Let’s be honest: no one has enough time to be on every social network. Okay, maybe some teenagers, but otherwise no one.
Not you, not me, not a single one of the Social Media Gurus and Internet Marketers on the planet can be on every social network, not even all the major networks.
By ‘on’ I don’t mean casually or occasionally using a network. Posting an Instagram of your Thanksgiving Dinner last year doesn’t make you ‘on’ Instagram. Going to Twitter only when your favorite celebrities are feuding to see their Tweets doesn’t make you ‘on’ Twitter. Scheduling brand posts from Hootsuite to a half dozen brand pages doesn’t make your company ‘on’ all half dozen of those networks.
Being on a network means something very profound, a deep sense of intimacy with the features, layout, and users of the network and a certain syntony with the social ecosystem. It means partaking in an online culture, in which network design and demographics interact to inform and enforce norms, customs, taboos, and other signatures of group identity.
Social Media Culture
Facebook, for example, is primarily an online culture built around real world friendships, family, relationships, old college roommates, and other such real-world connections. Additionally, to some degree this also extends to the overlap between your social connections and theirs (i.e. people are more likely to meet someone through Facebook if they share a common “Friend”). It also hosts a rich diversity of groups, causes, online communities, and other such subcultures of the network.
Twitter, on the other hand, is primarily a culture of following: the majority of Tweets are created by a minority of Power Users, and this is even more true as it pertains to retweets. Beyond Power Users and their disproportionately large and passive followers, Twitter also supports diverse subcultures and communities, often finding each other through the use of hashtags which may or may not be trending at any given moment.
Pinterest, meanwhile, is a heavily visually-driven social network, and what constitutes a good Pinterest description is different from what constitutes a good link description on Facebook or a good tweet on Twitter.
Content marketing through social media doesn’t work very well when it doesn’t appreciate and account for these unique differences and qualities of different networks and their users.
Don’t miss this:When your content is optimized and shareable, it means your visitors get more engagement with their own shares.Click To Tweet
Think about that: by helping your visitors share great posts, you not only help your own content perform better, you also improve their social media experience. The domino effect then begins as this then enhances the experience of their connections and followers, and anyone those connections and followers reshare it to, and on and on down the line.
This is the essence of Network Effects: when some users of the network share great posts, which are seen and shared by others, who in turn are seen and shared by others. That process begins, in most cases, with great content that invites and encourages sharing, and the rules of what defines great content varies from network to network.
And when those visitors who shared your content to their networks are rewarded by Likes, Shares, Comments, Follows, and other forms of social engagement, it breeds an even deeper affection, even fandom, for your content.
Higher quality social content breeds deeper affection and even fandom for your content.Click To Tweet
Conversely, when content doesn’t share well, people stop sharing it and engaging with it as much, which can be damaging to your content marketing strategy.
Consider the example of Facebook Video vs. YouTube: as Facebook has made it harder and less attractive to share YouTube videos on their network, views of Facebook Videos, which benefit from 1st Class integration with the network itself and a default autoplay feature, have gone way up, as have reports of YouTube videos being pirated and uploaded to Facebook.
Google had no power to stop Facebook from favoring their own video hosting with superior integration, in that case, but many content marketers are suffering the same loss of potential social traffic because they fail to encourage and optimize their content for social media sharing.
This is not a discussion about online culture itself, or a comprehensive analysis of every network. You probably don’t have time for that any more than you have time to be on every social network.
Neither do we.
What we do have, here at Warfare Plugins, is a team of developers with experience across all of the social networks our tools support, and the support of some great users and fans offering feedback and suggestions.
What we’ve learned is that there are two fundamental mistakes content marketers make when it comes to driving social traffic, shares, and engagement from their website, blog, or other content source on the web:
- They don’t make it easy or attractive to share their content.
- They don’t optimize for social engagement.
The first part comes down to putting those social sharing options in front of your audience and visitors in the first place, and making your social share buttons are both prominent and attractive.
Attractive and prominent social sharing buttons increase the rate of sharing, compared with content that lacks sharing options, makes those options hard to see, or makes them ugly.Attractive and prominent social sharing buttons increase the rate of sharing for your content.Click To Tweet
The second part comes down to that all-important culture we’ve already mentioned: every network has its own type of online culture based on each particular network’s features and layout, and your content needs to be optimized for sharing to those networks individually and separately.
With our Social Warfare WordPress plugin, we set out to solve this and make it easy for you, the content host and/or creator, to drive social sharing and engagement like a true digital native of the platforms.
Our social sharing buttons are highly visually attractive and customizable to suit the design of your pages and posts, improving your share rate from visitors.
Our plugin also allows you to customize your post and page code for optimizing those social shares, making it easy for your visitors to share great posts to any and all of their networks.
- Give your posts and pages custom titles and descriptions when your visitors share them to social media;
- Choose custom images for different networks;
- Create a custom Tweet for your visitors to share
- Make it easy for them to click or tap to share that perfect tweetable quote and more.
Whatever networks your visitors are using, Social Warfare helps them quickly and easily share perfectly optimized posts to their networks and followers.
But enough about us, let’s break each network down and talk about how you can effectively craft your social content in a way that resonates with each network’s culture.
How to Optimize Social Content for Different Social Media Cultures
A good content marketing strategy will understand how to craft social content on each medium to best reach each different audience. Here’s some best practices we’ve found looking at the most popular content.
The Culture of Facebook
As previously stated, Facebook is primarily a destination to connect with family, friends and real-life contacts. So when sharing content to this network, a more personal and non-automated approach is highly encouraged.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Facebook’s news feed is dictated by an algorithm they call Edgerank. This means that when you look at your Facebook feed, you’re not seeing every post in chronological order— you’re seeing what Facebook has algorithmically decided to show you based on what it thinks you’ll like.
- When sharing links, share brief commentary about the link, avoiding just pasting the headline of the link you’re sharing.
- Keep the commentary brief— between 40-100 characters seems to perform best according to research.
- Make sure the link you’re sharing has an eye-catching image in the preview. Larger images get more attention.
- Don’t be all business— lighten things up by giving a mix of personal content as well.
Culture on Facebook is primarily entertainment and family oriented. So keep it real and don’t be afraid to show some personality.
The Culture of Google+
Since the beginning of Google+’s introduction in 2011, there have always been a large amount of early-adopters, tecnologically savvy and intellectually engaged users. To this day, Google+ culture continues to be more cerebral and intellectually stimulated.
The culture is very anti-spam, so anything you can do to not look like you’re automating or “phoning in” your content and engagement is highly recommended.
- Much like Facebook, dropping a headline and a link is not going to do well. Craft your commentary about what you’re sharing, letting your audience know you’re not just phoning it in.
- Use formatting to make your posts stand out. For instance aesterisks at the beginning and end of a word or phrase will apply bold formatting while underscores will apply italics.
- Share to Collections to get a higher chance of the right content getting in front of the right people.
The Culture of Twitter
Brevity is an imposed limiation with Twitter. So you will need to be creative if you want your tweets to have the highest impact.
Twitter users are looking for quick interactions and tend to skew on the techie and newsworthy/trendy side.
- Using images has proven to have a higher engagement rate.
- Don’t just post a headline— say something interesting or helpful. Quotes or quick tips are ideal.
- Take advantage of Twitter cards to give people a more rich experience.
- Remember that Twitter is fast-paced and the shelf-life of a tweet is very short. Repeat your tweets with different variations to get the greatest reach.
In the case of Twitter, the limitations can be a breeding ground for creativity.
The Culture of Pinterest
One of the slower networks to reach a mass-market level of users, Pinterest is probably one of the most powerful traffic drivers of all the social networks.
Users on this network are actively using Pinterest with specific intent to find content, save content and/or products for later consumption or for their own curation.
- Tall images (735×1102) gain more visibility and are repinned more frequently than landscape images. (Use the pin template found here.)
- Craft your pin descriptions for people and for search. Pinterest is becoming a popular search engine and having an optimized pin description can mean loads of high-quality traffic.
- Pin to relevant categories to help give some extra search-juice to the pin.
- Join shared boards to increase your reach and discoverability.
Don’t underestimate the power of this platform— it may not have the largest amount of active users among the social network giants, but it’s by no means a lightweight in the area of traffic potential.
Understanding that every social network has a culture and optimizing your social content for those different cultures will give you a huge advantage. Apply these principles consistently and you will develop a following that craves the content you provide.
When you have a loyal, engaged social following craving your content you will be amazed at how quickly your efforts can scale and grow beyond you. And that is a truly amazing thing.
Do you have any insight to other social network cultures not mentioned above? Let us know what we missed in the comments below!