“Social media creates communities, not marketplaces”, as Don Schultz has said and he’s so right – you’re engaging with people on a human-to-human level on social media, and that’s why it works so well.
Automation, follow-unfollowing programmes and bot profiles make the experience stale and impersonal, but by harnessing how you communicate on social media it can seriously help your brand, whether it’s a company or a personal profile.
Engaging with audiences, however big or small, is key to getting the benefits of a pool of engaged users interested in your content. To quote another well-used phrase: “Communication is the key to success”, so prepare for your future success by focusing on how you communicate online – here are six social media communication tips from us.
1. Try thoughtful responses
Nice comments feel good when you get them. Commenting is a form of endorsement and engagement from people which demonstrate their enjoyment of what you share on social media, so it’s important to acknowledge, respond and even reciprocate to these key interactions.
However, by simply just thanking or acknowledging the comment or tag, you’re almost ending the possibility of further communication; it’s like a subtle full stop – why not use this opportunity to further the conversation? If someone has shared your latest travel video, thank them for sharing and ask something like “has it inspired you to travel to X/Y/Z?” or “What was your favourite activity we did?” You’re personally acknowledging what the commenter or sharer has said, and you’re tailoring a response directly to them to foster more of a two-way relationship, which will earn you serious digital kudos.
Emojis add personality to your online presence and communication, as well as a little lighthearted fun. Overuse or over-reliance on emojis is not a great strategy but peppering your content with a couple to add value or effectiveness to what you’re saying is a great idea.
Online communication revolves around context and tone can often be misinterpreted. Sometimes just a response of words can come across as cold or closed off. You don’t want that – you want to be seen as approachable, friendly, engaged and interactive. What you say with a grin or in a tongue-in-cheek manner in person can come across very differently using those same words online, so emojis can effectively further communicate the point you want to put across in a more friendly and understandable way.
3. Up your GIF game
GIFS (Graphics Interchange Format) are a great way to convey emotion and deliver a response without a single word. From memes to movie clips, GIFS are an entire language in themselves and there’s a whole word of bitmap animations out there to use to make your communication a level above. Think about the response ‘Thank You’ or even ‘Congratulations’. Just sharing a blank response with those word(s) is standard and boring, it doesn’t quite inspire the recipient to further continue the conversation, but by searching for a funny or appropriate GIF with the words ‘Thank You’ or ‘Congratulations’ you will get far more impact. GIF functionality is supported on most of the major social networking platforms (Twitter, Instagram Stories, Facebook) so make use of these snappy little clips to make your presence online pop.
4. Video responses
In this age of microblogging and instant replies, why not consider a quick little video response instead of typing a written one? Visual engagement is often more powerful than written – we’ve seen this with the switch to social media blogging, micro blogging and an influencer culture from blogs and websites of the previous decade where the mainstay was the written word. We’re a visual communication culture right now. From emojis and GIFs to video responses, often a picture or a clip says far more than what a typed response can.
Instagram Stories is a great way of engaging an audience, like the question button functionality – you can host a Q&A on your Stories by opening up to your audience the function to ask you questions on a topic (or on whatever they want). However, instead of designing a reply with text and emojis, sometimes it’s far more personal to flip the camera and answer the question yourself.
Twitter also has video functionality, so make a short response (the limit on Twitter is 2 minutes 20 seconds – just like the 220 character limit!) in video format for a more maximum effect.
Hashtags can stump people, but in reality the idea is simple. By using a hashtag in your online communication you’re jumping into a pool that widens your reach – but some advice: don’t be too specific and don’t be too vague. For example, sharing the latest track you’ve mixed down as a producer and adding in #music when you’re sharing online is fine, but that pool is so huge – how many people are searching that vaguely?
You want to widen your pool and find people who ordinarily wouldn’t be in your audience by having your content appear under that hashtag, so in that instance you might hashtag #NewMusicMonday. A smaller, more structured pool where people are obviously actively seeking out new music and it’s the exact audience you want. Hashtags can really help grow your followers on all the major social networking sites, if used in the right way…
6. Pin point: location tags
Like the hashtag, the location tag pinpoints your content to a particular place, therefore reaching people who search that location but may have not discovered or followed you yet.
It’s an extra layer of visibility that by adding it in simply amps up the digital audience you can attract. It also demonstrates your movements in real time, like a travel blogger or videographer who is always on-the-go, it pinpoints the new destination they’ve just arrived in, or if you’re a music events organiser and you want the entire population of London to know about or consider attending your gig at Troxy you might add the location tag for London (to reach a wider, but possibly less engaged audience), the specific area (Limehouse) for a more localised pool or even the venue location tag itself.