Facebook isn’t the only social media platform you should be on

Believe it or not, I get asked to “post this on Facebook” more often than you’d think.

I’m not sure if the word “Facebook” has become synonymous with social media in that way that we now “Google” things or when we used to “Xerox” copies, but that question sometimes makes me wonder if people realize there’s an entire world of options out there besides the giant that is Facebook?

Let me backtrack before I get into those options: you absolutely should be on Facebook. No if’s, and’s or but’s about it! Facebook is the king of the proverbial social media jungle. It has the most users and may get you your biggest bang for your advertising buck. It’s not often I come across someone who doesn’t want to be on Facebook, but I meet resistance (or even blank stares) when mentioning the benefits of other platforms.

I strongly believe you don’t need to be on every social media platform. I previously talked about the positives and negatives of several social media networks, but need to go into detail about the pitfalls of only being visible on a single platform.

Competition

Facebook is the biggest of them all, but that also means you may have more competition. If you’re not a niche brand or product, you could easily get swept under the rug. Therefore, if Facebook is your only means of advertising, that isn’t good.

I always advocate leveraging social media to bring that potential audience back to your website. However, if you’re only broadcasting to a single pool of people, that also isn’t any good.

Audience

Oftentimes your Facebook page is going to begin with immediate friends and family who you invite to like your page. You have to cast your net a bit wider to find strangers. The best way to do that is jumping into services that cater to the general public.

Twitter is by and large the biggest platform to do so. While Instagram is growing, you cannot link back to your site within individual posts there (which also have to be anchored by posting a photo). On Twitter you can easily send out short, quick messages. As with any service there’s a caveat: tweets are limited to roughly 280 characters (pending photo attachments and links) plus Twitter is like a newswire in that the information is consumed as fast as it vanishes. (Almost instantly.)

While I made that comment about Instagram, the service links up nicely with Facebook (their owner) and can help you cross-promote to both your business page audiences.

Search

Facebook and Twitter posts rank high when using Google. There’s a strong possibility that your posts there on a particular topic will rank higher than your own website. (Note: that’s typical and nothing to be discouraged about.)

YouTube videos will always rank higher on Google than regular text posts. Since video is a hot medium and Google owns YouTube, it would behoove you to create a channel and post clips, if you have them. (As always, make sure you have links in your description!)

Pinterest and Google Plus can regularly show up high in web searches as well. While they may not have the same market penetration as the bigger sites, image searches routinely find pinned items on Pinterest boards or pull from a story posted to Google Plus. With Google’s 90% or more market share of web search, even a “ghost town” such as Google Plus (which has some dedicated users who refuse to use Facebook, etc.) has a positive benefit to sharing there.

Business-To-Business

Business professionals should be on LinkedIn, but should also be aware that some of the platform’s features are paid-only. The best way to leverage LinkedIn’s benefits is to keep your personal resume up-to-date. Business pages don’t get a lot of play in the general day-to-day use of LinkedIn, nor will you have much success cold-contacting individuals with sales pitches. (LinkedIn has been anti-spam for a while now.)

If you can dedicate the time, simply sharing your content to your personal profile or in community groups where it’s acceptable is the best avenue to using this service.

Conclusion

Finding what social media platforms work best for your social media marketing campaign can be a trial and error process. If you find that you’re not gaining traction on one service, give it some time and then try another.

The focus of this article was to get you thinking about more than Facebook. With Facebook’s fight against “fake news” and a recent privacy scare, they’re becoming a more difficult platform for businesses to effectively use without paying for the privilege.

Also, if you haven’t broken out beyond a “friends and family” audience, it’s time to start finding outsiders by using other services as part of your overall strategy. However, SEO benefits are the main reason you want to amplify your message to as many services you can comfortably, and consistently, keep updated.

Some of those circles may overlap, but in the end, you want to have your entire net cast as wide as possible: you never know when one of those paths will lead someone back to your business.

Why rushing to publish content isn’t advisable

In my line of work, I often see some dubious requests. Among those are to publish a blog post ASAP or worse yet, post several articles within a single day.

That wouldn’t be such a bad strategy for someone consistently producing content (think: newspaper). However, most of the clients I work with struggle to produce content even on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Often, they’ll have a productive day where they write a new article full of advice or several similar smaller posts.

The reaction is almost always the same:

Publish these ASAP!

I usually question the motive. Sometimes you may be in a line of work where deadlines necessitate such a move. The piece in question should be brought out into the public eye as soon as possible.

Most of the time that’s not the case. Rushing to publish something at 5 pm, when everyone is leaving work, isn’t going to get it in front of more eyeballs than if you wait until the morning. In fact, if this is shared on social media (especially if you have automation tools which post it to Facebook or Twitter as soon as its published) you’re more than likely doing yourself a disservice based on the volatility of social media. Tweets disappear almost instantly. Facebook posts scatter around the ether.

The advantage of posting now soon become a disadvantage.

The same can be said for the day of the week you post on. You need to know your audience. For example, business blogs should focus on publishing between Monday and Friday. However, posting Friday afternoon probably isn’t advisable either, as most businesspeople are wrapping up their week. Monday mornings could also have the same disadvantage though, depending on the medium you are broadcasting your new article, it may get more play through that afternoon and into the coming days of the week.

I also have to hold back some overzealous types from wanting to publish and/or post four blogs in a single day. There is no advantage to that and it could be even worse than an ill-advised sports article posting while that team’s fans are watching them play a game! (Okay, that might be the worst scenario, but bear with me.) Should you make multiple posts in a single day, you’re making those individual articles compete for attention with one another. Worse, if your homepage and/or blog only show the last X number of posts, where X is 2 and you post 3 new articles, that means the third blog won’t be visible on those pages.

Even your most hardcore readers may not see that additional post.

Ditto for social media. On a medium where you’re already competing for eyeballs with other people or businesses posting information, there’s a negative benefit to blowing through all of your content at once.

The final and the most obvious problem with rushing to publish content is making errors. A small typo may not be the end of the world, but factual information such as math, dates, times, etc. could make all of the difference between positioning yourself as an expert and looking like you don’t know your subject matter.

Therefore, the optimal strategy with producing any content is to be consistent. It’s one of my mantras, but it holds true. It’s better to have a small stack of ready-to-go content that you can publish as a steady stream to your audience than burn through all of it in one fell swoop. Organizing your efforts and spreading them out over time will reap greater rewards than a “now” mentality.

I have several tools which I like to use to plan out when my content is published. You can find this on my resources page. In addition, you’ll also find tools to help you post to social media more efficiently. You can always re-post to social media in the future. As long as you’re not spamming your audience they may even revisit your blog post or podcast which they started but didn’t finish, or they may refer it to a friend.

In that way, you can put your eggs in different baskets, save yourself some time and stress, and set forth on a successful content marketing campaign.

“Picture perfect” images and graphics on Social Media

If you’ve ever heard the idiom “A picture is worth a thousand words” there is no truer sense of the word when associated with content marketing. The last thing you want is an image that doesn’t properly fit on your blog or looks out of place on social media.

There’s no doubt about it: photos and images help your content marketing efforts get attention. Much more attention!

That’s why it’s important to make sure you not only have photos on your blog posts, but that they are properly formatted to avoid some of the problems commonly seen when you share your links on social media. I’ll give some examples of those issues below and how you can avoid them.

Cropping an image in Adobe Photoshop

The right image

Almost always, I try to avoid using any graphics with text on them. One of the chief reasons is that Facebook will charge you more when boosting your post… or worse, they will not allow you to use it as part of an advertising campaign.

Don’t ask me why, but that’s their rules. We have to play by them.

The other reason is to avoid having text “chopped off” when your link is shared. Therefore, you’ll notice that I refer to “photos” below, but this pertains to any graphic image. Less text is better: no text is best. Leave the typing to what you write in your blog or the description within your post.

Sample Blog Post

It all starts with your blog

If your image isn’t properly formatted on your blog, then it won’t be properly formatted on the various social media networks you may share it on.

For those of you using WordPress, Facebook will traditionally look for the first image in your blog posts and associate it when sharing. Ditto for other platforms such as Twitter and Google Plus.

Therefore, it’s imperative that image is formatted correctly. I’ve found that a landscape-oriented image with a size of 1024px by 512px is the optimal size when sharing your posts across platforms. Facebook can handle any square image so long as it’s at least 600px wide on one side, however, Twitter will crop square images, particularly on their mobile applications.

There are many imaging programs which will allow you to crop your photos to this specific size. One popular option is Adobe Photoshop, which is a commercial application. For those on a budget, you can try open source or free programs such as GIMP, XnView or Microsoft Paint (or its newest incarnation, Paint 3D).

There is also a plethora of smartphone apps which can do the same: a simple search should be able to show you which ones are available. From there, it’s just a matter of personal preference as to which one is more user friendly and fits your needs.

Once you have a 1024×512 image, its time to place the photo in your blog. For the 70% or more of you out there, chances are you’re using WordPress. That means you will have a featured image box from which to set the main graphic associated with your post.

That box is usually part of the sidebar and looks like this:

WordPress Featured Image Box

To help Facebook and Twitter know your featured image is the “main photo” to accompany your blog post, you can also install the Yoast SEO Plugin. Once activated simply double-check that Facebook Open Graph meta data and Twitter card meta data are both enabled under Yoast’s social settings section.

This is a one-time setting, so once you save the changes, all of your blog posts (past, present or future) will have those social meta tags included.

That’s it! Now you’re set to share your post. However, let’s look at what some of the downfalls of not using properly formatted images might look like.

Using small images

I probably see this more often than I should. With the advent of high definition computer and smartphone screens its as important as ever to not use tiny “postage stamp” sized images on your blog.

Or else, this is what will happen:

Sample Social Media Post

You will need images that have a good resolution but are not too big either. As you can see, this is far less eye-catching as when a properly formatted image is used:

Sample Social Media Post

(Note: while these examples are from Twitter this will appear similarly on Facebook too.)

Also keep in mind: bigger doesn’t always mean better.

The reason I recommend images sized 1024px in width is that embedding large images on your website will slow it down. When your page load speed decreases, your SEO will be penalized. It’s a careful balance as you want to be found by Google and look good on social media.

WordPress can only handle certain sized images internally too. If you upload an image that’s too big, it may get rejected or worse, crash your website. So be careful in making sure you format your images before uploading them to your blog.

Avoid Text

This post not only ignores the size of the image but also fails to consider text being cropped:

Sample Social Media Post

There’s no benefit to adding wording to your images if they are featured images for your blog. A post or banner added to a social media post promoting an event without a link, of course, is acceptable. It may still be governed by the same rules as sharing links, but in many cases an event flyer or poster is a necessary evil to share. (Just be aware of how cropped images could make your presence look less than professional.)

In any other situation you should attempt to put necessary text within the description of the social media post followed by the shared URL. In this way, your message won’t get truncated.

The Wrong Format

Nothing could be more embarrassing than having someone’s head chopped off in a photo:

Sample Social Media Post

While this may still happen on some devices even with the recommended 1024×512 image size, your chances are greater that it will not.

Therefore, heed my advice throughout this article in optimizing your images before putting them on your blog or sharing them on social media.

Getting started with: Facebook

Everyone knows what Facebook is. What they don’t know is that Facebook began tailoring their service for businesses years ago in an attempt to turn their free service into a profitable enterprise. This was done by allowing businesses to create a public Facebook presence known as a “page”.

You make remember this initially as a “fan page” where you were prompted to become a “fan” of the page. That has since transitioned to “liking” the page as the thumbs-up Facebook icon has become a known part of its branding.

Recently there has been pushback on Facebook for how its shared users’ private data, as well as the in-fighting between users. Regardless, Facebook has the largest active user base of all social media platforms, plus seamlessly ties into the uber-popular Instagram platform. (Note: in case you weren’t aware, Facebook owns Instagram, that’s why they’re so closely tied together.)

However, everyone has to start somewhere. Facebook is the best bet for getting the ball rolling on your content marketing efforts. If you already have a Facebook page, this is still a good article to review, in the event, you may have missed some information.

For those of you without a page, I will review the steps to creating a new one. Keep in mind, this guide is meant as a quick reference and to help clarify areas where Facebook’s documentation is vague (or written in an alien language).

With that in mind, I will keep this as short and simplified as possible, skipping over some of the more mundane step-by-step details you may find on another website.

Getting Started

So, what do you need to know in order to create a Facebook page?

Actually, not much.

Facebook has a very thorough page on getting started with the creation of a business page. Rather than regurgitate that same information here, I encourage you to go to Facebook’s own How To Set Up A Facebook Page and supplement their steps with the suggestions I have listed below.

Public vs. Private

The first thing to note is that you should never use a traditional Facebook profile for your business. Profiles are meant for you and me, individual persons, and typically have privacy settings which make it far less beneficial for your brand to use.

Likewise, we’ve all seen the awkward name, such as the first name “Pizza” last name “Hut” floating around Facebook. That’s an example of what not to do. (Note: Pizza Hut didn’t do this, I just used their brand name as an example.) You’ll also lose the benefits of boosting posts for paid ads and being listed as a public entity within Facebook’s search engine (as well as other SEO benefits) by trying to be a profile which acquires friends, rather than a page that gets likes.

If you went the wrong route there’s the added possibility that as your profile became more popular, Facebook would discover you’re not a real person and shut it down. Profiles also have a ceiling of around 5,000 friends which can connect with you.

Pages are limitless in the number of likes they can have. Therefore, create a page. Don’t create a profile.

Signing up

If you haven’t found out how to create a page yet, follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/creation/

The steps are fairly straightforward, but if you’re pressed for time, you may want to gather a few materials prior to starting the signup process. This will help you fill out vital details faster.

  • Name of your business/brand
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Website Address
  • Email Address
  • Business Hours
  • Category of business (i.e. dining – just have this in mind, Facebook has predefined categories)
  • A brief description of what you do
  • Business logo in the proper format (more on this below)
  • Larger cover image/photo (more on this below)

Once you’ve gathered these materials you will have a well-rounded base from which to start a successful Facebook page.

Leaving some of these areas blank isn’t the end of the world, but the more information you have may lead to you appearing as a more legitimate business (or one that’s still in business!)

Images

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone uploads a logo that doesn’t fit into that nice square portion of your Facebook page. This square becomes the icon which is attached next to your business’ name on every post you make going forward.

Therefore, it’s imperative that you make this image properly.

First things first: it must be square. If you have a nice business logo, you can use any form of imaging program on your computer or phone (such as Photoshop, Paint, GIMP, etc.) to import your logo on a solid-colored blank background. (Usually, I recommend white, but any solid color which matches your branding and doesn’t hinder the ability to identify your business with a quick glance at the tiny icon Facebook produces will work.)

Facebook will ask for a specific minimum size of the image. Since this specification changes whenever they make changes, I recommend you use at least 1500 pixels by 1500 pixels as your square size. My personal preference is to make a 3000px square, that way you will meet the requirements for other social media platforms which require a similar logo/branding image. (There’s no need to recreate the wheel!)

As for a cover photo I prefer to use a photograph or a pattern as the image. Do not use anything with text, as Facebook pages render differently depending on the device you’re viewing from.

What may look like a pitch for a grand opening date on your computer may have the words chopped off when looking at the same page on a mobile phone.

Obviously, this photo should be attention-getting and professional. There’s no shame in using stock photography, provided it represents your business. Don’t use a photo of your building if it’s not visually appealing (this includes the dumpy looking cars which could be parked by it during the day). Leave friends, family, and/or pets out of this image too. This is your online business card for Facebook: make sure it looks that way!

Important Details

Facebook used to grind you through a lengthy sign-up process to start your page. Now it just jumps ahead without filling in some important information.

Some of that information, if not checked, may be incorrect on your page and cause you some problems.

Facebook page setting

Find this area of your page and click on the three dots button to open a drop-down panel. Select the first option, Edit Page Info and fill out all the details which pertain to you.

If you’re operating a blog, for example, you will not have business hours. You may not have a public phone number either. Making sure these boxes aren’t left checked will help in not confusing your visitors.

You’re ready!

You can always do other things like turn on Facebook Messenger, create callouts, and more. Those are for more advanced users. There’s nothing wrong with going further into the process of setting up a Facebook page, but for the purpose of this article, if you followed the advice above, you are now ready to start posting!

Don’t forget to invite your personal Facebook friends to like your new page and encourage more activity to it in the beginning days by sharing your page’s post on your own timeline.

Have fun and good luck!