Those of us at Buffer have experimented with a lot of different content marketing methods. I wanted to share nine of the best ways we’ve found to increase engagement and improve your content strategy.
Here are our best and most practical ways to see a big impact from your actions on social media:
1. Share images on Twitter to increase retweets by 150 percent.
To get a better idea of what a difference in-line images make, I took the last 100 tweets, including a link from our @buffer account (not including any retweets), and compared the averages of the tweets with and without images included.
Using Buffer’s built-in analytics, I was able to look at the number of clicks, favorites and retweets each tweet received.
The first data point we looked at was clicks:
Our click-through rate did grow, but not by very much. My theory is that with an in-line image there’s more content for the user to consume without leaving Twitter, so he is not much more likely to click through. (This is probably what Twitter wants.)
Of course, that’s just a theory. It will be interesting to see what the data says over a longer time period.
The second data point we looked at was favorites:
Favorites increased a lot. Along with retweets, this shows a lot more engagement with the tweets themselves. Clicks, on the other hand, show engagement with the original content.
2. Share content more than once.
We often share blog posts multiple times on social networks. We do this for a few reasons. Some of the biggest benefits we get are more traffic, reaching people in different time zones and sharing our content with people who started following us since we last posted.
1. More traffic: The first, and perhaps most obvious, reason to share your content more than once is to drive more traffic than the initial share.
Tom Tunguz did an experiment on his blog to show how reposting the same content boosted traffic.
To get an idea of how many people were seeing and sharing his posts, Tunguz looked at the number of retweets he got when he tweeted a link to one of his blog posts. We can assume from this that actual visits to his posts increased with each retweet.
With each subsequent tweet, Tunguz noticed he got around 75 percent as many retweets as the time before.
We also noticed that tweeting posts from the Buffer blog more than once gives us more traffic and engagement (favorites and retweets).
2. Hit multiple time zones: Guy Kawasaki is known for posting the same content multiple times. One reason he advocates doing this is to reach followers in different time zones. He’s found that this increases the traffic to his content, particularly when he tweets the same link several times.
Kawasaki says: “The reason for repeated tweets is to maximize traffic and therefore advertising sales. I’ve found that each tweet gets approximately the same amount of click throughs. Why get 600 page views when you can get 2,400?”
Kawasaki generally repeats tweets of his blog posts (with minor variations) four times each. He says, “We provide content repeatedly because people live in different time zones and have different social media habits.”
3. Reach new followers: Something we’ve noticed at Buffer is that a lot of our posts are still relevant months after we publish them. The other thing that changes after we publish a post is that more people follow us on social media. So, if we repost content from our blog that’s six months old, many of our followers will be seeing it for the first time and get value out of it even though it’s old.
Use a tool like Twitter Counter to track your follower growth so you know when it’s a good time to repost some of your older content.
3. A/B test on social networks.
Since we usually post the same content to Twitter multiple times, we take advantage of the opportunity to test what headline works best for each blog post.
Here’s how we usually run the experiment:
- Find two headlines you think will perform well for the article.
- Tweet both headlines at roughly the same time, but at least one hour apart. We’ve found that posting both tweets in the morning or afternoon works best.
- Compare the data for each tweet to find the best headline for the article.
Here’s an example of the analytics from a headline experiment we did on this blog post:
Through our analytics we found that the second tweet clearly performed better. Buffer’s algorithm also identified it as a top tweet. In fact, you can clearly see that the second headline got twice the number of clicks.
When we see a big difference in engagement like that, we usually go back to the blog post and change the actual headline. (The URL never changes, just the post’s headline.)
4. Reframe content to suit your audience.
Each time we post a piece of content, we try to slightly reframe it so we’re not just repeating ourselves.
Here’s an example of how we might do that on Facebook. First, we post the actual link:
Then we post one image to explain part of the post:
By highlighting different elements of the content each time we post it, we can sometimes get double—even triple—the amount of engagement.
We often do this on Twitter, too. First we publish it as a link:
Then, taking advantage of Twitter’s new expanded images feature, we publish it as an image and reframe it:
You can simply right click any image on the Web with Buffer’s browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome to share a new image post on Twitter or Facebook. According to the latest social media statistics, that will garner significantly more clicks, retweets and favorites.
We also try slightly different wording each time we post the same thing.
5. Re-Buffer posts and Buffer native retweets.
A fairly recent feature we added to Buffer is the ability to drag-and-drop updates. You can now easily copy updates from your Twitter account to your Facebook account. For example:
You can also copy past updates back into your Buffer queue, which is a useful way to get more out of popular posts:
6. Keep on top of your brand, and find great content with Mention and Buffer.
Mention is a great tool to help you stay on top of your brand on the Web. It lets you monitor brand mentions as well as industry keywords, competitors and more.
When you sign up for an account, the first thing you’ll want to do is create a new alert. This is as simple as naming your alert and adding any keywords you want to monitor.
To get the most out of the recent integration of Mention and Buffer, you can now add your Buffer account to your Mention alerts. This allows you to publish results to social networks. You can do this when you create a new alert. You can also add your Facebook or Twitter accounts:
If you add your Buffer account, you’ll be able to publish to all of your connected social media profiles and pages, just like you can from the Buffer dashboard or browser extensions.
Inside your alert results, you can filter by source including images, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, videos and more. Once you’ve found a post you want to share, click on the “react” menu and choose “add to Buffer.”
7. Use Followerwonk to tweet at optimal times.
Followerwonk is a tool we love using to discover the best time to tweet.
To get started, head over to Followerwonk and click on “analyze followers.” Next, pop your Twitter username in the box and select “analyze their followers” from the drop-down menu.
When your report is done, you’ll see a graph that shows when your followers are most active.
If you use Buffer, you can create a Buffer schedule based on your Followerwonk report. Just choose how many times you want to post each day, and hit the “schedule at Buffer” button.
8. Be transparent.
Being open about how we run the company has helped us bond with our readers and build a community. We share details about Buffer on our Open blog, as well as in interviews and on other sites.
We share details about our support team and how we handle customer support each month.
We also talk about our revenue.
We’ve even published an article about how we manage our content strategy for the Buffer blog.
9. Set up Google authorship.
Google authorship is not just the photo and byline that appears on search results pages, though that’s a large part of it.
Below is a search results page for the term “Google authorship.” It shows many entries that have taken advantage of authorship.
In addition to the byline, there is a strategic layer to Google authorship. The tie-in with Google+ profiles creates verified connections between content on the Web and the content creators. This gives Google the ability to identify quality, human-created content.
There are several benefits to setting up Google authorship for your content:
1. Your authorship byline will get you noticed.
Look at the heatmap created by eye tracking studies below. As you might expect, the top results on the page get a lot of looks, but so do the results with rich snippets. (The results in between don’t get much attention.)
2. Entries with rich snippets have higher click-through rates.
A study performed by Catalyst found that clicks improved 150 percent with Google authorship.
3. Authorship is an advantage to the little guy.
Authorship offers a competitive advantage. A recent study found that only 3.5 percent of Fortune 500 companies actively use authorship. Until they do, they are giving the rest of us a big opportunity.
Authorship may be the future of search. Take it from Google’s Eric Schmidt. He sees a future where identity plays a big part in search results.
Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will rank higher than content without such verification. This will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results.
To get started with Google authorship, check out this step-by-step guide.
That’s it! I hope some of these tips are useful for you.