Whether you’re looking to expand your social media efforts or simply keep pace with the competition, here are some tips, tricks and some of my personal preferences that might make the job slightly easier and your content all the more share-able.
THE THOUGHTFUL ART OF TAGGING
We’ve all seen the @ symbol. Every major social media network offers the ability to tag other users, which you should do. But there are some rules (more like guidelines).
First, a tag is not a hashtag and should not be used the same. A tag identifies the person or brand and notifies them you’ve mentioned them in a post. A hashtag identifies posts on a specific topic. (More on that later.)
Tags work very much like starting a conversation in real life. They’re the social media equivalent of a “heads up,” helping to signify to another user that you’re talking about them, alerting them to potential topics of interest, and/or initiating a chat.
Much like there is an art to conversation, so too is there an art to tagging. Tag no one and you miss opportunities for positive conversations. Tag everyone and you’ll turn them off and they’ll tune you out — Kind of like someone calling your phone repeatedly and leaving a bunch of voicemails (boo).
- DO: Use tags on all social media platforms
- DO: Be selective about who you’re tagging
- DO: Limit tags to two or fewer per post and to users who would be legitimately interested in your content
- DO: Incorporate tags into the general flow of your writing
- DON’T: Tag anyone & everyone who just might be interested in your content
- DON’T: Tag yourself
- DON’T: List a bunch of tags at the end of your post
HASHTAGS ARE NOT #MEANT #TO #BE #USED #LIKE #THIS
Hashtags are a great way to join a conversation and/or categorize your post for others to find with ease. However, excessive hashtag use is one of the most irritating social media habits to avoid (IMO). A well-used hashtag can increase engagement, but too many or inapplicable hashtags render your post illegible and gives your account an air of desperation.
This section’s title trends towards the hyperbolic, but even the below tactic is rather unadvisable:
Also keep in mind, hashtags do work differently on each platform. For your convenience, the one and only Sonja put together this most practical of presentations. And if you’re in the market for Duke specific hashtags -> Well we have a list for that.
- DO: Use hashtags appropriate to your content
- DO: Use hashtags differently depending on the platform
- DO: Check hashtags to make sure they don’t have unintended or alternate meanings
- DON’T: Use inapplicable hashtags just to join trending topics
- DON’T: Over hashtag — For maximum engagement, you pretty much get 1 or 2 per post and that’s it (except on Instagram)
EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY
Every day millions of people upload millions of social media images. It’s true that photos usually garner greater engagement, but those that inspire actual engagement rather than a cursory glance are few and far between. Why? Too many images are low-quality, unappealing, incorrectly sized or just flat out boring.
The images you share with a post are every bit a part of the story you’re telling as the text. Actually images are more emotionally resonate, so your image will generally supersede the accompanying text as the main takeaway for your audience. So a pixelated photo or an image without a focal point is like showing up to a cocktail party in your worn-out pajamas.
- DO: Use the right size image for the right platform – Sprout’s handy list is a good place to start
- DO: Improve your visual literacy (Words have meanings — So do images)
- DO: Use visuals with consistent color and design aesthetic (if possible)
- DO: Plan your social content with visual imagery in mind
- DON’T: Use headshots alone on social platforms — There’s almost always a better way
- DON’T: Use graphics on your Instagram feed — Trust us
- DON’T: Post blurry or pixelated pictures
A CHAIN IS ONLY AS STRONG AS ITS WEAKEST LINK
This section begins with one overarching message: People are less likely to click on a link if they don’t trust where it takes them.
There is a lot of bad content on social media, so people tend to be a tad skeptical. This means we have to work even harder to gain users’ trust, most of the time before they ever click on that link we’re sharing.
When it comes to links, looks aren’t everything but they certainly make a difference. The main platforms we use to share links — Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn — use social cards, which allow the content creator to choose the image, title and description that displays on social media platforms when someone shares the content.
Without social cards on your website, we have to manually upload (and alt text to) an image every time we (and anyone else for that matter) share your link. The alternative is to live with whatever image the platform pulls in from your website, which is more-times-than-not most unflattering. Facebook and LinkedIn allow for some customization when posting natively. Twitter does not.
If your website does not have social cards (especially Twitter Cards), please talk to your web developer to have them added. If you do have social cards, please be cognizant of what images are being pulled in. Decapitated headshots and too small images don’t do anyone any favors and diminish the chance a reader might actually click your link (unless you’re indeed trying to scare them away).
- DO: Have your web developer add social cards to your website
- DO: Pay attention to what images the cards pull in on different platforms
- DO: If your website uses vertical images, plan to have horizontal options for social
- DON’T: Share sketchy links to sources that might not be trustworthy
- DON’T: Bury your link in a bunch of tags and/or hashtags like it’s a word search puzzle
THE END IS NEAR
Since we’ve given you examples of what not to do, here’s a Tweet that gets all four things right to end today’s conversation:
Well that’s all the advice I have for this blog post outing. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading and be sure to check out our previous entries as well as be on the lookout for upcoming posts on all manner of topics related to the wide world of social media. Until then 👋