Of late, our attention spans have waned. We now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. According to a Microsoft Corp. study the human attention span is 8 seconds, showing the affect of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.
Social networks are at the center of today’s interruptive and fast-paced lifestyle. Content created by consumers and brands compete for space on our new feeds, and they don’t all make the cut. While social media does aim to put the world at your fingertips, it also places your content amongst tough competition. Not to mention, Facebook organic reach dropped by 52% in 2016, particularly with respect to brands.
As a result, to succeed at social media, audience retention and content is at the heart of engagement and results. Here’s how to get started.
1. Scale micro opportunities
Gary Vaynerchuk has astutely pointed out, “Giving a shit doesn’t scale.” Most successful people and brands are built by cultivating real relationships with people. Your ideal customers use social media to vent, ask for help and share opinions. You can locate these conversations and add value exactly when they need it.
These are micro opportunities that can help you make memorable impressions and acquire new fans. Sometimes, the people you create value for end up becoming passionate brand advocates – the best case scenario of a micro-opportunity.
Discover micro opportunities by targeting a niche audience. Meanwhile, with technology it is possible to catch and scale micro-opportunities. Use a mix of social media monitoring tools, Twitter lists and blogger outreach tools to identify and leverage micro opportunities.
2. Turn likes to trust
Likes are ineffective as emotive indicators because they can mean many things. Sometimes, I like posts even when they don’t strongly resonate with me. That could be why Facebook expanded reactions to allow for more expression.
You really make headway when you get your fans to trust you. How do you do that? There are many ways to establish trust, and consistency is essential.
Be transparent – always disclose your intention. If you are selling something, say as much. Disguising the fact will only put off consumers. But be considerate–social selling is a practice where companies provide value by engaging prospects and creating thoughtful content to prompt a conversion. In other words, sell authentically.
Be the Wikipedia page for your industry – actively find questions related to your niche and provide unbiased and actionable answers. Trust is exactly how Quora authors build authority.
Show your fans that you are socially responsible. One of the best ways to establish trust is to show your audience that you care for more than just profits. For instance, every year, TOMS provide shoes, sight, water, safe birth and bullying prevention services to people in need.
3. Ask the right questions
Social media is all about conversations. Good conversationalist listen as much as they speak. Use your social accounts to ask the right questions and learn important details about your audience. You can also use social interactions and questions to generate fresh ideas for content.
There are three types of questions you can ask your fans–questions to:
understand their concerns, interests and lifestyle
conduct a competitive and market analysis and gather leads
request product and service feedback
4. Create multipurpose content
Creating content is an expensive and time intensive endeavor. To supplement your efforts, curate content or repurpose your original content on multiple platforms.
For instance, Syed Balkhi, founder of WPBeginner alongside several 7-figure online businesses, has used multiple platforms to build his online presence. For example, he has turned WPBeginner articles into videos for his YouTube channel and generated sales in the process. He also recommends turning snippets of content into visuals, to increase social media sharing on platforms like Pinterest and Instagram.
If you have a set of articles on a topic, you can turn them into an ebook or a video tutorial series. To gather leads, offer your resource as a freebie on your website or blog in exchange for an email address.
5. Understand audience motivations
Answer these questions to get the intel you need to create content that converts:
Who is your primary (and secondary) target audience?
Why would they care about a product or service like yours?
How can you make their lives better?
What are their concerns?
How and where do they consume content?
Most brands want to garner influence on social networks. To influence people, you have to understand their motivations and apply those insights to your content.
Interestingly, certain words are more persuasive than others–getting people to act where others can’t. A social experiment conducted by psychologist Ellen Langer is a great illustration:
While studying the affects of persuasive language, she found that one simple word made all the difference. Langer asked three different variations of a single request to people using a photocopier.
First, she asked “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” 60% allowed her to go ahead of them
When Langer was more specific and asked, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?” the rate of compliance shot up to 94%.
Lastly, she asked, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?” The rate of compliance stayed about the same at 93% when the excuse was completely ridiculous.
“Everyone in line needed to make copies, but Langer was able to cut the line by simply providing an excuse in the first place. It was the presence of the word ‘because’ that made it easier for her to skip the wait.” Sharing reasons ‘why’ in your social media content can also be a great motivator and tap into influence.
6. Go ‘live’
Live broadcasting has been around for a very long tme – think NBA live and Saturday Night Live. But in the past the platform was accessible to only an elite few. With social networks, like Facebook, Instagram and others offering live features, anybody with a smartphone and Wi-Fi can broadcast live.
Live broadcasting hasn’t fully been exploited by small businesses yet, so you have the chance to gain a competitive edge. Livestream special events like product launches, expert interviews, guest speaker talks, interesting monologues, office tours, Q & A sessions, product demos and more.
7. Test and refine content
Create a continuous feedback loop. You can even create content based on data to increase possibility of success.
Refer to trending posts on BuzzSumo for reference, or ask GrowthBot (Slack integrated marketing and sales bot) what the top trending posts are on publications in your industry. You can also sort results on BuzzSumo by social media platform, because some content performs better on some social platforms than others.
BuzzSumo focuses on viral content. To include fresh content in your references, use a combination of other content suggestions tools to cover what has been implemented on a larger scale.
Once you have optimized your content strategy for success, you can build a feedback loop using analytics tools. Refer to your analytics dashboard on each social network to find out what content works on each platform. You can even use a Slack integration like Content Tracker to receive continuous, real-time feedback. That way, you’ll always know how your content performs.
This article has been edited.
Disha Dinesh is a Content Writer at Godot Media, a leading content agency. Her interests include social media and content marketing. When she’s not writing, she’s on the hunt for social media trends and inspiration.