social media hacks

17 Social Media Hacks that Help You Build Your Social Authority from Scratch

I clearly remember those times when I was a teenager, completely spellbound by Facebook (or maybe it was Orkut… hmm). I’d go online every ten minutes to check who wrote on my wall, or what my friends were up to, or to check if my crush had made any activity after saying he’s going to bed. My father would sneer every time he’d find me staring expressionless at the screen, just scrolling down. Oh, the countless lectures on what a waste of time it is, but I knew better.

Last year, I had the chance to stay in Accra with him, for a few nights. You could imagine my surprise when my father wouldn’t check into the hotel until he had made sure they have WiFi available in the room, because he needed to update his Facebook status. If social media can get my father to change his priorities, believe me when I say it can do wonders for your business.

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Social media greatly influences how your target audience makes its choices. This provides an abundance of opportunities for you to increase traffic, generate more leads, and make more conversions. However, in order for it to work, you need to have social authority.

In simple words, social authority is when you prove to your audience you know what you’re talking about.

This involves participating with your followers in different conversations. By engaging with your followers directly, you can answer any questions they have, give them advice on how your techniques can help generate more leads, or simply talk to them about mutual interests.

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As cool as this may sound, it’s not an easy job to do. In the words of Aunt May, “With great power comes great responsibility”. Your information should be accurate and your statements should be backed up with well done research.

Contrary to popular belief, your follower is interested in what you are saying, but will do its own research too. Never underestimate the power of a follower to crush you. One little mistake could largely affect your position and it may take twice the effort to recover.

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Now I won’t give you an “I made 20,000 followers in a week” kind of an example here. I’ll tell you a very realistic story of how new blogs can start to gain recognition in the online world through some easy tips and hacks.

eCopyDesk started its blog somewhere by the end of June. When I joined eCopyDesk a month ago, I was handed over the Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn accounts. What we had were about a handful of idle followers on Facebook, one on Google+ and cobwebs on LinkedIn. My job was basically to let the world know eCopyDesk exists.

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After one month of a lot of hard work, continuous posting and commenting whenever or wherever I could, I have gone up to 50+ followers on Google+, I received ten more followers on Facebook who actively share, comment or like our posts, and I still have to work on the LinkedIn cobwebs. Hey, I’m not perfect okay.

You can laugh if you want… It is kind of funny because this seems like a very insignificant number, but this is how initially blogs start up. Now that we have made quite a bit of followers on our social platform, we mostly need to focus on producing valuable content. Our followers will be the ones bringing in more traffic by sharing posts.

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In this post, we will go through a number of hacks that can help your business gain leverage through social media. Keep in mind that this isn’t going to work overnight. Gaining a significant amount of followers takes a lot of time and even more patience.

I have often found myself crossing my fingers while the eCopyDesk Google+ page is loading in hopes of new followers. I’m not exactly ecstatic about the rate of followers we have right now, but I’m grateful for the steady rate of 2-5 new follows per day, and I’m hoping this rate will double by the end of October.

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Let’s take a stroll through 17 pretty simple hacks that can help your business build social authority through your social networking profiles.

#1. THE KISS RULE

If you’ve read our previous posts then it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m starting with this one. The Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS) rule is an amazing strategy for any given situation, be it a first date, your daily life, or stepping into inbound marketing. When creating your blogs or social profiles, make sure to keep it simple and readable. Don’t try to fit in everything into one place.

A crowded or loud page may end up increasing your bounce rate. A clean, well-organized page on the other hand, is easy on the eyes and provides the visitor with a comfortable reading experience, which in turn increases user experience.

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Don’t really mean to brag here, but check out our blog page. Nice and clean right? Keep your posts short, nicely spaced out, and get to the point. People these days don’t have a lot of time to read lengthy discussions and debates.

Your best chance is creating short, simple posts that they can understand and spread around without putting much effort into it. This kind of works out pretty well if you break your material down into separate posts. That way, you have more stuff to update regularly.

Another genius at simplicity is the infographic. These are specifically designed to visually represent data that is easily understandable at a glance. There are quite many brilliant infographics on inbound marketing. However, as captivating as they may be, they lack the ability to provide full information. And regularly posting them tends to get boring. We would suggest that you don’t limit yourself to infographics and post other forms of content too.

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#2. BUILD YOUR SOCIAL PROFILE A PERSONALITY

We live in an era where people have trust issues. They want the best of products but countless marketing horror stories and marketing myths have spooked them. In order to gain their trust, you need to form a personal connection for them.

Here is where your brand personality steps in. While creating a social profile for your brand, make sure you keep it as real as you possibly can. Your visitors should feel like your brand has a more human side to it.

Once you form a connection, start engaging with them through various means. You could comment on their posts, or ask them questions too. Once you build a personality, visitors will become followers and followers turn into potential leads.

Some businesses ace the social personality game. Check out Nike’s twitter page.

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Notice the trees, the sunshine, and of course, the girl. It looks really pretty and though I’m not a big fan of exercise but I would love to go on a run like that, for which I will need new shoes and pretty soon I might just find myself at the Nike store. And the credit for that goes to Nike’s Twitter page.

These elements all collectively give a positive picture to a visitor arriving on the page for the first time, thus making a positive impression. Putting up a cover photo that is attractive and yet defines you is a great way to attract attention to your profiles and eventually, your business.

#3. PRESENT YOUR INFORMATION

The ugly truth about social media is, most of your visitors have a very short attention span. If you hand them content with a lot of information, data or figures, they’ll simply scroll away from it. In order to get them to notice your content, put your information in specially designed visuals. A compact and organized visual looks more attractive.

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There are many ways to make your designs stand out. You can add charts, graphs, colors, typography, just about anything that is a compact version of what you are trying to say.

Adding images to your designs is another way. Like the Neutrogena’s campaign #WipeForWater showed the data they wanted to present, and the green leaves around it gives a more environment-friendly attitude.

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Typographic hierarchy, or visual hierarchy, is another way to visualize data. This trend is crazy common for sales, and for good reason too. The data is presented in different font sizes in accordance with its importance so as to influence your visitors in certain ways. That’s why women rush to an outlet when they see the word “sale”, regardless of the fact that it’s only 20% off.

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#4. DESIGN PAGE HEADERS LIKE BILLBOARDS

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The Facebook cover page is probably one of the most brilliant ideas that complement inbound marketing like butter and bread. When a visitor lands on your page, the cover photo is the first thing it sees. Businesses can use the feature to set images that make them look like cool billboards, which could be the difference between people following you or never visiting again.

Cover photos are also available on Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. This is a great opportunity for businesses to look even better on their profiles. Some businesses have made outstanding profiles using cover photos. Check out this amazing cover photo by Dallas Foodie.

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It’s colorful… it’s eye catching… it’s oh so delicious. Don’t tell me you don’t want a cupcake after looking at that page. After scrolling down you come across even more mouthwatering posts and thanks to them you know exactly where to go.

By turning your cover photo into a billboard you increase your chances of grabbing the visitor’s attention and compel them to scroll down and get to know you more.

#5. INCLUDE STRONG CALLS TO ACTION

A call to action is when you are able to entice an audience to purchase your product. Remember the “collect them all” toys from cereal boxes and how they greatly influenced us as kids? Now they’re more like “Download now” or “now available at all outlets”. By including a call of action you are nudging your visitor to take a certain action, which is mostly to buy their product. However, just saying the words won’t do it.

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For a call of action to be effective it needs to be engaging. It should make your visitors stop and think for a second, or connect with them on an emotional level. However, your call to action should also be realistic.

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Don’t portray your product to be able to do something that it can’t. The idea is not to fool customers into buying them. Keep your promise simple and don’t make any huge claims either. We believe a simple, yet honest call to action, supported by a strong visual, is far more effective.

#6. BRUSH UP YOUR GRAMMAR

Once you have set up your blog or social profile, you need to start engaging. That’s where your writing skills will be tested. You don’t need flamboyant vocabulary to impress people. All you need is correct grammar so as to not screw up, because bad grammar is highly intolerable on the World Wide Web.

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In order to not end up making a fool of yourself, use Grammarly to check your content. Grammarly is a great browser plug-in that checks your writing online. It is a really helpful tool to proofread as well as to improve responses. Making your content grammatically error free can attract more visitors.

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#7. USE ‘REPLY’ BUTTON TO CREATE THREADS ON TWITTER

I can’t express myself in 140 words, let alone 140 characters. This is where Twitter gets a little annoying. You need to have the ability to be able to say what you want in short, edited, bullet points which most of us lack. However, a small hack could help you out in situations where you really need to talk, and it will help boost your engagement too!

You can create multiple threads of your tweets by replying to your own tweets and create a ‘tweet storm’. This way all your tweets on the same subject matter go in one thread and you break the 140 character limit too.

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#8. USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO MAKE CONNECTIONS

One funny thing about doing your business online. If you’re out there selling apples, a business may come up and tell you they’re selling oranges. Since its social media, everybody wants to make more friends and expand their social circles.

Soon enough a visitor will come and ask if you have any oranges, although your posts, about information, cover photo all clearly state you’re selling apples. This is where you can help build a new connection.

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You could include the visitor and the orange store in the same post and suggest they talk themselves. When you mention more people in posts, they tend to return the favor too. Soon enough, the orange store will be recommending you to some of their visitors, which will increase your overall traffic. It’s somewhat like comparative advantage from those intro to Economics classes.

#9. BLEND IN WITH THE CROWD

Social media allows free communication between you and your consumers. There’s commenting, liking chatting and many other ways to engage with your customers, a lot like that magician who asks for volunteers. By engaging with his audience, he breaks down the wall between him and his audience and the audience enjoys the show even more.

Engagement with your followers has the same effect. It may help your provide better customer service but talking to them really gets them pumped up.

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Have discussions with your audience, it doesn’t have to be just about your products. Talk to them, get to know them but most importantly, allow THEM to get to know YOU. That should help them trust you a bit more. Invite them to submit stuff or participate through their response on various posts. People then try to respond in a way that gets reshares, or they browse through others’ responses and share it around, inviting more people to participate.

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Dove does a great job at engaging its followers. They put up this Facebook post to ask their followers to share what they love most about their mothers. Hundreds of responses were posted via comments and the emotionally touching picture had been shared around, opening new discussions and creating more brand awareness.

Think of a way you can get your followers to interact with you, pair it with a stunning visual and post it. The visual will catch the attention you need and will encourage replies.

#10. DESIGN SPECIFICALLY FOR EACH POST

Each social media platform has its own pros and cons, and let’s not forget, its own specifications, especially if it comes to visual content such as pictures and videos. If you put the same image on all platforms you will notice that in some the image has been cropped off to fit the space and you can see the full image after clicking the link. Most people don’t bother to do that and just scroll down to move on. This may leave your content unnoticed.

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An example of this was the awkward crop on Maybelline’s Twitter post, where they put up a stunning image of lipsticks, but it completely missed the point as all you could see was the outer shell. A mistake as such could make a huge difference to the business, therefore you need to stay sharp while posting.

Check if the specifications of a picture or other content matches that of the platform you are using. And always recheck it after it has been posted to avoid any embarrassing moments.

#11. REVIEWS MATTER

BrightLocal states, “73% of consumers say positive customer reviews make them trust a business more.” Also, “79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.”

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Reviews are one of the greatest factors consumers take into consideration while buying a product. If other people have said it’s good then it must be good, right? Research says that a company’s number one trusting factor is its customer.

So technically, if you keep your customers happy, you shouldn’t have a problem with getting good reviews. Screw up your customer service and you can expect a bad review to hit your wall faster than the speed of lightning.

Reviews are sort of proof that there are other people in the world who are using this product too. This somehow erases the consumer’s fear that it may be the only person stupid enough to use it.

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Yelp is a great site that lets you share reviews on Facebook. You can learn how to do that here. Or you could use SocialToaster as references for your reviews. However, make sure you keep your customers happy to avoid any bad reviews.

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#12. OPTIMIZE IMAGES

Social media users will never stop loving pictures. But they do get bored of the same old ones. You need to keep giving them fresh, hip material. eMarketer found that Facebook posts with images are shared with an  87% interaction rate, while twitter has realized that tweets with an image URL result in retweets by 35%.

You should create a variety of images that can attract people to your social profiles. Infographics have a great way of doing that. You could create infographics to display your business’ stats and data.

However, Drew Hendricks, online marketing expert, says “If you’re unable to find a good infographic that would fit for your article try to include up to 3 images in the piece to keep users engaged and reading the entire article”. You can also use inspirational quotes, or light humor to form a way to interact with users.

Although, keep in mind to use the right dimensions. Make sure you recheck once updated incase the site crops it. Jon Loomer suggests that 1200px x 628px should be a good size for Facebook images.

#13. GUIDE FOLLOWERS

You’re not just joining social networking sites to get more people to know you exist. You need to get them to take an action. A few simple steps can really help you guide your followers to increase engagement on social profiles. For Facebook you can include the words, ‘like’, ‘comment’ and ‘share’ while writing your posts. On twitter you can ask them to ‘retweet’ and ‘help spread the word’ and use easy sharing buttons for different social platforms on your blog and webpages.

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Ever seen a Facebook ‘like’ box on a webpage with the words ‘be the first of your friends to like this’… Those things work. Add them to your websites. There is a new trend of adding ‘Tweet boxes’ to blog posts, where users can tweet a quote directly from the post onto their twitter account.

#14. IF THIS, THEN THAT (IFTTT)

Time is valuable for everyone, even you. And spending too much time on social media can affect your business’ productivity. There’s a great website, If This, Then That, which links you social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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If you update a post on one, it will automatically update to the rest as well. This makes posting less time consuming and simpler than uploading on each individual account, which makes it a brilliant hack! You can use IFTTT to upload pictures, statuses or even backup you content on Dropbox.

#15. FOLLOW YOUR INFLUENCERS

Remember when teachers used to say, ‘you are judged by the company you keep’? Well on social media, you are judged by the big guys you follow, and if they follow you back too, then that’s like hitting the jackpot! You can check out some social media listening tools that can help you find influencers in your niche with the most social follows.

You can then try to engage with them on different conversations. If their followers see you and feel like you are interesting enough, they might at least check your profile out if not follow you back.

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#16. SCHEDULING POSTS

This was something I took some time to getting used to. I didn’t understand how to do so, and while you can queue your posts on some social sites such as Facebook or Tumblr, I ended up making a mess initially. Plus I would spend more than 6 hours on social, by the end of which I would be too mentally exhausted to get started on the new topic for the blog.

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The first two weeks were insane. Now most of you may not be as dumb as I am, so using Buffer or Hootsuite for uploading content to one place and scheduling it may be a great strategy. For those of you who can’t, try making a social calendar.

A social calendar is where you pre-plan what to post on a given date and time to a given site. You plan what the post is, what description to add and what else to do within that time. It is much more organized and faster than just opening your laptop and start posting what you read.

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I noticed after making the calendar that I usually end up wrapping up my social accounts in almost 2 hours and I could allot the rest of my time to actual writing.

A social calendar is a smart hack to deal with the short period of time available for social media.

#17. BLEND THE LINE BETWEEN WORK AND LIFE

I don’t mean make work your life. Just haze the very broad line you might have made between the two. Businesses today are developing their own ‘personalities’, which means they are more accepting of individuals and how they are.

Hobbies are more welcomed by businesses than before. So it is okay to show a little bit of your fun side to your followers. A picture of a cute puppy you saw on your way back from work, or that really funny joke your sister shared this morning could be a great element on your social profile.

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People like that kind of stuff because it is real, and the general audience can engage with things like these. If you take a look at our social calendar, we make sure to include at least ONE inspirational and humor post every day. People will get bored if you constantly keep yapping about your business.

SUMMING UP

Don’t look at social media like some giant monster you need to tame. Take it as a great opportunity to let your audience get to know you better. By doing that, you are constantly strengthening their trust and making them more brand loyal. These hacks should help you enter the social media game and not look like a complete loser. And don’t underestimates social media. It could be help you multiply your leads if you play your cards right.

Stick to keeping your formats and designs simple, maintain spacing, and use visuals to attract more people. Keep your profile as real as possible and don’t be afraid to mix in a little bit from your life. But while you’re at it, check for any grammar mistakes to make it look cool. People love cool.

But don’t let your coolness affect your customer service, or you could get into big trouble. Remember to schedule posts and keep your social calendar updated. This really helps in keeping your profiles well maintained and organized.

These social media hacks have worked for eCopyDesk so far, and they will work for you too. If you need any help you can hit us an email, or find us on our social media profiles. We would be glad to assist you in your quest to find new followers.

About the author / Ghashiya Kassim

Ghashiya Kassim is a blogger at eCopyDesk. Due to her social sciences background, she sees a lot of similarities between marketing strategies and general social norms such as dating, parenting, or life experiences almost all of us have gone through. That is reflected in her content through humor and endless pop culture references, something that keeps her audience engaged and compels them to read on and on.

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