According to a report released by eMarketer, “Worldwide Social Network Users: 2013 Forecast and Comparative Estimates” one in four people worldwide are using social media. To be more precise, among 2.7 billion of the total internet population, a whopping 1.73 billion are expected to be on social networking sites by the end of 2013.
Modern publishers are quick to realize the importance of using social media to grow audience and on-site engagement. After all, it makes sense to be present where your audience is. But with the increasing number of users adopting social media to discover relevant content, the publishers need to be proactive to stand out from the crowd and build a community around their content on the social media networks.
1. Optimize Your Social Media Profile
It’s always better to start from the basics. Complete your site’s social media profile to attract potential followers . A complete social media profile says a lot about your brand. Incomplete profiles may do more harm than good to a brand’s credibility.
Do a thorough profile assessment across all the social media platforms you are present on. Analyze your profile’s strengths and weaknesses.
Now a days, social media profiles and updates shows up in search results as “Rich Snippet.” So try to optimize your profile information with targeted keywords and appropriate key phrases to be found in the search results.
2. Listen to Your Community
Your social media followers could become your brand advocates. So, listen to your fan base. Try to gage the likes and dislikes of your audience by checking out the most popular content on your site. For example, it might be the content that has got maximum likes and shares. This should give you an idea of which content resonates best with your audience.
Always pay attention to what people are saying about your publication on the social media networks. It can be good or bad comments or a simple feedback.
An effective social listening will also help you in:
- Identifying your social influencers
- Identifying popular trends
- Getting innovative content ideas
- Getting ideas for better audience engagement
3. Tailored Approach for Each Platform
Social media is all about engaging your audience. Merely sharing links to your articles across all platforms isn’t going to work.
Never post the same news across different platforms. Instead tailor your social sharing to generate as much engagement as you can on each of these platforms. For example, Twitter demands succinct & enticing headlines, while a compelling and story telling approach performs better on Facebook & Instagram.
4. Running Social Media Contests
Social media contests is a tried and tested way to capture new readers. Before you start your social media contest you should be crystal clear of what you’re hoping to achieve with it. You may be trying to get more fans or followers on Facebook, Twitter, or to build brand awareness, engage users and so on.
The biggest advantage of online contests is they can go viral if done rightly. So make sure the type of contest you have chosen fits your social strategy and your goals. Once you have set goals, you need to monitor the contest to see if you are meeting them.
Tip: Remember to make it easy to enter. Ask for as little information as possible to encourage more and more participation.
5. Using Pictures to Amplify Your Message
It’s a proven fact that people get more attracted towards visual graphics. This stands true for social media audience too. It has been seen on Facebook, “a post with a picture is worth 120 percent more engagement than a post without.” In fact, the maximum number of contests conducted on social media are based on graphics and images. Platforms like Pinterest, Instagram etc. have grown into thriving communities built around images. Stats say, posts with pictures are likely to get 53% more likes. So, include more images in your post to attract maximum eye balls.
6. Using Videos for Increased Engagement
Using video content is the key to attract user’s attention than plain text. YouTube being the second largest platform with more than 800 million users proves this to be true. Not just this, Vine videos on Twitter has proved to be extremely effective. These 6 second videos have got overwhelming response from the audience. Specially the ones with office tours and other personal messages have scored very well. You also can create and upload your own videos. For example, including tips based videos or short story based videos on the social channels is sure to get you more traffic as well as increase in the time spent on your website.
7. Create and Join Groups and Communities
There are millions of groups and communities on the social media platforms. Discover relevant communities in your niche and expand your outreach by actively participating in them. These popular niche communities are a great way to interact with your targeted audience. You can start participating in the active discussions to get the attention of both, the industry influencers and the audience.
You can also create groups around specific topics in your niche to drive passionate audience. This will give you the privilege of starting discussions on the topics of your choice and also will help you in creating the buzz for you.
8. Use Hashtags to Get More Traction
Using hastags properly can enrich your social media participation. Using a unique and relevant ‘#’ in your tweet or Facebook update has the potential to attract potential audiences from around the world. Hashtags are searchable and clickable, making the relevant content that has been tagged easy to discover. The phenomenon was initially started by Twitter and is currently being used on almost all the big social media platforms including, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr.
You can use # tags at the end of your post or set as a prefix in your social media updates. Apart from this, you can also fix a hashtag for a particular event for enhanced outreach. For example, any picture on Instagram gets more views and likes if the title contains a hashtag.
9. Be Human
Your audience should be able to connect with you on a personal level. For that, your activities and conversations have to be more real and human-centric.
Make sure to reply to each
and every thoughtful comment to make your readers feel valued and recognized.
around your comments & discussions. The biggest mistake a social media manager can make is to copy paste canned answers in reply of a comment. Also, pre written replies always don’t comply with the context of a conversation. You have to make real connections with each interaction you have, and for that you need to take actions in real time. Value the time your fans/followers have taken out to connect with your brand.
Ultimately, it’s all about being social and building relationships.
10. Incentivize Your Fans
To retain and increase the enthusiasm, start appreciating your followers individually. Highlight your loyal fans who are consistently adding value to your social media communities. Acknowledge each and every
contributor with something more than “Thanks”, make it a little personalized,
this will encourage them to participate in future too.
You can also incentivize them for their participation by implementing a thin-layer of gamification on your site. Gamification strategies can boost your social media participation.
11. Post at Regular Intervals
Your posts and updates should be targeted towards your audience. So it’s very important for you to understand when your audiences are active on the platforms and your posts should be scheduled accordingly. Not only this, each of your posts should get the necessary consumption time too. If you keep sharing article links continuously, it will not be effective enough. Rather it will look like you are flooding your fans’ timelines.
Analyze your audience reaction to your posts to find out the best time for sending updates. There are many tools available in the market to help you out in behavioral data analysis. It’s also natural for you to have followers from different time zones but you can’t be active all the time. Best you can do is to create and schedule posts in preferred intervals. Plan timely updates with social media scheduling tools like Buffer , Tweetdeck etc.
12. Integrate Your Social Media Presence with Your Overall Strategy
Integrating social media activities with all other online community building activities is extremely crucial. It will not only create more visibility but will also give your audience a chance to share your content with others. This will help you reach a remote set of audience with ease.
Add social sharing option to each and every page of your website, attach your social ids to all your distribution modes, including email newsletters and press releases. Also attach them to your digital signatures to make it more credible.
It becomes very difficult to manage multiple accounts at a time. You can use social media integration tools to make it easy for you. There are services like HootSuite and Sproutsocial which let you manage your multiple social media accounts under one interface.
13. Establish Social Media Performance Metrics
It’s always important to measure the effectiveness of your social media activities. You can’t blindly work towards a goal. Most publishers overlook the importance of managing their social media efforts. But without fixed goals & objectives, any strategy is bound to fail.
Always establish performance metrics for each of the social media networks you are striving to build a community on. For example, it could be:
- Number of fans and followers
- Engagement around your posts
- Social mentions and shares
- Unique and Repeated visitors
The rule of thumb says, how you measure engagement will depend on how you define engagement in the first place.
Don’t mistake the social networks for a community. Adding social sharing buttons isn’t all, you need to come up with a real plan to build real communities.