THE ANATOMY OF A 'PERFECT' SOCIAL MEDIA POST

23 December 2019 Bec Derrington

The other night, I binge watched the latest season of 'Rosehaven', a show that for me is... perfect, with the right balance of light human drama mixed with flawless comedic timing and an expertly crafted script with a superb cast to match.

But, of course, I’m not naïve enough to think that everyone loves Luke McGregor and Celia Pacquola’s work as much as I do – despite how much I might try to argue the point (and with good reason, IMHO).

So, when putting this article together, I wondered how presumptuous I was being by suggesting there WAS, in fact, a perfect social media post.

I mean,'perfect' is in the eye of the beholder, right?

Nonetheless, the experts we've rounded up to share their insights all weigh into the discussion with some great tips (many in hearty agreement) on the essential ingredients in a 'perfect social media post' recipe. Enjoy...

1. Get the Balance Right

Josh Klein, founder/CEO of Social Status and Promotr, said it was important to use "Engaging visual content, making sure to have a ratio of one in three or two in five that are brand or call-to-action driven, the others are only value-driven". 

"Engaging visual content, making sure to have a ratio of one in three or two in five that are brand or call-to-action driven, the others are only value-driven".

He also added that if you're in an industry that can take advantage of micro influencers (which he defines as 5K–15K followers) it's important to do your research and pick an influencer who most closely aligns with your business' values/tone of voice. "It’s important to also track and measure ROI, as with all content marketing avenues."

"Podcasts: Podcast listeners have nearly tripled in the past decade and this number is projected to continue growing as time goes on. If you're not looking to create podcast content yourself, you might consider appearing on other podcasts your audience listens to as well. 

Video: Video has tons of different avenues to try, test and explore. Consumers love video content because it's easy to digest, entertaining and engaging. Marketers like it because it can give a potentially huge return on investment (ROI) through many channels. Video is also very accessible to anyone with internet access, both to watch and to produce. Make sure to sub-title/caption video, as a high percentage is consumed without sound.  

Main platforms to use are Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, depending on your target audience. For the younger generations, perhaps more so Snapchat and TikTok."   

2. Know Your Audience

 Chanty CMO Olga Mykhoparkina believes that the "secret to a perfect social media post is simple - knowing your audience."

"We post on a variety of different channels, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but Facebook actually generates the most buzz.

We realized a long time ago that our audience does not want to read content that we create to get links and SEO traffic. So, we started writing content that focuses on productivity, time management, work-life balance and similar topics - the kind of stuff that interests people who sign up for our app.

When we started sharing stories like these, we immediately saw engagement shoot up.

The bottom line is, find out what your followers want to read - it can be very different to the kind of content that brought them to your website or social media profiles [in the first place]." 

"...find out what your followers want to read - it can be very different to the kind of content that brought them to your website or social media profiles [in the first place]."

3. Make Your Pictures Count

Carlita from blog https://www.carlita.me/ believes that the secret behind the perfect Instagram post is to "strategically crop pictures".

 "I do a lot of food photography and I make sure that I crop each image to either draw focus to a particular element of the image or to tell a story about my photo subject."

4. Formula for a Perfect Instagram Post

@RioRocket believed there were five key factors that enhance an Instagram post.

"1. One or more engaging photos or videos, preferably of professional quality unless you are in the genre of comedy. Whatever you last posted, make sure this one is completely different for contrast.

2. Utilize all 30 hashtags and use a wide variety that describe every aspect of the photo or video. Use hashtags that are both popular, obscure, and those in-between. Create one for your brand as well (hashtag your name or username).

3. Start your caption with a title or something short and witty. Then expand with a longer description. End by asking a question, give a call to action, etc. 

"End by asking a question, give a call to action, etc."

4. Post on a day and at a time that is ideal for your audience. This will vary greatly for each individual.

5. Share your post in your stories and DM to anyone it may be of interest to."

5. Encourage interaction

Content Marketing Specialist Bethany Spence from ExposureNinja.com offered up her three tips:

"Interaction – For any social platform, it's important to add some element of interactivity in your posts. On Twitter, this might be a Q&A poll, on Facebook you might ask people to donate to a charity, and on Instagram, you might allow users to shop directly from your post. Like any good conversation, social posts should give followers a chance to take action and have their say. As such, try to avoid creating social posts which only offer one-way communication. 

"Like any good conversation, social posts should give followers a chance to take action and have their say."

Tagging – Where possible, try to create posts where other users or topics can be tagged. In an Instagram story, you can insert relevant hashtags which will allow more users to view this content – so long as your profile is public – as they can either be a regular follower or the follower of a particular hashtag. If you can mention a specific user – such as a stakeholder or brand that you work in partnership with – this increases your chances of engagement as the user will feel compelled to react to the post and their followers will also be exposed to the content.

 Informational – Make social posts informational and entertaining rather than self-promotional. Promotion on social media needs to be subtle as people visit these platforms to pass the time, fill a need for social interaction and to learn new things. Social followers don't take well to undisclosed advertisements and content that feels ingenuine."

"Social followers don't take well to undisclosed advertisements and content that feels ingenuine."

6. Get personal

Oz Chowdhury from Powerphrase.com adds:

"Instagram is our best social media platform. For us, a perfect social media post consists of a mixture, really. We get a good amount of likes/comments on showing projects that we are working on. Also, posts on our personal lives. What we do, where we go and the like. 

People like personalized content. We get more engagement from there."

7. Get real but not too real

Sharon Haver from Focus on Style  said there was no such thing as a "perfect" social media post anymore.

"Social media, particularly Instagram and Facebook, have grown past the perfectly curated, slick imagery and fantasy magazine-like snips.

Now it’s about really showing up as the true you... even big corporations are trying to humanize themselves.

Being real is instrumental to not only standing out in a crowded market, attracting your most longed audience, but also what the platforms themselves suggest.

[But] all this realness does not mean showing up as a hot mess.

It’s taking the lead of celebrities and top gurus who use the foundation of a well-crafted shot and intentional text and position themselves in the most authentic way." 

"It’s taking the lead of celebrities and top gurus who use the foundation of a well-crafted shot and intentional text and position themselves in the most authentic way."

8. Know who you’re talking to

Managing Director of We The People Jacob Arnott believes you firstly need to have a firm grasp on who you're talking to.

"All good social media content begins with an insight into your target audience. When you start to think about what content to create; spend time analysing and thinking through who your target audience is, what they're interested in, and how you want them to respond. This will let you jump headfirst into content creation full of information that will help you land that perfect post!

For Instagram; aesthetics is key! Spend time making sure that your post pops out in the feed with bold colour, eye-catching movement or an engaging storyline. We've seen Instagram stories introduce a range of new tools to help create interactive content such as polls, quizzes and stickers. On average, we see Instagram Stories with these interactive elements perform better.” 

"On average, we see Instagram Stories with these interactive elements perform better."

9. Transport them to a time/place through emotions

Social Media Manager of Searchitlocal.com.au Alexander Porter believes it's more important to focus on how you make your social media followers feel.

"The perfect social media post takes you back through time to a feeling you had in the past.

It takes you from a packed peak hour train, a dreary office lunchroom or a quick break during a busy shift and sends you tumbling to a time that makes you feel *something*.

You see this commonly on Facebook.

The reason we tag our friends and family isn't to impress them or remind them we're still around. Instead, the perfect social media post demands to be liked, shared, commented on - engaged with in SOME way - because it reminds you when you felt that exact same emotion in the past. 

"Instead, the perfect social media post demands to be liked, shared, commented on - engaged with in SOME way - because it reminds you when you felt that exact same emotion in the past."

Right now, think about the last Facebook post that made you burst into laughter, and think about the person you shared it with.

You and that person shared a moment, somewhere in the past, and despite being in two different places (and maybe even at two different stages of your life), that social media post brought you back together to experience that feeling again.

The perfect social media post is so simple when you see it, but devilishly difficult to recreate. That's what makes it so special."

10. Make your audience the hero in the story

Carma Social’s Carma Levene believes you need to shine the light on your audience and stick to just the one message.

"It depends on what your goals are for the post and on your specific audience... but to keep it general, here's my two pixels:

The perfect social media post (on ANY platform) heroes the audience in a story, has eye-catching, high quality content to help tell that story and has one clear point or takeaway. 

"The perfect social media post (on ANY platform) heroes the audience in a story, has eye-catching, high quality content to help tell that story and has one clear point or takeaway."

Anything else is gravy."

11. It's all about getting and holding your audience's attention

Livelong Digital's Digital Marketing Expert Prosper M. Taruvinga focuses on the one commodity we're all fighting over; your attention.

"For your content to resonate with an audience these days, you need to firstly get their permission to pay attention. Attention is now a scarce resource and once you are afforded it, you should hold it with both hands.

Our prospects are now at a loss on what to read, listen to or engage with, which is why, as content producers, we need to answer the question in the prospect's mind all the time, 'Why Should I Care?'

Unfortunately, we're too close to our products and services since we see, feel, touch and experience them daily.

Our prospects don't.

They don't have this detailed knowledge, so you have to make sense to them, each and every time they interact with your content in the newsfeed.

You need to create a new space in your prospect's brain to hold the information you are about to deliver. It turns people off, or they scroll past, if they have no idea why they should care to interact with your post or newsfeed.

If you are producing content, always remember, your audience does not care about your product or your business. They care about how you can solve their problem and if you share the same worldview while solving those problems.

Gone are the days where, if you had 34 followers, all of them were seeing your content and doing the very thing you were asking them to do in your call to action.

Every one of us gets the same amount of attention to spend each day. It’s now a chore to figure out how to focus it to get things done.

That's why, as a content producer, you need to help people connect with your brand so you can solve their problems and make their lives easier. Accordingly, your content should always answer these four questions: 

  1. What do you do?
  2. What problem do you solve?
  3. How are you different?
  4. Why should I care?

Your content will stand out in the newsfeed if you craft it to answer those questions since humans are always looking to make sense of the world around them. (That's why we are now addicted to scrolling.)

With each scroll, we hope to get answers (a hit of dopamine), and when we do, we engage and want more." 

"With each scroll, we hope to get answers (a hit of dopamine), and when we do, we engage and want more."

12. Your content needs to facilitate a personal connection

Web Copy Diva Sarah Walkerden suggests it’s more about ensuring the audience can relate to and trust you – and any selling must be on the down low.

"The best types of posts for Facebook are personal stories that clients or customers can relate well to.

These days, it's all about the personal connection with your customers, and infusing your unique personality into your marketing and messaging.

Being down-to-earth and relatable to your target market (via the use of clever stories that engage customers and subtly sell yourself and what you offer) is far more successful on social media (particularly Facebook) than the hard or direct sell. 

"Being down-to-earth and relatable to your target market (via the use of clever stories that engage customers and subtly sell yourself and what you offer) is far more successful on social media..."

Stories evoke far more trust and loyalty."

13. It's too fluid as things change quickly

Co-founder of ARNAonline (the ‘NA’ in ARNA) Natasha Ritz doesn't feel there is any such thing as a perfect social media post, since the industry moves so quickly "what worked one day may not work the next!"

"There are some general rules to follow that could help reach and engage more people for different platforms, however.

As a general rule, thinking about your audience on each platform and what adds value for them is a good place to start. Also, on most platforms video is the most highly engaged and consumed content so considering a strong video strategy is a great way to begin.

LinkedIn: Thought leadership content works so well and adds value to this professional network. Articles you've written or even articles you've found that share the same opinion or values as your organisation. Using hashtags and tagging people in your LinkedIn post helps gain more reach as well. Often asking engaging questions is a good way to get people to engage further than just clicking through to read the article you've shared.

Instagram: Short videos, beautiful imagery with short captions (90 characters) works well. Stories are also highly consumed and engaged, so creating stories daily enables consistent reach to people organically. Instagram is the platform that is still all about curation, a beautiful feed that tells a story over time. It's also a platform where the younger generation resides and dwells, consuming for longer periods of time. Of course, using hashtags, [and] tagging products and people definitely helps reach more potential customers.

Facebook: The land of variety with the highest mix of demographics and a big pool of Millennials. Facebook is a place where you can test sharing articles, images, videos, product content, thought leadership. It's a test and learn channel where what resonates with your specific audience will vary. As a general rule, less text in the status is best but sometimes, telling a powerful story that's long-form also really works! If creating video for Facebook, make sure you add subtitles because us weirdos love to watch videos in silence. 

"If creating video for Facebook, make sure you add subtitles because us weirdos love to watch videos in silence."

TikTok: Organic, raw and real content. This is the home of Gen Z’ers; the place where they are themselves and represent their authentic way of life. The video content is all about jumping onto a fun dance, lipsyncing and generally making fun of yourself and life. Brands have not yet truly jumped on or capitalised on the amazingness that is TikTok, but that time is coming, especially if we want to reach the younger generation."

14. You need to make sure it's going to do its job

Founder of Marketing4Restaurants.com James Eling believes the perfect social media post is one that "stops people scrolling" and instead "creates the psychological impact that is required", whether that’s to share, sign up for something, make a purchase or simply raise brand awareness.

"The perfect post will need to be put in front of the perfect audience, which means you need to decide on which platform it will appear, and whether it will be run as an ad or rely on organic traffic."

15. Teach or entertain

AlbacrossOksana Chyketa focuses her tips on LinkedIn and starts by stating the obvious.

"Your perfect post on the LinkedIn social media platform should be business-related and offer your expertise on the given subject. Because it’s LinkedIn, duh.

Even though it’s a business-focused platform, you should definitely include images on LinkedIn. People are visual creatures and that’s why posts accompanied by an image get more engagement, likes, shares, and clicks on any social media network, including LinkedIn.

What's more, your text on LinkedIn can include up to 1,200 words, which basically gives you unlimited possibilities to drive attention to your post. However, I would recommend keeping your message short. Let people know why you shared it and what they can get out of it by reading.

And finally, but probably the most important thing: your post must add value to your readers. It could be some sort of useful information that teaches your users something new. Or it could be something entertaining that makes your audience smile. What’s important is that it will enrich them in some way." 

"And finally, but probably the most important thing: your post must add value to your readers."

16. Create ‘thumb stopping’ moments

Rhetoric PR CEO Jenny Hassam shares her top three tips when creating and sharing posts on LinkedIn.

"As B2B social experts posting on behalf of brands, companies and executives on LinkedIn here are my top three. Posts need to be visual. Create a thumb-stopping moment by adding colour, showing something unique and maybe even use an emoji once or twice.

Use people in your content. We always get over 30 per cent more engagement for posts with people's faces. We're using media rules ie: a couple of people, looking towards the camera, natural/good lighting and looking energised! Employee generated content is gold. Set up systems to capture [it].

"Employee generated content is gold. Set up systems to capture [it]."

Lastly, we use executive profiles to push out content. Ideally, the CEO is posting content and using their profile to leverage their contacts. Influence matters when it comes to social."

17. Specify the action you want them to take

"Social media engagement is an investment in long-term relationships with your brand. Be authentic, consistent and a good listener," said Stephen Molloy, Founder of Lomah Studios

"The key to social media is engagement, a two-way, meaningful, high-value conversations. It's important to emphasis the 'social' element of social media. 

92% of marketers still feel social media is important to their business. Social media engagement builds customer-brand relationships, strengthens brand loyalty, and increases word-of-mouth advocacy, which is a more potent conversion tool than advertising. 

  1. Respond quickly and consistently to comments without generic responses.
  2. Know your brand's personality or social media brand voice.
  3. Add visuals to a social media post. Studies have shown that a visual Facebook post results in 2.3x the engagement rate, while tweets with images can generate over 150% more retweets compared to to text updates.
  4. Ask for feedback and reviews.
  5. Post current and relevant content.
  6. Have a call-to-action or clear message. Using clear words like 'download', 'follow', or 'retweet' can result in up to 23 times the engagement rate.
  7. Acknowledge your audience with user-generated content. Fans appreciate being acknowledged by their favourite brands, and reposting user-generated content is a great way to strengthen your community and include your customers in the conversation.
  8. Organise a content calendar for the year. Start with Australia Day in January and plan ahead to batch content in advance.
  9. Make things interesting and switch things up. Try a variety of formats including: images, news, quotes, polls, humour, surveys, videos, infographics.

Analytics will show what works and what doesn't. Video content can sometimes gain the most impressions, but can sometimes fall short on engagement due to the audience watching it more as a show, rather than a conversation. 

"Have a call-to-action or clear message. Using clear words like 'download', 'follow', or 'retweet' can result in up to 23 times the engagement rate."

Anything to add?

By dissecting what these experts feel creates the perfect social media post, you’re able to better understand what you’ve been doing right (and give yourself a pat on the back) and what you could do better.

Agree? Disagree? Have something to add? Have your say in the comments below. 

But before I go, I just had to add THIS. You're welcome!

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