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Optimal Posting Practices for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn in 2021

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While social media has played a significant role in our communications landscape for the last decade, many organizations still struggle to understand the best practices, and effective versus non-effective approaches on the various social channels.

I mean, it can be complex. The platforms and their algorithms are always changing, and it can be difficult to keep up with the various best practices and shifts. But the fundamentals of each platform generally remain unchanged, and can be a solid starting point for your respective strategy.

So as a quick overview, here are some current best practice notes for three of the major social platforms, which could help to better inform your approach, in order to maximize performance in 2021.

Facebook

First up is Zuckerberg’s big blue beast, the most-used social media platform in the world, which provides you with the widest potential reach and distribution for your messaging. If you can get it right.

Facebook may be the most difficult to master because it’s hard to be prescriptive with Facebook posting advice. A lot of what works best is reliant on audience knowledge and intuition, ‘reading the room’, as it may be, to determine what will generate the best response.

The basis of Facebook’s News Feed algorithm, which defines how far and wide your posts reach, is underpinned by these key elements:

  • Who posted it? – How often a user engages with a profile or person plays a role in determining reach. So if you regularly Like or comment on posts from a Page, you’ll see more of its posts, while if someone you regularly interact with shares a link, you’ll also be more likely to see it.
  • When was it posted? – Timeliness remains a factor in Facebook’s News Feed, so initial post response will also play a role in determining reach. That means you need to grab attention among the people who initially see it, which is why you need to understand when your audience is online (through your analytics) and what they’re likely to engage with.
  • How likely each user will engage with it – Facebook also works to determine what each users’ engagement habits are, and will optimize its algorithm to maximize their specific behaviors. As per Facebook: “For any given story, we predict how likely you might be to comment on that story, or to share that story”. Facebook will also estimate how long it thinks users might watch a video for, or read an article, as further indicators of likely engagement.

Basically, Facebook wants to keep you active on Facebook for as long as possible, so the more you’re commenting and engaging – or undertaking activities that keep you, specifically, in-app – the more it can use those cues to feed you more of the same.

Those are the technical considerations, but what really gets people on Facebook engaging?

Trending news is (somewhat concerningly) now the most shared content type on Facebook, but outside of that, various studies have shown that the posts which perform best on The Social Network are those that trigger an emotional response, prompting users to Like, comment or share with their friends.

Back in 2019, Buffer analyzed more than 777 million Facebook posts from Pages and found that the posts which saw the most engagement, and subsequent reach, were either inspirational, funny, or practical.

Of course, aiming for these elements is one thing, actually creating a universally humorous, on-brand post is another thing altogether, but the main point is that you need to trigger emotional reaction. What will get users engaging with this content?

That, unfortunately, is also what’s lead to more polarizing news coverage. News outlets will get more clicks by being divisive, and prompting debate, than they will via balanced reporting. It’s also how US President Donald Trump has dominated Facebook – Trump’s approach is entirely divisive, focused on emotional response, and designed to trigger people who see his updates. Truth can become relative in such campaigns, which is why Facebook can be a dangerous platform as well. But the bottom line, overall, is sparking emotional response.

BuzzSumo identified these post types as key engagement drivers in their 2017 study of two billion Facebook posts:

  • Practical Hacks
  • Inspirational content
  • Food and recipes
  • Cute animals
  • Music videos
  • Quizzes
  • Travel and Adventure

Not all of those post types will apply to your approach, but it provides some further context on what works best.

In terms of specific posting guidelines, shorter text descriptions generally work better, with research showing that the optimal length for a Facebook post is 25 to 55 characters. That’s not definitive, but part of the logic here is that posts of more than 80 characters are auto-truncated in the mobile app (giving you that ‘See more’ prompt at the end of the initial text), which can subsequently decrease engagement.

Video is the best performing post type, with live video seeing the most engagement, while posts with images do better than straight text.

Also worth noting – when you add a link into the Facebook post composer, it will automatically generate a link preview, using the header image you’ve added to your post on your site. You can then delete the link from the text, and the preview will remain, which can be better for driving traffic (as your whole image is now clickable).

Also, while Facebook has more recently put increased emphasis on hashtags, the jury is still out on their effectiveness. It may be worth experimenting, but there’s no clear best practice on Facebook tags.

Posting frequency depends on your audience, but Facebook has previously advised that Pages should not be overly-concerned about over-posting, as the News Feed algorithm will limit exposure from individual Pages. That’s not guaranteed, and you could still annoy those who’ve chosen to specifically follow your Page. But as a guide, there’s no definitive impact to posting more often.

Twitter

Twitter is all about short-sharp messaging – a couple of hashtags, and away you go, right?

Not necessarily. In fact, more recently, Twitter has been advising brands against the use of hashtags, as it can distract from your focus goal – i.e. getting people to click on your links. If you’re adding hashtags, that’s more things for people to potentially tap through on, and you really only want them focused on one CTA. So maybe, no hashtags is the answer, dependent on your goals.

If you are looking to tap into trending discussions via tags, then you need to research the hashtags relevant to the discussion (apps like Hashtagify can help), and ensure you add capital letters into your tags for clarity (e.g. #WednesdayWisdom). This also ensures screen readers can better communicate the relevant tags for vision-impaired users.

Twitter’s algorithm is less sophisticated, and influential, than Facebook’s, which is why organizations have traditionally relied on hashtags to increase their reach, especially when starting out. It can be hard to get that initial following required to then boost your tweet distribution, but engaging with other profiles within your niche, either by following or replying, will help early on. You can also look to engage in relevant Twitter chats, and partner with leaders in your industry to boost initial awareness.

In terms of tweet content, Twitter adheres to a ‘three C’s’ approach for optimal tweeting:

  • Concise
  • Clear
  • Conversational

You’ve only got 280 characters, so you need to be concise, but it’s important to also be clear, and to look to prompt discussion among your audience.

In terms of content formats, tweets with video see the most engagement, followed by tweets with GIFs, photos than plain text.

Also, when you add a link to a tweet, if you put your link right at the end of your text, and your website has Twitter cards enabled, it will automatically generate a link preview and remove the link text from your tweet, giving you a broader link click area in your message.

The tweet stream moves fast, so frequency has generally been considered less of a concern on the platform, but this will be informed by your audience and how much you have to share. You can use apps like Tweriod or Followerwonk to get insights into when your followers are active, and use that as a guide as to when to post, relative to the amount of updates you’re looking to share.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the professional social network, where business folk go to learn about the latest happenings in their industry, and career developments among current and former colleagues. And while you’ve likely seen an increasing number of Facebook-like posts on LinkedIn, some of which end up seeing big engagement, that’s probably not the approach you want to take for a business or organizational account.

LinkedIn posts can be a little longer than on Facebook and Twitter, but it is again worth noting that your LinkedIn post will be cut off at 140 characters in the mobile app. As such, shorter is likely better, but LinkedIn’s audience is a little more ready to read longer updates, if they’re relevant.

Hashtags are now also a bigger deal on LinkedIn. Over the past couple of years, LinkedIn has been working to increase the usage of hashtags on posts as a means to better categorize content, and highlight relevant posts to each user. There’s no definitive, optimal number of tags per post, but a couple of the most relevant tags may help with distribution, without impacting readability.

Focusing on professional and industry development will likely see better response – though as noted, there are a number of light-hearted, comedic type posts that have also done well. How you approach this will come down to your own branding approach, and how you want your organization to be seen – and also what types of people you want responding to your updates.

‘But reaching more people is better, right?’ Yes, casting a wider net will mean getting your message in front of more potentially interested users, but where you draw the line on such will come down to your own brand guidelines. It is possible to get good response from an inspirational story or update, but that may not be as closely related to your overall branding and approach.

LinkedIn users are 20x more likely to share a video on the platform than any other type of post, with again, image posts coming second ahead of plain text, so it’s worth considering your posting practices. Like Facebook, LinkedIn will also generate clickable link previews when you add a link into your post text in the composer, which will remain even if you delete the link text, which can make your updates look cleaner.

LinkedIn’s algorithm is a bit more unpredictable than others, with some older updates re-surfacing weeks behind time, which can relate to posting frequency. Posting more than twice a day could be too much, but relevant content will still work, if you have a steady stream of updates.

More recent additions like LinkedIn Stories and polls can also help foster engagement, though Stories seems like less of a focus in its initial stages. Also, you can now attach documents to your LinkedIn posts, and they’ll generate as preview images, which means you can also create organic, swipeable carousels within LinkedIn posts by adding PDF documents that are visually focused. Another option to consider.

Engaging with the comments is also key – if people respond to your post, respond to them to help foster community engagement.

These are generally the key platforms that organizations start with on social, before considering Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, etc. Instagram is also hugely popular, but at a basic, general level, these are the key platforms you’re likely looking at, and seeking to master to build your core social presence.

Hopefully these tips provide some guidance.

Socialmediatoday.com

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The Drum | What Does The Growth Of Little Red Book Mean For Post-pandemic China?

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The Drum | What Does The Growth Of Little Red Book Mean For Post-pandemic China?

The shopping app proves that consumer confidence and community are key to a thriving business post-Covid, writes Michaela Zhu of Emerging Communications.

Little Red Book, aka Xiaohongshu, or more simply ‘Red’, is a leading Chinese social shopping app. With over 300 million users (and counting), western brands are taking notice – and with good reason.

Little Red Book first appeared in 2013. From modest beginnings focussing on female beauty products, the app expanded to help all kinds of global brands connect with Chinese consumers. Whether it’s holiday inspiration, university choices or luxury fashion, Little Red Book is now the go-to app for lifestyle content and shopping.

With a unique mix of social sharing, long-form articles, live-streaming and e-commerce, it’s a vital part of the Chinese social media landscape. What’s more: Little Red Book is the place for interacting with Chinese gen Z and millennial audiences. In July 2022, nearly 30% of Little Red Book’s active users were under 24 years. Another 40% of users fall into the 25-35 age bracket.

Discover how Little Red Book has transformed over the last few years, key trends, and how to integrate them into your China digital strategy.

How Little Red Book is changing post-Covid China

By 2019, Little Red Book attracted over 200 million users. Fast forward nearly four years, and the platform has maintained its grip on affluent Chinese consumers. It’s one of the few social media platforms where growth still exceeds 30% year-on-year. Little Red Book is here to stay, and in a big way.

This user growth has brought significant changes in content, especially as Chinese consumers adapt to post-pandemic life. Gone are the days when Little Red Book catered exclusively to beauty and fashion niches. Instead, people use the platform to make significant life decisions as well as day-to-day purchases. With content on entering high school, getting married and buying property (to name just a few), you’ll find almost every aspect of daily life up for discussion.

While the relaxing of Covid restrictions has brought drastic changes alongside feelings of liberation, there’s understandable uncertainty among Chinese Gen Z. Long-term lockdown life caused younger generations to pay close attention to their immediate environment. There’s a focus on simplifying their lives and recycling items, as well as yearning for distant places and global cuisines.

A related trend for Little Red Book is the growing Chinese travel industry. Unsurprisingly, the recent easing of travel restrictions resulted in a travel bonanza. For example, two billion trips are expected during this Lunar New Year period. These figures are nearly double the previous year’s and represent a 70% recovery on 2019 levels.

China branding: two essential trends

For content marketing in China, there are two major Little Red Book trends that any marketer needs to know. These are the recent surge in travel-related content and the shift toward new minimalism and ‘rational consumption’.

1. Exploring opportunities for the travel sector

With China’s international borders reopening, travel is no longer a far-away dream. Many Chinese visited their nation’s most popular cities during the pandemic years. Others opted for secluded opulence, spawning the growth of glamping as a trend. Indeed, this luxury camping culture saw ‘glamping’ searches on Little Red book increase by 746% during 2022.

In 2023, foreign countries are also a possibility. As a result, nearby destinations such as Tibet and Southeast Asia predict a strong rebound in the coming months.

Global brands such as Marriott Bonvoy are already capitalizing on these trends, hitting the mark with their China marketing campaigns. For instance, the 2021 Power of Travel campaign used 10 Chinese key opinion leaders to show how travel inspired their lives.

With influencers including Chinese gen Z creatives, families and business executives – the brand showed their relevance to the China market as well as inspiration for rediscovering ourselves through post-Covid travel.

2. Embracing minimalist and rational consumption

In the aftermath of an unprecedented pandemic and global economic downturns, people all over the world are simplifying and streamlining their daily lives.

China is no different, and its younger population has particularly embraced a minimalist mindset. This doesn’t mean stopping purchases completely, but instead shows a shift towards ‘rational consumption’.

Young people are especially shunning impulse purchase decisions, resulting in a decline in ‘hard selling’ and live broadcast sales events. This trend has worked in Little Red Book’s favor due to the platform’s focus on in-depth consumer reviews and trusted user-generated content. Put simply, it’s all about building confidence and community before purchases take place.

For more in-depth insights into Chinese social media trends, download our guide to getting started with Little Red Book.

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8 Core Disciplines for a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy [Infographic]

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8 Core Disciplines for a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy [Infographic]

Are you looking to create an effective social media marketing strategy? Want to learn the core disciplines you need to pay attention to?

The team from MDG Advertising share their social media tips in this infographic.

They break things down as follows:

  • Strategy
  • Auditing
  • Technology
  • Paid media
  • Content development
  • Customer response
  • Compliance and risk assessment
  • Measurement

Check out the infographic for more detail.

A version of this post was first published on the Red Website Design blog.

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Five Ways To Make Your Startup Stand Out From The Competition

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Five Ways To Make Your Startup Stand Out From The Competition

Making your business stand out from others in a crowded marketplace is key to its success. High-quality products and services, a smart pricing strategy, and effective marketing are just the basics. The most successful entrepreneurs have a few extra tricks that separate their business from the rest of the pack.

Tell a strong story

Businesses need to do two things to succeed; be relevant and distinctive. As Steven Hess, founding partner at WhiteCap, explains, doing one without the other will lead to failure. “Being relevant on its own leads to a focus on price and an inevitable sublimation into the sea of sameness, and customers will not look for you,” he says. “Being distinctive without solving a problem leads to gimmickry and longer-term weakness. You have to do both, and one way of uniting the two is with a strong story.”

This could focus on the founder’s story, what led them to set out on their business journey, how they identified the problem they are solving, and how they are solving it uniquely. Stories can also be drawn from customers; how are they using your products or services? What problem does it solve for them?

“You also need to look at how your competitors are presenting themselves and then present yourself in the opposite way,” says Hess. “This will feel uncomfortable, and most businesses fail at this point. Why do ads for cars, financial services, estate agents, etc., look the same? It’s because most of us don’t want to stand out. We’re afraid to fail and be seen to fail. But if we are not being seen, being distinctive and solving a real problem, we’ve already failed.”

Focus your messaging on customer needs

A company’s messaging has to be focused on its potential customer’s biggest wants and needs. It should clarify what people will get if they buy from you, what transformation they will see, and how they will feel afterward. “Most importantly, it should communicate what people will miss out on if they don’t buy from your startup,” says business growth consultant Charlie Day. “When you shift your messaging from simply trying to grow a business and make money to focusing on your customer’s biggest wants and needs, the sales and growth will come, and it will set you apart from others.”

Target an underrepresented audience

This can be a powerful way for startups to stand out. “By focusing on a group that larger companies often overlook, they can differentiate themselves and appeal to a unique and untapped market,” says Vladislav Podolyako, founder and CEO of Folderly. “And by providing solutions to the specific needs and challenges of this audience, startups can establish a strong reputation and build a loyal customer base.”

For example, a fitness startup targeting older adults can stand out by offering specialized classes, products, or resources. By providing solutions to the physical limitations of older adults, the startup can differentiate itself from other companies, address the unique fitness challenges faced by older adults, and build a loyal customer base.

However, as Podolyako points out, this strategy must be carefully thought out. He says: “The startup may be associated with an older audience only, so you should work with PR agencies to get the positioning right and potentially think about creating a sub-brand.”

Differentiate your social media strategy

A unique voice and communication style will make you stand out on social media. However, it’s not just what you say but what you do that makes the difference. “If everyone is offering ‘how to’ tips on LinkedIn, create some short form behind-the-scenes videos. If everyone is doing special offers on Facebook, publish some tip-based stories,” says Catherine Warrilow, managing director of Daysout.com. “Make yourself accessible for customer support on the social media channels used by your audience, for example, via What’s App or Messenger.”

Respond promptly to customer calls

Making it easy for customers to contact you and get a response is vital for customer engagement and retention. Yet, businesses are surprisingly poor at answering their phones, listing phone numbers on their websites, and responding to voicemails. It’s a massive turn-off for customers, as a survey by global communications company Moneypenny revealed, with unanswered phone calls topping the list of consumer gripes, cited by 43% of respondents, followed by annoying hold music (35%).

Joanna Swash, Group CEO of Moneypenny, says: “Customers use the phone when they have an urgent or sensitive issue to discuss, so companies cannot afford to provide a poor call experience; business will be taken elsewhere. By mastering the art of call handling, businesses can keep their customers happy and loyal and boost the bottom line in the process.”

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