

      Even if you are not peddling a product, you are selling something when promoting your blog: your content (and your brand) — so maintain a business mindset when deciding what, when, and why to post. Eighty percent of Insta users follow a business on the platform, meaning that audiences aren’t shy about engaging with and keeping tabs on accounts they like. (That could be you!)

      Show Your Face

      So it doesn’t necessarily have to be your face, but reports show that Instagram images featuring faces get 38 percent more likes than faceless ones. Whether you want to take your own photos or invest in high-quality stock photos, make sure to get some people in your shared images.

      Humans of New York Instagram post.

      Humans of New York is one of the best examples of people-centric social images. And their stats are proof: it’s engaging.

      Twitter

      • Usership: 330 million monthly active users
      • Main Demographic: 18 to 29-year-olds make up 36 percent of users; 22 percent of 30 to 49-year-olds.
      • Key Times: Wednesday, 9-10 a.m., 2 p.m.
      • Ideal Posting Frequency: 15 times a day
      • Post Character Limit: 280 (images and beginning-of-tweet handles don’t count toward the limit). Ideal character amount is 71-100.

      Content on Twitter is high volume (there are more than 350,000 tweets sent every minute), which is why sharing or retweeting a higher number of tweets every day is OK — and why it’s easier to get lost in the shuffle if you’re not crafting and tweeting out good content that’s well-worded, well-timed, and accompanied by strong visuals. Because 42 percent of Twitter users access the app every day, you have daily opportunities to build traffic to your blog.

      Spotify post on Twitter.

      In addition to promoting their site’s content in creative, visual ways, Spotify uses Twitter to engage audiences in conversation.

      That being said, Twitter isn’t just a way to tweet out links to new blog content. It’s also a way to communicate with audiences. Engage with users by leveraging Twitter chats, responding to comments, sharing polls, and utilizing trending topics or hashtags to join buzzworthy conversations.

      LinkedIn

      • Usership: 500 million users
      • Main Demographic: 30 to 64-year-olds make up 61 percent of users.
      • Key Times: Wednesday, 3-5 p.m.
      • Ideal Posting Frequency: At least once a week, not more than once a day.
      • Post Character Limit: Varies

      Despite its long-held rep, LinkedIn isn’t just for suit-and-tie professionals looking to push their resumes or companies seeking their next great employee. LinkedIn is a social network that actually has excellent opportunities to market your blog and attract readers.

      Forty-six percent of social traffic to corporate websites comes from LinkedIn. It’s one of the leaders in driving audiences to business blogs, so it can be a good network to utilize for building your own blog traffic — and traffic that’s willing to act and more likely to remain loyal.

      Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts on LinkedIn.

      In addition to employee spotlights, fun trend-related posts (like their own Mannequin Challenge post), and company news, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts uses LinkedIn to share their killer content. #winning

      Long-form content gets the most shares on LinkedIn, so don’t worry about being long-winded. Create valuable content and take the space you need to do so, then share it on relevant Linkedin groups that will engage users and direct them towards your blog for more.

      And don’t forget visuals: posts with eight images outperform the rest.

      Pinterest

      • Usership: 200 million active monthly users
      • Main Demographic: 18 to 29-year-olds make up 36 percent of users, 30 to 49-year-olds make up 34 percent; 70 percent of users are women.
      • Key Times: Saturday, evenings
      • Ideal Posting Frequency: 5-30 pins a day
      • Post Character Limit: 500 characters or less for pin description

      Even though it seems like we’ve passed the heyday of Pinterest prime, the image-centric social channel is still fourth in popularity, and it continues to grow. Plus, Pinterest isn’t just for virtual vision boards (like that secret wedding board or ambitious meal plan pins you’ve stored). The platform actually offers you some really fantastic ways to promote your blog.

      Better Homes on Gardens on Pinterest.

      In addition to employee spotlights, fun trend-related posts (like their own Mannequin Challenge post), and company news, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts uses LinkedIn to share their killer content. #winning

      For example — while on many sites, branding content has become tiresome to audiences, 78 percent of Pinterest users welcome content from brands. Plus, the way you promote your blog content through pins isn’t just a one-and-done affair. You can continue to receive engagement long after you’ve hit submit. Users save your content and can continue to revisit it after time has passed. This gives your shared content a longer shelf life than most social media efforts have. Cool, right? Plus, in addition to blog content, you can create value by pinning material related to the theme or niche of your blog. This can help you build your brand — and your audience.

      Time to Target that Traffic

      Feel like a social media expert yet? Don’t worry. We know it’s a lot to process. And that’s only a sampling of social. If you’re looking for ways to branch out into new social territory when you get the hang of a few major channels (the ones that work best for your audience), look into other platforms, like YouTube (a social biggie), Tumblr, Google Plus, Reddit, Medium, Snapchat, and more. There are Google communities, vlogs, and reblogging to master next.

      Just know this: each social media platform offers you different ways to promote your blog. Not only do they differ by algorithms and operating models but also on character limits and image sizes, community interaction, main demographics and the tactics that make marketing efforts successful on each one. It will take time to find your social groove (and to stay on top of ever-changing social trends and models), but putting your best efforts into promoting your blog on social media will lead to your end-of-the-rainbow gold: more eyes on your A+ blog. Score!





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      10 Easy Social Media Tips for Your Hard-Working Small Business


      Whether you sell routers, pillows, shared web hosting, or car washes, your customers — and potential customers — are on social media. Not only do you need to be there too, but you also need to be there in the right way.

      Jumping into the world of likes, snaps, pins, and tweets can feel overwhelming. But if you know the basics, you can build a social media brand that supports your company the same way a loyal employee does. Follow these 10 rules as you start this journey.  

      1. Limit Your Platforms

      From Twitter to Snapchat, there are a lot of social media sites and apps out there that everyone seems to be using — plus another dozen you’ve probably never used or even heard of. However, being active on social media doesn’t have to mean using every social media platform there is. Choose just two or three and learn to use them expertly, rather than floundering your way through them all.

      To determine which two or three to pick, figure out where your business’ audience already is. One way to find out is by surveying your mailing list. You can also check Google Analytics to see which social media sites most readers use to find your website by looking under Acquisitions → Social. A third way would be to watch where your competitors and other influencers in your niche spend their digital free time.

      Once you’ve narrowed down your social media targets, it’ll be a lot easier to focus on offering quality content for your audience. (Plus, since you’ve only got a few places in which to learn the ropes, you won’t have to worry as much about making embarrassing social media snafus! Not that you ever would. We believe in you.)

      2. Plan Everything

      Although many people are attached to their phones, they are hesitant to actually use them for calling a stranger. Nowadays it’s much easier, often preferable, to post a question to a company page or feed. And if your company is too slow to respond, it will most definitely make you look bad.

      Social media, however, can suck up a lot of time for busy small business owners. That’s why we recommend picking one day a week to schedule all of your posts in advance and then checking in daily to review comments and answer questions. Schedulers like Hootsuite, Buffer and Sprout Social all allow you to sync multiple social media accounts and plan your posts in advance. You could also use If This Then That to apply a rule. (For example, “If I add a new item to my Etsy shop, automatically post a photo of it on my Instagram.”)

      Also strategically choose when you’re going to post. Morning is better because then you’re on the clock when questions and comments come in — as opposed to when you’re driving home in the evening.

      3. Curate Content

      Scheduling a week’s worth of social media in advance might seem daunting if you’re worried about where all that content is going to come from. But you don’t have to do it alone.

      Chances are you already see a lot of share-worthy content online that is extremely relevant to your business. For example, if you run a grocery for people with food allergies, you probably read a lot of articles about food and health in the news. Perhaps you’ve read relevant blog posts from chefs or health advocates. These types of content may come from other people, but as long as you give credit where it’s due, there’s no reason you can’t share these links.

      Sharing other people’s work isn’t just a useful way to provide content to your audience — it’s also just a nice thing to do. When you promote other people’s work (with attribution) on your social media accounts, it’s likely they’ll notice and perhaps even return the favor. Get into the habit of bookmarking helpful missives from other people so you can schedule them into posts.

      4. Be Pretty

      Taking Picture

      Gone are the days in which you can use boring or low-quality pictures. People expect professional businesses — even small ones — to have a social media image to match.

      While a slightly blurry photo may slide on Snapchat, that same picture will not translate well on Facebook viewed on a desktop, and it can subtly damage your reputation.

      A couple of options: watch tutorials on how to take good shots with your smartphone. Or track down someone with a nice camera who can spend a few hours taking pictures of your office, candids of your employees, and stylized products.

      If you decide to DIY, take multiple shots, pay attention to lighting (natural light is usually best), use the rule of thirds, and remember that a picture is worth a thousand words.

      5. Write Killer Captions

      As important as it is to have good images, a strong caption will take your photo to the next level. Review the following tips for making your captions captivating.

      Tell a Little Story

      You could introduce your new sales manager with a simple “Here is so-and-so” or you could share her experience selling Girl Scout cookies. Which one would make a lasting impression? Cookies. Always.

      Watch out for Repetitive Info

      You don’t have much space to capture readers’ attention, so carefully choose your words. Use the “location” tool if available so you don’t have to repeat that info. Avoid using the same word twice and be succinct.

      Always Proofread

      Reading your captions slowly and out loud will catch a lot of embarrassing typos. You’re just one “s” away from turning “assess” into a social media blunder.

      Avoid Clichés

      “And they’re off!” “We had so much fun today!” “We’re over the moon.” If you don’t see these phrases on social media posts every day, you’re not on it enough. Just kidding. But start to think of using clichés like filing your taxes — an annual event.

      Captions Just Want to Have Pun

      See what happened there? While you generally want to avoid clichés, you do have permission to take one, tweak it to make it relevant, and voila: you’ve just entered a whole new level of caption writing. Use this site to find the idiom that’s right for you.

      Run Captions by Someone Else

      Something that’s funny to one person could be offensive to another. And when social blunders happen online, people take note.

      Quality Is Way Better Than Quantity

      If you’re showing up too often in people’s feeds, you’ll look too eager and possibly annoying. Composing thoughtful posts or tweets twice a week will fare better than hastily sharing two every day.

      6. Harness Hashtags

      Who would have guessed that the symbol formerly known as the pound sign would have a mid-life crisis and rebrand itself as a hashtag?

      These little guys are A-list characters now, and using them correctly can help your business reach a wider audience. Obsessed with the venture capital world? Search for #VC on Twitter, for example, and you will find hundreds of thousands of posts to peruse — and lots of infographics too. Instagram now lets users follow hashtags specifically instead of individual accounts.

      Using popular hashtags for your field can help potential customers find you, but, like anything that should seem simple, there are a few dos and don’ts for this catchy form of communication.

      Do:

      • Use popular hashtags to garner a broader interest. Instagram, for example, quantifies how many others are using a particular hashtag  (Search function > tag tab). Say you’re in the business of selling bow ties. The most-popular hashtags are #bowtie, followed obviously by #bowties. Scroll down, and #bowtiesarecool, #bowtietuesday, and #bowtieready are other top options. Using all these hashtags will help you reach people who are obsessed with this form of neckwear. 
      • Include your company’s name and nickname in your hashtag list.
      • Jump on the #TBT bandwagon. #TBT, also known as Throwback Thursday, has more than 413 million TBT hashtags on Instagram. Read this article for more marketing tips related to this retro movement.
      • Try using hashtags to make people smile. If you’re selling socks, try something like #nostinkyfeet or #happyfeet.

      Don’t:

      • Use too many. Unless someone is really patient — or married to an employee — he or she won’t read through a long list of hashtags. Put the most relevant ones at the beginning and the funniest ones at the end, the two places people are most likely to read.
      • Create long hashtags. Since they are harder to read without spaces, limit them to four words.
      • Use hashtags that beg for bots to follow you. Remember that quantity is nice, but real, live people are best. And begging for followers is not professional. Avoid hashtags like #followme, #like4like, or anything else that could be considered pandering. 
      • Forget to proofread. Some words without spaces can be read different ways.

      7. Know — and Engage — your Audience

      Figuring out your demographic is an important step as you understand your audience. The more specific details you know about your customers, the more effective your social media messages will be. An easy way to start is to review the questions and exercises presented here.

      Another tip is to build suspense. Got a new product coming out soon? Tease it a few times before you introduce it at a specific time on your accounts. If your company is hosting a conference, highlight individual presenters via social media the weeks before registration goes live.

      You could also try hosting a contest or a giveaway. We all love the idea of getting something for nothing. One popular contest strategy is to give people extra entries in exchange for tagging a friend, who may end up following you. Check out a few more tips here.

      Instagram App on Phone

      Be sure to take advantage of the polls functions on Instagram and Facebook. They offer quick and painless ways to get into the minds of your customers. Or flat out ask a question in one of your posts. If you haven’t noticed by now, people are more than willing to share their opinions online.

      You can also get help from your fans. Gently encourage the people who already love your business to make it a point of discussion on social media. The easiest way to do this is to make your website effortlessly shareable. You can use the Social Bookmarks or Shareaholic plugin for WordPress to add one-click share buttons for a variety of different social media sites to each post and page. Since images improve shares, you can also use a plugin like WP Facebook Open Graph Protocol to ensure that your posts automatically include a featured image when posted on Facebook.

      8. Keep a Social Eye on Competitors

      Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? Obviously, copying everything your competition is posting is bad business. But looking at other accounts can also spark creativity. (And in reality, there isn’t a ton of originality on social media anymore, just everyone doing the same thing a little differently.)

      Ask yourself these things about your competitors — and other top brands on social media. What hashtags are they using? What kinds of posts are generating lots of comments or shares? What pins are getting lots of saves?  

      You can also look at the people who are interacting the most with your competitors — and follow those people too. If they are taking the time to converse about the field, there’s a good chance they will engage with you too.

      Beyond social media stalking, you could even try following or liking your competitors’ posts. Just because they’re rivals doesn’t mean you can’t be friends. Who knows? They may even like you back.

      9. Show Personality

      If you make people snooze, you’re going to lose — followers. Brainstorm with key people to conceptualize the image you want to present, but keep in mind that social media is all about fun. It’s an escape for people, and you want to be subtle as you promote your company — and even post things that aren’t self-serving.

      To get your creative juices flowing, consider these ideas and read the success stories of some other bigger businesses.

      Highlight Your Employees

      That guy who wears flip-flops year round? The woman who brings in a new scented candle each month for her desk? Share their stories, and you’ve got an opportunity to connect with followers.

      Showcase Your Customers

      Same idea here. Who was your first customer? Who was your last? Who’s your youngest? Who comes to your store every day at 2:15? It doesn’t have to be super unique — it just has to make people smile. Then, as people start posting and tagging your company, you can share their posts (assuming they’re positive and have high-quality images), and you’ve just scored some extra content in minimal time.

      Use Holidays to Your Advantage

      You know the main ones: Halloween, April Fools, Christmas, etc., etc. But then there are hundreds of other, slightly unofficial holidays that people go crazy for, like Star Wars Day (May 4), National French Fry Day (July 13 this year), and there’s even a Programmers Day (September 13 this year). Use this list and start brainstorming how you can use these “hashtag holidays” to influence your social media accounts. Don’t forget to tag these posts with the correct holiday name to reach a wider audience.

      Share Inspirational Quotes or Fun Facts

      Creating a simply-designed quote or a meme is another way to connect with your audience. Sending out happy vibes is always a good idea, just make sure you’re sourcing the right person and sharing accurate stats.  

      10. Product Promotions

      Always Link Up

      The product you’re touting needs to be a tap or a click away or else people will lose interest quickly. Including links on some social media platforms can be a little trickier than others. Instagram, for example, relegates links to bios and stories, and Snapchat has only recently allowed clickable URLs. But the extra seconds that it takes will pay off in the long run.

      Offer Discounts

      Who isn’t hunting for a good deal nowadays? Sharing discount codes or free shipping for followers will keep them bonded to your business. Forbes reported that 72 percent of Millennials search for a coupon before making an online purchase. Another survey said 71 percent of consumers follow specific brands on social media with the purpose of getting coupons.

      Connect with Influencers

      Influencers — the lifestyle accounts with large social media circles — live up to their title, and most thrive off of collaborations too. By connecting with an influencer and offering a free product in exchange for social media promotion, you’ll not only get a personal endorsement (the marketing equivalent of gold), but you’ll also get a potential new audience from their followers. Here are more details on what to expect if you dabble in influencer marketing.

      Purchase Ads

      We know, we know. We’ve spent the last 2,000+ words talking about how you can do this yourself. But hear it out. A lot of these social media platforms can figure out who might be a potential follower/customer/friend based on things like bios, web and app usage, and other algorithms. (If you’re really interested, read this article on some ways Facebook collects data on its users — fascinating and a little creepy too.)

      If you’re serious about taking this to the next level — and especially if your target audience is on the younger side — then spending money on social media ads can help. Chances are these ads will go much further than any email newsletter will.

      Although social media is used all over the world, it doesn’t mean you have to have deep pockets to jump into the game. The ads can be targeted, and these platforms offer a variety of pricing options. Check out this detailed social media advertising guide — broken down by platform — complete with steps on how to buy and create your ads.

      So now you’re armed and ready with enough information to make your head spin. But just remember: social media is an escape for most people. Enjoy the creative outlet and the ability to connect with your customers in a whole new way. There will be a little rush when you get that first retweet, guaranteed.





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