Ok, let’s be honest. Most of us use social media at least once a day. Many of us use it a few times every hour even! Did you know you didn’t have much of a chance resisting apps like Facebook, Pinterest and others once you started using them? It wasn’t your fault though. You didn’t know that an actual addiction was developing. Yeah, you heard that correctly, an addiction!
Whether intentionally designed or not, many social media apps actually cause an habitual addiction to occur. These apps are habit forming in our brains. They use external triggers like an email, a “Like”, or new followers to trigger an internal response or an actions from us. That action has a reward of some type for us internally which creates a greater commitment to it. These rewards cause actual chemical reactions in our brain which affect our response to them. Over time, as more and more rewards occur, we habitually begin looking for those external responses and start checking those apps or interacting with them in order to receive the reward. Very “Pavlovian” in it’s design, we press the bar, we get a treat.
Now, its obviously not like a drug that you can’t escape, but you begin questioning how you could ever live without that app. How could you ever do business without it? How could you ever keep up with you friends? These apps are habit forming over time. If you are checking these apps daily, challenge yourself to go a full week without even peeking to see if you don’t go a little crazy wanting to check in. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t make it that long myself.
Over the past couple of years of really diving into social media, I’ve learned an advanced technique to really increase followers and drive traffic. We all know that you have to create good content to attract people to your website or blog. Driving people to your site is also a common goal and social media is playing a bigger part in that these days. Organizations that use social media effectively see about 30% of their total web traffic come from social media efforts. For sites that don’t rank well in search engines, social media traffic can be as high as 50-75% of all traffic.
Most big social media consultants show that it is best to post Tweets and FB posts between 20-30 times a day. That seems really hard to accomplish. I usually manage to get out about 7 on a day when I don’t have any new blogs, but around 15 on a day when I do.
Why so often? Here are the top reasons you should post to social media sites like Twitter 20 times a day.
- Your followers are not in the same timezone. One of the things I learned quickly when blogging is that people around the world can read the blog. Australia may be reading this blog at noon, but its 3 in the morning here. The West coast isn’t even awake if you only Tweet your new blog post first thing in the morning on the East coast. Those Tweets just become buried.
- Rise out of the noise. Odds are your followers follow a lot of other people. Unless they have you on their watch lists, they may never see your post because it is pushed down by other Tweets.
- Repetition is a staple of education. Just because someone spots your post, it doesn’t mean they have the time to pay attention to it then or even follow what you are trying to say. Repetition can help that.
You can post many times across the course of the day, even at 3:00 am and not actually be at your computer. Both Bufferapp.com and Tweetdeck.com can help you schedule your Tweets and Facebook posts. A great thing is they are both free. So you can schedule multiple tweets across the course of the day when you finish writing that new blog entry.
So what are some good practices for scheduling Twitter and Facebook posts?
- Post at the best times possible. You want to post when your visitors are getting into work, just before they get back from lunch and when they go home. These seem to be when people check their personal boards the most.
- Post for international audience. There are a lot of English speaking nations in the world. You can drive traffic from almost any point in the globe. Target countries like the UK and Australia if your site is only in English.
- Test post at weird times. Most people know to post at the best times, so try weird times as well to see if it drives new traffic. Keep playing around with posting times to determine when the best times are for your audience.
- Post at least 4 times on the same topic. If you have a number of international followers, you should increase this number to match their time zones.
- Change the wording of your post each time. Nobody wants to see the same post over and over. You also need to find wording that works well for your audience that drives them to click through. This is a good opportunity to test different tones, calls to action and phrasing to drive traffic.
So how often should you tweet? Of course it depends on your goals. If you just want a bunch of meaningless followers, just tweet as often as you can using the trending topic hashtags provided by twitter. This will bump you up really fast, but it won’t do anything for you unless you just want numbers.
For a business, church, ministry or consultant, it’s about having meaningful followers that actually want to know what you have to say. You want to be able to educate or at least entertain your audience. You also want to be able to interact with them. Obviously this can take up a ton of time for anyone. It’s easy to get sucked into Twitter for several hours at a time. Now, if managing Twitter is your full time job, then great, but most companies haven’t hired full timers yet.
Because I plan on tweeting about very particular topics, and I don’t have hours to spend on Twitter, I have found some respected bloggers in my field which I autopost their blog entries. I have found that my followers don’t mind getting this information this way. I’m basically acting as a filter for content which they like. I prefer to use Buffer for content I find while browsing around and Twitterfeed for automated posting of content. On a side note, always give credit to the blogger to their Twitter account by mentioning them as a courtesy.
So how often should you post tweets? There have been some good studies on that done by Hubspot which recommend around 20 – 30 a day. I’m finding this to be true as well for the various Twitter accounts I manage as well.
Remember though that you want to create value by
- Educating – give them something relevant. Don’t sell them on something. When you are ready to sell them something, your followers will be more open to your offer.
- Entertaining – unless you are a comedian, famous or provocative, this is a lot harder to do. For instance, I’m pretty boring to talk with and read, so I stay away from it. But let your personality come through if you have one.
- Driving traffic – drive traffic to your site whenever possible. This your main point of using twitter in the first place wasn’t it? If you are educating or entertaining, then this one should be easy to accomplish.
You know that feeling you get when you pick up the phone to call your cable or phone company? You’d almost prefer to go to the dentist I bet! Its easy to get frustrated with those automated systems, especially the new “voice recognition” ones that I find myself pressing lots of random numbers in the fruitless hope that I will inadvertently shut down the entire thing. Alas, none of that works, but we’ve all tried anyway haven’t we? If we could just reach through that phone line to a competent individual, we’d be much more likely to behave when we do find a person.
The problem is that we are not in control. We have no voice. We are not even being heard and no one is listening. Historically, companies have never listened to us. This is one of the main drivers behind #occupywallst. Companies have always broadcast their message to us through the tv, radio, mail, magazines and ads anywhere they could stick them, including our childrens clothes, our video games, movies and even our phones.
The real power in social media is that it gives everyone a voice, even if that voice is sometimes wrong. There is no single person behind social media. It is group chaos at best. But one voice can influence and direct big chunks of the whole thing. It’s kind of like a flock of birds. One bird decides to change direction slightly and at first one or two may follow, but then the entire flock goes along, all within a few milli-seconds of each other.
The question on every corporate marketer and government leader mind today is, how do you control this flock that loves you one moment and is ready to tear down everything the next? There is no answer to that question of course, as long as people have free will, but we can strive to be influencers of the flock.
So what is an influencer?
- Trustworthy. They are a trusted source of information with original thoughts and aren’t just retweeting stuff other people say.
- Thought Leader. Has a loyal following of readers. The type that actually interact and react to what you say and aren’t just followers because it’s cool.
- Has Impact. Can impact other influencers that amplify your words and ideas far beyond your own audience.
- Interactive. They regularly interact with their followers. Interacting in real-time is extremely important these days.
- Goes to the audience. They use the the same tools (usually Twitter, Facebook, Google+) as the crowd. It may not always be the sites you are used to. It may be private communities or bulletin boards.
Can you claim being an influencer? Actually everyone is an influencer, it just depends on how far your influence goes. If you want to influence this generation or the next, if you want the flock to follow your lead, it is something earned with hard work. There are rarely any shortcuts.
For you pastors out there, it means getting out from behind the pulpit. For you business leaders, it means being honest and actually interacting with your customers for the first time. Finally, for you parents, it means being courageous role models your kids can look up to and emulate. On a side note, if you want to see how influential a person is online and whether they meet the above criteria or not, check them out on klout.com.
Most companies are hiring social media staff and consultants these days. Having been involved in social media now for the last three years, as well as hiring both consultants and staff, I have some definate recommendations so that you can get more than you hoped for.
- Check their following. Whether you are hiring an individual, a contractor or a company, check out the number of followers they have. Unless they can show they’ve at least attracted 1000 followers either on twitter or on Facebook, ignore them. They haven’t played enough with social media to know how to effectively use it. The best will have over 10,000 followers, but they’ll be more expensive of course.
- Make sure they do the work themselves. This applies mostly to hiring individuals and consultants. You can throw a rock across the streets these days and hit a social media consultant, but most of them only understand it at a strategic level and then usually only because there is so much material on social media. Find those people who have actually built their own followings and not merely managed others.
- They need to be creative and analytical. If they’ve never used tools to measure the impact of their followers on a business, then they don’t know how to leverage their audience toward taking desirable actions.
- Are they connected? This is slightly tougher to analyze, but they need to be connected to and have influencing capabilities with other influencers. Even better is if those influencers are in your industry. It will help spread your message much further, much faster.
- Does their online personality match yours? This is very important because they will be a very visible part of your company. If their own tweets, Facebook posts and images don’t resonate with you, then anything they do for you will be a challenge. Unless they are a professional actor, it’s hard for people to fake a personality.
Hope this helps you in your search. These days you can no longer ignore social media if you want to grow your organization. This critical role is very important to get right.