6 tricks to get more clicks

6 Tricks to Get More Clicks

Anyone who uses social media marketing to promote themselves or their business wants people to see and interact with all the content they’re sharing. Sometimes that just doesn’t happen. You have an off day, a post that gets less engagement than you had hoped, or nothing but crickets.

But there are a few things you can do with your social posts to increase the odds of engagement. Here are 6 tricks to get you more clicks.

1. Use hashtags

Hashtags help to highlight the topics you’re talking about in a social post and make your content more searchable. And they’re used on all the social networks. When you use a hashtag, the network will turn it into a link, and when you click on it, you’ll see all the posts on that network that also use that hashtag. When people click on those hashtags, your post will be shown as part of that conversation. Take a look at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram and see what topics are trending. Use relevant hashtags for those topics in your post, and your content will be more likely to be seen by a larger audience.

When Spike TV’s Frankenfood truck stopped by my office to give out free samples and publicize the show, I took an Instagram photo, and shared it on Twitter, using their #frankenfood hashtag in both places. Frankenfood saw the tweet and retweeted it, resulting in a 52 engagement actions, including 14 link clicks, 11 clicks on the tweet to expand it, 9 clicks on the photo, and 7 favorites.

Frankenfood hashtag

2. Use the hashtag #mostpopular
Everyone is interested in the latest trends – we want to know what everyone is talking about, what’s popular. Why can’t it be your content?

If you’ve been using a link shortener like bit.ly or Hootsuite’s ow.ly when you’re sharing links to your content or curated content, check your stats at the end of the week. Which of your posts got the most engagement? Retweet yourself or repost on Facebook using the same link and tell your followers it was your best content of the week by adding the hashtag #mostpopular. Anyone who read it or missed it will see that it was trending and they’ll be curious – why was this so popular?

A few weeks ago, I tweeted a link to a blog post about the Seinfeld emoji app, and also shared the link to the blog post on Facebook.

Original Tweet Seinfeld Emojis

It got the most clicks out of my tweets that week, so I retweeted it that Friday as my #mostpopular tweet, and got a few more clicks.

MostPopular Tweet Seinfeld Emojis

3. Use an interesting fact, stat or tip

People love trivia and learning little nuggets of information that help them connect the dots about what’s happening in the world around them. Think about the content you personally or your friends share on Facebook. I bet there’s at least one thing that shows up in your news feed that makes you think “Hey! I didn’t know that. Pretty cool.” Do the same thing for your followers. Share something that makes you say that, but make sure it’s relevant to your business and your social voice, and link to the news story or blog post that talks about the stat, fact or tip.

Make it stand out visually – create some graphics with free tools like PicMonkey or Canva to Illustrate your stat, fact or tip. Share the image in your social post and link back to the blog post or article.

Here’s a tweet I posted that includes a link to tips on finding the best time to post on social media. People are always looking for tips like this!
Social media posting tips
4. Share multimedia
By now, it’s no secret that photos, video and graphics get more engagement than a text post. It’s why all of the top networks – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram have either improved the quality of the display of visual posts in their newsfeed, or added it or are all visual. If you haven’t started sharing multimedia, what are you waiting for?

Post photos to visualize your blog posts. Post photos on their own. Show off what you do, what you sell, or what happens behind the scenes (to show off your personality). You don’t need a professional camera for this. Use that gadget you keep in your pocket all day and on your bedside table at night – your smartphone. Smartphone cameras have improved a lot. That’s one of the reasons your iPhone is so expensive. It’s a fancy camera! Just make sure your photos are sized appropriately for the social network you’re posting to. Not sure what size you need? Check out this handy social media size guide for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram.

This is a simple photo collage I shared on Twitter when our office started offering manicures at work from Manicube. You can see it got some nice engagement when you view the stats via Twitter’s analytics tools – 13 clicks to view the photo, 10 clicks on the link (which linked to the original Instagram photo), a few favorites, retweets and clicks on my profile. Pretty sweet!

 

Manicube Tweet

Please promise me that you won’t use your iPad or whatever tablet you own to take pictures. That’s embarrassing. It looks like you’re holding up a book and smashing your face in it. Just don’t. Cameras are tiny. Use your smartphone.

Your phone also records video, so share that too. Record a greeting to your fans – tell them what’s new. Or try a how to video that includes instructions on how to use one of your products. Just make sure the video is short. Attention spans have changed – more than half of viewers will stop watching a video within the first 90 seconds.

5. Tag people
If you want people to see your posts, sometimes you have to do something that personally asks them “Hey would you please click on this?”.Try tagging people in your posts. When you tag someone, they get a notification and they’ll be more likely to click on your post and share with their networks, which gets you more clicks.

But don’t be obnoxious about it, like this person. It’s like they’re on a public sidewalk shoving a flyer in my face: “HEY I DON’T KNOW YOU, BUT READ THIS THING!” First of all, I don’t know who you are and if you’re credible. Secondly, you clearly aren’t a social media expert because you didn’t shrink your link in your Twitter post and you maxed out your 140 characters with a long link. So no, I might not like your post. Also, I might just block you and report you for spam.

Tagging Don't

How do you do it the right way? Relevance. Tag them if you or someone else mentions them in the thing you’re linking to (like a blog post). Tag them if you have a relationship with a person and you know them well enough that they would be interested in the thing you’re linking to. I tag my alma mater, Purdue University, when I see a blog post or news article that mentions them or their community (which is also my hometown). Sometimes they are very generous and retweet me, which gives my tweet more exposure to their 44,000 followers. Here’s a recent tweet I shared about a Forbes article that listed my hometown as one of the top places for small businesses and careers. It’s relevant to Purdue so they retweeted it. According to Twitter’s analytics, the link got 66 clicks!

Tagging in Tweets

6. Post on multiple networks

Another great way to get clicks is to post the same content on multiple social networks so that more people will see it. You don’t have to be on every network – just the ones that are relevant to you and your audience.

It’s OK to post on multiple places because your followers aren’t exactly the same people following you every place. If you were to print out a list of your Facebook fans, Twitter followers, Instagram followers, etc., you might have some overlap, but there could be some people who follow you on one or a few places, but not all. Don’t isolate your content to one network – people might not catch it there if they follow you on a different network. Or if they are following you on multiple places, well, clearly they like you. They won’t mind seeing the same thing a few times – in fact, they might scroll by and make a mental note to read your content later when they see it on Facebook, and make the move to click when they pass by it on Twitter.

Just make sure that you are not auto-posting and blasting out the same exact thing to multiple places. Keep in mind the nuances and etiquette of posting on each channel. If you’re auto-posting your Facebook posts to Twitter, those Facebook posts won’t work as tweets. If you exceed the 140 character limit in your Facebook post, it will get cut off on Twitter, which means a long link you post on Facebook might end prematurely in your tweet. Also, if you’re not changing up the content a little bit for each channel, you’re not really giving people a reason to follow you in multiple places.

Also, make sure you are shrinking your link so you can tell where the traffic came from. I shortened the link to an infographic I created and shared it on my personal Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Notice how each of the posts are a little bit different:


Facebook Post

Twitter PostLinkedIn Post

According to HootSuite, it got 22 clicks in the first 24 hours. On the day I posted it, it was the only one of the links from my tweets that I shared on multiple networks. You can see referrals came in from LinkedIn and Facebook.

Social Media Infographic Stats

How do you get clicks?

These are just 6 examples of how to get engagement with your content. How do you do it? Leave your tips in the comments or link to tips that you’ve seen on other blogs. I’d love to learn a few new tips!

4 common mistakes people make on social media posts (and how to fix them)

4 common mistakes people make on social media postsAdmit it: You’ve looked through your Facebook or Twitter feed and cringed when someone uses the wrong your/you’re, its/it’s or they’re/there/their. I know I’ve done it.

Here are 4 more mistakes to add to the list. If you’re doing this, don’t worry. You can fix it. I won’t tell anyone:

1. He he vs. hee hee

A lot of people are laughing the wrong way on the Internet. Laughter is not the pronoun he. If you’re saying “He he he!”, what you’re really saying is “A male person a male person a male person!”

There’s actually another e. It’s hee hee.

2. Whoa or woah?

People are also expressing shock or surprise the wrong way. Crazy, right? It’s actually spelled whoa. You know, like what cowboys yelled to stop a horse. “Whoa, Nelly!” If you don’t remember which spelling to use, just write wow. That one’s hard to screw up.

3. Decades and the apostrophe

The poor little apostrophe. It’s misunderstood and abused! One of the uses of an apostrophe is a contraction. If you’re using a contraction, the apostrophe is taking the place of something that’s missing. When you list decades and leave off the first 2 numbers of the century, the apostrophe should take their place. So 1990s becomes ‘90s. If you’re using the apostrophe between the numbers and the s, you’re making the decade possessive. And that’s just weird.

4. Using symbols in a hashtag

I don't think this person was deliberately trying to use an exclamation point in her hashtag. But you can see that it's right next to the words in the hashtag and isn't part of the highlighted text.

I don’t think this person was deliberately trying to use an exclamation point in her hashtag. But you can see that it’s right next to the words in the hashtag and isn’t part of the highlighted text.

A hashtag on Twitter – or really on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram because you can also use hashtags on those networks – is the pound sign in front of a word or a phrase that uses letters and numbers. Twitter will take whatever you put after the pound sign and turn it into a clickable link that you can use to find other tweets with that hashtag. But it doesn’t use numbers or symbols. So don’t even try to use them in your hashtags. They won’t work.

What mistakes do you see most often?

These are a few of my pet peeves. What drives you nuts in a social media post? Let me know in the comments!

Need proof that social media marketing works? Check out the movie Chef.

Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) starts a Twitter feud with a food critic in the movie Chef.

Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) starts a Twitter feud with a food critic in the movie Chef.

When I went to the theater to see the movie Chef last weekend, I expected a quirky independent comedy with a lot of delicious cooking scenes. And I wasn’t disappointed. But what I didn’t predict is a subplot about the power of social media and how it helps small businesses. It’s a movie about marketing!

In case you’re not familiar with the film, Chef is about a Los Angeles celebrity chef, Carl Casper, (Jon Favreau) who gets in a public Twitter feud with a food critic and loses his job. He decides to start a food truck with the help of his son and a former co-worker.

The trio finds their footing in the food truck biz by taking a culinary road trip across the South, and this is where the marketing kicks in. Carl’s 11-year-old son Percy starts tweeting – using his dad’s Twitter handle (which has tens of thousands of followers thanks to the feud with the food critic) – about their itinerary. And he creates a Facebook page that is quickly filled with road trip and food photos. They’re greeted with long lines in each city and the movie does a great job visually of showing how social media helps generate new customers. The folks waiting in line start typing on their smartphones, and Twitter graphics appear like thought bubbles over their heads as they write tweets about the food truck. Once the customers press “tweet,” the tweets turn into a flock of Twitter birds that fly off to spread their messages to the followers of each person in the line.

Boom. Social visibility and word of mouth marketing.

I know it’s a movie, and in an ideal word, every single customer would tweet about their favorite businesses like the people in the food truck lines. And every business would send out interesting, relevant messages to their followers and be greeted with lines around the block.

But don’t ignore the reality here. Social media does work. You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to be visible and use social media as an extension of who you are and what you do. If you have the right amount of personality and engaging content, you can connect with customers who will spread the word about you to their networks and attract new customers.

3 things you should know about the new Twitter profile design

It’s been a few weeks since Twitter unveiled a new look for profiles, and it’s very similar to Facebook. Which is not a bad idea. If you want to increase user engagement, draw new people to Twitter and attract an older demographic that may be more comfortable with the look and feel of Facebook, why not borrow some of Facebook’s design? Google+ and LinkedIn are already doing it.

If you want the new design, you can get it here.

Before you do that, here’s a few things you should know before you make the switch.

1. Do not use your old Twitter header photo as your new header photo.

When you switch your profile and opt to use your old header photo, you’ll notice right away that it’s not the best fit, especially if it’s from a low resolution photo you took with your phone. The size has increased to 1,500 pixels wide and 500 pixels high, and that translates to a giant, stretched out header photo from the old format.

What should you do instead? Use a higher resolution image that fits the space, or a photo that looks crisp when you resize it for the new header dimensions. If you want to use a lower resolution photo, consider doing a collage using a free tool like PicMonkey or Canva, and set the collage dimensions for the new size.

PicMonkey Collage for Twitter Header Photo

I didn’t have any high resolution photos that I wanted to use, so the college option really worked well for me.

Azure Collier Twitter Profile

 

2. Pinned tweets

The new profile lets you off a favorite or important tweet with the pinned tweets feature. Have a prolific, visual, newsworthy, event-related or time-sensitive tweet you want people to notice on your profile? Click on the more option on the bottom of a tweet (the icon that looks like dots), and then select Pin to your profile page.

Twitter Pinned Tweet Tool

The tweet will appear right below your header photo at the top of your profile, and it will be labeled as a pinned tweet. You can only pin one tweet at a time, and if you want to change the pinned tweet, just use the same steps. Twitter will ask if you want to unpin your current pinned tweet before you replace it.

Twitter Pinned Tweet

3. Highlighted tweets

Twitter will now highlight your most popular tweets by making them appear larger in your Twitter profile tweet stream. How does it choose which tweets to emphasize? It’s based on engagement – tweets with more retweets, replies and favorites will get the special treatment. This is an interesting feature because it’s out of your control. Highlighted tweets are dictated by your followers, not you. It’s easy to see which kind content your followers like based on those highlighted tweets.

Highlighted Tweet

What’s your take on the new Twitter profile? Love it? Hate it? Did you switch yet?

Marketing won’t save your business. Unless you respect it.

Fake It MarketingI got an unexpected phone call recently from an acquaintance that was calling for a friend. The friend owns a business near a college campus, and is desperate to reach out to the student population. She wanted to see if I would be available to do some freelance work to for the business’ social media marketing.

I called the owner. She didn’t use any social media herself. In fact, she doesn’t use much technology at all, “My cell phone is for calling people. That’s all I do with it.”

I asked if she had some goals in mind to accomplish, and how much time they would need someone to spend. She didn’t know. They hadn’t been doing any social media marketing, or any marketing in general. How much did she want so spend? “As little as possible,” she said.

And yet, the business owner spoke as if Facebook and Twitter might be her last hope to reach out to the college population.

I declined the freelance gig. This business has a lot of work to do. They’re starting from scratch, and that’s going to take some time that I don’t have.  I’ve already got a full-time job that I love.

I walked away from the situation feeling really annoyed. And I tried to figure out why.

It’s not because the business owner doesn’t use or understand technology or social media. It’s because the business owner obviously knows that marketing is important for the survival of her business, but doesn’t respect it enough to spend time or money on it.

I think there’s a few things that factor into the lack of respect:

  1. The unknown. Most people don’t know much about marketing at all. If you went to school for your profession to be a pastry chef, accountant, teacher, etc., you probably didn’t take a course on marketing. You learned about how to do your chosen profession, not about how to brand and promote yourself. And – for us old school folks – 10 years ago, branding wasn’t really something that businesses talked about, unless you worked for a large company. And marketing consisted of taking out an ad in the newspaper or radio station every once in a while. Or mailing something and handing out flyers. The craft of marketing and the new tools you use to do it – at least the social networks themselves and at most those networks plus a number of analytics, scheduling  and design tools as well as training and keeping up with the industry – are a big black hole for some folks. They just don’t have any idea how much time, knowledge and work it takes to do marketing. right
  2. The tools themselves. If you talk about Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or any of the top networks in casual conversation, peoples’ minds naturally gravitate towards what they do with them personally. It’s a tool they use to find out what their friends are doing, to share gossip, to look at baby photos, or to follow celebrity antics. It’s free. It’s what they do when they’re bored or have down time. They also judge the tools for what they think they know about them. I personally hate the cliché “I don’t use social media. It’s all about people posting what they have for breakfast.”

So put that together, and for some people, social media marketing means promoting your business using some marketing stuff that they don’t understand themselves by talking about it on these free tools that you use in your spare time to pass the time. They just can’t make the connection on how this all works together and why it’s valuable. How does this possibly work?

Well it’s working for some people, isn’t it? Social media is how people are hearing about what’s happening at their favorite businesses or companies. It’s how they discover things they want to buy – to spend their time and money on. Twitter and Facebook are now publicly traded companies. They’re valuable communication tools. They’re making money. And they’re helping plenty of other people make money. We’ve moved past that cliché about how social media is about posting what you had for breakfast, haven’t we?

Marketing takes skill. It’s not something that just happens. And marketing ain’t free. I know that some businesses can’t afford to hire a marketing person. And if you can’t do that, you need to be open and willing to learn a little bit yourself or to assign someone on your staff to do so. As you grow your business, you’ll eventually have the money to dedicate to a full time marketing position on your staff. But you’re never going to get there unless you step out of your comfort zones, overcome misconceptions, and accept and respect marketing enough to make it a priority.

3 easy tips to make your social media content look professional

There’s a lot of noise in the newsfeeds of social media networks. A lot of clutter and sloppiness.

But your content doesn’t have to look like that. Your posts can stand out from everyone else’s. Before you share, take a moment and use these 3 easy tips to look professional

1. Shorten your links

When you include a link in a post or a tweet, avoid long URLs. They just look bad. And if you’re writing a tweet, a long link can get cut off if you go past 140 characters.

The solution is a link shortener. I’ve used HootSuite’s link shortener and bit.ly, an there are a number of others out there. I used HootSuite to shorten the link for this tweet:

Tweet Shortened Link

The benefit of using a link shortener is that many of them include tracking tools so you can see how many clicks your link got and – if you share that same link on multiple platforms (bonus points for this!) – you can see which platform gave you the most engagement. Here’s a look at HootSuite’s reporting tools:

HootSuite Summary Clicks and Referrers

HootSuite Top Clicks

2. Change how your link is displayed

When you share a link on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, the URL is in your status update, and a preview of the webpage you’re sharing shows up below by pulling an image from the site, as well as a title and subtitle.

Once that link preview shows up, delete the URL in your post. You don’t need it because it’s still active in the preview.

Then use editing tools to clean up your link preview. These editing options are all pretty similar for Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. Make sure you’re pulling in the image you want. If there’s more than one image on the website you’re linking to, you can choose to display the most relevant image. Click on the arrow below the image to flip through the options.

LinkedIn Edit Link Headline

You can also edit the title, subtitle (if shown), and the first sentence or two that are pulled from the website. Sometimes the link preview will cut off sentences once they’ve reached a character limit. Click in the editor in the link preview and clean up the text.

Here’s a cleaned up Facebook link post for one of the nonprofits I volunteer with:

Facebook Delete Link

3. Crop your photos

Did you know that each social network displays images a little differently and resizes them based on the network’s design? Make this work to your advantage. If you’re sharing a photo, crop it for the best possible display for whatever network your posting to.

This cheat sheet lists all of the photo sizes for each kind of image – from profile to cover photo to photo posts – for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube. Don’t have photo editing software to crop your images? Try a free service like PicMonkey.

I created this image in PicMonkey and cropped it for optimal display in the newsfeed. This post is for the Facebook page of the nonprofit I mentioned earlier. You’ll notice that I have a link in the text for this post because you can’t go to it by clicking the image:

Facebook Photo Crop for Post

Look great!

These tweaks take a few minutes, but they’ll make your posts look like the pros. Once you get in the habit of shortening your links, editing your link preview and cropping your photos, you’ll be able to optimize your social media content, look professional and attract the attention and engagement of your fans.

Got more tips? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

3 steps to testing content for your Facebook page

A common question I hear from people using Facebook for marketing is “What kind of content gets the most engagement?” There’s no easy answer I can give you. But what you can do is test to find out what topics and types your audience is interested in. And you can also take advantage of marketing research that shows what kind of content gets a typical Facebook user’s attention.

That’s what I did recently in September when I started volunteering with the Leominster Office of Emergency Management (LOEM) and helping with their Facebook page. Before I became involved with the page, the organization had been posting text updates about severe weather warnings and links to news or information about public health, safety and emergencies. This was important information that the page’s fans needed to know, but it wasn’t getting them much engagement, spreading the word about what the organization and its volunteers does, or helping to grow their fan numbers.

What was missing from the page was original content, posts that show what happens behind the scenes at LOEM, and photos. If you want to increase your engagement, photos are a great start. Photos get 2 times the engagement of text posts. Photos are also the No. 1 content type shared by Facebook users.

So, for the month of September, I tried posting more of that type of content, and the results showed that this is what the fans want. Here’s how I tested the content:

1.       Testing Post Types

Facebook Insights Post Types

We posted 4 text updates during the month and tried 5 photo posts. The text updates included the weather warnings and information about a community event. The photos showed LOEM volunteers in action at a fire and at a booth during an annual festival, as well as a post known as a word image that combined a stock photo of a first aid kit and 4 emergency preparedness tips and a link to more information online.  It’s clear from the stats shown above in Facebook Insights that photo posts get the most reach and engagement.

2.       Measuring Likes, Comments and Shares

Facebook Insights Likes Comments SharesThough photos received more clicks than likes, comments and shares, fans are showed through digital body language by just clicking that they’re interested. Of course I’d love more likes, comments and shares on the page, but the clicks are a good start and indicate strong interest. The activity shows Facebook that these fans want to see our page’s updates in the news feed. And the actions of likes, comments and shares can be seen by our fans’ friends in their news feeds, which gives us greater reach, more exposure and potential page likes. The behind-the-scenes and LOEM in action photos are starting to help spread the word about what the organization does. Since the September tests, there have been a few fan comments thanking volunteers for their work.

3.       Posting When Fans are Online

Facebook Insights When Your Fans Are Online

In recent months, as Facebook has updated its Insights, page admins now have access to some great data about when fans are online. The stat – found when you click on the Posts tab in the new Insights –  shows an average  of how many of your fans are online during each day of the week, as well as during each hour of the day.

So I decided to post 3 out of the 5 photo posts specifically using the When Your Fans Are Online data. The majority of our fans who are online using Facebook are viewing the site from early afternoon to late evening on any given day of the week, from 4 pm to 9 pm. This is pure speculation on my part, but based on the time of day and the gender of our engaged fans (65% women, 40% of them are ages 25-44), many of them may hold day jobs and may be parents. They are using Facebook after work or after their kids are in bed, so they have time to browse Facebook. By posting during those hours, our content has a better chance of being seen in their news feed.

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t solely rely on the When Your Fans Are Online stats. Make sure you’re testing other days and times as well. But the stats are a great start to helping you find a frequency sweet spot.

Results and Moving Forward

There’s a lot more that you can test when posting Facebook content, but just looking at these 3 factors helped us determine that trying visual content that showed what the LOEM was about is a great start to improving the page.  As more people interacted with and commented on our content, that engagement was seen by their fans, and that helped to influence fan growth. The LOEM page gained 10 fans in September. To some people, that may not be a lot, but to a small organization, those small gains are a fantastic step forward. We’re continuing to post photos and testing to see what other types or topics our fans will engage with.

Need more Facebook help?

Check out my other posts on Facebook marketing or ask your questions in this post’s comments.