A few months ago, I began delving into the world of social media, and thus far it has been an interesting journey. Before sharing my insights, I should begin by saying that I am writing this article from a beginner’s perspective, and I still have much to learn; my opinions and insights are also coming from an educator’s perspective and may change with time. I should also include that so far I haven’t really pursued paid advertising – I am pretty much relying on organic searches, where people type what they are looking for into the search bar and the search engine presents results that are based on their relevance to the search terms. These are called organic search results because they are based on natural rankings determined by search engines, versus non-organic search results that include paid advertising. Below are some insights from my social media marketing journey.
1. Pinterest: As an educator, I would say this is the go-to place to begin advertising your blog or educational products. Pinterest provides a very welcoming and safe space and their analytics tools are extremely user-friendly; so far it is where I have had the most success. Things I have learned during the process:
a) Aesthetics is Everything: Use templates from Canva or a similar site when you are starting out – my initial designs were of my own creation, and let’s just say they didn’t go over very well. It took me about 3 or 4 attempts to get my designs just right, and I am now seeing the number of my pins saved go up and my followers increasing. Exact same content, but a different look made all the difference.
b) Follow Others and Save Quality Pins on your Boards: Pinterest works on the basis of social interaction – the I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine concept.
c) Design Appealing Board Covers: Apparently board covers play a big role in whether or not people will follow you, so make sure they are attractive and cohesive.
d) Hashtags: Am still confused on this one, some sites say yes use them, others say don’t. To be safe I limit each post to 3 or 4 hashtags. Using them hasn’t appeared to hurt me so far.
e) Re-pinning Your Posts: To me this seems like cheating, but apparently this is part of the strategy. Pins are only on top for a certain amount of time before sliding to the bottom. I plan to explore Tailwind, a company that offers scheduling, marketing, and analytics tools, because they can help with this strategy of re-pinning. Another strategy is to post at certain times of the day to attract more saves, something else Tailwind can facilitate.
2. Instagram: Instagram has been my second most successful social-media venture, and oddly enough, it was the one I was most hesitant to use. Here are the lessons I have learned:
a) Images & Quotes: An eye-catching image with a catchy quote has worked best for me, and using a pre-made Canva template is a must. You literally have an instant to make an impression and prompt a person to engage with a like or a follow.
b) The Crowd is Fickle: I tend to lose and gain followers on a daily basis, although thankfully the number of followers increases more frequently than it decreases. I haven’t quite nailed the reason why….
c) Timing Your Posts: Play around to find your majority of followers’ time-zones – the goal is to get as many instant likes as you can, as fast as you can; otherwise your posts stop being shared.
d) Hashtags: Use as many as allowed, and always vary them. This hasn’t happened to me yet, but I have read that if you continuously use the same ones, you can be perceived as spam and shadow-banned.
e) Engage With Others: Like Pinterest, the more you like and follow others, the more likes and followers you get in return. Response time is also a huge factor; if someone likes your post and leaves a comment, respond promptly.
3. Facebook: This has been my latest venture and to date it seems easy enough and the analytics tools are very helpful. The concept here is to have others like your page and like your posts. Facebook encourages you to invite all of your friends to like your page regardless of their interests, and from what I have seen so far, the more popular you are, the more your posts will be promoted. Other tips I have learned:
a) Aesthetics: Again, image is everything – I have been using Canva templates for these posts as well.
b) Invite Your Friends: Initially, I was hesitant about possibly annoying people with this request, but it’s part of what makes Facebook work, so go for it. If people aren’t into it, they simple won’t join.
c) Paid Advertising: I have played around with this. Three dollars to promote a post for three days seemed like an amount I was willing to lose if it didn’t work. It does work. It’s an easy way to generate likes and visits to your site. Again, the more likes you get, the more your post is promoted – a win-win. Plus paid advertising lets you generate leads in different countries, and you can play around with customizing your audience and demographics.
d) Hashtags: Like Pinterest, I have read conflicting reports about the use of hashtags. To err on the side of caution, I throw a few in. I figure it can’t hurt if I don’t go overboard.
4. Twitter: Twitter has been tough to crack. I have followed others, liked others, posted tweeted similar to ones that engaged visitors on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook, but these tweets have yet to be accepted. It appears as though there is a tight-knit group of long-time Twitter users – an old-school club of sorts that is difficult to break into if you weren’t there to begin with. I may have it totally wrong – I continue to strategize and learn, post Tweets at different times, play with different designs and hashtags, and I will try to figure it out.
5. Tumblr and Google+: I know through Google Analytics that I am generating solid leads with these two accounts, so I keep at it; however, it seems trickier to get likes and follows with both. I am still a newcomer on the block, so to speak, so I will see where both accounts go. I have read that it can take 5 to 6 months for either to kick in.
My last tips are general ones:
a) Each Crowd of Users is Different: A design and caption you use on one social media account may not work on another. Look at other popular posts for ideas. Basically, get to know your audience.
b) Hashtags & Captions: The hashtags and captions you provide for each social media post on your various accounts need to differ. For example, a longer description on Pinterest seems to attract more visits to my site, whereas shorter simpler ones on Instagram seem to work better. Some social media platforms suggest which hashtags to use, others don’t. Use the ones that are suggested.
c) Font Pairings: Familiarize yourself with font pairings – when designing your posts this plays a huge role in aesthetics!
d) Image Sizes: Be sure to research current recommended images sizes for each social media account - they tend to change.
Have you begun a social media journey? Any tips you would like to share are welcome – we can all learn from each other!