Three top tips to push the button on social media strategy - Shannon Earaker

The Duchess of Cambridge last week gave her first ever news interview and shared her first Instagram post. Kate shared a series of photos to the Kensington Royal ­Instagram account from the royal tour to Pakistan, with a personal caption and signed “Catherine”. In a world that revolves around “Instagrammable” content and hashtags for every occasion, the Duchess has shown that, even in royal circles, social media is a vital tool in shaping reputations and brand building.

Like the Duchess of Cambridge, if you are keen to make the most of social media, the best advice is to start small, says Earaker. Picture: Neil Hall/PA Wire
Like the Duchess of Cambridge, if you are keen to make the most of social media, the best advice is to start small, says Earaker. Picture: Neil Hall/PA Wire

Social media channels have provided brands – whether individuals or businesses – with the ability to produce immediate broadcast updates, efficiently increase brand awareness and establish stronger loyalty and relationships with target audiences. It’s created a seamless link between the old and the new, making it easier than ever to ensure that digital activity complements traditional forms of media.

Like the Duchess of Cambridge, if you are keen to make the most of social media, the best advice is to start small and work your way up. While social media platforms are capable of many tricks, there are three basic core elements to formulating an organic (non-paid for) social media strategy– content, imagery and analysis.

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Strong content is at the heart of any ­successful social media strategy. To see the real benefit, you just need to look to social media giants such as Asos, Coca Cola and Netflix – they regularly update their feeds, often several times a day, with easily digestible and relevant content.

If an audience doesnt respond well to a content thread, stop using it, says Earaker. Picture: Contributed

Short and snappy

The best part? Social media posts don’t need lengthy copy – in fact, shorter posts are linked to higher engagement rates. International marketing expert Jeff Bullas notes that Facebook posts with 80 ­characters or less receive 88 per cent more engagements. The relatable reality is that people often engage with social media on the go – the shorter and snappier the copy, the more convenient for the end user. It wasn’t surprising that the Duchess of Cambridge’s first Instagram post included several images. Like William and Kate or – dare I say it – Harry and

Meghan, good content goes hand in hand with strong imagery. The best pieces of content would be wasted on social media without a complementary eye-catching image. As well as being more attractive and engaging, posts with images are more memorable.

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According to HubSpot, tweets with images receive 150 per cent more retweets than those without, while Facebook posts with images achieve 2.3 times higher engagement. Video is even more compelling,

The good news is that images on social media don’t need to be the product of an expensive photoshoot. Modern phone cameras are just as capable of producing high quality imagery, plus they can be posted within minutes of being taken – social media users love up-to-the-minute content. ­Additionally, there are plenty of websites that offer free usage of copyright-free imagery.

The simple reality

Analysing the performance of content helps to identify the types of posts an audience likes. While the word “analysis” makes it sound like a labour-intensive task, the reality is simple, particularly with content that isn’t paid for.

Would you continue to use a product or eat a food that you don’t like? Of course not. Posts on social media take the same approach – if an audience doesn’t respond well to a content thread, stop using it. Instead, continue to post more of what an audience does like, and test different variations of these threads.

Above all, remember that it’s OK for posts not to work. Testing is an integral part of any social media strategy, especially in the early stages of finding your brand voice.

Like any other influencing tool, however, ultimately it is the outcome of all this effort that is key, yet this is often missed. Through this social media activity are you trying to sell a product, direct people to a particular part of your website or perhaps, like the Royals, positively influence your brand reputation?

- Shannon Earaker, digital and social media manager, Perceptive Communicators.