Guest post: Our A to Z of essential social media tactics

Guest post: Our A to Z of essential social media tactics

Social media is a great gift to brands and marketers – but there’s no denying it’s a complex universe of options and functionalities. Here’s our digital partner Connecting Element’s guide to getting the most out of it.

We regularly get asked questions about all things social media, like “How can we reach more people on Facebook?”, “How do we get more engagement on Twitter?” and “How do I get more social followers?”.

However, there’s no ‘magic bullet’ and no one-size-fits-all answer. First, you need to understand your objectives, create a strategy and define tactics to reach those goals.

Social media is an ever-changing landscape, with new updates being made to platforms and extra functionalities being added every single day.

And you get a thumbs-up from the social media algorithms when you make full use of this versatility – by sharing a range of post types, having two-way conversations with your fans and followers, and optimising the features they provide.

So, here’s our A to Z of social media tactics – which includes details of some recently launched functionalities across the key social platforms, as well as tried-and-tested methods.

Adverts

With changes in social media algorithms making it harder to reach your current and potential fans and followers, using media spend to leverage your organic efforts is a must. There is a myriad of advert types to choose from across the key platforms, all based on your objectives. Ads can help you speak to a new audience or reach your current audience – as on average, Facebook business page posts only reach between 2% and 6% of their current audience.

Bots

Facebook chat bots allow automated and personalised conversations to happen between users of the Facebook Messenger app. When a customer or client contacts you through Messenger, the bot can provide an immediate response. Chat bots can provide responses to questions asked by the user; make suggestions about products and services; and even take bookings. Although this conversational technology has been around for a while, it’s still fairly new to Facebook and a great way to drive your goals in an innovative way.

Canvas posts

A Facebook canvas post acts like a website landing page, but without the user having to leave the Facebook platform. You can set this up through ‘publishing tools’ to share organically with your fans, or you can set it up as an ad through Power Editor. Facebook canvas posts can only be viewed on mobile and can include videos, carousels, maps, call-to-action buttons to web sites or other canvas posts, tilt-to-pan features, images and texts.

Direct messages

Do you have your direct messages enabled? Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all allow for private two-way conversations using their messaging platforms. Direct messages are a great way to take a public conversation to private when dealing with a sensitive matter with a customer; and also allows customers to ask for information confidentially.

Engaging content

“Content is King, but context is God” (Gary Vaynerchuk, 2012). Everyone knows the strategic importance of creating engaging content, but what exactly does that mean? And how do you do it for your company? We like to start by understanding who our audience is – then creating to content to inspire, educate and entertain them, before convincing them to take action. To succeed via social media, you need to put your audience first and create content that meets their needs.

Featured content

You may be running a campaign, planning an event or launching a new product that needs some extra air-time across your social channels. This content can be ‘featured’ by pinning the posts to the top of your page on Twitter and Facebook. As social feeds are chronological, this means this post will stay at the top of your social profiles, and won’t move down the feed when extra posts are published. You should also consider updating your channel’s art (header) to communicate your key messages, as this is the first thing people will see when discovering your brand or business on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

GIFs

A GIF (graphics interface format) is a format for image files that supports both animated and static images. GIFs are a quick and fun way to share messages on your social networks; and they’re supported by Facebook and Twitter in responses to fans and followers. You can create your own, or use free-source platform Giphy to share relevant GIFs.

Hashtags

The hashtag was 10 YEARS OLD in August. Wow. Hashtags are used to categorise topics, making it easier for people to search and find what they are looking for. Hashtags are widely used on Twitter and Instagram, and for trending topics on Facebook. Using hashtags when writing tweets or posts can help your content to be seen by a wider audience. We also like to keep an eye on which hashtags are trending, to allow us to join popular conversations.

Influencer marketing

It’s great to be sharing content on your own channels – but you also need to consider your ‘paid’ and ‘earned’ strategies. There are thousands of people in the social sphere who have the reach and respect of your potential customers, and working with the correct influencers can really help boost the reputation and awareness of your brand or business. Look out for the new functionality launched by Instagram this week, which encourages influencers to add a ‘partnership’ tag to their posts. This makes it clear to users that the post is an advert.

Just for fun

Competitions are a great tactic to reach your fans (and their friends) and a way to give something back to your loyal followers. A competition usually needs an entry mechanic and a prize – but you’re likely to see a similar level of engagement if you create a ‘just for fun’ post, which usually involves an element of gamification to encourage user engagement. Post tactics can include spot-the-difference, guess-the-anagram, count, zoom-in-to-see and tap-to-reveal.

Keyword searches

You’ll receive a notification via your social channels when someone messages you directly, or uses @ to mention you – but we’d recommend also searching for people typing in your brand or product names. Sometimes these mentions go unanswered, which means you’re missing the opportunity to build on existing relationships or create new ones.

Live video

Live video is a great way of sharing real-time news and updates, and it’s the newest tactic to be supported by the big social networks. Facebook launched live video last year, allowing business pages and personal profiles to share live video on both desktop and mobile devices. Instagram followed shortly afterwards, allowing everyone to share live video through the Stories feature; while Twitter uses Periscope technology.

Messenger (Facebook)

Facebook’s Messenger app is the world’s most popular app, used by 1.2 billion people and 200 million Facebook Pages. Although mainly used for one-to-one and group chats, marketers can use Messenger for chatbots (scroll up to ‘B’), as part of their Facebook advertising campaign (see ‘A’) or for customer service. Messenger has recently added functionality allowing you to reply by adding personalisation, such as users’ and responders’ names, website URLs and photos – plus the ability to save the responses to use again.

News articles – recent Facebook update

Do you share news relevant to your industry, or of interest to your fans and followers? Link posts directing to your website or other sites are a great way of sharing information from other sources.

Until recently you could edit the image and headline pulled through from the URL, before being published (on Facebook) – but Facebook is making some changes, meaning this information can no longer be edited. It’s now vital that the metadata on your website is correct before publishing your link posts to your social channels, to ensure your information pulls through correctly.

Offer posts

Facebook allows you to set up expiring posts, that are only live/available for the duration of your offer. These can link to an offer landing page on your website, or you can simply include an exclusive Facebook discount text code. These can also count down if you have a restriction on your offer. For example, if you have 100 free tickets to give away, the counter on the post will count down each time someone claims the offer – so it’s a great way to encourage immediate action.

Polls

You can set up polls in Facebook groups and also through Twitter. Polls encourage users to vote on pre-defined answers to a question. Once the user clicks their chosen answer, the rest of the data is displayed for them to see how they fared against the other users – so it’s a great way to reveal interesting facts or use a just-for-fun tactic (see ‘J’), making it a quick and interactive way to encourage engagement with your posts.

Questions and answers

Social media opens up your brand or business to two-way conversations. Expect to be asked specific questions and receive general queries – and make sure you’re prepared to respond appropriately. We’d recommend setting up an FAQ document that is regularly updated as new queries come in. You need to be reacting quickly, too, as 47% of people expect a response in 60 minutes.

Reactive posting

Planning your editorial calendar is great – but you must leave room and time to be reactive. Social media is about sharing news in real time and reacting to what’s happening within your industry or the mainstream news. As well as having Google alerts set up to email us, we like to use Drum Up, which helps you discover great content to share. We also check in on social channels natively, to identify any trending hashtags on Twitter and Facebook that are applicable to us.

Stories

Marketers have been telling stories for years, so it’s no surprise that the primary social channels are now offering this functionality (and even naming it ‘Stories’, too). Snapchat was the first platform to host disappearing content, allowing you to share a message with someone that disappears after 5 seconds. They then launched their Stories functionality, which allowed for content to live in your story for 24 hours before disappearing. A year ago, Instagram very cleverly ‘borrowed’ this functionality from Snapchat – and Instagram has now overtaken Snapchat, with a huge number of daily users partaking in Stories.

Tagging

Tagging other brands and businesses in social posts will highlight that you’ve mentioned them. This is a great way of building social relationships and we recommend engaging with others who have tagged you in their posts, to help strengthen brand to brand relationships.

User generated content

User generated content (UGC) for social media is any content that has been made publicly available on that platform. A massive 80% of consumers find visual UGC more influential than brand photos and videos, because it shows a true representation of the product. Sharing this content on your social profiles also adds a strong dose of authenticity. However, always make sure you ask for permission from the creator to use their content.

Video headers on Facebook

Video is already huge – and it’s due to get even bigger. By 2018, 80% of all traffic on the internet will be driven by video. Facebook has recently rolled out video headers for business pages, meaning that when users land on your page, the video will automatically start playing, introducing them to your business, service or campaign.

Watch

Facebook wants to rule the social world… and it’s winning! The network has recently announced the launch of Facebook Watch, which will allow users to watch exclusive content and TV programmes directly through the Facebook app. Viewers will also be able to see comments from other Facebook users while watching a show and can create watch lists to keep up with new episodes of their favourite shows. Watch out, Netflix.

X, Y, Z – Gen XYZ

So, our last bit of advice isn’t really a tactic… but a reminder that you must always put your audience first. Below, we’ve listed the common segments used by marketers, categorised by the years in which target audience members were born. These segments are defined as those who “share a comparable age and life stage and who were shaped by a particular span of time (events, trends and developments)”. Different segments of your target audience will have different content needs and preferences, so make sure you do your research before creating your social posts.

Those segments are:

  • Generation X = 1966-1976
  • Generation Y = 1977-1994
  • Generation Z = 1995-2012

If you’d like to know more about any of the tactics above, have a chat with our social media experts so we can devise a tailored strategy for your business. Contact kate@brookesandco.net to discuss how your traditional marketing strategies dovetail with digital solutions.

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