Social Posting 101: The Skinny on Sharing Good Content

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Thinkstock

A few months ago, we discussed the optimal time for posting on social media. Here we are again to set the record straight: more content doesn’t always mean better content, and posting for the sake of posting should be avoided at all costs. Social media content should be aimed to delight, engage, educate and (sometimes) even create some controversy with your audience. Follow these tips to make sure you’re on track with your social content:

Facebook

Facebook doesn’t make it easy for brand posts to be successful. In short, if you want promotional brand posts to appear, it won’t be free. However, this does not mean that all content goes unseen – Facebook is mainly filtering out posts they consider to be “promotional,” meaning that quality content will still be organically distributed. Now the questions remains, what is quality content?

Kevan Lee, content manager at Buffer, has pulled together a list of what makes the “perfect” Facebook post:

  • Must contain a link: Research conducted by Facebook itself found that users prefer displayed links over photos with text displayed above.
    • This same research found that 80 percent of users preferred not to see “click-bait” headlines, but rather headlines that helped them decide if they wanted to read the story or not.
  • Keep it short: A study done by Buddy Media found that posts that contained 40 characters or less received 86 percent more engagement than longer posts.
  • Relevance is king: Guess what? People want to share real-time news with their friends! No surprise there, but you might not know that the Facebook algorithm boosts posts that are “trending” or being mentioned across the platform. Follow conversations and see what your audience is talking about to boost engagement.
  • What’s your content strategy? The most engaged-with brands on Facebook have a strategy when posting content. Consistence and frequency are crucial, though this doesn’t mean post five times a day. But make sure you have a regular cadence of content being shared with your audience.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has about 260 million users and leads the pack for professionals among the social networks listed. It can be both a way to connect with old colleagues, as well as a powerful tool for lead generation. Econsultancy found that LinkedIn sends four times more traffic to your company’s homepage than Twitter and Facebook. Additionally, the platform has the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate at 2.74 percent. How do you make sure you’re maximizing this potential?

  • Let us repeat ourselves, consistency is crucial to the success of your profile. Whether it be a personal or brand page, consistent messaging ensures that your profile effectively conveys your message if a visitor decides to read one post or twenty.
  • Make sure your content is appropriate for the platform. LinkedIn members are professionals; they aren’t looking for cute cat videos (albeit, don’t hesitate to share these elsewhere). In fact, according to research from LinkedIn, 6 out of every 10 users are interested in reading industry insights, followed closely by company and product news (53 percent and 43 percent of users are interested in this type of content, respectively).
  • LinkedIn has two tools for marketers to determine what content is resonating best with their audience: Content Marketing Score and Trending Content. You can learn more about both tools here. These aim to arm you with the insights needed to post the most relevant and engaging content to both personal and brand pages.

Twitter 

Twitter is a bit like the Wild West of social media. Finding the best content to post often takes some experimenting to see what hashtags, articles, and voice resonates the best with your audience. Nick Lewis, PR and social media expert, compiled a list of the components of a good Tweet:

  • Don’t tweet with nothing to say: Does your Tweet serve a purpose? Does it warrant engagement from your audience? Over-posting without adding any value will likely result in reduced engagement, so the purpose of your content should be clear.
  • Link to associated sources: Due to Twitter’s character count, it’s sometimes tough to convey your whole message in a single tweet. This is where directing your audience to a related source (i.e. an article, blog post) comes in handy.
  • Include images: It’s simple. Tweets that include an image receive 150 percent more retweets than those that do not.

Instagram

Instagram is the fastest growing major social media network in the world with over 300 million users, including more than half of all online young adults. It’s no secret that visual content is exponentially more engaging than written content, especially with millennials. What is the secret to Insta-fame? Let us explain:

  • Context and relevance are key: Think before you hit the ‘Share’ button. What value does this add to my customer’s life? How do they benefit? Why would they be interested? How can I make this relevant to my followers?
  • Hashtag brilliance: Branded hashtags are a great way to not only engage with your audience, but also a great way to curate photos to share on your brand’s account. The clothing brand, Aritizia is a great example of a successful, branded hashtag.

For examples of what not to post, check out this article from The Huffington Post.

Regardless of the network, one piece advice rings true – know your audience before you say anything. What trends do they care about? What annoys them? What content are they seeking out on social media in the first place? And what are they posting?

Once you begin to answer these questions, you’re well on your way to posting engaging content.

Spring Forward Your Social Channels

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Thinkstock

It’s finally springtime! While you adjust your sleeping schedule and relish in the longer evenings, now is also a great time to embark on some spring cleaning – and we’re not just talking about your hall closet and under the bed; you should also make it a habit to revisit your social media channels.

Two channels in particular, Twitter and LinkedIn, are now used by approximately 25 percent of online adults, according to a recent Pew Research Center report. Here are a few easy to implement changes to ensure you’re getting the most from these platforms:

Twitter:

  • Follow-up! Twitter is only as interesting as the people you follow. Think about the last five articles you’ve read or shared with friends, then add those reporters to your list. Made some new PR contacts lately? See if they’re regulars on Twitter. If you’re still at a loss, check out these lists for inspiration: Top 10 Techies to Follow on Twitter, Refinery29’s 10 Best Comedians or TIME Magazine’s ever-popular Twitter 140.
  • Plan your attack. If you’re using Twitter for more than listening, tweeting consistently is critical to adding new followers and engaging in conversations. Third-party tools like Hootsuite or Twitter’s TweetDeck can help you stock up on tweets at the beginning of the week so you’re using Twitter more regularly.
  • Get a social content face-lift. Aesthetically, make sure your Twitter page represents you as well as possible. Try adding a new Twitter background to liven things up. Check out your short bio and make sure the details are still relevant. Add some recent photos or videos for viewing on your profile page. Thanks to recent features added by Twitter, users can now capture, edit and share videos right from the Twitter app.

LinkedIn:

  • Practice makes perfect. Check out your list of skills and make sure they’re up to date. Start by spending five minutes thinking about your most challenging projects from the past year. What were your biggest roadblocks and what skills helped you tackle them? Now add those skills to your LinkedIn profile. Think of your profile as your personal brand – keeping it updated ensures you’re putting your best foot forward and offering an accurate picture of who you are in the real world. Don’t have time? Here are nine more reasons that will help you get motivated.
  • Mix and mingle. Engaging in groups related to your professional interests will expand your network. From the “Groups” button on the navigation bar you’ll be able to search for new groups or manage the ones you’re already in. Start by using groups as a way to keep up with industry information and when you’re ready, start proposing and answering questions to make new connections. There are more than 200 conversations happening every minute across LinkedIn groups, so if you look you’re bound to find something that appeals to you!

The best part about these easy-to-make changes is that they can be implemented in under an hour. Talk about a quick turnaround!

There’s a Platform for That: Medium vs. LinkedIn

In an ultra-competitive world where companies are constantly battling to be heard, corporate websites and traditional

Credit: nemo, 29822, pixabay
Credit: nemo, 29822, pixabay

marketing platforms alone are no longer enough. But articles in high-readership publications can be tricky to secure as well.

That is why many brands – and for that matter, individuals – are starting to act like a publisher and embrace the brand journalism concept.

But where should you start? LinkedIn and Medium are the two most frequently used by business leaders to publish articles. In fact, everyone from celebrities to corporate CEOs to the White House are using these services.

Which site is a better fit for you and your business? The honest answer is – it depends.

LinkedIn and Medium both allow you to publish content, but that’s where the similarities end. Before you choose one, ask yourself:

Who am I trying to engage?

What do they care about?

What am I trying to accomplish?

How do I want my audience to react?

Feeling like this, right about now? Well, don’t despair. There is a lot of great information out there about how the two platforms compare, including this article that looks at how one CEO fared when he used both platforms for the same post.

Still confused? Well here’s our take on how the two platforms compare on reach, ease of use, design and engagement:

Reach

LinkedIn: As an established platform, people and brands have had a lot of time to build up a network/following on LinkedIn. Any content published on LinkedIn goes directly to its user stream, where it typically appears in the news feeds of the people users share the most connections with — particularly shared connections who are frequently on LinkedIn via their browser or mobile app.

Medium: Since Medium was founded by Twitter’s Evan Williams, it easily integrates with Twitter. This can be a good or bad thing. Good because if you have a large amount of followers on Twitter, you automatically have them on Medium. Bad because if you don’t have a Twitter following – or if you’re not on Twitter to begin with – it’s like adding an extra (and time-consuming) step to building your platform and audience. Like LinkedIn, Medium also sends out weekly updates to your followers, showing them the fresh content for the week, increasing the likelihood of your content getting read.

Ease of Use

LinkedIn: It’s pretty straightforward. Just click on the pencil icon in the status update bar and begin writing (or pasting). The problem comes when you start to consider how to make your content stand out. Because people go on LinkedIn to network with peers, look for jobs and connect with recruiters, it can be easy for your content to get lost in the shuffle.

Medium: It’s hard to imagine how Medium could be a more intuitive platform. It’s got a full WYSIWYG interface, as well as an HTML5 text editor for any word you want to highlight. That’s pretty sweet. Unlike LinkedIn, where the pencil icon is subtle, there’s a huge “new story” button on Medium you click to get started on your content. That button’s almost asking you to “click me and let your thoughts run wild.” 

Design

LinkedIn: If all you want to do is push content … and not worry about how cool it looks, it’s all good. There’s a headline, your headshot and an option to add a photo in the body copy if you’re interested. Not much else.

Medium: Clearly the better platform for your creative juices to flow. You can add hi-res header images, better looking text and annotations for each paragraph is available instead of your typical comments section at the very bottom of the story. With Medium, you feel like the content is yours and for a second, readers might mistaken it for your own website. This makes Medium an awesome platform for longer, more thorough and cutting edge thought leadership pieces. (A long article on LinkedIn just looks like a long article). Need some inspiration? Check out these great posts – Monday NFL Hangover: Super Bowl Edition and Ubuntu 14.10 Running on my MacBook.

Engagement

LinkedIn: More LinkedIn users are turning to mobile apps because they’re on the go. They’re likely to read content if it’s quick and easy (say 500 words) – just the right length to kill time while waiting in line at Chipotle. It’s one thing to reach your audience, it’s another to actually engage with them. One advantage LinkedIn has is that as your network is already familiar with you, users are more likely to share your content (how many times have you seen a post that starts with “Check out this article …”)? Also, most people are on LinkedIn to read stuff — not write stuff. That means it’s easier to find influencer content on their stream while scrolling. LinkedIn continues to send users weekly emails with status updates and recommended posts. Your article will be there too.

Medium: What’s great about Medium is that anyone can use it. What’s bad about Medium is that – well … anyone can use it. It’s a strong vehicle to attract readers and share your stories. At the same time, you’re battling other users who apparently forgot to take English class in college and just spew out rants (usually about sports or politics). After that, there are businesses that are just looking to push marketing materials and press releases. This makes it that much more important to generate thought-provoking content and publish it across social channels, instead of simply posting it and waiting to see who finds it.

So you should pick …

There isn’t necessary a “winner,” but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. No one said you have to pick one platform over the other and instead, this is one of those times when double dipping is perfectly acceptable as long as you keep Google’s duplicate content rules in mind.

So try both. Even The White House is using both. Just prior to President Obama’s State of the Union Address, the White House announced what he was going to talk about on LinkedIn, while posting the entire transcript on Medium (you can also see the amount of views and shares).

This process may take some time (try a couple of months), but over time you’ll see the metrics yourself and formulate your own conclusion on which platform is right for you. If you can’t wait that long and need a recommendation right now – give us a call.

What Time Works for You? Social Media Posting Guidelines

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Thinkstock

While we all know there is no such thing as a one size fits all approach to social media, there is now a lot of data available that can help us determine what, when and where to post different types of content. For now let’s focus on when, as the time you chose to post directly influences who will see your content. Below, we’ve shared some guidelines to posting on you blog, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.

A note regarding timing suggestions below: All suggestions are based on EST. Although 80 percent of the population is located in the eastern and central time zones, we advise using Google Analytics to locate where a majority of your audience is located to identify the best posting time for you. And yes, this is our version of a disclaimer.

Blog Posts

Blogging is a tricky business; it’s harder to gain visibility for longer-form content in the age of short attention spans. However, as is the case with every social platform, posting can be a calculated science.

Facebook

Research on Facebook’s optimal post timing is more concrete. Engagement is the highest towards the end of the workweek. Thursday and Friday engagement is at about 18 percent, up from about 15 percent through the rest of the week.

  • Audience: A study done by KISSmetrics states Facebook sees its largest audience at noon and again at 7 p.m.
  • Engagement: The best times to post is before work, during the morning commute between 6 and 8 a.m., and again later in the afternoon between 2 and 5 p.m. (it’s ok to admit you check Facebook then as well). Posting towards the end of the week also encourages consumers to interact with your posts on weekends, when engagement is 32 percent higher.

Google+

Don’t underestimate the power of morning people; they may not be fully awake, but they are sharing on social media. Google+ is another network where early-in-the-workday posts do best. Like with Twitter, individual brands can use analytics to see what posting times resonate with their audience – a good resource for this is Timing+.

  • Audience: Google+ sees the largest audience between 10 and 11 a.m. according to data compiled by Fannit.
  • Engagement: As a general guideline, posting between 9 and 11 a.m. while avoiding posts after 6 p.m. will garner the most engagement. Peak time for click-throughs and shares is Wednesdays at 9 a.m.

It’s not just about kids: Be mindful that Google+’s fastest-growing demographic is adults between the ages of 45-54 and adjust your content accordingly.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a strictly weekday social network. While we might all be guilty of occasionally checking over the weekend, that is probably a good thing.

  • Audience: LinkedIn’s audience is engaged periodically throughout the day, however the largest audience is reachable during lunch hours, 12-1 p.m. and at the end of the workday, 5-6 p.m.
  • Engagement: According to research from SurePayroll, optimal LinkedIn posting times are before the workday begins and right after it ends, with peak days being Tuesday and Thursday. Beware though, Entrepreneur reported that between the hours of 9 and 5 p.m., LinkedIn is an engagement “dead zone.”
  • Keep in mind: LinkedIn sends 4 times as much traffic to your business’ website as Facebook and Twitter, so make sure to be consistent about publishing content.

Twitter

Twitter has a fast and high volume feed, so picking your time carefully is crucial. Research pertaining to the optimal time for brands to post on Twitter varies; some studies state that brands get more engagement on weekdays while others say you should be more of a weekend person, so it’s important to experiment with posting times to see what resonates best with your specific audience. However, there are some guidelines to follow:

As you can see, finding the best times to post content will require a bit of trial and error. Continue to tweak posting times until you find what works best. And remember there are a multitude of resources that provide analytics on what posts are getting the best engagement including HootSuite and Google Analytics. Now it’s time to get your message out – post away!

Wait! What? 8/1: Bicentennial (wo)man, LinkedIn’s new content strategy, and the return of Sharknado

What secrets lie within this mystery realm... (Nitot, Wikimedia Commons)
What secrets lie within this mystery realm… (Nitot, Wikimedia Commons)

The tech and PR industries saw some pretty interesting storylines this week. From the female version of C3PO to the secret dirty laundry of European countries, check out a few stories that caught our eye:

What other stories piqued your interest this week? Send us comments and links at @BlancandOtus.