At the NRA Show this year, one of the most exciting attractions was the Tech Pavilion: a hub for all things technology-related — from cutting-edge digital marketing solutions to smart software that can help restaurants track customer behavior and consumption patterns.
To add to the diverse array of product demonstrations at the Pavilion, attendees of this year’s show were also treated to a robust line-up of presentations and talks, filled with useful tips and strategies to make your business (and/or individual presence) more prominent on local, global, and social platforms.
Tess Vismale’s ‘Social Media Strategies’ talk was a fine example of the special focus on education at the show this year. Ms. Vismale, who describes herself as an ‘Event Executioner’ and ‘Tech Evangelist,’ is a media professional specializing in event planning and management and social media branding and marketing.
Her presentation struck a good balance between tips for the social media novice and some extra tricks for those of us who may know the basics, but want to up our Twitter and Instagram game! Here’s a round-up of some of the most salient points from the hour.
The bulk of this presentation was geared towards audience members who are unfamiliar with the Twitter platform and Ms. Vismale shared some of her top tips to get started.
Also known as your username (a term some of us might be more familiar with). It might seem obvious, but it is important to spend more than a few rushed moments on choosing a handle that aptly describes your goals and identity on this platform.
Your handle needs to be interesting, catchy, and once you’ve decided on it make sure you include it on your business card, email signature, and so on. In this day and age, when we have multiple channels for social media/online presence, it is crucial to engage in cross-platform marketing – that is, make sure your Twitter, Instagram, Google+ (and other) accounts are all friends with each other and blowing each other’s trumpets online.
Gone are the days when readers would read through a page-long auto-biographical sketch. This is the age of the ‘3 second attention span’ and you need to incorporate that awareness into everything you do online.
One of the terms that came up more than once in the talk was ‘goals.’ There are various ways to interpret and use this word, but in brief, you should be constantly mindful of what it is that you want to accomplish via your social media presence.
Is it grabbing more eyeballs for your business? Is it creating a personal brand as an industry professional? Whatever it is doing, know it, own it, and customize your bio to tie in your posts. This will ensure your public image aligns with your goals and purpose.
Hashtags are the currency on social media and you should be judicious and savvy in your use of them. When used well, hashtags can drive a lot of traffic to your post and consequently to your profile, but it takes a bit of practice to nail the balance between socially relevant, currently trending hashtags and ones that are relevant to your ‘goals.’
An easy rule to follow is to use an ‘anchor’ hashtag that establishes the goal for your tweet/post and then supplementary hashtags to support it. Take this example:
“Enjoying delicious #cookies @SweetStDesserts @NRAShow! #NRAShow2016 #inheaven #dessert”
Here, not only are you using the anchor hashtag “NRAShow2016” (which was trending that weekend), but you are doing a couple things better! You engaged two other businesses – “Sweet St. Desserts” and the official “NRA Show” accounts – and incorporated other popular hashtags such as “#cookies,” “#desserts” and so on.
You’re potentially grabbing eyeballs from all of these different channels and increasing traffic to your profile and posts. It takes a bit of practice, but a great way to learn is to regularly visit other people’s pages and see which of their posts are doing well (notice the number of “likes” and “retweets”), see what readers are engaging with, and incorporate those strategies into your own tweets.
A very important thing to remember about hashtags is that they have a kind of ‘history.’ Before you go ahead and use one, make sure you’ve done your research. Type the hashtag into your search bar and briefly take a look at the kinds of posts that are using it. Make sure you understand the context in which a particular hashtag is used and that it is relevant to your post, your profile, and your goals.
For instance, since we are at the NRA Show here, a fantastic example is the name “NRA” itself. You know it stands for “National Restaurant Association.” I know that, too. But do you know that it also stands for “National Rifle Association” and that the “#NRA” hashtag is also used by firearm aficionados?
So, before you go ahead and use “Having a blast at #NRA” please click through and see what people are posting under that hashtag. This will ensure you use the correct hashtag and stay relevant to what you want to post about.
Not much to say here other than that this is a MUST. No more “humpty-dumpty” generic profile pictures, as Ms. Vismale put it. When people can put a face to your words, you can bet it goes further than a silhouette with bad hair would.
Keep it short and sweet.
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that there’s a reason Twitter has a 140-character limit. You are not meant to type page-long essays on this platform. That’s what you have a blog for. Keep things short and sweet, engaging, relevant, and above all, in line with your purpose and goal.
Mix things up.
Twitter lets you use GIFs and photos in your tweets and we all know the age-old adage that sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words. So, make use of these features, save some letters, and let a catchier visual get your point across.
Once you’re comfortably tweeting away and you’re ready to take it to the next level, you can start monitoring how well your tweets are doing by clicking on the little icon at the bottom of each tweet marked “Tweet Activity.”
Once you click on it, you are provided with a bunch of stats that tell you how many impressions, engagements, and clicks that particular tweet generated. These are just fancy ways of saying how many people saw your tweet, how many of them did something about it, and how many of them actually clicked through to your profile from that tweet. Keep playing with these features, because the more comfortable you get with the platform, the better these stats will get.
Another easy (but expensive) way to grab more eyeballs is to use Twitter’s ‘promotional’ strategies – you essentially pay for clicks.
The 80/20 Rule
This was one of the most interesting and an often-forgotten or ignored tip.
What this ‘80/20 rule’ basically means is that 80% of your social media posts should be in the ‘sharing/caring’ category. That is, retweeting other people’s tweets, ‘liking’ other posts, share smart things openly to shine a light on what others are doing, engage in a social commentary where relevant to your industry, line of work, and so on.
Only 20% of your tweets should be self-propaganda and promoting your business, your products, etc. If you go on Twitter simply to post about yourself and never to engage others or converse on related topics, it’s noticeable — and your following will reflect that fact. People like people who share and care.
Instagram, Facebook, and Beyond
Even though Vismale focused mostly on Twitter for this presentation, she did briefly touch on some other social media channels and tools such as LinkedIn, Instagram, Sprout Social, and Hootsuite. There are also many interesting options to link and optimize your LinkedIn profile to your Twitter, blog/website, Facebook page, etc.
Instagram and Facebook Pages are, of course, very easily integrated with Twitter (and vice versa). It is a matter of a single button click to share your posts across all three platforms simultaneously. You should absolutely take advantage of this feature if you have a Facebook page and post regularly on Instagram as well, to engage in cross-platform posting/sharing.
Hootsuite and Sprout Social, on the other hand, are social media scheduling tools, which you can use to manage the above-mentioned cross-platform marketing/posting. They have a dashboard set-up where you can see all of your social media accounts together, schedule posts, and share simultaneously across platforms.
Consistency and Discipline
A final point to keep in mind is this: just like any other line of work, if you want to see results from your social media, then you need to be disciplined and consistent. Treat this as work. Vismale talked about the importance of setting up a ‘social media posting’ calendar just as you would set up a weekly ‘to-do’ or ‘goals’ list. Be intentional and systematic in your posting and plan out quality content in advance.
Going back to the ‘80/20’ rule, Ms. Vismale mentioned an interesting tip:
Schedule a consistent number of posts that take care of the 20% quota of your social media posts – the ones that have to do with your work, business, personal presence online. Once these are scheduled and ready to go out – five days a week, three days a week, whatever frequency you choose – then you don’t need to worry about these on the day you’re meant to post. Your days are then free to engage the online world in interesting and relevant conversations and contribute your 80% of ‘sharing and caring.’
Keep these above tips and tricks in mind, and like anything else, practice and have a bit of fun with it! This may be part of your job to promote your business, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a ball doing it. In no time at all, you’ll be tweeting up a storm.
Want a little more insight on when to (and when not to) tweet out your promotions? Read on.