The era of the hard sell and traditional sales and marketing tactics is long gone. These days consumers can see right through this type of messaging, especially when used on social channels. You need to adjust your marketing messaging and align it with the social channel you are using to achieve a return on your social media investment. It all starts with creating engaging social media messages.
Use these rules—courtesy of Nolan Wilson, writer and manager of content development at WhiteSpace and a contributor to PR News' Writer's Guidebook Vol. 1—to get your message across and create engaging social media messages:
- Be real. Establishing a genuine voice is essential. It’s OK to loosen the top button and be transparent. Show your followers you are human and have real thoughts and opinions. People appreciate real conversations. Pre-planned, cookie cutter messages will not create the levels of engagement you are hoping for.
- It’s not always about you. While self-promotion is one of the reasons why you’re using social media in the first place, avoid making it always about you. It’s OK to stray from your core marketing messages from time to time, posting about current events and commenting on other posts.
- Offer a unique perspective. If you want to get noticed, you need to stand out from the crowd. Social media is highly competitive, and you are competing with millions of other users to get noticed and go viral. What differentiates you from the pack? How can you establish yourself as a “go-to” social channel in your industry? Answering these questions can help you to establish your niche.
- Messaging needs to align with the channel. It’s important to make sure that the way you construct your messaging is in accordance with the social norms of the platform. For example, while it’s perfectly fine to post vacation pictures on your Facebook account, this is less socially acceptable on a more business-oriented platform like LinkedIn. Also, choose the right social media channels to invest your time and resources. While great messaging is essential, it’s just as important to use the social media platforms that make sense for your business.
- Share great content. People are looking for it, so why not give it to them? Great content can greatly enhance your level of social engagement. High quality blog posts, articles and videos will increase the number of likes, comments and shares your messages will receive. Great content is the fuel that feeds your social channels, and you need to keep your tank full of social media fuel to maintain high levels of engagement.
- Visuals increase engagement. Photos are liked two times more than text updates and videos are shared 12 times more than links and text updates. Including a visual such as an image, graphic, infographic or picture will significantly increase engagement levels. This is especially important for social channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Images will catch the eye of social users who are browsing through their news feeds, but it’s your message that will get them to click or comment.
- Diversify your messages. Repeatedly sending out the same messages will bore your audience. Diversify your messaging, changing things up from time to time. While sharing links to your latest blog post is great, it shouldn’t be the only messaging that you offer. Vary things by sharing third party links, relevant news stories, thoughtfully curated content, statistics and tips to keep people engaged.
- Give people a reason to engage. Be entertaining and informative. Strive to become a resource people can rely on and want to visit. You need to give people a reason to engage with you. Make your content worthy of sharing. Answer the “Why?” before clicking the send button. Why would users want to read your message? More important, why would they want to continue to engage in the future?
- Make content timely. Timing is everything. Timely and relevant content will increase levels of engagement. This is why it’s important to stay on top of current events and news, taking advantage of it when possible and appropriate. Using themed posts for holidays is a great example of making content timely. However, it’s important that you not fall into the habit of inappropriate newsjacking or trying to take advantage of a tragedy for your own personal gain. This could land you in some hot water and open the door to scrutiny.
- Analytics don’t lie. Social analytics provide you with a good indication about the success of your messaging. As they say, numbers don’t lie. Regularly review your social media analytics to get a sense of which messages are engaging your users and what messaging is not resonating. Adjust your messaging accordingly. Focus on the messages and social platforms that yield the highest levels of engagement and leverage them.
For more PR and social media writing tips, check out PR News' Writer's Guidebook Vol. 1.
Follow Brian Greene on Twitter: @bw_greene