By Courtney Graziano, Director of Saint Digital, The Saint Consulting Group
1. Value over spam
Yes, you should post frequently but that doesn’t mean you should post frequent inconsequential ramblings. In our now now now world, attention span is non-existent. The average American has an attention span of eight seconds. To put that in perspective: goldfish have a longer attention span than Americans (see: http://nbcnews.to/1CnK7aj). Your clients or supporters want information when they want it, they don’t want to wade through your posts to find the information they are seeking. Those who fill newsfeeds and twitter accounts with useless information will see their followers, and therefore reach, drop dramatically.
As much as we’d like the hashtag to go back to being the pound sign, the hashtag is here to stay. There are two ways to use hashtags: create your own or use something that’s already trending. If you are working on a large campaign, it is important to start early in your hashtag creation. Encourage your supporters to use your hashtag when they are posting on their social media about your project. Always use your hashtag on every post (on Facebook too). Hashtags become links, you can click on those links and see if other people are using your hashtags and respond appropriately. It is important to thank those who are using your hashtag to support you and answer the questions and concerns of those who are attempting to take over your hashtag.
3. Less static imagery more movement
Prepare to get giphy. Moving images, short videos, moving info graphics are going to be the norm in social media. Just posting a sentence or two on Facebook isn’t going to cut it. You must be able to capture the attention of you customer over your competitor. Chunks of text will be glossed over for those who post auto-playing videos and gifs. Static images shouldn’t be repeated. Fresh images are important. Avoid that same stock photo you used (and so did your competitor) a month ago and a week before that. If you’re going to post static photos make sure you pay attention to lighting and the full frame of the photo. Take the time to use the 100s of photo editing apps on your smart phone to check the light balance and feel free to add a nice, but not so artsy, filter. Taking the extra moments will pay in likes, follows and retweets. (Note: it currently isn’t possible to post gifs on Facebook).
4. Human emotion not stale
Don’t just ask someone to do something, appeal to them and tell them why they should do it. This shouldn’t be news or shocking but we’ve seen a lot of posts in 2014 that are more “do this” than “do this because xyz.” People need to know why and how the project you’re working on will impact them. Will there be new revenue generated for local businesses? Will there be a bond that will benefit the local schools? We’re in the convincing business, don’t forget that.
5. Running multiple campaigns? Make sure your voice varies for each campaign
I run anywhere from 5-25 social media campaigns at a time, but you’d never know it. Why? Because I make sure to stagger our voice on each campaign. No two campaigns should sound alike in voice or perspective. Plus, having multiple identities is part of the fun of this job!
6. Maintain your voice on each platform
Although your voice should vary per campaign, your voice should stay the same if you’re working on multiple platforms. This is important in order to ensure there isn’t a disconnect between your platforms, you want it to feel like one person or entity is navigating the social media presence for your project.
For example, if you have a blog that you write in a rather tongue-in-cheek voice, make sure your Facebook posts have the same tone. Are your Facebook posts more like news articles? Then make sure your Twitter account isn’t witty and comical. If you’re running a social media team, consider splitting up the projects rather than having one member of your team focus on each platform. Continuity is key to establishing a quality social media presence. When I’m working with a team, I will have them write up posts and then I’ll tweak them to make sure the voice is continuous.
7. Feedback Feedback! Turn that frown upside down
You can’t please everyone. Even the best land use project is going to upset someone, this is where social media plays the most important role in the future of your project. You will get negative comments on your blog and other social media. You have two options 1) delete the comments (on Facebook, it is best to hide the comments. The commenter will not know their comment has been hidden. It will still be available for them to see and their friends, but everyone else on your page will be unable to see it). 2) respond positively!
You are in control. If there is an opportunity to dispute a comment with facts and shine a positive light on your project, do so. It is important to take every opportunity presented to you to educate the public you’re trying to convince. Make sure you always take the high road. Responding to negative comments will do you no good if you simply add fuel to the angry fire.
8. Link posts together- build a story
Keeping people engaged on social media is difficult. Not only do we have incredibly short attention spans to deal with, we also have to factor in the seemingly always-changing Facebook algorithm. In my experience, the key to “beating” the algorithm is to build enough suspense that your followers check your pages regularly and then your posts will show up in their feeds. To do this, you will probably have to pay, through boosts, to engage your audience on their feeds to get them coming to you. By doing so you’ll decrease the amount you’ll need to spend on boosts and you’ll be able to have the same amount of post engagement through organic traffic as you did by paying for traffic.
When I was in elementary school English class I remember learning about the story arc: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, denouement/conclusion. You need to bring back this little third-grade tidbit for a successful land use social media campaign. Climax is the big vote you need help with, denouement is your project being completed to your satisfaction. The key for social media is the “rising action:” you need to build the suspense in your posts and keep people coming back for more. Think of it as a mini-series: you want to keep people coming back for more of the show.
9. Mobile, mobile, mobile
There are 128 million daily US users of Facebook, 101 million of those are on mobile devices. 30% of Facebook users log in on their mobile devices ONLY. We are attached to our phones and tablets (I’m writing this right now on a tablet). Your websites and Facebook ads MUST be responsive and mobile ready or your missing a huge subset of your targeted demographic (see: http://tcrn.ch/1JoW4wL and http://bit.ly/1yKTO1k).
10. Rise of Instagram for C2C (campaign to customer)
You’ve heard of B2B and B2C but what about C2C? In 2015 it won’t be only businesses that will be using Instagram for outreach, but political and marketing campaigns as well. Building hashtags on Facebook and Twitter, then using those to build Instagram following will be vital to reaching the entirety of your target audience. We often utilize video testimonials but what about photo testimonials? Pictures of supporters sent from their Instagram account (filtered however they want) with your hashtag and text on top of the photo, also impactful and even easier for your supporters to complete.
11. 125 characters will reign!
I know 125 seems like a really weird number when 140 characters is the maximum length of twitter posts. But you need to take into account retweets and added links. If you cut down your posts to a measly, but powerful, 125 characters maximum you won’t have to worry about clipped tweets or forcing your followers to click to see the entirety of your post. This is especially important if you have your Facebook and Twitter accounts linked.
12. Build trust
82% of consumers trust a company more if they are involved on social media (See: http://bit.ly/1L4695E). Just like more brands are trusted if they interact on social media with their customers, the same holds true with supporters. If you’re trying to build a multi-story condominium complex or a stadium you’re going to have NIMBY warriors trying to stop you. If you build a network of supporters on social media and through your website, you are effectively building trust. The trick is to keep that trust. Be timely and respond to comments and questions, thank those who support you, and never lie. If you don’t know the answer to a question, be honest. Let the supporter know that you don’t know the answer and you’ll get back to them as soon as you can. Being humble goes a long way to building trust.
13. 3 types of posts: 50/30/20 entertain/inform/promote
There are three types of social media posts (this can be applied to your blog posts as well).
1. Posts that entertain. These are the posts that that you should post the most often, 50 percent of the time. These are the posts that people are most likely to like and interact with. These posts recollect a check-presenting your company participated in, an event that you sponsored, a shout out to the local basketball team for their comeback victory on Friday night. These posts may seem trivial to you but by posting entertaining tidbits and having your followers interact with them, you are increasing your organic traffic and helping you beat the Facebook algorithm.
2. Posts that inform. These are the post you should post around 30 percent of the time. These posts tell people about your project and should feel like bullet points of your project. They should be purely educational and shouldn’t ask for anything.
3. Posts that promote. These are the post you should use sparingly, only 20 percent of the time. These are the “ask” posts. These are the post you use to engage your supporters when you want them to sign a petition, send a letter to the editor, call a local official, volunteer for you, etc.
Think of it this way: every two years we get bombarded with political ads. They get increasingly annoying. The same thing goes with if you’re always asking your supporters to do something for you. You need to carefully plan when you ask your supporters to take some sort of action. If they feel like they are being pressured too often they will unlike your page and all that trust you built up will be gone. These are also the posts that you should pay to boost. These are the posts that count, the actionable posts, and you should put everything you can behind these.
14. More and more call to action buttons
We’re used to the “like” button everywhere. Facebook has recently launched new options when purchasing ads. You can use the new call to action buttons when creating ads for website or website conversions. The “learn more” button is a great feature to use when you are trying to educate people through articles or blog posts on your website. “Sign up” is perfect for sending people to sign a petition. You can also ad call to action buttons on your page instead of using the standard “Like” page button.
15. Social media isn’t going anywhere
Embrace it, utilize it to your advantage. Still lost? We’re here to help!
Courtney Graziano is Director of Saint Digital at The Saint Consulting Group, email email@example.com