Monday, January 5, 2015

Boost Your Social Media Engagement in 2015

2014 was the 10-year anniversary of Facebook's existence. It's weird to think that something that connects over a billion people has only been around for a decade and even weirder to think how young social media marketing and advertising is. If Facebook has only been around for 10 years, then brands have only been using social to enhance their brand image for 8 years (and capably for even fewer years than that).

So let's use 2015 as an opportunity to once and for all, dispel the myth that capably running social media is an easy thing to do. By now, we should know that it's more than just setting up a page and posting a couple of times a week. If you have a plan for direct mail marketing or SEO for your website, you should have a social media plan as well. 

That being said, here some quick tips to help you increase engagement on your social posts in 2015.

1. Photos, but not just a photo...

Have you ever scrolled through your Twitter feed and come across a photo that doesn't take up the whole width of the frame. There's some white space on the side and you have to click on the tweet for the photo to expand and see the whole thing. It looks ugly and it's terrible to interact with.  

I'm not saying vertical photos are worse from a photography perspective, I'm saying it from a social perspective. Vertical photos get the best engagement on Pinterest, but aside from that, I can't think of a good reason to use them on other channels. Just take a scroll through your Twitter feed and look at their horizontal presentation of images. If you take a vertical photo and tweet it, you're probably cropping out vital real estate. When instead, you can turn your phone sideways and make sure that most of what you want to get in, will get in. 

Even using the 1x1 set up that Instagram so dearly values is better than just a straight up vertical shot. A long vertical image could even get cropped in a Facebook NewsFeed as opposed to a square or horizontal shot that fits neatly. 

You want your photos to get likes? Make sure people can see them.

2. Clicks, clicks, clicks 

Clicks lead to engagement. And no, I'm not just talking about link clicks, I'm talking about all clicks. 

Hopefully, you're taking a look at your Facebook and Twitter analytics from time to time. If not, start. Like, yesterday. Anyway, when you take a look at these analytics, they talk about "engagements" which you can use to find an "engagement rate" on your posts. Now, there's a common misconception that engagements end and begin with likes, comments, share, favorites, retweets, replies, etc. However, that's just the beginning.

Twitter and Facebook value every single engagement made with a post. That means clicking a photo to make it larger, clicking a link that's included with the post, clicking a handle included in your tweet, clicking a hashtag included in a tweet and so on. With Facebook in particular, this information is vital. Facebook recently changed up their algorithm to make it more difficult for a brand page to appear in a user's NewsFeed. With that in mind, you need to make sure that people can make multiple engagements so your post is seen by as many people as possible. Why? Because the more engagements your post gets, the more likely Facebook's algorithm is likely to put it in a user's feed.

However, I'm also not saying to overload your Facebook and Twitter posts with clickable content. Just be economical and smart about it. A photo and a link make every Facebook post more engaging and an @ mention and hashtag are useful for tweets, but don't overuse them if they have no place there.

3. Get on Instagram and be smart about it 

Did you hear the news? Instagram reached 300 million users last week and now has more users than Twitter. And yet, there are many brands that aren't on Instagram and even fewer who are using it effectively.

I don't care how un-photogenic you think your brand is, you need to find a place for it on Instagram. If you haven't thought of a way to feature aspects of your brand on Instagram, it's because you're not thinking hard enough. Recently, I've been seeing sponsored Instagram ads for State Farm. State Farm. An insurance company. And you know what? They have better ads than even Adidas did.

And let me continue to pick on Adidas for a moment. Here's their Instagram channel. Honestly, I think for a brand with 2.4 million followers, this is an embarrassing use of the social channel. It's all photography that really has no place on Instagram. It's too shiny, clearly not taken on a cell phone and doesn't tell me anything about their brand outside of SHOES.

To preface this next point: I'm not a huge fan of the food at Taco Bell. In spite of that, I still think they have an amazing Instagram. And whether you like Taco Bell or not, I think you could probably agree that their food is not high class. Yet their Instagram makes it look like so much fun and even, dare I say, appetizing? The photography doesn't look like something that was shot with a professional camera even if it was. It looks like a relatable Instagram account. And some quick math shows that they get double the engagement that their Adidas counterpart gets with a quarter of the followers.

This rambling about shoes and tacos is all to say is that any brand can be on Instagram. Taco Bell and State Farm both found a way to be relevant in the channel.  If they can do it, then other brands can, too.

The great thing about social media is that there's not only always more you could be doing, but there's also always new things you could be doing. These three things will be a great way to get started for 2015, and (hopefully) through them you'll find even more ways you could be improving your social presence. Follow along @kearleydotcom for more social news and updates.