"Rules" For Posting Content To Social Media
When you post content to your Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, Instagram account or basically anywhere on social media, you want that content to go as far as it can possibly go. You want it to reach as many of your ideal clients or customers as possible, and you want it to convert (into new followers, new leads, maybe even new buyers).
But how do you do that?
The Two Catalysts: Reach & Engagement
When you post to social media, you’ll first “reach” a number of people: these are the people who see your content in their news feeds. Algorithms decide on the reach you’ll initially get, depending on different factors (see below).
Once people see your content in their news feeds, they can engage with it (depending on the platform):
- If it’s a video, they can watch it
- If there’s a link, they can click it to go and read more
- If it’s an image, they can click it to see it better
- With any type of post, they can comment on it, like it (or choose any of the other emojis - haha, sad, angry, heart) - or share it.
- If the copy in your post has more than one line, they can click “read more”
Any of the above actions would count as “engagement”; the social platform will use this to decide whether to give your post more reach (show it to even more people). If no one takes action, Facebook will assume your content has no added value and stop showing it to people… while if people like, share and comment like crazy, it will be shown to a lot more people - and the post could go viral.
The more effort people make, the more it counts for engagement, e.g. when people like AND share AND post a picture in the comments, the algorithms will want to show it to more people and (added bonus) most social media platform will show the people who engaged with your content now more of your content in the future.
Reach and Engagement are super important - and they work together really well. One really isn’t more important than the other; the more reach you get, the more people will see your content - and the more engagement you get, the more reach Facebook will give you.
Your Three Audiences - And How To Keep Them All Happy
When you post to social media, you’d think you’ve got one audience - people who follow you already. Right?
I like to say you’ve got 3 different “target audiences” when you post to your accounts… and you have to keep all of them happy.
Audience #1: The Algorithms
The first “audience” you need to keep happy is ; following a couple of basic rules is going to help you get more initial reach… posting the kind of content that et that.
For instance on Facebook, this means
- Posting a variety of content: alternate between videos (uploaded to Facebook), images, external links, text-only and other types of content
- Try not to use certain trigger words (I wrote about this before)
- Don’t label people: Facebook does NOT want you to “out” people for what they are or how they feel (their health, politics, religion etc). E.g. instead of writing “If you’re depressed, you should try this” - write “This often works for people who are depressed”. In general, using “you” a lot in your description might lower your reach.
- If you schedule your posts, using Facebook’s scheduling tool would often get you more reach than scheduling with a third-party tool.
- Using (a lot of) hashtags can seem commercial to Facebook - so use them wisely and when they bring something extra to the table. You’re on Facebook, not Instagram or Twitter or Pinterest!
- Using shortened links (like bit.ly or goo.gl) can lower your reach as well; if Facebook can’t see what’s behind them, they might treat them as spam.
Your followers are the people who like AND follow your account (depending on the platform); they have signalled that they want to see your content in their news feed. In reality, they won’t see all of it though; algorithms decide on how many of your followers actually get your stuff into their news feed.
The more people engage with your content, the higher the chance that the system will send more of it their way. Here are a couple of ways to up the chances that they’ll engage with the content:
- If your content has visual elements that get people to stop scrolling.
Visual elements should make your readers pay attention. If it’s an image, make it one that looks attractive to your ideal follower; if it’s a video, choose the right thumbnail (that doesn't always mean the most polished or fancy-looking one!); if it’s an external link, make sure the featured image for that URL is one that resonates with your readers; if it’s a poll, add GIFs or images to each of the options.
- Start with a hook: the first sentence should be an attention-grabber.
Make people curious about what comes next, so they click “read more”. Starting your description with “I’m so proud that I wrote this article, I spent more than a week working on it” is all about you; something like “Underwater photography is a thrilling hobby, but it’s not without dangers” would get you far more readers (if your audience consists of underwater photography enthusiasts).
If you’re stuck for inspiration, use Moolah’s viral titles cheat sheet to help you!
- Give people a reason to take action! Tell people why they should watch your video (e.g. what will they learn from it?) or read your blog post. What’s in it for THEM? How does it relate to their challenges and goals? (using a great quote from the article or video can help too!)
- Every post needs a specific purpose. What do you want your ideal follower to DO with it? What is it FOR, in the greater scheme of things?
- If you want comments - ask a question or give them specific instructions (e.g. after you’ve watched the video, tell me below what your favourite recipe is).
- If you want people to click an external link (e.g. to go read a blog post) or click to watch a video, again, tell them what's in it for them. Why should they go and read that? And if you're on Instagram, don't forget to tell people where to find that link (in your bio)!
- If you want people to like and share your image, make sure it’s the type of image that people would WANT to share with their friends or followers
- If you post a poll, people are most likely to just vote - you can also get them to comment by asking them WHY they choose that option.
- Don’t assume everyone has seen your previous posts. It’s very likely they missed one or two (or more); so if you refer to previous posts on your page, you can either link to that post (so people can catch up) - or give them enough information in the new post so they can still follow.
The best thing about most social media platforms, is that new people get to see your content every time you post. If you're doing it right, you're not only reaching people who already follow you. People who have never heard of you and don’t know what you do might see any of your posts at any given moment... so make sure your content is ready for them.
With every piece of content, keep in mind it might reach people who have never heard of you. So make sure:
- your ideal (potential) followers will be attracted to it; ideally, they could engage with the content + like and follow your page after doing that
- your page or account is optimised; if people check out your profile/page after seeing your content, you’ll want them to see what you're all about - and why they should follow you (what’s in it for them?)
- check your content after people have engaged with it on Facebook; when people “like” your content, you can invite them to like (and follow) your page.
More Questions about Social Media?
Got more questions about social media? Trying to figure out which platforms to focus on, what strategy to follow on each platform, how you can get more followers and engagement - or how to convert followers into buyers? Schedule a (free) discovery call to discuss your project!