In today’s multimedia landscape, social media has become the most important tool for connecting content creators to their audiences. Whether you are an individual looking to establish a personal brand or a large company looking to forge bonds with your customers, social media is now a must to make it in today’s marketplace. But not everyone knows how to use social media effectively. It’s not as simple as posting a few attractive photos and writing a couple of snappy lines. Instead, social media has become a relentless, competitive dog-eat-dog battleground where only the most dynamic content creators survive. To make sure you end up on top of the pack, consider a few key points before you make your next social media posting.
- Know your audience. The first and most important part of any social media posting is to know your audience and what they need to see in a post. Posts made for young male audiences will be very different than those targeting older female audiences, for example. Use what you know about your audience to make sure that your content is targeted specifically for your audience. After all, if it doesn’t meet their demographic needs and expectations, the audience will likely tune out your message.
- That said, it’s also important not to be fake. Don’t try to imitate a particular audience just because it’s desirable. Audiences can sense authenticity, so if you try to write from scratch in dude-bro slang even though you are not yourself a dude-bro, your audience will likely laugh at you. Instead own your own identity and let the audience see that you are confident in who you are. Some of the most staid brands have compelling social media content because they own their washed identities and project authenticity. It’s better to be known for keeping it real than for putting on airs and trying to be something you’re not.
- Keep it short. It can be tempting to turn a social media posting into an exhaustive novel, complete with dozens of qualifiers and a long list of points. However, the average social media user will spend only a couple of seconds engaging with your content before moving on to the next shiny thing. Keep your posts short—around 80 words or so for most platforms, and less where character counts are restricted.
- Add visuals. Color, graphics, and photos catch the eye better than plain text. When you use a visual, you enhance the quality of your posting and also make it more likely that your target audience will stop and consume your content. However, you need to be sure that you have the rights to any visuals that you post to avoid any copyright claims later on.
- Use video. Even though social media is a text-based environment, growing numbers of users prefer to consume their content in video form. Investing in some well-produced videos will help your audience get to know you as a person or a brand. But remember to keep your videos short! Few social media users want to spend more than a couple of minutes on any one video. An hour-long corporate video won’t cut it. Imagine a movie trailer. That’s the speed and length you should aim for to create the punchiest, most effective videos.
- Keep the platform in mind. Every social media platform has its own conventions and its own voice. If you simply cross-post the same content across every social media site without customizing it for each platform, you can lose out on potential audience engagement. For example, Twitter content is very short and reliant on hashtags and handles, but the same Twitter post might not play as effectively on Facebook, where hashtags are less important and content tends to run longer. Remember to engage with platform users with the conventions they expect to maximize the effectiveness of your posting.
- Don’t just promote yourself. Show your audience you care about them by providing interesting content that isn’t just self-promotion. Give them a reason to come back, to consume, and, yes, to see your occasional self-promoting messages.
Social media is a unique environment where major brands and nobodies from the middle of nowhere compete on nearly equal footing. As develop your social media content, it’s important never to imagine that consumers will choose your content just because of who you are. Remember, you need to give them value for their time.