Optimize Your Shared Content On All Social Networks

optimize for social media

You’ve spent hours crafting the perfect Article or Blog Post, you’ve sent it out Live on your website or blog, and now it’s time to share it to Social Media, which now drives more traffic to major publishers than Google.

Social Media Drives More Traffic to Publishers than GoogleClick To Tweet

Before you start Status Updating, Tweeting, Posting, or whatever else you should probably be made aware of something: not all social networks are created equal. I don’t mean that some networks are better places to share your content than others, but something much more basic: every social network has a different layout, or ‘User Interface’ (UI), than every other network.

These differences, sometimes slight and sometimes significant, can really matter in terms of how people engage with your content, i.e. how many Likes/Favorites/Shares/Comments/etc… your content generates.  Brands and businesses should strive to an excellence of form on any network they pursue as part of their marketing strategy, even if that means doing one or two well instead of five or six poorly.

For most business purposes, the goal will be to drive traffic to a website.  Higher engagement on a network means more people viewing your shares, which means higher traffic to your content, which leads to more readers, more leads and conversions, more advertising revenue, etc… depending on your goals.  So it’s very important to understand and optimize for these platforms.

Here are some tips to optimize for four of the largest social networks: Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Optimizing for Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedInClick To Tweet

Facebook

Facebook is a place where most users are in an extremely casual mode as far as doing any business is concerned. Their primary reason to be there is to follow people they know: family, friends, old classmates, acquaintances, and others of that sort. Don’t necessarily expect them to read Long Form Content or respond to any Calls To Action that require more than a click or two.

While not a hard rule, a good rule of thumb is to keep your Facebook Page Posts around one to three sentences long with a link (or at least an embedded link) to your content. Again, most users are in casual mode, they’re not there to read epic poems, tomes, or technical manuals.  The more time they have to spend reading your post, the less likely they will click through to your content.

Always use a good image to drive the most engagement. Images generate more engagement with your content on Facebook, or on any social network, especially when optimized for the platform.  On Facebook, the optimal image size is a maximum of 1200 x 630 pixels (which displays as a maximum of 484 x 252) or a smaller image with an equivalent aspect ratio.  Your image should ideally match that size and ratio or come as close as possible.

Always use a good image to drive engagement.Click To Tweet

If you share an embedded link instead of an image (not generally preferred if your goal is to fully optimize for engagement), Facebook will display an image from the site, if it finds one, in the link preview. Links with embedded images drive more traffic than links without images.

Here’s where it gets a bit complicated: there are two types of image links on Facebook, a large type and a small type, so be sure to optimize your site or blog for the large image type by using an image of at least 600 x 315.

Facebook also offers the most comprehensive set of tools for optimizing the appearance of shared links. Pages can swap out embedded link images with an image of their own, for example, and can even change the link description if necessary. In addition, Facebook Authorship can link content from an author or authors on a website or blog back to their Facebook Profiles, which in some cases can help drive more traffic as well.

Facebook also supports hashtags, but unless you really know what you’re doing, these have been shown to actually decrease engagement in some studies, so they’re generally not recommended.

Google+

Google+ is a network where users are driven to connect and share around common passions and interests like technology, photography, or science, rather than connecting with real world friends, family, and acquaintances.

Images are a top driver of engagement. The ideal image size on Google+ is 2048 x 1537 pixels or equivalent aspect ratio, which displays as a maximum of 497 x 279 pixels on screen.  Google+ also offers embedded links, also with two types of link images, large and small; you should optimize for the large type.

Users of Google+ prefer longer textual content, between 500-1000 words, and Google+ also allows for three types of text formatting (bold, italic, and strikethrough), meaning that you can and probably should write at least a few paragraphs and use at least the bold formatting for the title line; a summary with a link to your content, for example.

Another way to drive more engagement is by using hashtags, and it can be especially valuable to use relevant and popular hashtags.  Google+ will usually (though not always) have similar hashtag trends to Twitter.

Twitter

Twitter is a place where people find and share content, more than a place where conversations take place. Followers tend to be more passive, Favoriting or Retweeting Tweets but rarely commenting on them or Tweeting themselves. By their very nature, Tweets must be short and sweet.

Images increase engagement with your Tweets. Twitter images should ideally be a maximum of 1024 x 512 or equivalent aspect ratio, which displays as a maximum 440 x 220. Images that don’t fit this aspect ratio may be ‘collapsed’ in the Twitter Stream unless a user specifically clicks on it.

Tweets have a character limit of 140-characters, so you will likely have room for no more than one or two sentences, a link (Link Shorteners like bit.ly and goo.gl are helpful for slimming down long links), and preferably an image (which also counts against your character limit, unfortunately).

Hashtags also help increase engagement, especially if you know the most relevant and popular hashtags to use.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is primarily for business people, content creators, and job seekers, and it can also be a great place for driving traffic, but in a very different way from other networks. While it possible to share images, links, and text to LinkedIn in a similar manner to Facebook or Google+, we’ll instead focus on using the best tool LinkedIn offers for content creators: the LinkedIn Publishing Platform (LPP).

Unlike any of the previous networks, LinkedIn has a built-in set of nearly complete blogging tools in the form of their Publishing Platform. This is a true ‘Social Blog’, and its layout and tools will generally be familiar and fairly intuitive to anyone experienced with other blogging tools.

The LPP is tied into LinkedIn’s Pulse News, which in turn is integrated fully into LinkedIn.  Pulse News surfaces LPP content and displays it to other users of the site, helping to give creators more exposure and drive more traffic to the Post. It is without a doubt the best way to attract views and engagement from a large number of LinkedIn users.

While it can be used as a standalone blog, if your goal is drive traffic to content hosted on your site or blog instead, be sure to include a prominent link or links (which can be displayed as anchor text links instead of just raw url’s, as with most social networks) to your content within the Post itself, which can also serve as a summary of your content, or as a separate Post unto itself with links to relevant content from your site.

This type of content creation requires a bit more labor to optimize for than other networks, but is not much different from any other form of blogging or article writing and can be well worth the effort if and when it pays off.

Afterthoughts

There are many other networks we could consider, as well as tools we haven’t considered yet like Video Marketing, Animated Gif’s, Facebook’s newly redesigned Notes (which are very similar to LinkedIn Publishing Platform Posts), Pinboards, and more, but we;ll stop here before the length of this article becomes excessive. We may cover additional networks and tools in a future post.

For now these tips and guidelines should suffice not only to improve your performance on these networks, but also to inspire you to begin thinking about the necessity of optimization across networks. It isn’t always necessary to use all of these tips and tools, of course, in fact that may not even always be practical, but following at least some of them regularly will help drive more traffic to your content, which will help you to achieve your goals.

If your business needs help developing your Social Media or Content Marketing Strategy, e get in touch with us using the form below to request a free marketing consultation. Our Team of Social Media Marketing Specialists will help you develop a strategy to suit your business needs and budget.

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