If you’re an individual creating your own brand, a businesses owner, an advertising agency or a brand manager, read on to learn simple and cool hacks to create a strong social media following.
Hack #1: Use the best image
It’s critical for all social media posts to be visually appealing. There are some really awesome websites out there offering royalty-free stock photographs. Pexels, Pixabay and Stocksnap are my top 3 preferences, though in my opinion Pexels wins hands down.
The best part about the available images on these websites is that they look professional, real and most importantly less “stock” looking. Take a look at the comparison made for images found on Google and Pexels for the query “People.”
Also, keep in mind that not all images from Google are free to use and in fact most of them can’t be used due to copyright infringement issues.
Hack #2: Create the perfect post
Once you’ve found the right image, it’s time to get your creative juices flowing and get down to designing the social media post. Don’t worry if you’re not a designer or don’t know how to use tools like Adobe Photoshop – there are many free tools available out there. However, Canva is a great option.
Canva allows you to create infographics, business cards and even eBooks. Let’s dive into the process of making a social media post.
For example, let’s say you have to create a post for a small pub called “The Barn” hosting an upcoming event called “Friday Jams.” Here are the steps for designing the social media post:
1. Go to Pexels.com and search for a musical themed image. Download the most suitable one.
2. Now go to Canva.com and register yourself. It’s free and requires only your email address.
3. After the standard signup process, log into your Canva account and click on the type of design you want to create. In this case, we will be creating a Facebook post.
4. Click on “Uploads” on the left side menu and upload the image from Pexels.com to your canvas.
5. The uploaded image will be visible in the list of uploads. Click on the image to transfer it to your canvas.
6. Next, click on “Text” in the left side menu to see the various stencils available to use. Play around with different stencils to see how they look. The font, colour and size can all be edited.
7. Once the stencil is complete, write simple copy about the Friday Jams event.
8. To make the post more funky, click on “Elements” on the left hand side menu and then click on “Shapes” to select various shapes to be used in the design.
9. Put the brand or business name in small letters on the lower right hand corner. In this case, the pub will be called “The Barn.” If you have a PNG file of your brand’s logo, then upload and place it on the canvas accordingly. It’s important to play around with all the features to get the hang of how they function.
Here’s the finished product:
Not bad huh? For more pro tips on Canva, check here and here.
Hack #3: Make a gif
GIF’s are smaller than videos, use up less bandwidth (especially handy for mobile) and are very sticky in nature. They have a better chance at trending compared to a still image since they are easy to share online. There are many great tools available like Imgflip, MakeaGif or Giphy for creating GIFs. Using these websites, you can convert videos from Youtube directly into GIFs, or convert images to create really sticky and engaging GIFs.
In the following example, we have to create a GIF for a shoe brand. First, figure out what you want to say and find images for the GIF. For our example, we’ll use a shoe brand tagline like “Good Shoes Take You Good Places!” Now, we’ll find some good images and upload them on Imgflip. Once the images are uploaded, you can easily add text to the GIF, order the images and calibrate the delay. Here’s what I managed to create in 15 minutes:
There is one drawback to these tools – most of them have a watermark.
Hack #4: Jack a trend
Trend jacking is an important social media technique that involves posting about something that is already trending or will be trending (like the iPhone 7 Launch). This technique works effectively with a carefully crafted social media calendar that aligns with brand values. Anything that is trending has a lot of traction among users and jumping on that bandwagon can be effective in engaging users on social media. Let’s take an example of world famous Apple keynote 2016 event where the iPhone 7 was announced. The National Geographic, Collegehumor, Jimmy Kimmel and more had an update about the new iPhone and all got great engagement on their posts. Here are some examples:
Let’s say you are a business owner selling iPhone covers. You should have the dates for events like Apple keynotes scheduled in your calendar. I have done this exact trend jacking for one of my clients and their posts got almost 4 times more likes and nearly 6 times more shares.
Hack #5: Create videos
Facebook began testing auto play for videos back in 2013. With the advent of Instagram and Snapchat, it’s even more important for brands to have a strategy for creating video posts for social media.
With the onslaught of mobile phone cameras, cheap DSLRs, Go Pro’s and easy editing software, making a video has never been easier. Gone are the days when a video was only in the budget of big brands and businesses. The best strategy for creating videos for sharing on social media is to create them using mobile phones. With the latest technology, you can shoot, edit and publish videos straight from your phone. Here is a quick guide on how to go about producing your very own video using an iPhone (5s or above will do):
- Learn how to use your iPhone camera to create some awe inspiring footage. Learn all the features and how to compose a good shot.
- Learn how to edit the footage. Some of the most popular video editing software includes iMovie by Apple or Cameo by Vimeo.
- Finding a perfect soundtrack is very important. Use websites like this to get great free beats.
Hack #6: Paid media
Yes, I said paid media! Marketing spend on social media can no longer be thought of as a branding exercise. Once you know what you want from a social media campaign, using paid media can really help you achieve your goals – and there are tons of things you can do with a paid campaign on social media. Facebook and Snapchat have both come up with some amazing ad types to cater to the increasing demands of marketers. There are more than 10 ad types you can use to run an ad campaign on Facebook.
Not every campaign can go viral. It’s important to spend money on social media campaigns and push your product or service in front of the right audience.
Hack #7: Build a community
How do you create a true following? One primary thing to understand is that each follower is a real person and not a number. It’s easy to get trapped in the number of page likes a brand has, and though an important metric while building a community, it’s still just a number. There are typically two outcomes when a user dislikes a post:
- The first outcome is that users will ignore the post. This will tell the Facebook algorithm that people are not interacting with the post and it will appear on fewer timelines. This is how the reach of a post decreases.
- The second outcome is that people will opt for hide post option:
It’s important to engage with your audience, posting at least one update per day, minimum. Having a carefully planned social media calendar is also very important. It should be curated keeping in mind the brand, geographic location and business ethos. For example, for a luxury car brand based in Dubai, it’s good to have a social media calendar that covers the Paris Auto Motor Show, the F1 races in Dubai and also has important public holidays like Eid, Islamic new year, and so on.
The most effective strategy, or hack, for a successful social media campaign is to be creative and open to embracing changes.