Is social media dead?
Not by a long shot. In fact, social media is a key component in keeping my business profitable.
Creators have been singing the death knell of social media for years, but I still make as much or more money from Facebook alone than I do from my newsletter, and this is at a time when people constantly say they can’t make any money on Facebook.
Yet, it’s dominating my revenue numbers in 2018, and kept up with my mailing list quite nicely for revenue in 2017 as well.
Not only that, but I basically run my whole business through Facebook messenger, from finding coaching clients to running builders, and even communicating with freelancers, it’s all going down in messenger.
So, how am I able to have such success on a platform that people have been telling me for years is dead?
Well, that’s what I’m going to show you in this post. I’m going to give you twelve of my best tips that I use all the time to get ahead on social media, and especially on Facebook. Some of them are things you can implement today. Others are mindset shifts in the way you think about the platform and social media in general.
Yes, I’m going to focus on Facebook in this post, because most people can’t even get Facebook right, and there is no point moving to other platforms like Tumblr, Twitter, Reddit, or Pinterest if you can’t even figure out a platform with two billion people on it.
However, I am very sure that these same tactics will work, though slightly tweaked, on any social media platform. You might have to change the names of some of the terms, but most platforms take their cues from Facebook, so you should be able to work these lessons into any system.
I hope you get something out of this, and it gets you thinking about social media in a new way—namely, a more productive way.
Social media is all an algorithm
The first thing you need to know is that there are no true social media platforms anymore. Back in the “day” people used to get their friends latest news in their newsfeed, but now social media platforms use an algorithm to determine what is the most relevant to each person on the social media platform.
It’s still social, sure, but it’s curated social, and a company is doing the curation for you. They are picking what gets in front of your friends and what isn’t, not you.
That means you don’t only have to share things with your friends, you must share things with your friends that the algorithm deems worthy of dissemination.
If you are not showing posts the algorithm deems relevant and interesting (aka things that get liked and clicked a lot) then you are not going to be shown very often in other social media feeds.
And right there is the trick. It’s the mindset shift you need to embrace if you want to succeed on social media, increase engagement, and be seen in more feeds of the people in your network. You aren’t just there to please your friends. You must please the algorithm too.
The bad news is that this means you can’t just post anything and expect it to be seen like in the “good old days”. Posting now takes a lot of thought.
The good news is that algorithms are all based on machine learning, and machine learning can be tricked, because machines, as smart as they are, do not have any higher brain functions. They are programmed by humans and thus have flaws. Given the right tricks and tools, you can fool the machine.
But here is my question to you…do you really want to fool the machine? I mean, really?
After all, the algorithm is there to protect the interactions people have with each other—and that should be your goal too. The better an experience you can give users, the more positively they will think of your brand—and your content—and the better opinion they will have on you.
The real questions shouldn’t be, “how do I game the algorithm”. It should be, “how do I make great posts—and work with the algorithm so it knows my posts are awesome and will show it to the maximum amount of people possible”.
It ain’t all gonna work on social media
No matter what you do, it’s important to note that most of what you do isn’t going to work. The best you can hope for is that 2-3 posts out of ten get great engagement, with the knowledge that most will fail to deliver, and that’s okay.
The 10% rule with social media platforms
Social media platforms have rules baked into their system. One of the most important is what I call the 10% rule. The percentage changes across platforms, but the basic premise is that a platform will show your post to a small percentage of your audience. If enough of those people like and comment on it, the algorithm will show the post to a lot more people, and if those people like and comment then they will, show it to even more people until eventually it is disseminated to the biggest audience possible.
A big caveat here is Facebook Pages. Facebook intentionally suppresses the reach of Pages because it wants businesses to pay for that reach. However, on most other platforms, and with both your personal Facebook Pages and Groups this ratio is still true. So, if you want the most reach on Facebook, it’s important NOT to do your engagement on a PAGE, but to create a GROUP and funnel your fans into it so that you can utilize this rule to the fullest.
I’m focusing on Facebook in this post, but all the social media platforms have some sort of ticking clock like this built into their algorithm. For instance, Reddit uses the engagement in the first hour of a post to let them know whether to put a post on the front page or post it to the top of a subreddit, where the posts will take off and get thousands of upvotes.
It’s incredibly important, then, that you make sure you know your audience, and what they like to engage with if you hope to make any headway with your own posts. If you just keep sharing the same link with the same information, it’s not going to spur any engagement, and your posts will be dead in the water.
Don’t just invite everybody to like your social media page
This is specifically for Facebook, but it is applicable to every platform. Because social media platforms only share your information with a small subset of your total followers, it’s critically important to make sure those followers ACTUALLY LIKE YOUR STUFF.
I get dozens of requests every week to like people’s fan page, and I don’t do it. Not because I don’t like the creators behind them, but because I’m not super interested in their product. It would do a disservice to their brand if I liked their page. If, for instance, I’m in that small subset that gets fed one of their posts I wouldn’t click on it. Then, the algorithm will think their post isn’t relevant and kill it. Worse yet, if a post is boosted to me I won’t buy, and then it will be wasted money.
This is one of the main reasons creators think their accounts are “dead”. They aren’t dead. Creators have just filled them with people who don’t care about their product and have no interest in engaging with their brand. These are nothing but vanity likes. We’ve all been guilty doing this at one point or another, but they are killing your brand.
The same goes for groups. You should focus on building a group filled with people that have similar interests, not one that has thousands of people in it. If you do that, then you will get great engagement and the algorithm will show you to more people, naturally boosting your engagement.
Ask questions on social media
Social media platforms choose who to initially show your post to by analyzing the people that engage with your brand most often. This means that if you share a ton of cat videos, the people who are clicking on your cat videos are the same ones Facebook is going to show links to your Youtube videos, blog posts, or product pages.
This is not a good thing because while there may be people who ARE interested in those links, they are probably not the same people who click on all those cute videos. Maybe, but not likely, and certainly not in large numbers.
If all you do is share cat videos, and then share a link to your yoga studio, Facebook will initially show that post to that 10% of people who are liking your cat videos. Since they don’t care about yoga, they will have very low engagement, and then post will be dead in the water.
To combat that, you want to ask a lot of questions to people before you drop links to your page and make sure those questions are relevant to people who DO like yoga.
For instance, “What is your favorite yoga move?”, “What is your favorite time to do yoga during the day?”, etc. etc.
Why ask questions? Because people can’t help but answer them. Questions are a great way to get to know your audience and boost the engagement on your page while priming the right audience to get fed your links.
In my Facebook group, Authors and Creators Making Money Selling Books, I am always asking questions and getting massive engagement. This shows Facebook that my group is full of highly engaged members. Additionally, it brings people back into the group and makes sure they are ready when I drop a link. Thus, when I send them links they get a good reaction. This is partially because I make sure the links are relevant, but also because I’m asking questions to my audience to boost their engagement BEFORE I send them any other links.
Mix it up
Most creators post the same image and link up to a dozen times a day. Doing that quickly burns out their audience and makes them tune out to the message, even if they would normally be interested in the product offered. Audience burnout is why it’s important to consistently send different links with different imagery and different messaging instead of always hitting them with the same buy link.
Think about McDonald’s. They are ALWAYS changing up their promotions and their ads, even though they are a multinational company with massive brand recognition because they know that people become numb when they see the same imagery over and over again. Without new imagery and messaging, your promotions will become white noise as well.
However, if you constantly change up the imagery and types of promotions you run, then people will never get bored hearing from you. You see, people WANT to hear from you, but you must give them a new reason to tune in. People generally need to hear your messaging 7-10 different ways before they buy.
If you keep changing up your imagery and your promotions throughout the year, you will start to see your message sink in and your engagement increase. This should lead to more sales as you fine tune this message to better activate your audience over time.
Don’t break up your engagement by using multiple social media posts
There is one more reason why it’s important not to make multiple posts about the same topic—because then you are breaking up your engagement among multiple posts, and the algorithm uses engagement to judge how widely to disseminate your posts.
Therefore, if you make the same post three times and each one gets three reactions, that is significantly worse that one post with nine reactions. One post with better engagement will be seen by more people than three different posts with meager engagement.
Dedicate an hour to your social media posts
After you create a post, dedicate an hour to answering questions and responding to everybody who comments. That first hour is critical to the success of your post. If you let those comments linger, you will get significantly less engagement than if you answered them all immediately, and since Facebook is using that initial engagement to judge how many more people will see your post, it’s even more important to reply immediately.
If you want to improve your engagement, ask follow-up questions to people who have commented on your post to get them to reply to those comments with more information. Those long reply threads are gold for Facebook’s algorithm.
Come back to your social media posts later
When you are done answering all the initial messages for your post, let the post sit for several hours to gather more comments. You can respond sporadically, but don’t feel the need to comment constantly after that first hour.
However, it is important that you come back every 6-8 hours to answer all lingering comments again. This will re-engage the algorithm and tell it to show your post to new people, or reshow it to old people who did not comment.
People who already commented will also get a notification in their newsfeed to tell them that the conversation is continuing on your post and give them a reason to re-engage, thus pushing your post to even more users.
Keep asking questions in the comments to stir the conversation. People cannot help but answer questions.
You don’t have to be on every social media platform
The worst advice you can receive about social media is that you must be on every platform. That is ridiculous and myopic. Creators only have so much time in their day, and they should be spending a lot of time creating things. Trying to build out and maintain a hundred different platforms is exhausting and time-consuming.
It splits your brain power and prevents you from taking the time necessary to dominate any one platform—and that is the key. If you are going to be on a platform, you need to go all in and dominate on that platform. You need to make sure you know every trick and can utilize everything that platform can offer, otherwise you are wasting your time.
Because there are always people who will dominate a platform and take the time to learn every trick. Once they do, you will be drowned out by them if you don’t know what they are doing and can’t replicate it. That’s why you should become amazing on one platform before moving onto another one.
This does not mean you can say “well I don’t have time for any platform so Russell told me to give up”. I am not saying that. I’m saying if you only have time for one platform, use your time to learn that platform inside and out instead of being a ton of places, but you must be on at least one platform.
Different social media platforms are good for different things
Different platforms have different strengths and thus attract users for different reasons. You need to know who uses your platform and for what reason before you can effectively add your voice to the mix.
Get them off other social media platforms and onto yours
Social media should be a COMPLEMENT to your newsletter, not a replacement for it. You should be hyper-focused on getting people OFF social media platforms and onto your newsletter. Then, you can use social media as a means to:
-Find new people to drive to your newsletter
-Engage with people who are already on your newsletter in a more profound way.
Any other use of social media is a waste of time. Your newsletter is the biggest ROI positive piece of your business. It is where people will buy even if they follow you on multiple social media outlets. It is also the only way where you own the means of communication with your audience. On every other social media platform, the platform owns the means of communication. However, once you get an email address, you now have a means of communicating with people directly.
To pod or not to pod
One thing that is very popular with creators these days is to form social media pods. Pods are a way for groups of creators to band together to like, share, and comment on posts within the first hour of it going live.
A pod is usually a Facebook group chat—though it can be anything with group chat functionality—where people will share their new post. Then the pod is expected to all go to the post and engage with it ASAP. Pods can be as small as 5 people and as many as 20+ people, and they are a way to ensure that your posts will always get good engagement right out of the gate.
However, social media platforms have gotten wise to this over the years and are now suspicious when a new post gets tons of engagement immediately. Developers have written code into their algorithm that prevents pods from being as effective as they once were, so proceed with caution. However, if you can make a pod work for you, then I think it’s a great way to make sure every post has good engagement when you first create it.
So, there you have it. Those are the best tips I’ve found to boost engagement and increase your revenue on social media. If you follow these tips, tricks, and hacks, you will be on your way to making Facebook—and the rest of social media—work for you.
Is anything I said revolutionary in any way? No, probably not, but I hope I connected the dots in a new way that you haven’t thought about before and got your mind making new connections which will take your social media strategy to the next level.
I write cool things, filled with monsters, humor, action, adventure, and generally awesomeness. Then, I sell those things to humans. I am pretty good at it.