Marketers are under a lot of pressure to make sure their campaigns get noticed on social media. With so many businesses active across all social platforms, the content you’re publishing has to be more innovative, creative and engaging than ever.
As a rule of thumb, you should avoid gimmicks and cheesy marketing ploys. And recreating an approach that worked for one brand won’t always pan out for yours. A successful strategy relies on a variety of different elements. Here are six social media tactics you should adopt:
1. Showcase Your Personality With Images, GIFs & Memes
It’s hard to deny the growing power and value of visual content. Just look at some of the success stories on Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat. The way people consume content has changed dramatically since Facebook first launched. Social media posts with images see 650% more engagement than text-only posts. That’s a statistic you can’t afford to ignore.
It’s not enough to just post static images. Social media is dynamic, and your content strategy has to be as well. Using GIFs can make your content more compelling and help your brand stand out. More than 1 million GIFs were shared on Twitter in 2015, and Tweets with GIFs get 167% more clickthroughs than those without.
The key to finding success with GIFs is finding one that adds value to your objective. GIFs can add humor to a dry subject, help educate viewers and make your content more conversational.
Here are a few examples of brands using GIFs to support their content strategies:
— NASA (@NASA) May 25, 2016
Happy Friday! pic.twitter.com/tN49NOcuXI
— Jimmy John's (@jimmyjohns) November 11, 2016
— Samsung Mobile (@SamsungMobile) August 31, 2016
Twitter made GIFs more interactive with the “scrub” effect, which lets the viewer move the mouse back and forth for cool effects.
— Pop-Tarts (@PopTarts411) November 17, 2016
If you do stick to static media, sometimes a well-timed meme can help your content resonate with viewers. Not sure what we’re talking about? A meme is an image, video or phrase that sometimes has a hidden meaning about a popular culture reference. Here, Bark Box doesn’t mention its products, but simply the struggle of online dating in one great GIF.
When your Bumble date is just so bad you can't even pic.twitter.com/55X6KtgVTZ
— BarkBox (@barkbox) November 20, 2016
Memes rely heavily on humor, so before you start using them in your content strategy, make sure that humor aligns with your brand’s tone and messaging. Otherwise it can feel out-of-place or come across as trying too hard. Additionally, most memes have short lifespans so move quickly. If you spend too long creating your take on one, the meme could be irrelevant.
2. Build Local Connections With Geotags
Depending on the type of business you have, location plays either a supporting or starring role. For local businesses, location is a huge component of your marketing strategy. If your social posts aren’t reaching the right audience, the time and energy you’re putting into them is going to waste.
The beautiful thing about social media is its vast reach, which can easily be segmented using targeting tools. But even before you begin segmenting your audience, you can use geolocation features available on some social networks to boost awareness for yourself in specific markets. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and even Snapchat offer some form of check-in or location tagging.
For example, by tagging images with your location (such as city or neighborhood) on Instagram, you can appeal to followers who work or live nearby and might be more likely to interact or do business with you. Jansport used a hashtag to represent its location, which is great alternative if you don’t want to use Instagram’s built-in location feature. Tourists as well might search a location to learn more about businesses, restaurants and entertainment in the area.
Location tags are also great for universities, conferences, networking events and pop-up stores.
Marketers are also using Snapchat Geofilters to engage customers, launch new products, highlight company culture and support events. Just look at these examples from Disneyland and Taco Bell.
3. Capitalize on Major Events & Holidays
Coming up with different ideas to fill every spot in your content calendar is challenging. Make things easier on yourself by taking advantage of easy prompts like big events and holidays. There is literally a national day for everything. That said, don’t go overboard with themed days. The novelty could wear off quickly, so use this tactic in moderation.
— PilotPenUSA (@PilotPenUSA) November 15, 2016
An easy way to do this is to include seasonal themes in your content strategy, like this recent Tweet from Lowe’s:
— Lowe's (@Lowes) November 7, 2016
When it comes to events and random holidays, choose the best fit for your brand. Look for a relevant connection that’ll make sense to your followers. For example, you wouldn’t think that a home improvement store could relate to an award show like the Oscars. While that’s likely true, the store could provide followers with DIY tips for converting a small living room into an awesome viewing party space.
And sometimes the theme doesn’t have to be so blatant. Here are a couple of examples from brands that subtly connect their messaging with a recent event:
— Fitbit (@fitbit) November 17, 2016
It’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how creatively you track the results. pic.twitter.com/mpqdSZWpGe
— X-ACTO (@xacto) November 8, 2016
What’s great about this is that you can start planning your content calendar months in advance since you already know what events and holidays are coming up. Just make sure that you stay flexible enough to include more timely updates.
4. Recycle Evergreen Content
Content is the most critical component of your marketing strategy. With that comes a lot of pressure to publish content that will be seen and drive your business objectives. But it doesn’t mean that every piece of content you share has to be unique. Well, it should be unique to your brand, but re-purposing older content isn’t a bad idea.
For example, take one of your evergreen blog posts and pull out a series of Tweets you can schedule from it. Not only will this help drive traffic to your site, but it’ll help you share valuable tidbits of information that can extend your reach on social. Remember, long-form content requires longer attention spans. By pulling out captivating and compelling snippets, you can really improve your status as an industry leader and maintain your position as a fantastic content creator.
If you’re managing several blogs, like at an agency, don’t forget about adding a personal touch. One of the reasons you’re using social media is to humanize your brand, so don’t let automatic updates turn into robotic alerts. Make sure you review everything before it goes live and personalize it a bit.
You can also do everything from scratch and schedule your updates using a social media management tool like Sprout Social. This is great if you want to be more selective about which snippets are shared, or if you want to customize your message for a particular audience.
Additionally, if you’re publishing blog snippets across platforms, make sure that your posts are optimized for each platform. Try to deliver the same message in different ways so the same sentence isn’t published on five separate sites day in and day out.
5. Participate in or Host a Twitter Chat
Maybe you have a lot to say about a particular subject, or maybe you’re not sure where to start when it comes to engaging an audience. A great way to get your feet wet is by participating in a Twitter chat. They’re a great way to gain exposure while growing and engaging your audience.
As a participant, Twitter chats offer a great opportunity to network and connect with customers or colleagues in your industry. It’s also a great way to establish your brand as an authority on a particular topic or within a specific industry. As you become more recognized in this space, you can start hosting your own chats and build a community that way.
Q6: What's the most common misconception about social media metrics and how do you correct it? #SproutChat
— Sprout Social (@SproutSocial) November 16, 2016
Twitter chats are a great vehicle for getting your employees more involved with outreach. Team members who are active on social media and who you feel are fit to represent your brand should be encouraged to participate in social media chats. Just remember that regardless of who’s participating, this isn’t the time to be overly promotional. Give a short introduction of who you are, but don’t focus on selling.
6. Be Responsive & Conversational
This should really go without saying. Social media is a two-way street. If you ignore incoming messages, you’re counterintuitive with your social media strategy. Being responsive should be a top priority for each and every business. The number of messages needing a response from brands has increased by 18% between Q1 2015 and Q1 2016.
But let’s say that we’re living in an ideal world where every incoming message that warrants a response actually receives one. How can your brand stand out? Go above and beyond. For instance, one way to add a little extra something to your replies is to address the original poster by their first name. Now this is assuming that their name is accessible on their profile or in their username—we don’t expect you to go digging for this information.
@Polarbear7213 Thanks for visiting us, Christopher!
— Bed Bath & Beyond (@BedBathBeyond) November 17, 2016
It’s a small gesture, but a respectful one that followers will pick up on. Another way to go above and beyond is to look past customer support issues. This by no means suggests that you ignore them. Rather we encourage you to expand your monitoring and look for opportunities where you can proactively engage. Instead of waiting for someone to come to you with an issue, be the first to reach out. This could be as simple as thanking someone for visiting your store, or responding to a follower’s post about their day.
Always look for opportunities to surprise and delight followers, even if it’s not directly related to your products or services. It not only helps to humanize your brand, but it goes a long way in establishing a connection between you and your followers—which can pay off later in brand loyalty.
And sometimes you can stand out by engaging with other brands. Too often businesses are so focused on pushing their content and responding to customer feedback that they forget to have fun. Take a look at some of these examples from Taco Bell, Old Spice, Xbox and Oreo for inspiration.
@OldSpice Is your deodorant made with really old spices?
— Taco Bell (@tacobell) July 9, 2012
.@LisaBarone Stop flirting with us…you're making our wafers blush.
— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) October 30, 2013
— Xbox (@Xbox) November 15, 2013
If you don’t see success right away, don’t get frustrated. Social media marketing is all about experimentation. You have to find what fits for your audience as well as your brand. Don’t go so far out of your comfort zone that you start publishing content that doesn’t align with your core values. Engagement isn’t worth it if it goes against what your brand represents.
Pay attention to your analytics and closely monitor what followers are engaging with. Trust the social media tactics that deliver results and tweak those that aren’t meeting the goals you’ve set.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.