Tips for Ensuring Your Social Media Content Reaches Your Audience
Small business social media tips by Christine Seifert
An engaging small business social media presence is one of the best ways you can create brand loyalty and increase sales, but only if your audience sees and reads your posts. The problem, of course, is always getting people to slow down long enough to read your content.
Because of the sheer volume of information on any feed, some experts suggest that the average small business social media post is seen by only about a tenth of a percent of followers. Even if you have a robust following, you likely aren’t getting many eyes on your content relative to the time and resources that go into maintaining social media feeds.
The good news is that you don’t need a social media department or a lot of money to start creating effective and compelling content that will captivate your audience. Consumer researchers have recently analyzed over 40,000 social media posts (on Twitter and Facebook) by eight major brands to examine what kind of content most compelled readers read, comment, like, and/or re-post. The answer to how you increase engagement from a tenth of a percent is relatively simple: Engage on a personal level.
Based on that research, here are five easy-to-implement strategies (along with examples) that can help independent retailers of gifts and home décor to establish authentic, resonant, and consistent content starting right now.
Gift Shop Social Media: 5 Tips
1, Post content that provides a new insight, fact, or idea.
In the noisy world of small business social media, everything begins to feel like a sales pitch. Social media feeds that feel more personal and organic resonate with readers because they stand out.
Your followers want interesting or useful content that provides value to them (even if that value is small). That exchange of value suggests that you are more than just an advertiser and they are more than just a potential customer. As you build that relationship, you’ll increase brand loyalty.
Don’t: Check out our new gift inventory. #TheGiftGarden
Do: Do you know what the favorite gift is for the mega-rich to give their dearest? A private jet. We can’t help with that, but if you need the second-best best gift for the special people in your life, we have you covered. #TheGiftGarden
2. Vary the kinds of messages you post.
People look for novelty in social media. That’s because we spend so much time scrolling endless feeds that we’ve effectively (and accidentally) trained ourselves to ignore most messaging. (We’ve all experienced that awful moment of realizing we’ve been on our phones far longer than we intended. Even worse, we can’t even tell you what we read or saw.) Feeds that post the same kind of messages repeatedly are doomed to fail.
Varying the kinds of messages you post can keep your audience from mindlessly scrolling past your content. If something stands out as different or surprising, they are more likely to pause.
Don’t: Create a series of posts that look the same in structure.
Do: Follow a post with a question by a post with dialogue. Follow an informational message with a funny message. Follow an assertive message with one that issues an invitation.
3. Create relationships by treating your audience like a friend.
Advertisers have long relied on direct calls to action as the heartbeat of an ad, but small business social media is more about building a sense of connection between brand and customer.
Direct calls-to-action cloud authentic bonds by making followers feel that your primary goal is sales. Save the advertising for other venues. Use social media to share emotions and information in the same way you might share with a friend. Then turn directives into invitations or suggestions.
Pretend you are writing to just one individual. Create a persona for that person that matches your customer profile. Perhaps she is in her mid-50s, married, and has grown children. She enjoys golf, cooking, and home decorating. She works full-time and doesn’t have a lot of spare time.
Keep in mind that you might have more than one persona that represents your followers. Create separate messages for each of them. If you have more than three personas to represent your audience segments, you probably need to go back and narrow down exactly who you are targeting.
Don’t: New candles are in. #HomeDecorSpecialists
Do: Mondays are hard, especially when it rains. New scented candles might help a little bit. Pumpkin spice and apple cider just arrived in. #HomeDecorSpecialists
4. Use alliteration.
It’s easy to scroll through social media with your brain in neutral. Alliterative posts are effective because they tend to stand out. Think of alliterative content as scintillating speedbumps. (See what I did there?) Alliteration has the added bonus of creating rhythmic and soothing tones that audiences will associate with your brand.
Alliteration is also often more memorable because it has cognitive sticking power. You are more likely to remember an alliterative slogan, like Taco Tuesday, than one that isn’t alliterative. (Nobody ever talks about Taco Monday.)
Be careful, though, of being overly alliterative. Multiple alliterative posts in a row will come off as gimmicky. Instead, save the alliteration for the times when you want a portion of a message to stand out.
Don’t: We have gifts for all occasions. #TheGiftGarden
Do: Up your gift game this year. Give good gifts. We can help. #TheGiftGarden
5. Ask questions on Twitter but be more emotional on Facebook.
Twitter users respond well to questions because the platform itself invites conversations among users, even if they don’t know each other beyond the platform. However, what you post on Twitter may not work on Facebook.
While Twitter is better suited for exchanging information through questions and answers, Facebook users prefer more emotional connection. Facebook audiences prefer content and images that present heartwarming stories, encouragement, and inspiration. Bonus points if you can find a way to incorporate babies or animals. They win big on Facebook.
The point here is that you can’t assume that content works equally well regardless of where you post it. It’s fine to cross-post some content, but in general, customize when you can. Take advantage of Facebook users’ expectation of emotional connection. Conversely, use Twitter when you want to create a conversation with your audience.
Twitter Example: Did you know that 25% of shoppers wait until the last-minute to buy a gift? What kind of gift buyer are you? (Check one.) #TheGiftGarden
_I literally have five minutes to buy something.
_I’ve had holiday gifts ready to go since Valentine’s Day.
_I’ve given myself a comfortable two weeks to finish my shopping.
_There’s a holiday coming?
Facebook Example: Moms work harder than anyone we know. You deserve a break. We can pamper you for a nice change of pace! Go ahead, leave the kids with a sitter and come browse our selection for the perfect gift for you. #TheGiftGarden [Include a stock photo or meme related to moms.]
While creating engaging social media content can be overwhelming and time-consuming, especially at first, it doesn’t have to require a huge financial investment. A full-time social media director is helpful, but you can create meaningful content on your own, simply by posting regularly with strategic messaging. Brands that fire off content multiple times a day, with no strategy, are more than likely reaching almost nobody.
You might also assume that your low number of followers means spending time on messaging isn’t important. That’s not true at all. In fact, if you have a small following, you want to strive to reach more than the typical tenth of a percent. A brand with 15,000 followers, on average, is only going to reach 150 people. If you have only 500 followers, but you reach 30%, of them, you have the same impact as the larger brand. (And you’ll gain more followers as you create more engagement.)
Because effective social media is always about authentic connection, don’t buy followers. It’s almost always a waste of money. Focus instead of flexing your creative muscles to create content your audience will connect with and interact with. Once you’ve created that relationship, you’ll have created long-lasting brand loyalty.
Ordenes, Francisco Villarroel, et. al. “Cutting Through Content Clutter: How Speech and Image
Acts Drive Consumer Sharing of Social Media Brand Messages.” The Journal of Consumer Research, 45:5 (2019): pp. 998–1012.
Christine Seifert is a freelance writer and professor of strategic communication, specializing in rhetoric and persuasion. She’s written for The Atavist, Inside Higher Ed, and Bitch Magazine, among other publications. She’s also written content for clients on a variety of marketing, branding, and leadership topics.