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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 purpose

Your 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…..

How you post and share content matters

Here’s the edited version…..

How you post and share content matters if you want to see results

The difference?

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.

Business Is Built On Relationships.

I’m old enough to remember all it took to close and honor a business deal was a handshake.  There was an unmistakable level of trust. Yes, there was an unwritten code that you honored your word and would not enter into an agreement you couldn’t fulfill, but there needed to be more. You still didn’t do business with just anyone. You KNEW whose hand you were shaking.  You had a relationship with them.  You weren’t doing business with a brand. You were doing business with the person behind the brand.

Business has changed.

It’s now legal contracts, binding agreements, pre-payment. It’s become less personal and more business. Large brands came in and took over where the small mom and pop stores once dominated. They didn’t do business better. They did it cheaper, faster, easier. All of us have had a hand in that shift.

The shops and businesses that survived did so, not because they could out-compete the big brands. They survived because their owners had built long and solid relationships with their customers. They knew them by name. They didn’t just sell to them. They talked. They shared stories. They bonded.

 

They became friends and those customers stayed loyal.

 

I do still see that as very much alive. I see it often in the local shops here in Proctor. I see it when I travel to Idaho. I know it exists throughout the world. Businesses small and large are thriving and growing on the simple idea of building and nurturing relationships.

When it comes to social media I am constantly hearing that reach is done. That ‘we’re getting no engagement’. That ‘we’re not seeing results’.  What I see missing – social media should be an online equivalent to what you are doing in the real world. How you network, how you interact with customers, how you conduct business should be how you operate on social media – only it’s not.

 

Why Not?

We broadcast, we promote ourselves. We don’t interact or engage (and I’m not talking about your own content). We don’t act as part of a community. We’re not out supporting that community, we’re not building relationships. We’re not being social.

As a small business owner, you ARE the face of your business. The more you are personal and the more of yourself you bring into your content, the more opportunity you provide for others to connect. The more opportunity you have to create, develop and grow relationships. The more opportunity to develop a friendship.

If you are inextricably linked to your brand, why not leverage who you are? I get the privacy issue. I get why you would want to limit posting personal content. You can actually do both.  It’s why I run a Facebook workshop dedicated to properly setting up your personal profile properly. I want you to be able to be personal yet maintain your privacy when and where necessary.

 

Keeping it separate.

I think there is still a point at which we can separate personal from business and still succeed. If you are engaged, if you are out supporting others, you post non business content that is relevant to your audience (you’d better know their buyer persona) and as my friend Randy Clark has said, as long as you bring a more personal tone to blog content.

Me? I do control my privacy. You won’t see pictures of my family (unless from behind) but I do share my adventures and stories. I share other non-business content. I share from others, I regularly visit and interact with others. I try to be open.

 

The vast majority of my social time is dedicated to being social.

 

I’m after relationships. Know, Like and Trust only goes so far. To be successful, you need to connect with your customers.

 

My challenge to you:

In the next 24 hours post something to your business page(s) that has nothing to do with your brand. It could be a community event, an adventure you just took, a great meal at a local restaurant, a dream vacation you’d like to take.

At least once per day find the page of another business you could support (maybe a local place you do business with) and add a valuable (not just ‘I agree’ or ‘great post’) comment.

In short, I want you to work on developing relationships.

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.

 

Given the amount of web traffic I see from Twitter and the quality of it, I’m not ready to give that up.

 

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

 

As of April 2015 80% of Twitter users were mobile.

 

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:

Are you ready to kiss Twitter's 140 character limit goodbye?

The expanded version:

What if Tweets appeared in your feed looking more like a Google search page result?

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 throughOptimized link content for a Facebook post - title, meta description and featured image + source and Facebook Authorship 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.

Should You ‘Regram’

using apps to share Instagram posts by others? Having one account under Tactical Social Media and another under me (with minimal overlap) there is an advantage to sharing my own content.

From their own Terms of Service (the short version): “Post only your own photos and videos… Given this statement and no native share option, it would seem ‘regramming’ is not permitted.

What has set Instagram apart from the other big social media sites is original content.

There is a bit of conflicting info here if you look at the long version: “….don’t post anything you’ve copied or collected from the Internet that you don’t have the right to post.” While they’re telling us to only post our own content, they seem to have left the door open to sharing when you have permission.

I have been sitting on the fence on this one.

 

Should you Regram?

I’ve read a few articles discussing what counts as permission. One even stated you may have the rights to share content which someone else posted featuring you or your brand. Personally, even if your brand is featured in my content, unless I give you explicit permission to use it, you cannot. It’s still my content.  This can be a real issue when it comes to user-generated content, not just on Instagram but on other social media sites as well.

Apps like Regram, Repost, Instarepost (I purposely haven’t included links to these apps) and a few others I have found make it possible to share Instagram posts and do include a watermark attributing the image to the original account. This, however, doesn’t count as permission.

 

Do you Regram?

If you do, what are you sharing?

  • Is it your own content across your profiles?
  • Is it someone else’s content.
  • Do you have permission to regram a particular piece of content if you’re sharing from others?
  • What about when someone tags you or your brand in a post? Should you regram it? Do the right to do so?

A final thought.

The short of it – Instagram has made it ambiguous in its TOS but the lack of a native share option leads me to think the practice is not acceptable. The fact that third-party apps exist doesn’t change what is or isn’t allowed.

There is a small window here where the practice may actually be used legitimately. It’s possible Instagram’s TOS was designed to foster personal, original content and allow sharing of it (as opposed to posting content found elsewhere. The lack of a native sharing option may have been to remove their potential liability for content theft rather than prevent the practice in its entirety. In this case, regram apps, which are designed to allow sharing from within the social site would OK.

I’ll leave you with this related post for as additional food for thought – Instagram Etiquette // Is Regramming OK?

For now, I don’t regram and my professional advice has been not to do it, but is the practice acceptable? Should I reconsider my stance?

 

Thoughts from Justine Pretorius: To Regram or Not To Regram

And if you’re still working on figuring out Instagram for your brand: Questioning How To Make Instagram Work For You?