I used to think that good social media was like what a judge once said about obscenity: I know it when I see it.
But you can’t really cite Supreme Court cases when you’re teaching people about creating a strong social media presence, so here are what I think are the elements of good social media content:
I plan on doing a lot of writing about what I consider to be good social media (and what isn’t) because that’s my area of expertise, so I figured I’d break down the core principles of good social media now so that folks can come back and refer to this post later when I do analysis about specific social media campaigns and accounts.
Social media copy (aka the written stuff) all comes down to word count. You have 280 precious characters per Tweet (for now). Instagram is a bit more generous, giving you 2,200 characters, but it’s an image (and now video, ew) driven platform. Facebook will hide your long captions behind a Read More link that most people will not click to read. Tiktok is killing it with short-form video to the point where (much to my dismay as a social media manager) everyone else is trying to rip them off.
So you have to get to your point and get to it quickly. Yes, link people to more information if it’s available. No, not every question or problem can be answered in less than 300 characters. Constraints force you to be creative, or at the very least, they force you to cut the bullshit.
A consistent posting schedule is one way we can please the algorithm gods, but I don’t like to focus too much on that. Social media platforms are changing all the time and not everyone has the capacity to keep up with the latest tweaks to their algorithms.
However, people are people and human nature isn’t an algorithm. When you set an expectation with your audience that they’re going to see certain kinds of content from you at certain times, eventually, they’ll start to seek it out if they don’t come across it organically.
But consistency is about more than timing. Having a consistent look and sound to your content builds brand awareness (I hate how corporate that sounds, but let’s roll with it) over time.
It also makes your life easier as the person creating the content. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. Putting work in to create great templates that you can use over time makes your life easier and continues to cement that expectation with your audience over time.
Maybe it’s the teaching credential candidate turned social media manager for the teachers union in me, but I really do believe that people like to learn something while they’re scrolling on their phones.
I also think that positioning yourself as a reputable source is a way to build an audience in the long term. Instead of relying on a capricious algorithm, people will go out of their way to seek out your content.
You can only rely so much on the good graces of the algorithm gods. I’m not a fan of paying to boost your content either, because people know ads when they see them
But when you create something that people want to share? That’s magic. Folks are far more likely to trust and engage with content that a friend shares, so whenever you can, set yourself up to piggyback off of that trust.
Not every post needs to check off all of these boxes. Sometimes you gotta post just to post. I get it. But over time, if your body of work can be described with these four little words, you’re on the path to building a compelling social media presence that people will actually care about when it comes across their feeds.