Social media platforms hold a ton of potential. With billions of global users, free access for both individuals and companies, and diverse types of functionality to support virtually any marketing need, it’s no wonder why so many companies have flocked to social media as a core strategy.
However, there’s a critical—and growing—problem with visibility in the social media scene. Facebook and other social media platforms are starting to restrict the organic reach of non-paid posts by brands and companies in an effort to funnel more businesses to its paid advertising features. Plus, the social environment is becoming flooded with posts and updates from virtually every company with an Internet connection, so users’ news feeds are becoming clogged and ignored.
The question then becomes, what can you do to maximize your potential social visibility?
- Post Selectively. Too many companies make the mistake of bombarding their followers with updates, believing that quantity is just as important as quality. In some ways, this makes sense; if you make 15 posts in a day, it stands to reason that more people will see your material than if you post 4 times in a day. However, if you post too frequently, updates from your brand may devolve into white noise, and some followers might completely unsubscribe. Also, some platforms like Facebook might be more likely to hide your updates from users’ feeds if you post too often. Instead, focus on posting only your best material.
- Include a Visual Component. By now, this should go without saying, but too many brands are still making posts and syndicating content without a visual. Between two posts, one without an image and one with an image, the one with the image will always get more traffic. There’s no excuse to make a post without some kind of visual component, whether that’s an image or a video, so make it a priority.
- Optimize Your Timing. There are two ways to optimize your post timing, and they’re both important. The first has to do with the topic of your post; topically relevant posts tend to perform better than evergreen posts, which are relevant no matter when they’re posted. For example, a comment on a recent event will likely be met with greater visibility than a general description of a seldom-changing facet of your industry. Capitalize on newsworthy events to gain more visibility. The second optimization method is about the timing of your actual post. Learn when your target audience is most active on social media—ideally both the time of day and day of week—and schedule your posts to appeal to that time slot.
- Encourage Participation. Create posts that naturally encourage your followers to actively engage with the post—for example, you could request that your users tag themselves in your photo, or stir up conversations by asking a question. Whether you bait for likes, comments, or some other form of engagement, getting your followers to participate is critical. Doing so will make your posts show up in your follower’s friends’ news feeds, and the long trail of comments or engagements will also make the post more immediately visible when it does show up. Social participation is contagious, so the more you can stir up, the more you’ll receive in compounding returns.
- Make Your Post Shareable. The more shareable your post is, the more work it’s going to do for you. If 10 people share your post, and each of those people earn 5 more shares, that’s a total of 60 new feeds you’ve accumulated for your post to gain traction. You can make your post more shareable by making sure it’s original, including new claims or new information, and by making it funny or entertaining. Monitor which of your posts get shared the most, and replicate that success by applying those unique qualities to new material in the future.
- Give Something Back. Nothing attracts more attention than immediate free value. If a user scrolls down his/her timeline and sees a long series of content posts with one post in particular offering $10 off a specific product, chances are his/her eyes will be immediately drawn to that special offer. Use numerical figures and strong language to call particular attention to your offer, and make sure it’s something that your users are going to find valuable. In some cases, that can be a special promotional code that earns them a percentage off their next order. In others, it can be a free giveaway.
- Gather and Consider Feedback. This is the most important trick, but it’s also going to take the most work. Take the time to gather feedback from your followers about the quality of your posts, and what they’d like to see more of in your lineup. Take this criticism to heart, and adjust your content and social strategies accordingly. After all, your goal here is to give your users exactly what they want—and there’s no better way to learn what they want than to ask them directly! If you’re having trouble getting this feedback, try running a survey or using Facebook’s algorithmic ad scoring to test what kind of messages are the most effective.
Put these seven strategies to good use in your own social media campaign, regardless of which platforms you favor. If implemented consistently and with significant effort, you’ll start to see your posts reach a wider audience, leave a better impression, and lead to more traffic and greater user retention over time.
By Larry Alton, an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship.
Currently, Larry writes for Entrepreneur, Social Media Week, CEOWORLD Magazine and the HuffingtonPost among others.