In my IAEE ExpoExpo talk on social media strategy (bonus: you can see some of the data analysis from that presentation here!), I showed a list of 15 types of posts that my accumulated social media research since my TEDx talk on the subject have shown work best to drive audience engagement. In this blog post, I will show them all to you, with an example from the fantastic social media team behind Whataburger's social media.
A quick note, first: engagement is not the same as reach. If you only want reach, you will want to read things like the post I saw on LinkedIn yesterday that suggested finding your competitor's most liked and shared posts and just stealing them. Change the picture and the specific text, but basically just crib your social media content, hashtags and all. I'm sure that will get you reach. If all you want is numbers of eyeballs (so the dashboard you show your boss to keep your job looks good every month), well, I guess that stuff might work.
But, I've been railing against plagiarism as a college professor for years. Eventually you get caught, you know (in case your personal ethics aren't robust enough to get you to abstain from this). And then you get burned. Someone will see that you are doing this. All it takes it one tweet filled with the comparative screenshots and you're done.
And is this really your strategy???!!??? Is THIS the story of your organization or personal brand? Is this why you get up in the morning?
Engagement IS more important than reach. You can see my last post or listen to my INBOUND17 talk if you need to hear my arguments on that. I'll assume if you're still reading you agree. Here's what works:
|Wanna be a pal and click HERE to tweet this for me?|
Again, the links up above are for the why. Here's the how. These are examples of what it looks like using my recent favorite, Whataburger:
Gave proof through the night— Mary Clarke (@MaryClarke19) August 27, 2017
That our flag was still there.....#Whataburger#GodBlessTexas pic.twitter.com/qxmz4mP9ir
See? That works.
Notre Dame can still get a win by stopping by Whataburger on the way out of Texas— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) September 5, 2016
Y'all out here complaining about the Twitter update when there's people out there that don't even have a Whataburger near them— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) June 15, 2017
This is Whataburger's central social media style. It works for them. They like to do it. But even if it is not your go-to style, it will work sometimes. Before you tell me humor isn't professional think back on the history of marketing and advertising for just a second . . . . okay, good.
Celebrities get thousands of retweets, how many for our heroes who work the overnight at Whataburger? pic.twitter.com/10vhGHoMwa— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) December 7, 2016
FandomThis is the Internet. Nerds live here. Be one of us.
We all eat Patty Melts down here pic.twitter.com/afpBhTJOVB— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) October 24, 2017
Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light. pic.twitter.com/EJdi0VrYFl— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) April 12, 2017
Those are It and Harry Potter references, muggles.
If you're reading this, I care about you a lot and want you to bring me Whataburger— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) August 10, 2017
If you have a friend who will drop everything to bring you Whataburger you've got a good life🙌🙌🙌— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) August 15, 2017
Don't ever let anyone make you feel like you don't deserve Whataburger because you do— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) August 10, 2017
We're always here and proud to serve you #HoustonStrong #ilovehoustonsomuch pic.twitter.com/hWl75LBAne— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) September 7, 2017
Doing people things.
In your space.
If you have a place on your website where you allow us to "Meet the Team!" with boring headshots, then you need to show us pictures of those people looking at the eclipse or bowling or working a soup kitchen or setting up the trade booth, etc.
How does this dog have more self-control than I do with Whataburger😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/6NOwerk4fF— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) December 13, 2017
Visit us at Barton Springs Rd for a chance at an ACL 3-day VIP ticket. Must answer trivia question right! https://t.co/pdY0LkhXN2 pic.twitter.com/l72fDwcDiX— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) October 7, 2017
I'm shook pic.twitter.com/yte61NxZoC— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) September 27, 2017
While serving first responders we ran into a NYer who got his first sweet taste of Whataburger pic.twitter.com/AzYbryw8cn— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) September 2, 2017
You should have a friendly and collaborative social media relationships with important, allied local businesses and organizations. Likely you have this in real, non social media life, so why not reflect that online? Do you sponsor the local Little League team? Are you rooting for the HS volleyball team to make State? Are you excited for the county fair?
Remember that we're supposed to share and play nicely. If you have concerns about retweeting, make your own content and tag them.
Good luck this weekend Lufkin, TX All-Stars! Win or lose, we have a table waiting for you when you get home. pic.twitter.com/oOGEnF9rst— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) August 26, 2017
My grandpa goes to @Whataburger everyday for breakfast so the local workers surprised him today with a cake&balloons for his birthday. pic.twitter.com/hZkW3VPfrH— ems (@_emcarr) July 24, 2017
The only thing better than getting Whataburger is getting it served by @astros World Champion @BradPeacock41 pic.twitter.com/C46bTKwgVc— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) January 11, 2018
you're the one that left us in the first place pic.twitter.com/QluPabu7kh— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) October 20, 2017
"Social proof" is the idea that our opinions are formed by interacting with others. Sometimes even when it doesn't really make sense. Just look at the fashion history of pants. In social media this generally means that when we see posts with zero or few likes and shares and comments, we assume the content is not as valuable as posts that are heavily marked as popular. We DO judge books by their covers and tweets by the small bits of metrics that we can see just below them.
If you're Whataburger, you get a lot of social proof on your stuff without worrying too much about it. You're a beloved local fixture and your brand of humor in social media is well-known and generally well-received.
But this is for the people or organizations or businesses with lots of content that passes by in the scroll with big 0s on the metrics. If you've connected locally, make an effort to acknowledge and like each other's content. Proactive work here will lift all boats.
The best example of this is with sub-units of organizations, like universities. Most schools have different social media accounts for their divisions or groups, from admissions to the campus police to the mascot to student groups to sports teams to campus dining. Schools that are successful in getting student eyeballs on their content tend to have those units pay attention and like/share/comment on each other's stuff. It passes the initial social proof filter for scrolling students. Sure, if you click to see who has liked it, you might notice that every sports team on campus liked the new jersey sold by the bookstore. But . . . aren't you still going to like it anyway?