For any great idea or business you have to have a plan, and that especially applies to social media.
That was the advice given to the BC Travel Writers Meetup by social media strategist Katt Stearns on September 14, in Vancouver, BC in her presentation, Social Media for Travel Bloggers.
Stearns is the principal of Katt Stearns Consulting, a media company based in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia. She is the recipient of the 2015 Canadian Digital Marketer of the Year Award and was also nominated for the 2014 British Columbia Small Business Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year.
She warned us that, “Social media is just an ingredient for your business, not the be-all end-all. Years from now social media may not look how it does today and if you focus only on Facebook or Twitter, you might be surprised years from now when you’re not getting the same engagement.
“You don’t have to be everywhere. Get to know your platforms and understand how you’ll generate content on each,” she said.
Social Media Tips
In the hour she spoke, Stearns offered a wealth of information including these social media tips:
Pick your platform
Primary accounts – Go deep to understand how your top three platforms work and focus your energies there.
Secondary accounts – Play around with them and use them for specific reasons. Occasionally reassess your primary accounts and possibly use a secondary one.
Make sure you post different content on each platform.
When you’re picking your username, use Namechk to find out who is using the same username.
Post quality content
Post with purpose, not just because you feel you have to post something every day. People are overwhelmed with information so if you want engagement, make sure your content is killer.
Social Media Platforms
Facebook allows you to share every kind of media: photos, video, gifs, links, ads, contests, etc. and lets you schedule the release of each, all while building a community.
Be sure to check your fan pages insights to see when people are viewing your post so you know the optimum time to post. Use the scheduler drop down tool to plan posts.
The first 3 hours are most critical for engagement. The lifespan of a post is about 48 hours.
Facebook judges your post before broadcasting it widely. If you get more likes, comments and shares, the post will go to more people.
The platform that Sterns considers the best for engagement is less effective today, she says, because users are sending messages out without engaging in what’s there. Still, she likes Twitter.
Using hashtags is a great way to get the attention of users you can engage with. Using airport call codes – YVR for Vancouver – is a way to get in touch with users in different areas.
Stearns suggests using the List function to group users together, to better connect with them. People added to lists get alerts that they were added and naming your list in a upbeat way – like, Best Bloggers Anywhere – will make those users feel more special.
Use Follower Wonk, a tool to find people in a local area or specific hashtag to connect with.
Pictures are worth thousands of words and Instagram is where everyone is a photographer.
Have a good strong bio, and tell people not just who you are but why they should follow you.
If you have a Facebook business page, you can have a Instagram Business account (since Facebook owns Instagram). That way, you can do a promote post and include a call to action.
Instagram allows you to share images to other platforms at your discretion.
To build engagement, @ tag the first person to like your post and thank them for their support. If someone likes a post @ tag them and ask a question such as, “What did you like about my post?”
Hashtag keywords are a great way to broadcast widely. Instead of putting them in your bio, create a white space with periods in the comment area above the hashtags. That space is what people will see and not the hashtags.
Pinterest uses visual content that remains evergreen on the platform. That is, the content can remain alive for a longer time than other platforms. Good content seen by people with huge followings can bring major repinnings.
Have lots of different boards properly categorized and branded specifically around your content. Having more boards helps to expand your reach on Search.
Repinning other people’s content is the way to make them aware of your boards.
Slideshare is a little known platform that’s very helpful for people who create presentations in the form of video or Powerpoint PDFs.
Slideshare is good for SEO and can be embedded in a Linkedin profile, especially in the form of a resume.
Snapchat is a platform that took Stearns completely by surprise, she admits. It started out as a mobile-only tool to send photos and videos to your friends, and they disappear as soon as they are viewed. Popular with teenagers.
Snapchat still has those functions, but has been improved with the SnapStory function which keeps a message live for 24 hours.
Snapchat is good for showing authenticity and exposing the reality behind the story.
Also, Snapchat can be used offline and saved until an Internet connection is made.
Several platforms – Meerkat, Periscope, Blab and now Facebook Live – allow you to shoot video that goes straight to the platform.
Stearns mentioned the upside of live streaming: engagement, commenting, and back and forthing.
Unfortunately, live streaming has the challenge of keeping the attention of an audience. Some people love watching, but apparently not enough are. Already, Blab has been closed down.
Stearns stressed that the whole purpose of social media is to build relationships: followers, sponsors, other writers. She advises that after you post something, go and engage with someone to keep the conversations going in two ways.
“Connect with people and they will connect with you.”