Social media is evolving fast. Just a few years ago, a marketer’s success on social was measured by how big an audience they had. Not so much anymore. Now “engagement” is the new goal for many marketers – especially the smart ones.
Why the focus on engagement? Because it doesn’t much matter if people just see your posts in their social media feeds. Sure, it’s good – but what you really need is results. Business results.
To get those results, marketers have to get to first base with their social media posts. They need clicks and shares and comments. In other words, they need engagement.
But here’s the rub: Engagement can be hard to get. Even a “great” engagement rate is 2%, which means only one in fifty of the people who see your post engage with it. An average engagement rate would be more like .05-1.0%, and often less.
Fortunately, there’s lots you can do to at least improve engagement rates. You can:
- Never, ever buy followers
- Create the best content possible
- Offer a great product or service people love
- Share at optimal times
- Format your posts for optimal likes, shares and clicks
In this post, we’re focused on the last option. Ends up, there’s been lots of research on how to format social media posts to get more engagement. Even if you can’t do any of the other items above, just applying a few tips from here will help.
1. Customize posts for each social media platform.
If you get only one thing out of this article, get this: Customize every post for the platform it’s getting published on. In other words, don’t use a social media automation tool to just publish exactly the same post to every platform. You’ll get rotten results.
2. Embrace Facebook.
Even if you’re in B2B. I know there are some people who don’t like Facebook, but the reality is that 90% of sharing is happening there. It’s time to accept that and act accordingly.
3. Headlines are important!
For platforms that include headlines, try to include a tidbit of what’s in the meat of the content – especially if you can add some mystery to it. Some of you will recognize this as an Upworthy trick, but it works all over the internet.
So instead of just posting “15 Ways to Get More Shares”, try something like “15 Ways to Get More Shares – #7 is only for the brave”
Also, be sure you use headlines that fall between the optimal range.
A study from Refinery29 found “the optimal length of a headline for social engagement is 25 to 55 characters and has 4 to 10 parts of speech. Articles within this range average about 20% more shares.”
4. Keep it brief
According to BuzzSumo’s study of Facebook engagement (they analyzed – gulp – one billion posts) “Short form text posts of less than 50 characters get the most interaction.”
With Twitter, the character limit obviously means this is standard practice as well.
If you have more to say, well, read on. We’ll get to a clutch formatting tip in #11.
5. Add commentary.
LinkedIn and Facebook allow for longer posts. LinkedIn is also a business platform, so there’s more of an expectation for you to relay your expertise.
So go one step beyond just sharing content – add some commentary and insight.
Maybe even some controversy, just be sure you keep it brand relevant… AND appropriate.
6. Directly upload your videos to Facebook.
In other words, don’t reshare them from YouTube. Upload them directly to Facebook (aka make them “native” in social media lingo). Uploading videos directly to Facebook has been shown to get up to 52 times as many views as videos uploaded to YouTube and then shared on Facebook.
7. Share images.
You’ve heard how visual content gets like 2.5 times more engagement than text-based content on social media, right? Well, recent research from Post Planner backs this up in spades:
8. Post your images via Instagram.
In contrast to tip 6, everything is different when it comes to images. According to BuzzSumo’s study, it’s been proven that “Posting images via Instagram appear to provide a 23% increase in engagement.”
9. Hashtags. To use or not to use?
- Facebook: Skip the hashtags. This advice comes from that BuzzSumo study, but also from quite a few Facebook experts. Not everybody says to skip hashtags on Facebook, but you should know there’s dispute about this.
- Twitter: Use ‘em. Aim for about two hashtags per tweet. Any more than that may reduce engagement.
- LinkedIn: Skip the hashtags. They don’t work on LinkedIn. ☹
- For Instagram: Use hashtags like there’s no tomorrow. Okay, maybe not that much. But up to eight to ten hashtags on Instagram is not overkill.
10. Switch up the types of content you share.
Don’t ALWAYS go for images. This is even true of Instagram. Share some videos or some animated gifs.
On other platforms, integrate some text-based posts too. You can even share SlideShares on Twitter.
Content variety keeps things interesting for your followers.
11. Break up your copy.
Want your posts to stand out? Space out the writing. Especially when it comes to Twitter or Instagram.
On Insta, use the dots or periods that have become oh-so familiar:
For more tips on Instagram spacing, click through to read this post on ShortStack.
On Twitter, hit return more often. For example, this:
Making the leap when life is hard. My entrepreneurial journey thus far http://bit.ly/1RMjqSb #uncareer #women
Could be like this:
Making the leap when life is hard.
My entrepreneurial journey thus far
Use formatting tricks
You could spend a lifetime studying how to get more shares on social media, but the tips above will get you started. Experiment and begin testing and tracking how your posts perform. You never know which one might work best for your audience!
Have you noticed any particular formatting trick consistently gets more shares? Share your wisdom! Leave a comment and tell us what you’ve learned.
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