how you post and share content matters
If you listen to me long enough and you’ll know I am more focused on social networking and being engaged than creating content. I’ll keep saying it too….
Your content is designed to play a supporting role.
People do business with people. They build relationships. They act on those relationships. When they choose to act is when your content matters. It is at that point they will read (or read again). It is at that point they will decide if, aside from having that relationship with you, they trust you are the right person or business to hire.
Content isn’t the most important thing…. what you post and more importantly, HOW you write, post or share content IS critical.
Your content MUST have a purposeYour content MUST serve a purpose. It must help build relationships, must be authoritative and/or must drive action.Click To Tweet
Not every post needs to do all of it, and the best content will hit multiple points. If your content doesn’t hit on at least one of those points, you’re wasting your time posting it. PERIOD.
I adore Rhonda over at Fat Dog Creatives. She’s a fantastic graphic designer and her process is incredible. She’s also a big proponent of me (yes, I have an ego).
She shared one of my Facebook posts about the value of engagement to her business page. I immediately thanked her (as Tactical Social Media, though I could have as myself.) and as quickly as I did, I scolded her. Love that she shared it, hate that while it was good for me, it did nothing for her!
She already decided to share my content. She gave me something, so why not leverage it to truly nurture the relationship, to establish her own authority, drive some action and share a little bit of herself? She should use it further help herself.
Blindly posting or sharing content provides little value to YOU. Make what you post count for you AND your audience.Click To Tweet
How you create your post matters
How the share first appeared…..
Here’s the edited version…..
She leveraged my content to help build her authority. She continues to nurture our relationship (more than simply sharing my content, she acknowledges she is learning from me – that ego thing again) and she is making it personal and herself more relatable to her clients.
The bonus… Rhonda will get some HUGE additional visibility:
* She tagged me (with permission – do not ever tag a person in a business post without permission. It is rude and a relationship killer) placing her post on my timeline. Her brand was promoted to my personal network.And since I was tagged personally, I responded personally. That adds further reach.
* She has real content that could be found later when someone uses Facebook’s search function (and trust me, they do!).
While I will continue to preach that content is less important than social engagement, there is no doubt content is vital. It’s not about how much content you post, how often or when.
It is about WHAT you post and HOW you post and share content that matters.
What if you could spend less time writing content and still drive web traffic and generate leads?
Oh. Wait. You can….and I do!
Social Networking: Lead Generation Without Content
I spend the majority of my time actively networking, not posting and sitting on my ass hoping my content is seen. I follow specific people and pages. I interact, support and add value. That simply activity, which is easy and honestly, fun, is what YOU should be doing and what I have found to be the BEST way to leverage my time on social media.
One of those I follow is my friend (and one of my influencers) Debra Jason. We met on social media through a mutual friend. While we have yet to meet in person, we have spent a good deal of time networking together and supporting each other.
I am always reading her content (it is that good). She recently shared a post from her website, The Write Direction. As a standard practice I commented on the post itself and to further support her, also took the time to add a comment directly on the blog post itself.
The result of networking and interacting with Debra:
- I saw her social share of the post.
- I added a valuable comment on social and the blog post itself
- One of her blog readers saw my comment.
Apparently, the comment made an impression. Not only did they track back to my post (Want Results From Facebook? Stop Sitting On Your Ass!), they filled out my lead capture form to sign up to receive my content in their inbox!
A perfect example of driving web traffic and lead generation WITHOUT content.
I’ll add this is not an isolated example of driving web traffic from social networking. There is this one:
And this one:
Social networking is how I have been able to leverage social media effectively to build my brands since 2007, and it’s proven to remain highly effective through all of the algorithm changes.
A single value-added comment might just be worth far more than any piece of content you post.
Consider spending less time on your content and more on being active, visible and engaged.Click To Tweet
What If The Auto DM Was Used Differently?
I have never been a fan of using the automated direct message feature on Twitter. In fact, I downright hate it. How much? I will unfollow 90% of those who send me an automated direct message within minutes of my reading it.
I often finding myself challenging the norm. I’m always looking at ways to leverage the tools at our disposal in a different way, to achieve a different goal. Twitter’s direct message feature may be one of the best social media tools we have at our fingertips: it provides direct access to followers which could number in the 1000s even for a small brand.
As I see it, the problem with the automated direct message isn’t the use of it, it’s HOW it’s used.
Auto DMs tend to fall into one of two general categories:
- The simple ‘Thank you for following me” – This one may seem fine, but how unsocial is it to send an automated greeting to someone you just met? At least make it look like you took the time to personally thank me.
- The ‘Please follow me over on Facebook, LinkedIn, sign up for my email, you may be interested in, buy my crap’ – I get this is an opportunity to drive web traffic, promote your wares or get an email address but at least send me welcome note and ask how I am first. If I walked into your retail store and you asked for my email address or tried to sell me something without saying hello first, I’ll exit stage left…immediately. At least take the time to be social, even for just a moment.
But What If?
- What if automated DM’s were more like follow-up emails sent to subscribed followers?
- What if we used them differently?
- What if we treated our followers the same way we do when they fill out a contact form, sign up for a newsletter or get a free download?
- What if the content they received wasn’t a request but us giving something? Maybe a piece of advice? Maybe a free download without requesting an email address?
- What if the DM provided something of value to them rather than a pitch to buy, download, follow, try my crap?
Would you accept them or still see them as spam, insincere, rude or annoying?
The Automated Direct Message As An Effective Marketing Tool
To make them an effective marketing tool three things must change:
Expectation. When we sign up for a download, fill out an entry form at an event or sign up for anything, we KNOW we’re being added to an email list. We expect that. We know we’ll receive an email a few days later saying thank you. We know we’ll likely receive offers and requests (hopefully mixed in with some valuable content). So what is different between signing up for an email list and following someone on Twitter?
“….when you sign up for an email list, you expect to be emailed. It’s intrinsic to the nature of that transaction. When you follow someone on Twitter, though, your purpose isn’t to be contacted privately – it’s only to see what they publicly post. Receiving a DM isn’t necessarily part of the equation, so it can seem a little invasive, or annoying. (You already get promotional messages in your email inbox – do you really want them showing up in every one of your other inboxes all across the Internet?)”
– Tom over at Team Edgar in response to a discussion we had a few weeks back on an older article on Twitter’s change in its DM rules.
I agree completely with the reason we follow someone isn’t to provide private, targeted access but given the pervasive nature of them, I think we EXPECT to be contacted privately.
Perception. Direct messages are so maligned, even if used to provide value, they would be ignored or result in the inevitable ‘unfollow’.
Side note: If you scroll back to the top, you’ll notice I said “I will unfollow 90% of those who send me one within minutes of my reading an auto DM.” What about the other 10%? I have received messages which resonated, provided value or, based on the source, weren’t seen as spam.
Given my own approach and as much as I detest them, I think perception can be changed.
Personalization. Even once the expectation of receiving and perception of DMs changes, there is the small issue of tailoring the message. When it comes to email, we can easily segment to tailor our message. We can personalize each email. You know when you receive them they are automated but at least they address and speak to you. There still needs to be a tool which enables this functionality with a minimum of input on our part to make it effective.
There are a few tools already available and designed to send automated DMs but I don’t think any have the same functionality of most email or CRM tools (please let me know if any do).
A Final Thought
Twitter’s direct message feature holds some interesting potential as an effective marketing tool. It’s a huge opportunity to establish a relationship if / when used properly. If it will ever be accepted is a whole other story as a viable or trusted. For now, I don’t see myself using it on a broad, automated level. I may start playing with it on a manual basis similar to how I respond to all requests to connect on LinkedIn so don’t be surprised if you follow me and I reach out to you. It is, after all, social behavior and an opportunity to build a relationship and that’s the real value of social media.
What is your opinion on the use of direct or automated direct messages?
Do you see a potential for using them?
Goodbye To Twitter’s 140 Character Limit…
UPDATE (16 May 2016) – “Twitter Inc. will soon stop counting photos and links in their 140-character limit for tweets, according to a person familiar with the matter.”
I mentioned back in an October 2015 post about a few of the recent changes with the big one the removal the 140 character limit for direct messages. For businesses, this was a HUGE positive move. It was hard to have any real significant dialogue whether it be with a customer or colleague when you were forced to send multiple messages for one thought. I remember a few conversations I migrated to LinkedIn just so we could actually communicate.
The ubiquitous 140 character limit remained for public Tweets. Now there is a buzz again over Jack Dorsey’s hint at increasing it to 10,000, the same new limit for direct messages. (Update: For now, at least, there will be no change in the character limit. It’s still worth considering a few ideas for what COULD be changed to increase character counts while still maintaining limits.) How it will affect Twitter’s role for businesses, especially small, unknown brands is obviously unknown but a few of my thoughts based on having used Twitter since 2009:
The Art of Twitter Effect
For someone who enjoys writing and provides copy editing services, Twitter’s character count means I am continuously perfecting my craft. Can I get my message across, can I get you to click-through to a link and can I get you to further convert using only 140 characters? And when it comes to resharing old content, I get to play with different content to see what gets noticed or picked up in searches.
Getting content seen and engaged with on Twitter has become an art form.
Based, at least on what has been reported, the skill in getting a Tweet seen will not likely change. What will change is what happens when a Tweet is seen. This’s where the real concern lies. It’s where the copy editing skills will shine and the art form elevated.
Web Traffic Effect
If your content is crafted well and seen in a feed or pulled in a search, the default action (and what you want) is clicking on your website link. That’s web traffic. That’s an opportunity to capture lead information. That’s an opportunity to convert.
What happens when content can be directly added to a tweet? No reason to click-through.
Yes, there still is a huge opportunity by creating compelling content within the tweet to get the click-through, but that requires even more action and time on the part of the reader (personally I’m always tapped for time):
- Get the reader to see or find the tweet.
- Get the reader to expand the tweet
- Get the reader to actually ingest the content.
- Compel the reader to want to more.
The last point is the tough one. The additional content has to be crafted perfectly to be read, understood and still drive one more action – for me ,a link click to this site. Depending on how the change is implemented you may even be able to add in an image, an animated gif or a short video. The bonus with the longer character count – you can have multiple CTAs and links. Regardless, your content will need to be able to encourage further action. Rather than focusing on web traffic depending on post length will they really need or want to read more?), your link CTA may need to be direct list sign ups, registrations, downloads or purchases. Suddenly not only is the art form alive, it’s is elevated to a whole new level.
For me, what still likely gets lost is website traffic. Granted list sign ups, sales and downloads are valuable, but I still have a chance at those when you’re on my site. It’s more about what else I get. You’re exposed to more content than just one article whether it be through links within a post or content in a sidebar. Regardless, the reader is ON my site. Even without additional content being consumed or traditional conversions, there’s still an opportunity to bookmark my site or grab an RSS feed.
On other platforms, I see less traffic to my site and I suspect it’s in part due to NOT needing to click. All of the content is already visible. While you can still create ‘teaser’ posts, I find those to be click-baiting when the opportunity is there to tell me more and you don’t. I know all you are after is that click. (The practice costs you search value – more on that in a minute).
A blog post in a tweet may provide new opportunities but I’m worried about the ones lost. I’m not convinced what we gain makes up for the losses.
The Readability Effect
Increase content within Tweets offers the plus of not having to follow a link but the length of the tweet could affect if it is read. Reading anything long, having to continuously scroll, then still potentially needing to click on a link could make for a very cumbersome read on mobile devices. I won’t even begin to consider writing a long post from a mobile device. Twitter’s current format favors mobile devices. In fact, aside from Instagram, it’s the ONLY social site I prefer on mobile.
One nice feature now is actually the ability to have a link to click for external reading. If I can easily open a browser window and bookmark a page to read later. Remove the link and if I see something I like, getting back to it could be a challenge.
The ReTweet Effect
There are two sides to how this can play out. The first is compounding the effect of losing web traffic. If web traffic is reduced by fewer URL clicks in tweets, it makes sense for the effect to carry over to ReTweets. In my case, approximately 15% of my web traffic is driven from my ReTweets. Not a significant amount of traffic but still another hit.
The flip side?
I see far too much content reshared that shouldn’t be. No time is taken to actually read the content, presumably because it actually TAKES time.
The end result can often be a hit to one’s reputation. While this will not change when using auto retweeters (really, I beg you not to do this), removing the need to follow another link may mean more content is actually read and less crap is reshared. End result – a less cluttered feed filled with better quality content.
The Search Effect
One big positive being touted by Jack is additional text being searchable. It just may be the best thing about removing the 140 character limit. With 1500 million visitors (as of 12/10/15) who do not log in, more searchable content matters. If you know how to write good copy (again, the Art of Twitter Effect) and Tweet often, this could be a be a huge win. Of course, it also means with everyone posting more your actual odds of content appearing in a search could decrease.
More searchable content, however, still doesn’t diminish the lost web traffic effect. It could also lead to wide scale abuse in due to keyword stuffing and other black hat ‘SEO’ practices.
(The Search Effect Side effect: This could create an internal Twitter SEO industry.)
The Conversation (or the Customer Service) effect
My favorite reason for loving Twitter (even more than the oodles of web traffic I get) is it’s ability to build and grow relationships. Yes, it can be done effectively elsewhere (I’ve been having a great conversation about life, this industry and working together on a few projects with the Fabulous Amy Donahue of Get Hybrid Social on LinkedIn), but Twitter offers me something exclusive – brevity
Twitter’s beauty has alwaysd been in its brevity.
Since I can get wordy – this article is over 2100 words – being forced to cut it short is a good thing for me. Then there’s the time management issue. Tweets were set to 140 character limit for compatibility with SMS messaging. As life has gotten busier, as demands for our time have increased, it’s been harder to sit down and chat for any length of time. I found myself scheduling time for conversations with friends. That meant longer intervals between speaking. Text messaging has enabled me to have ‘conversations’ and ‘talk’ regularly. It allowed life to proceed and still maintain or grow connections. Twitter, for me, works the same way. For business, it’s the equivalent of constant customer contact and top of mind awareness.
I’m concerned the messages could start becoming longer, requiring more time to read, longer replies and ultimately become too time consuming.
Not to be completely negative here, having the ability to expand a tweet still works for me (and I’m excited about the prospect). There are times I truly could use an extra 20 characters.
I really dislike abbreviations and shorthand (and you’ll rarely see me use them). To me they’re less professional and using them runs the risk of miscommunication. The 140 character limit means sometimes having to use them or change the content and what I really wanted my message to be. That’s one thing for my content but another for conversations and especially customer service.
I have a number of Twitter conversations most days and keeping within the 140 character limit is easy. But what happens when it’s a customer service question? What happens when the answer simply cannot be cut short? That means multiple, continued Tweets. It works but still a choppy conversation. It would be nice in these circumstances to have some extra real estate.
The Meta Description
This is not the first time the character count has been discussed. If there is no change, I expect it will be brought up again. That means thinking ahead. True, I do not need to change my posting strategy. I can still march on as I have been doing. I may even be successful for a time but….
Failing to adapt in a changing environment, however, rarely has a good outcome.
My posting strategy if and when the 140 character limit is removed:
What if Tweets were structured like Google’s search listings?
The body of the tweet, the 140 character limit you see now, would continue be the attention grabber, what gets you to stop and hit ‘expand’. It’s the article or page title in the SERPs.
The expanded content would contain the post link with a short description, effectively the post’s meta description. Like the meta description in search listings, it’s what truly determines if the link is clicked. Only in this case that ‘meta description affects the actual search results.
A Tweet for this article would look like:
The expanded version:
The art form remains. Instead of writing content to be seen in a feed or picked up in searches and getting the external click through, it’s slightly altered to produce an internal click. The bonus is in getting a few more characters to work to use (your link moves to the body of the Tweet).
What I’d Like To See
I do like the idea of changing up Twitter. I think it could use a refreshing. I do however like much of what has made Twitter such an awesome platform for many of us using it. Going from a 140 character limit t0 10,000, while offering some positives comes at the potential expense of diminished web traffic and a few other negatives.
So what would I do?
Granted no one is asking my opinion, especially Jack Dorsey himself but that’s never stopped me before so…..
Simply thinking about how I would approach posting above, maybe a hybrid of what we have vs what is proposed may work best.
- Split Character Limits: 140 character limit for the visible portion of tweet and 155 (from Google’s meta description length) for the post body. This more than doubles the character count, adds the search value from more text, makes conversation (customer service and relationship building) easier, maintains Twitter as a great source of web traffic and still keeps with the initial reason for the character count. Add in a link, image or video at the end (not counting towards the character count).
- No links in the visible portion of the tweet. This should encourage more quality content within the visible portion reducing clickbait practices as well. It would force content writers to step up their game. While Twitter would still be a good source of web traffic, you will have to put in a little more effort to get it. Want the traffic? Your content needs to generate two clicks. One to expand the post and one to get to your site.
- A post save feature: Yes, I can click on a tweet’s timestamp, open it in my browser and bookmark it for later, but it would be so much nicer to have a ‘save’ button. Then I’d have access to the content long term. Even give me a column next to Notifications called ‘Saved Tweets’.
- An edit feature: None of us are perfect. (Thanks to Angel Rubia for the suggestion during today’s #DigiBlogChat with Carol Stephen.)
No Engagement On Your Posts? Who Cares!
One of the challenges for small brands on social media is simply getting engagement. We stress over writing and posting good content our readers want at the perfect time only to find it doesn’t get seen or worse – it does – and still there is no engagement! Rather than tell you why and how to get that engagement (I’ll save that for a later post), I’m going to throw this out there and tell you to:
Stop worrying about how many likes, comments, and shares you’re getting. You do NOT need engagement on your social media posts for your efforts to be successful.
For the record, your efforts should be focused on creating engagement but not seeing good levels of does not mean your efforts were worthless and social media as a failure as a result. I stress this point because it is possible, no matter what efforts you undertake, you may never actually get good levels of engagement.
Maybe it’s your product or service?
If you’re a fertility doctor, a divorce attorney or therapist, there’s a good chance not only won’t someone want to like or comment on your posts, they may not even want to like your page. The same may be true for lawyers, financial planners, and doctors. On the off-chance, someone they know will see that activity is enough of a reason to not engage.
Some just prefer to lurk.
Some people don’t like to comment. They may like the page and lurk on purpose. They want the information, not the conversation. They’re learning, researching and making a determination of what they need or want and if they’ll buy from you. Unless they have a specific question, you won’t likely hear from them until they’re ready to buy. Even then, contact is likely to be them emailing, calling or stopping by, not social engagement.
Stop stressing over post-level engagement
It isn’t necessary to drive sales
A very compelling CTA in radio spot or print ad may get your customer’s attention and trigger that ‘buy response’ but by the time they get home or take few minutes to think about it, they can find all kinds of reasons not to buy. The moment passes and it’s forgotten.
The big value for smaller brands using social media is the direct connection and interaction it enables. You can talk to your customer, ask questions and work to move them to action in real-time on a piece of content. This direct, immediate communication makes it much easier to work through customer objections.
But what if you don’t get the engagement? Those compelling CTAs in a radio or print ad still work. Not every customer will have or create obstacles. The same holds true for CTAs in social content. Even though social media’s value is predominantly its inbound capability, it still can be successful as an outbound tool. A post with a great CTA doesn’t need engagement to convert.
A word of advice here. Leveraging social media in this way over the long-term is not a good practice. What you may gain with this approach will be far less than otherwise possible using social media as a relationship tool. I am merely pointing out it’s possible for social media to generate revenue as an outbound tool when the inbound aspect isn’t working.
It isn’t necessary to drive website traffic
This is another area where engagement simply isn’t needed to convert. A great intro which makes the reader want to click through and an optimized link (think visually appealing featured image a great meta description and title) is enough.
In fact, a post which doesn’t see a like or comment but drives traffic may result in even better engagement later. Once on your site, there is an opportunity to capture email or other lead generation information allowing you to provide more tailored content and to engage with a prospective client when you want, rather than waiting for them to take action.
Focusing on writing content which drives web traffic is a great tactic for those whose businesses, like those mentioned above, tend not to get post-level engagement.
It isn’t necessary to build relationships
How do you build relationships and connect with your audience if you’re getting limited or no engagement?
Limited: With the exception of Facebook (it’s not as easy but still possible – why you need to leverage your personal profile for business) you can see who liked or +1’d your content and privately or publicly thank them, even ask them a question to drive further interaction They still may not reply with more than a like, but they are aware you noticed them and took the time to acknowledge them. That is a simple gesture which goes a long way.
None: Even with lurkers on your profiles, you can still create relationships.
If you cannot build relationships through conversation, build it through your content.
Original Content. I urge my clients to be more personal on their business profiles. Bring some of yourself into your brand. If you’re a small business owner or solopreneur, it’s already there. You just need to showcase it and put it out in the open. Bonds form over commonalities and shared interests. They form when there are natural connections.
This is one of the primary reasons knowing your audience is so important. Knowing their likes, wants, desires and interests, their buyer persona, allows you to create content which speaks to them. Posting stories which appeal to your audience on a personal level as part of your content mix is a simple way of connecting without the actual conversation.
Shared Content. Sharing content is a terrific way to reduce your time commitment while still showing authority but it is also one of the best ways to create relationships through content. Consider HOW you post the content you are sharing.
You do not need to engage with your audience to form a connection or bond if you’re creating content which resonates with them.
The Bottom Line
Without question, you want the engagement. You want likes, comments, and shares. You want to write content to drive them, but knowing you may never get that engagement, make sure your content needs to ‘speak’ directly to your audience, to make them connect with you and your brand.
Making Instagram Work For Your Brand
For many small businesses and solopreneurs, especially those in the business to business sector, finding value in or leveraging Instagram can be difficult. It’s been a challenge for me as well. Over the past 6 months in my quest to figure out how to crack Instagram for myself (all part of walking the talk), I’ve learned a few things.
What To Post
Like Pinterest, Instagram is a visual based platform. The big difference between the two social media sites – curation vs original content. While much of the content I see posted are memes, quotes and other assorted images pulled from other places, Instagram’s Community Guidelines clearly state:
“As always, you own the content you post on Instagram. Remember to post authentic content, and don’t post anything you’ve copied or collected from the Internet that you don’t have the right to post.”
To use Instagram you need to be taking and posting your own images. I’ve posted before I don’t generally take many pictures (though I am getting better – to a fault. I was recently scolded for taking pictures in the grocery store) and then there’s the issue of what to even post. If your business isn’t visual, what then? No pictures means no post. This was one of my issues until I started rethinking how I approached Instagram.
My shift in how I approached Instagram – more personal than business – helped. Finding images was easier. Anything which makes me laugh is worth posting. A ‘saga’ has even started to emerge based on the antics of my daughter’s little men:
Being primarily personal has helped build a following and highlight my brand’s personality (and it’s more fun), but hasn’t done wonders for driving traffic. I decided to experiment with adding images from my blog posts.
I now have a mix of content – business for the traffic, personal for the fun and, well consistent content – and all original.
Driving Engagement, Interaction and Web Traffic
Getting engagement matters, but only to a point. How you interact with those engaging on your content matters more. It’s where the relationships are built. Getting engagement on Instagram is about getting your images seen. The platform is a cross between feed driven (seeing the posts from profiles you follow) and search driven (looking for new content).
Building a following helps, but like Twitter, having your image show in a feed can be a challenge. A great image when seen, will get the viewer to stop. Adding the good description will help get the engagement. The right use of hashtags will get your image will get it found and assuming your image is perfect and a great description, you should get your engagement. It can be overwhelming to excel enough at each point. My advice – stop trying!
You may get the most engagement from the perfect image posted at the perfect time but in the end it’s not about how much engagement you get but how you interact with it that matters. You don’t need the perfect post. That quest, at some point, ultimately ends with frustration (been there).
[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”#123517″ class=”” size=””]There is a diminishing law of returns when you start calculating the time to find, craft and post the perfect content in the quest for the perfect post and most engagement.[/perfectpullquote]
Here’s my approach:
Images: Keep it simple. I see something – I post it. I may even specifically look for something. What I don’t do is stress over the image’s colors or how it might look when posted. The perfect image may be the route to the most engagement but requires quite a bit of work. Stop over thinking and aiming for the ideal. Post what makes you take notice, smile or laugh. Besides, if the image was good enough to have caught your eye, chances are pretty good it will catch someone else’s and you may just be seen as more genuine to your followers.
As for the comment about specifically looking for something – when you do find something that connects with your audience, put the effort into finding similar content.
Stress less over what the ‘experts’ tell you is best. Social will be less like work if you just post and more likely you’ll do it consistently. Have fun with it.
Descriptions: Keep it short. Aside from blog images where I can simply cut and paste the text and I’m after ‘readers’, I try to keep the wording to a minimum. It’s a visual platform. I want to make you take notice and get a glimpse at who I am and my brand’s personality. Short, sweet and simple.
Hashtags: Use them to your heart’s content. Here is one time more is
better. Engagement rises as the number of hashtags increase. Hashtags are the default search method. Seems the optimal number is 11 or more. My personal rule of thumb – just make sure all of them are relevant to your image. Can’t think of more than one or two? Try this:
- Grab your phone
- Open Instagram
- Search for the one hashtag you plan to use
- Open a few images and check out the hashtags used.
And if you can’t come up with 11 – just post it! You’ll notice most of my content has far short of 11. Again, diminishing ROI. Too much time and stress for me.
Interaction is the key to social. I don’t care how many people like you. They need to connect with you. What you do with the likes is what truly matters and there is a way to do it on Instagram.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#123517″ class=”” size=””]Engagement is good but to really leverage Instagram or any social site for that matter, you ultimately need interaction.[/perfectpullquote]
Hats off to my friend Debra Jason, author of Millionaire Marketing On A Shoestring Budget, does a better job in this area than anyone I know. She does it using a tactic she borrows from her LinkedIn experience. Not only does she reply to everyone who comments, doing so in a way to foster conversation (HINT!!), she takes the time to add a simple comment thanking even those who liked her post. A simple thank you goes a long way towards building relationships and support.
Here’s the real challenge. Converting social into web traffic requires links (though someone could see your business name and search it). The only place working links will appear on Instagram is in your bio. Not only do you need images and descriptions which get seen and earn engagement, your content needs to be compelling enough to get the viewer back to your profile and clicking the link. It may seem like you’re asking a lot but Mike Allton points out in his article for The Social Media Hat Instagram followers are devoted and will take that time!
One area I ‘break’ with most experts is on use of links within image descriptions. The prevailing wisdom is the lack of value links provide (by not being live) makes it pointless to include them. Including them can be seen, like using hashtags in LinkedIn posts – those don’t work either – as ignorant
So why do I include links in my descriptions?
In a word, opportunity. Adding a link within your post description may not result in traffic, but more do equate to more opportunity, even if they’re not active links.
- Remember and manually enter: Cut and paste isn’t possible in Instagram posts (on your smartphone) but shortened links are easy to remember and manually enter into your mobile browser. Mike Allton spoke to the dedication of Instagram devotees in his recent If they’re willing to track back to your bio, hit the link to your homepage and then find the content, they’re every bit as likely to type a short link directly into their browser.
- Desktop use. Instagram may be a mobile-based platform but you can still access profiles from your desktop. You cannot post, edit or comment on posts via your browser but you can log into your account. That enables you to view your feed and search for content. For those using this method, albeit a very small minority, cut and paste is quick and easy. Viewing feeds also allows them to be pinned from Instagram. While the preference would be pinning directly from your site (leveraging Rich Pins), any link in the description, will carry over to Pinterest. It may still not be a working link, but there is another opportunity to cut and paste.
Some third-party Instagram web viewers like Websta have enabled active links. If you were smart enough to include a link within your description and I view you image on Websta….. a simple click will take me to your website.
- Working Links:
Links aren’t clickable when using the OEM app BUT they are with the Instwogram Android app. This makes it extremely beneficial for those of us using this application (I originally came across it when researching a method for posting to multiple Instagram accounts) and following you. If you’re including links, you make it far more likely (than even the most devoted follower) to click-through.
Adding a link within your content may not look as clean and could show ‘ignorance’ as to how Instagram works, but for me, what others see as ignorance I see as a potential opportunity.
One point to note here. Instagram’s predominant mobile bias means unlike the rest of the big social media sites, clicking a link within an Instagram bio will attribute the link as direct and not from Instagram in Google Analytics. To accurately identify the traffic you will need to use tracking links in your bio. The same holds true for links within the body of you post.
Hootsuite users can follow the details laid out by Mike is his above-referenced post or by using Google’s URL Builder.
The Bottom Line
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#123517″ class=”” size=””]Instagram not working for you? #BeTactical: Maybe you need to take a fresh look at it, stress less and just have some fun with it.[/perfectpullquote]