How to format your social media posts for optimum engagement
Every social network is a little different when it comes to what you can post and how it can look. If you're just sharing your blog title and a link, you're missing out on all kinds of ways to make your posts more interesting, more engaging, and expanding your reach to the broadest audience. As a business, utilizing blogging and social media to create and foster an inbound marketing pipeline, we simply can't afford not to take advantage of every opportunity. Take the time to review these suggestions for LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+, and see if your reader interest and engagement doesn't improve dramatically.
The first concept that we're going to discuss, and apply it to LinkedIn, is including an image. I have mentioned many times how important it is to include at least one image on every blog post that you write, and here's a perfect example of why that's true. When you share an article on LinkedIn, LinkedIn will automatically scan the post for images and let you choose one to include.
Statistics have shown time and again that including an image when posting online increases interest and engagement.
Another concept that we can use with LinkedIn is that of "introducing" the post. It's simply not enough to share a link to your article and expect that your readers and followers will be interested enough to click through. If you set up a Meta Description that will be included below the title of your post, or your first paragraph, but that's not enough. In the Comment or Detail box, explain to readers what you're talking about and why they would be interested. Better yet, ask questions! Ask something thought-provoking and interesting, and give your readers even more reason to find out more.
Due to the shortened nature of Twitter posts, we obviously can't do things like introduce the post. Images can also be included if uploaded to Twitter, but you're not going to want to do that with every post. We do, however, have other techniques that we can learn and utilize.
The most important is an understanding that what we say must be interesting and compelling immediately. If you're already spending significant amount of time working on your blog post titles like we've discussed, then your title should suffice most of the time. Sometimes though, it won't be enough so take the time to re-read your tweet and title and change it up if needed. Also, since you're likely going to share the post on Twitter several more times, you can experiment with different text, asking questions, providing benefits and values of reading the post, and so on.
Another concept we need to introduce and incorporate into our tweeting is Hashtags. We've talked about Hashtags before, but to quickly review, inserting a "#" in front of a word will link your post to any other posts using the same Hashtag. You can Hashtag single words or multiple words without spaces, like #ContentMarketing. There are a lot of methods surrounding the use of Hashtags, but the basic idea would be to include one or two Hashtags with each post that "tag" the post with relevant keywords. This will help people see your post even if they weren't already following you!
With Facebook, Hashtags do not work, but the first two concepts we covered with regard to Images and Introducing posts certainly do apply. Just as with LinkedIn, make sure that every time you post to Facebook you include an image, the title of your post, the description and link, and an introduction to your post.
Facebook also allows you to upload full images, and full images can look fabulous in your follower's news feeds. To take advantage of this concept, you need to not only upload the full image, but also make sure that you still put in some text about your story and a link to read more. Facebook won't "preview" your link if you're inserting a full image. HootSuite Pro can really help with this. When you start a new status update within HootSuite, you can drag your image from your desktop into the status field and HootSuite will automatically upload it and post it to whatever Facebook Pages you select. You can also use this method to attach images to tweets.
Building on the benefits of using images on Facebook, the next concept is Tagging. On Facebook, when you post an image, you can Tag friends and followers. When you tag someone in an image on Facebook, that image, and whatever text and link you included in the description, will also now appear on that person's feed. Of course, this is not a technique you should use to just tag everyone you know (that's spamming!). Instead, think of creative ways that you can include other people. For instance, if you're talking about an event you're hosting or attended, you might tag other attendees, vendors and participants.
One of the reasons Google+ is becoming so popular, why it's so cool, is that virtually all of the above concepts apply. You can share links that include a nice preview with image, title and description. You can introduce your posts. You can post full images and even use Hashtags to connect your posts with other people! You can't tag images, but you can reference other Google+ users easily so they'll get notified about your post.
So what else is there to know about Google+ that's different?
Formatting. On Google+, you can actually apply some basic formatting to your posts to really make them stand out.
Bold: Add an asterisk before and after a word, like *this* to make that word bold.
Italic: Add an underscore before and after a word, like _this_ to make that word italic.
Strikethrough: Add a dash before and after a word, like -this- to make that word strikethrough.
Using these formatting options, you can make nice titles for your posts bold, italicize important words and sentences, and create entire blog-like posts directly in your Google+ stream. Just like within your normal writing, use formatting like this sparingly and for emphasis. But, if done right, your posts to Google+ will look great and stand out from others who may just be spamming the network.
What other posting tips would you share? Which is your favorite social network for posting your latest blog entries?
By Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner
Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.
Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management", "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile.", and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."