12 Power Tips To Turn You into a Social Media Ninja
The following tips are takeaways from Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick’s book The Art of Social Media. Guy Kawasaki used to be the chief evangelist of Apple and now he works for Canva, an online design service. Peg Fitzpatrick is a social media strategist and director of digital media for Kreussler Inc.
In this blog post, the criteria I used to select and expand on 12 of the many tips they share in their book was ease of implementation and originality. I skipped the more technical tips or the ones that I think that, like me, you may have already been applying, either because you have been using social media for some time now and have had the chance to experiment, or because they are the ones you usually find in blogs or books on social media. Although the tips can be used by anyone, they will be more relevant to people who use social media professionally, to promote their services and products. As always, I took the liberty to add some of my own comments to their expert suggestions.
1. Pick a neutral screen name: make your screen name as simple as possible; avoid numbers or symbols, as the idea is to make it easy to remember, especially if you are in business. My Instagram name is simply jorgesette, for example, and my Twitter account is @jorgesetteELT (ELT stands for English Language Teaching, a well-known acronym among the members of my target audience).
2. Focus your avatar on your face: people upload pictures of cats, dogs, couples, whole families, superheroes, idols, cartoons, etc. Your avatar is not where your express your love, passions, aspirations and dreams. It’s meant to show the world who’s talking. Don’t confuse your audience. Use a clear and nice picture of your face, so people can easily recognize you.
3. Your profile should give the impression that you are likable, trustworthy and competent. How do you do that? Treat your audience with respect, don’t post sensationalist articles, make sure you check your sources and verify if the news is true before posting it; avoid bigotry; publish balanced comments; give opposing sides the chance to manifest their views; engage with your audience's posts (like them, share them or comment on them). If you are good at a certain area and know more than your target audience about it, social media is a great way to develop thought leadership (being seen as the expert on a certain topic). Therefore, educate your friends and followers on the topic you are passionate about. I write about many things, but books and art are the subjects I write most passionately about.
4. Craft a mantra: tell the world in a very succinct way what you wish to accomplish with your posts. I’m basically a blogger. I started off writing about my main areas of expertise (language teaching and marketing), but now I write for Bookwitty too, and, as a result, the range of my topics have broadened considerably. So my tagline now is: Streamlining content you need. Meaning: as I seem to read more books, newspapers and magazines; watch more TV series and movies; and travel more than the average person in my audience, I summarize all those experiences in digestible posts for them to read on the go: in a fast and easy way. The plan is to streamline the content they may need of find interesting.
5. Get a vanity URL: whenever possible, add your name to your URL, or, if you can afford, spend a little more money to have a personalized URL. It pays off, as it’s usually simpler and people will remember it more easily. I upgraded my WordPress account, for example, so my URL could simply become www.jorgesette.com
6. Seize the (Holi)Day: schedule some of your posts around important holidays so they are relevant and make you come across as a well-informed and caring person. These especial days can be local or global; target your audience accordingly. So, plan, well-wishing, fitting posts messages, pictures and video-clips to go with Christmas, Easter, Teacher’s Day, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Movie Award Seasons, etc. Be active both in the number of times you publish but also make an effort to be relevant, publishing posts about what is going on in the life of your followers. And topics related to holidays are a great way to do both.
7. Make a plan: use an editorial calendar to organize what, when and how you are going to publish. That is a great tip, especially if you are expected to produce three of more pieces of content per week. Of course, plans can change and this calendar should not be treated as a straitjacket. However, it will give you focus and help you decide when to tap into trending topics or produce more timeless posts. Also, a calendar is a great tool to plan your seasonal posts, such as holidays, summer vacations, local festivals, or important days celebrated by your community. It also allows you to decide which social media channel is the most adequate to treat determined topics. Keep in mind that repurposing content in as many other forms as possible will save you a lot of time and effort. A blog post, for example, can make exceptionally interesting SlideShare presentations. A nice picture you used on Facebook may transfer well to your Instagram account. Integrate the different channels in your promotion.
8. Automatize as much as possible: most people cannot afford to spend the whole day in front of a computer or tablet posting content. There are special programs, such as Buffer, which allows you to organize the number of posts you plan to publish during a certain day or week, and it even suggests the best times to do so, based on the history of your main hits in the past. Try and use as many social media channels as possible: don’t forget that each has its own characteristics (Facebook is more informal and meant for friends; LinkedIn is ideal for more formal and job-related posts; Instagram is for great pictures: personal or related to your line of work; Google+ helps your content be found in the powerful Google search engine, etc. etc.
9. Curate content: share what is already popular and trending. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can use other people’s posts who are relevant to your audience – as long as it's allowed. Of course, nothing can be more impactful than producing and publishing your own content, but you can revisit other people's output (this post, for example, is based on a book written by Kawasaki) and add your own twist. Or make use of the many share buttons users display on their posts with the objective of having it redistributed and promoted to people they wouldn’t otherwise reach. Invite well-known guest writers to post on your platform and accept invitations to post on theirs. Most of these invitations are free, but you would gain popularity and, possibly, attract more like-minded traffic to your own site, page or blog.
10. Be valuable: information, analysis, assistance, entertainment (be interesting). It's recommended that, as most people’s attention spans are getting shorter, publishers should focus on visuals and short messages. I couldn’t agree more. But blog posts or articles - which we call long form - if well written, can attract readers too. And these long-form readers are often more qualified to use your content in the way you planned: they are usually more prepared customers or higher positioned in the hierarchy of the businesses whose attention you wish to attract (if you are in a B2B environment). So, do not avoid longer posts necessarily: remember, what we should have in mind is something along the lines of 500 – 1,100 words. If your post is much longer than that, you might as well turn your piece into a nice ebook and give it away to VIP clients as a gift, or sell it over the Internet. No matter what you write, however, keep in mind the objective must always be to inform the reader on an aspect of your product (or related topics); analyse or expand the context; educate the reader on more difficult or complex topics which will make the purchase or use of your product easier; assist: help them shop for the best option (even it’s not yours: they will be grateful and see you as a thought leader in your category, possibly coming back for more next time; and entertain them: post stuff which will make them laugh or inspire them, or turn their dreary Mondays into something more bearable. But think big: you don’t have to talk about your product all the time; looser connections will work wonders if you know how to do it.
11. Be bold: Kawasaki says that his theory is if you’re not pissing people off on social media, you’re not using it right. There are no absolutes in the field of social media expertise, though. It’s a new field and experimentation is allowed. Try different things. Bend some norms and challenge prejudices, try new things. Think Steve Jobs: people do not know what they want until they see it.
12. Be visual: images are the cherry on the cake. We live in a visually-oriented society. A picture is worth a thousand words. So, add pictures to both your 140-character Twitter post and your long-form (500 to 1,100-word blog post). Make sure you use copyright-cleared pictures (there are free ones or very low-cost ones available: try Canva for example); take your own photos (great for Instagram) or put images together (again I would suggest Canva.com for a fun and effective way to create ads or posters).
As I have said before, the tips and suggestions above can benefit anyone who uses social media channels for different kinds of activities, but most of them are targeted at more professional users, who have already some experience with the different media. I would strongly recommend that rookies go through Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick's very useful guide and read it from cover to cover.