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Four W’s and an H to Better Social Media Presence

See also: Managing Your Online Presence

Your social media presence needs help. You’re doing something wrong, but don’t know quite how to get followers in your niche.

There’s a comment or two on each blog post, which is a start, but it’s hardly engagement. The share counters on each post only reflect the shares made to your company’s profiles.

It’s time to look at some common mistakes and how you can improve your blog and social media presence by fixing them through answering what, why, how, and when - and even a who.

1. Blog? What blog?

No matter what niche your blog is focused on, there will always be a topic or news piece to write about.

You want to show your expertise by writing blog posts about news in your niche, market trends, or other new products to impress potential clients and provide information. Have an opinion? That’s a perfect blog. For more on this see points #2 and #3.

With regular updates your website won’t look stagnant. This is the “what” part - the base foundation for social media, where your profiles will link back to.

2. Your blog is deserted

When” was the last time you posted on the company blog? A week ago? A month?

The top reason business owners don’t post, according to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Collat School of Business, is they are simply too busy. On top of being too busy, they are afraid that writing blogs will consume too much of their time.

But not posting means losing out on potential conversions from people who might see shared content.

In 2015, about 65% of adults had a social media account. That number jumps to 90 percent for adults ages 18-29. Still not convinced? Last year, companies that used social media frequently had 434% more indexed pages with Google than those that didn’t.

More indexed pages with relevant, insightful information means it’s easier to find your company in a Google search. This is “why” you should post.

3. Pareto “who?”

Have you heard about my new product? Or this service I offer? Here’s a news piece on my product or service!

If you post often, but it’s all self-promotional, you are doing more harm than good, and likely driving readers away.

That’s where following Pareto’s Principle of 80/20 comes in. Though used in many contexts, in social media it means that 80% of your content should not be promotional. The content instead should engage your audience, invite comments, and encourage sharing, which further spreads your company’s name.

Let’s look at some real-world examples.

Imagine you run the blog and social media for a small real estate office. The Facebook account is just link after link to new house and apartment listings. You’re lucky to have some clients like your page. Your Twitter is just a few photos of house fronts, and there’s no retweets.

How can you fix your miserable customer engagement?

Link to valuable content that your readers will care about. In the real estate niche, for example, it could be a custom moving checklist and calendar or a visual guide to what fits in a storage unit. Both could be used by someone moving out of their home. Post something interesting or something they can learn from. If they learn something they are more likely to share it with their friends. Neither of those posts are self-promotional - they are simply information. SEO giant Moz calls this the “BuzzFeed Approach.

Here’s another real-world example, this time from a major corporation: The Intel Instagram account posts images of custom computer cases their users have built, rather than just boring images of their chipsets.

The key in all of these examples is relating to your niche. While the cases have an Intel chipset in them, it’s not a direct promotion of the product. Their users see the cool case, and are inspired to build their own, using an Intel chipset so that they, too, can be featured on the Instagram. This works as an indirect promotion, encouraging engagement.

Going back to the Pareto principle, you still have the remaining 20% of posts. In those, you can directly promote your product, service, coupon, or event. Use these posts to link to other parts of your site and help increase search engine optimization.

4. Writer’s block

You sit down to write a blog post with only a vague idea of what to write. Maybe you have a funny quote that is easy to share that relates to your company or niche. But you want something more.

What” do the people who follow your page already like to share?

Rand Fishkin from Moz suggests using social media to research customer needs or profiles, which in turn fuels ideas for more content creation and thus conversion. Researching customers can reveal patterns. Trends might include the majority following a certain group, such as certain media outlets. This can be used to leverage content catered towards that group, who are then more likely to respond or share the content.

When someone shares out the content, their friend - who likely has the same interests - sees that content, and shares it out in turn.

5. Videos and text and infographics, oh my!

You are starting to answer some questions about blogging, but what about the “how?

Know the type of web content - multimedia, not topic - your audience wants. Is a text post the best? Photo essay? YouTube video? Infographic? The key is finding what works.

You can again do research into your current customers to see what attracts them. What are your competitors doing that is successful? Take their idea, improve upon their content, and watch the readership roll in.

Using another major company as a successful example, Red Bull viewers mostly enjoy images and video of extreme sports, like this post that combines surfing, zip lining, and BASE jumping. It’s fun, goofy, extreme and, most importantly, it’s a video instead of an image, which would not capture the audience nearly as well if they couldn’t see the craziness in all its glory. That post alone has nearly a million views and more than 5,000 comments as of this writing - and the video doesn’t even have the Red Bull logo in it.

6. Timing is everything 

Finally, a different answer to “when.

According to social media guru Neil Patel’s research, specific times for posting content to specific platforms results in more shares and higher traffic to your site.

Fortune 500 companies posting videos on Instagram during working hours - using local time zones - saw an average of 22.5 per 1000 followers interacting with the videos. Unsurprisingly, posting content after working hours saw an increase to 33.4.

People are often more active on social media at home than at work.

Let’s look at a specific niche: fashion. A clothing-related pin on Pinterest has the best engagement around 3 p.m. on Fridays - before their weekend begins, but enough time to plan what they are wearing for their date that night, and often with their newly deposited paycheck.

In a broader view, nearly all industries see higher shares and comments on Facebook posts when posted near the end of the week - and, given those examples, the reasons why should be obvious.

Patel followed his own advice, timing posts to his blog. He saw a 39 percent increase in traffic to his website.

There are programs, like Buffer or Hootsuite, that allow you to time your posts, creating a schedule for automatically posting at a designated time.

Answering what, when, why, how - and even a who - can radically improve your social media presence.

You’ll earn plenty of followers, each eagerly awaiting your next quality post where they can learn something about your niche - even, occasionally, about your services or product.

They’ll be more likely to comment on blogs with their opinions, take part in fun contests, and help you grow your business.

About the Author

This article is contributed by Cole Mayer. A former professional journalist covering crime, court and fire stories, Cole spends his free time freelance writing, playing video games, and slowly writing a crime novel. He lurks on Twitter.