If a tree falls in a forest, and no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?
It’s a philosophical thought experiment designed to illustrate the ties between the subjective and objective sides of reality, but it’s also an interesting metaphor for social media marketing. The goal is to get people to “hear” your message; if no one is around to hear it, it doesn’t matter how good or original or convincing the message is, because no one will be there to receive it.
In addition to crafting effective messages, you need to take measures to ensure your posts get as much visibility as possible — meaning, you need to maximize your potential exposure and get more sets of eyes on every post you make. The problem is, platforms like Facebook are actually making it harder for brands to achieve visibility, both to increase the quality of content seen by their individual users and to drive more organizations to paid advertising.
Fortunately, there are a handful of strategies you can use to drive more visibility for your posts. Most of them focus on one or more of the following goals:
· Maximizing reach breadth. Immediately, you can improve visibility by making sure a greater number of people can see your post, usually by circulating the post to new areas.
· Improving lifespan. You can also work to improve the “lifespan” of your post, improving its popularity over time and ensuring it remains in user newsfeeds for as long as possible.
· Increasing followers. In the most long-term approach, you can focus on attracting more followers to your brand, so each post in the future has a wider and more invested initial audience.
So what are the secrets to achieving these?
1. Influencers. One of the best ways to get more momentum and visibility in social media is to leverage people who have already achieved it. Target influencers in your industry — the individuals and organizations who already have tens to hundreds of thousands of followers — and work with them on a collaborative piece of content, or find a way to get them to mention you. A single reference here could net you hundreds of new followers instantly. Just be sure not to ask for handouts or favors — start the relationship by giving something of value to the influencer, or showing them a new opportunity.
2. Ads. I’m not a fan of using paid ads in the long term; I think organic growth strategies are far more cost-efficient, assuming a limited budget. However, as a short-term boost for building an initial audience, they’re not bad. If you have a social media post you want to make sure gets extra attention, invest a bit of money to promote it to your intended audience.
3. Timing. You can also work on your timing. Though I personally believe post timing is a bit overrated (i.e., waiting an extra 5 minutes to time your post perfectly isn’t going to make or break your strategy), engaging with your audiences when they’re most active and when your competition is least active can earn you higher visibility. For example, the noon hour is often busy on social media, but that also means users’ newsfeeds are clogged with competing pieces of content. Stand out by picking unconventional, yet somewhat popular times for your audience to participate.
4. Imagery. Images are a major factor in today’s online marketing world. Posts with images get far more visibility, more attention, and more shares — and not just any image will do. Images dominated by a single color, or those with visually striking features, will stand out in users newsfeeds more, giving your post the attention-grabbing features it needs to become popular.
5. Controversy. You can also get more visibility by striking up some controversy. Make a bold statement, or do something that’s completely off type. You may end up ruffling some feathers, but you’ll also attract more comments and shares, which will make your post more popular in user newsfeeds. Just be careful you don’t venture into unethical territory here.
6. Targeting. On most social media platforms, you have some degree of control over who sees your posts. Use that to your advantage, selecting the right target audience for each post you submit. It may seem counterintuitive to narrow your audience when the end goal is achieving more visibility, but this step will help you get more visibility within the circles that actually matter to your brand.
7. Diversity. Your followers will get sick of you if you seem to post the same ideas over and over. Instead, give them something new. Come up with a new posting schedule, or syndicate some content that you’d ordinarily avoid.
8. Outreach. You can also increase your social media audience by reaching out to new people, and by featuring your content in new locations. Though some followers may be able to find you naturally, such as through search, it’s usually more effective to go out of your way to get your brand in front of new people.
9. Conversations. You can also give your brand more overall visibility by jumping into conversations on social media that are already happening. Look for hashtags relevant to your brand and influencers within your industry, and involve your brand in the most popular threads you can find.
10. Employees. Finally, ask your employees to occasionally share posts made by your brand. It’s a fast, reliable way to instantly extend your brand’s network to thousands of new people — and get the power of personal brands behind your content.
The more often you employ these techniques, and the more consistent you are with them, the more visibility you’ll receive on social media. Depending on whether you’re after a short-term boost or a long-term growth curve, you should experiment with different combinations to achieve your desired ends.
Almost anything you do to improve post visibility is going to improve your campaign’s effectiveness, so stick with it and keep giving your followers more of what they want.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!