4 Part Social Media FormulaSimply typing up a message and posting it to a bunch of social media networks at any random time is not how small businesses are going to succeed with marketing their brand in 2015. There are a few more steps to take to make the social media approach to marketing worth the time investment.
We often hear excuses from small businesses that think they don’t have the time to manage social media accounts. After digesting some of our social media planning tips and familiarizing yourself with social media publishing software like Hootsuite, you’ll be better prepared to manage your social media activity in a timely manner and ready to move on to optimizing your social media presence.

Optimizing Your Commitment to Social Media

Making the most of your commitment to social media marketing is about using all the tools the different platforms make available to you. This means:

  • composing messages with actionable content.
  • attaching visually compelling images to your posts.
  • taking the next step to engage with your audience.
  • measuring your performance.

Compose a Message

Take a look at these two sample messages we could use to promote this blog post on Facebook:

Version 1:

Here’s a blog post about the essentials of social media marketing in 2015.

Version 2:

Lagging in the social media department? Learn how to optimize your commitment to social media by following our 4 part formula for successful marketing.

Which version would make you want to click on a link to the full article if you saw it in your newsfeed? I’m guessing you’ll pick version 2, not because it’s longer but because it uses strong copy to engage the reader and includes a call-to-action (“Learn how”) to convince people to read more about the topic. Posing a question in the message helps to increase engagement with your post by making people think. Use a call-to-action to give your followers something to look forward to and a reason to click on your content.

In addition to carefully crafting the copy and being sure to guide your followers to a next step with a call-to-action, always include a link in your message to direct people to additional resources. Show your brand personality by carefully selecting word choice that also targets your audience.

When it comes to the length of your messages, it’s always best to keep it short. Twitter already limits the number of characters you can use to 140, but remember you’ll want to include a link to other resources or information, so aim for your message copy to be about 120 characters or shorter. Facebook on the other hand gives users the freedom to compose status updates as long as 63,206 characters, but again we suggest you compose a much shorter message, around 100 to 120 characters. The reason for this is because social media users are skimming content and aren’t going to take the time to read an in-depth update. They’ll also probably remember your message better if your keep it tidy and sweet.

Attach an Image

These days it’s nearly impossible to get people to read your social media updates if you don’t have a visually compelling image to accompany it. But perhaps even more important than that is the fact that images convey emotions and set a tone more efficiently than could be done with 120 characters. That being said, the text you compose as part of your social media update should really aim to complement the message already being sent by the photo.

Below are a few additional pointers we want to share when it comes to selecting your branded social media photos:

  • Choose photos that illustrate the idea communicated in the text.
  • Include pictures of people instead of images just featuring your logo.
  • Visually brand the photo through color, font style, templates and imagery.
  • Don’t include too much text on the photo.
  • Remember that many people are probably looking at your posts from a smartphone, so keep it engaging and attractive yet simple and easy to digest.

According to the Salesforce Blueprint for the Perfect Facebook Post, the image you upload should be at least 300×300 pixels. However, many other sources recommend using much larger images for your shared photos.

Social Media Image Sizes

Image screenshots from SproutSocial.com.

Sprout Social Recommendations 

  • Twitter: 440×220 pixels (minimum); 1024×512 pixels (maximum)
  • Facebook: 1200×630 pixels
  • Google +: 497×373 pixels
  • Instagram: 640×640 pixels

Constant Contact Recommendations 

  • Twitter: 1024×513 pixels
  • Facebook: 1200×1200 pixels
  • Google +: 250×250 pixels
  • Instagram: 510×510 pixels

Digital Information World 

  • Twitter: 506×253 pixels
  • Facebook: 1200×1200 pixels
  • Google +: 426 pixels wide (height varies)

As you can see, there is variation among the recommended image sizes by different sources for the various social media platforms. Nevertheless, the takeaway is that you need to allot time to resizing your images before posting them to social media so that the quality of the image is optimized for the network it’s being shared on.

Engage with the Audience

As we mentioned earlier, thinking your job as a social media marketer for your brand is complete after pressing the “post,” “schedule,” “tweet,” or “share” button is a huge miscalculation. Many people who venture to create a social media presence for their brand fail to take additional steps to engage with their audience by fostering a conversation related to the post.

Each social media network has it’s own unique way to encourage people to engage with messages. On Facebook, engagement happens when people like your updates, share your post, or comment on the post. On Twitter, engagement includes people replying to your tweet, retweeting, or favoriting your message. Google + promotes interaction and engagement by having users “+1” a post, add a comment or share the post. Your job is to respond to those comments and replies and to keep the conversation going in a positive direction. If you don’t reciprocate the interactions occurring between your social media followers and your brand, people are going to stop engaging with you because they aren’t getting anything in return.

Measure Your Success

Taking on a social media strategy for your brand is kind of like playing a sport when it comes to measuring your success. How can you perform better if you don’t evaluate what you did well and what you didn’t do so well in addition to determining what tactics worked and didn’t work?

Round out your social media marketing process by evaluating your performance. Look at your likes, favorites, +1’s, comments, replies, ALL OF IT, and keep track of your performance over time by recording your weekly or monthly performance in a spreadsheet. Additionally, record how many people your social media posts and updates are actually reaching. Facebook Insights, for example, will tell you exactly how many people you reached with each post as well as how many people clicked, liked, shared, or commented on the post.Facebook Insights

Put the 4 Part Formula to Work

To recap, every social media post you create involves 4 parts:

  1. Compose a message.
  2. Attach an image.
  3. Engage with the audience.
  4. Measure your success.

Practice these steps with every endeavor you make on social media this year if you want to see results from your invested effort.

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