Optimizing Content for Social Media

facebook2With the proliferation of smartphones, the arenas of social media and mobile shopping, or “m-commerce,” are hotter than ever. According to the Pew Research Center, 45% of adults in the United States own a smartphone.

Mobile technology is even more popular with Millennials, the demographic targeted by many marketers. Among Americans ages 18 to 29, a whopping 66% own a smartphone, the Pew Research Center reports. Within that same age group, 67% of cell phone owners use social networking sites via their mobile device. Of further note to marketers, Pew reports that smartphone ownership rates rise in relation to income levels.

Other recent studies have highlighted the growth of mobile shopping, including a report by Forrester that predicted 40% annual growth for m-commerce through 2016.

Given such statistics, it’s incumbent upon businesses to develop a social media strategy and then optimize their online content to keep it fresh, relevant and compelling for that target audience. Here’s how it’s done.

Focus on Facebook: When it comes to social media, Facebook’s closest competition isn’t even close. As of August 2012, 66% of online adults used Facebook, while 20% used LinkedIn and 16% were on Twitter, Pew reported. To maintain its popularity with businesses, Facebook has created a number of apps and services that facilitate electronic and m-commerce by targeting consumers, polling customers and providing insight into user engagement. For business pages, Facebook recommends posting brief anecdotes, questions or informational tidbits that relate to the brand but don’t mention it directly; the social networking site’s 2012 study of almost two dozen brands across six industries found that those kinds of posts drew the most engagement.

Leverage Visuals: Facebook estimates that posts that include a photo album generate 180% more engagement than those that don’t, while posts that include a picture generate 120% more engagement. Visual information is more likely to be retained than written or spoken details, particularly with social media users who are exploring a brand for the first time. A business’ social media pages should include design elements that reflect the target market’s values and aesthetic preferences. Visuals also allow for concision in written posts—particularly important on Twitter—and can broaden a brand’s international appeal.

Use Time Wisely: The data analytics firm KISSmetrics has tracked Facebook shares and Twitter posts in relation to the time of day they were sent. The findings have significant implications for every business that markets on these sites. Facebook “shares” peak about noon and 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST), with Saturday by far the best day to share. Twitter chirps the loudest about 5 p.m. EST. The number of posts is important, as well. On Twitter, sending one to four tweets an hour brings the highest click-through-rate; on Facebook, posting once every other day results in the best rate of page “likes.”

Ask and Answer: Dialogue is essential to brand recognition and identity, but many marketers overlook the conversational element of social networking. Brand loyalty is the result of established relationships between businesses and customers; in the absence of face-time, user comments, questions and concerns bridge the digital gap. Questions can be structured according to desired results; open-ended questions generate fewer but more substantive responses, while “yes or no” questions are useful for obtaining larger amounts of straightforward data. Also, the most successful businesses acknowledge all customer remarks with individualized responses.

In today’s digital age, businesses ignore the power and reach of social media at their own peril. Providing fresh and relevant content – and providing it in the format and forums favored by their customers – can bring optimal marketing results.

This guest post was provided by Dean Vella who writes for University Alliance on topics pertaining to the subjects of internet marketing and online social media courses.

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