Social media isn’t just for sharing photos of your breakfast and arguing over Star Wars movies. If you’re starting a new business or launching a side project, these networks can also spread the word about your work. But how do you stand out in the sea of information? Social platforms offer a variety of tools and tricks to help you.
In this guide, we’ll cover the best of these attention-grabbing techniques, focusing on DIY methods you can employ without spending any money or hiring a team of promoters.
Embrace the hashtags
Hashtags do more than add an ironic underscore to your tweets or Instagram posts. They can also connect you with a wider audience, including customers and contacts in your chosen market. Even if people don’t follow you, they do search for relevant hashtags (something Instagram just added), which means they’ll see what you post when you include key words.
Both Instagram and Twitter make it very easy to search via hashtag. On their websites, you can find the search boxes at the top of the screen, and in the mobile apps, you can search by navigating to the separate tab.
There are no hard and fast rules about how to use hashtags—it really depends on what you’re selling and what your business is. Still, you can pick up some ideas by looking at other accounts in your field and seeing what words they choose. One rule you should follow is to avoid hashtag overload. A post filled entirely with hashtags looks spammy, and people won’t click on it.
While you decide which tags to include, remember that you need to strike a balance: Use hashtags that are too popular, your posts will get lost in the flood; use hashtags that are too obscure, and nobody will think to search for them. You may need a bit of trial and error to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
Give and take
Want to increase the number of people who interact with your own posts? First, you’ll have to engage with others’. That means you can’t just relentlessly promote your own stuff—you should share posts uploaded by other people, along with your own responses and feedback.
This advice applies to any social media platform. Other users, whether potential customers or competitors, are far more likely to notice you if you contribute something to the network beyond pushing your own goods and services. Think about congratulating a fellow small business on a job well done, or promoting a charity drive that someone else in your field has launched.
More specifically, on Twitter, many people post requests for help. You can directly reply to these, as long as you don’t come across as too pushy. For example, if you fix laptop screens, search for people in your area who are looking for a laptop screen repair. Then offer your help in a public tweet. To perform this type of search, visit the Twitter website and type your search terms into the box at the top right of the screen. Next, look for the Search filters sidebar and hit the Show link that you see next to it. A drop-down menu, which includes a location option, will appear. Then select Near you to filter for those who live in your region.
Buffer your posts
Many applications offer to improve your social media presence so you can promote yourself better. One of our favorites is the free service Buffer. Quite simply, it buffers posts on Facebook and Twitter, allowing you to line up multiple posts at once and then work on non-social obligations without worrying about posting throughout the day. The program can either roll out your posts gradually over the course of a day, or schedule them to go live at specific times.
Buffer essentially frees you from sitting at your computer or phone around the clock. It also helps target customers who don’t live in the same time zone as you do. On top of that, it includes tools for analyzing how well your posts are doing and sharing the same message on multiple social media accounts at once.
The service offers free and paid plans through its website, as an Android app, and as an iOS app. For free, you can buffer one account per social network and schedule up to 10 posts at once. After that, prices start at $10 a month.
Give people reasons to follow you
In order to accrue followers, you need to show them interesting or valuable content. Share special offers, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and entertaining facts to give clients, and other businesses, good reasons to follow you. Make sure to post regularly, and vary the type of content you share.
For example, let’s say you’re promoting your work building furniture out of reclaimed wood. Perhaps your social media account could give discounts or freebies to people who share your posts. In addition to offers, you can share guides to treating or caring for wood, show a step-by-step video of one of your builds, or both. Of course, you’ll have to tailor these types of content to whatever business or project you’re involved with.
People are also more likely to follow an account with which they feel they have a relationship. To foster that type of interaction, make sure to respond promptly when people get in touch with you or give you their feedback. For that reason, it’s helpful to install social apps on your phone—this lets you reply immediately when you have an interaction. If you know you won’t be able to respond during certain hours, then explain this clearly in your profile.
Know your networks
To make yourself better at social self-promotion, spend time studying Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and any other platforms you plan to use. Which posts engage and interest you, and which ones leave you cold? How do certain accounts stand out from the crowd? This type of critical browsing will help you figure out what works and what doesn’t.
No matter what network you’re using, eye-catching images will always draw more attention than plain text. Spend some time to put these visuals together, especially on Instagram, which was founded on the idea of improving mobile photos.
In addition, if someone else is sharing a grabby story, try reposting it. You don’t want to fill your feed entirely with others’ work, but as long as you leave a gap of a few hours (on the fast-moving Twitter) or a few days (on the slower-paced Facebook) between reposts, you should be fine. If you do link to the same piece of work twice, try varying the description or the headline the second time around—you may catch a separate batch of clicks.
When it comes to social media platforms, you get out what you put in. Ultimately, nothing pays off like putting in the time and the hard work to create thought-out, genuine, and useful posts for your followers. Even when you’re starting small, don’t be discouraged by slow growth. If you persevere, those sweet clicks will follow.