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Executive Report : Social media masterclass
Social media marketing agencies aim to make your content stand out by making it more engaging. In the last article in our short series, Dan Jenkins explains how you can increase sales and brand awareness yourself or by using specialists.
When social media experts talk about engagement, they really mean the eternal challenge faced by any form of marketing: attracting attention from the right people. Let’s look at some of the tools used by specialists in this field, which you can also utilise yourself.
Almost anyone who spends time online will have been exposed to memes. Part and parcel of the daily social media experience, they are typically images with some overlaid text and used to make a humorous point. One of the reasons that they are so common is that they are easy to make yourself.
Canva is a free design and photo editor with easy drag ‘n’ drop functionality. It includes a library of tutorials ranging from getting started to much more sophisticated image production. It is available as a web-based program, meaning you can use it both on a computer, as well as on a mobile app for iOS and Android devices.
Have a little fun
If you want to really capture the zeitgeist, and have a little fun with your memes, then some mobile apps can be really useful. A Popular free one is Meme Generator by Zombodroid, and you can pay to upgrade to a more sophisticated version. It holds a library of popular images, so you can simply select the one you want, add your own text, save it and upload the image. The entire process can take just a couple of minutes.
However, be aware that some of the meme creator apps play fast and loose with image rights. From a legal perspective, you should avoid using images of celebrities or stills from movies and TV shows in your memes. There are plenty of other generic images you can safely use. Alternatively, you can upload your own photos and add text - but again, be aware that if you upload pictures to some meme creator apps, they will make your photos available to other users.
‘Native video’ is the marketing industry term for video content you create yourself, rather than sharing a link to an existing video on Vimeo or YouTube. There are two ways to use it. Firstly, Facebook has a ‘go live’ feature which, as the name suggests, is designed for sharing live events. Live filming, of course, comes with its own dangers, but a great application would be if you or a colleague were giving a presentation at a seminar or conference.
Social media platforms use algorithms to assess your posts and decide how many of your followers get to see them. Facebook Live is a sure-fire way to maximise your reach, as Facebook’s algorithms are designed to favour it.
Sharing video posts
You can also upload pre-recorded video to Facebook and all other major social media platforms, and undoubtedly the best platform for native video is LinkedIn. Recent studies have shown that people are 20 times more likely to share a video post on LinkedIn than any other type of content.
As with memes, there are now many web and mobile apps to help edit your video. All you need is the app, a selfie stick, a presentable appearance and something to say. Video works best when you pick a strong topic, talk honestly about it, and keep the content concise. Draft a few notes about what you want to say before you start, and be prepared to do multiple takes to nail it.
LinkedIn also includes the option to submit articles, which provides a platform to post more in-depth pieces on key topics and industry trends. This is certainly not a place for the hard sell: it is much more about giving advice or highlighting an issue. Known in marketing terms as ‘thought leadership’, this is essentially about demonstrating your company as an expert in its field.
As with native video, the algorithms give preferential treatment to articles posted directly to LinkedIn. This gives them an edge over a standard post linking to an article on your website. So if you have written a blog or press release, you can markedly increase its reach by posting it as a LinkedIn article. LinkedIn articles work best when they address hot topics and pose questions, inviting a response. As always, if you’re discussing controversial issues then do so in a sensitive way.
Get some gifs
A halfway house between a video and a meme is a gif, which stands for Graphics Interchange Format. A gif file is an animated image - think of them as memes with movement. They tend to be just a couple of seconds long, but will constantly play in a loop. Our human evolution as both prey and predator has left us hardwired to notice and react to movement, meaning that gifs are a quick and easy way to attract attention to a social media post.
As with meme generators, there are plenty of free and paid-for gif creator apps available if you want to start making your own. Giphy is the standout favourite. However, this is a more technical process than creating memes, so be prepared to invest a bit more time if you go down this route.
Gifs tend to be used more playfully than video, and are often added to a post to inject some humour, or to express how the user is feeling. Facebook and Twitter both have inbuilt gif search engines, which you can search by feeling, expression or phrase to find a gif that represents what you want to say. For example, if you scan Facebook’s gif library for ‘Friday’ you will see a score of short animations of people dancing and cheering that it is (for many) the last office working day of the week. Coincidentally, research has shown that Facebook posts on a Friday achieve the most likes, comments and shares, so it is an ideal day to be adding new content.
As we discussed in the first article in this series (see EHN September), social media is fundamentally designed for social interactions, so don’t expect to use it in exactly the same way you would use print or online advertising. Make sure that you ‘like’ and respond to all comments on your posts, which will build rapport with customers and prospects.
There is a lot you can do to engage with your followers. Be playful, and use gifs to inject some humour into the working day of your followers. Use memes creatively to attract their attention; and be yourself in honest, straight-talking videos to raise awareness of key issues or trends. Write provocative questions in your articles to start discussions about serious subjects in the markets you serve.
Whether you use some or all of these methods as part of your social media strategy, humanising your content will keep it authentic and accessible, as well as adding a little fun. •
Here are links to some helpful LinkedIn articles: