We’ve experimented with lots of different content marketing methods at Buffer, so I wanted to share with you 9 of the best ways we’ve found to increase engagement and improve your content strategy.
Especially after launching Buffer for Business recently, a lot of business approached us, asking which practical tips we had for them to improve their social media and content marketing.
So here are our best and most practical ways to see a big impact from your actions on social media:
1. Share Images on Twitter: Increase Retweets by 150%
Since Twitter announced inline images, we’ve been experimenting with this change by adding images to a lot of the tweets from our @buffer Twitter account and have noticed a big difference in the engagement we’re getting. To get a better idea of what a difference inline images has made, 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 of our Tweets received.
The first data point we looked at was clicks:
Our click-through rate did grow, but not by very much. My theory on this is that with an inline image, there’s more content for the user to consume without leaving Twitter (which is probably what Twitter wants), so they’re not much more likely to click-through. Of course, that’s just a theory so it’ll be interesting to see what the data says over a longer time period as we keep experimenting with this.
Favorites increased quite a lot. Along with Retweets in the graph below, 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 our blog posts multiple times on social networks, for a few difference reasons. Some of the biggest benefits we get are more traffic, reaching people in different time zones and sharing our content with people who’ve followed us since we last posted it.
1. More Traffic
The first, and perhaps most obvious, reason to share your content more than once is to drive more traffic that the initial share.
Tom Tunguz did an experiment on his own blog to show how reposting the same content helped him to boost traffic.
To get an idea of how many people were seeing and sharing his posts, Tom looked at the number of Retweets he got when Tweeting a link to one of his blog posts. We can assume from this that actual visits to his posts increased with each Retweet, as well.
With each subsequent Tweet of an existing blog post, Tom noticed that he got around 75% as many Retweets as the time before.
We’ve also noticed that Tweeting posts from the Buffer blog more than once gives us more traffic and more engagement (favorites, Retweets).
Here’s an example where we’ve done this:
2. Hit multiple time zones
Guy Kawasaki is known for posting the same content multiple times, and one reason he advocates doing this is to reach your followers in different time zones. He’s found that this increases the traffic to his content, particularly when Tweeting the same link several times:
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 clickthroughs. Why get 600 page views when you can get 2,400?
Guy generally repeats Tweets of his blog posts (with minor variations) four times each, to hit different time zones:
We provide content repeatedly because people live in different time zones and have different social media habits.
3. Reach your 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 networks, 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, so they’ll get value out of it even though it’s old content.
You can 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 this opportunity to test out what headline works best for the blog post.
Here’s how we usually run that kind of experiment:
- Find 2 headlines for an article that you think will perform well.
- Tweet both of these headlines at roughly the same time, at least 1 hour apart. We’ve found that posting the two Tweets both in the morning or both in the afternoon works best.
- Compare the data for each Tweet to find the best headline for your blog post.
Here’s an example of the analytics from a headline experiment we did on this blog post:
The second Tweet clearly performed better as we found out through our social analytics and Buffer’s algorithm also identified it as a top Tweet. In fact, you can clearly see that the second headline got double the number of clicks.
When we see a big difference in engagement on a different headline like that, we usually go back to the original post and change the title itself (the URL never changes, just the heading of the post).
4. Reframe Content to Suit Your Audience
Something we try to do each time we post a piece of content is 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 go and post only one image to explain part of the post:
This way we can sometimes get double or even triple the amount of engagement by highlighting different elements of the content each time we post it. We often do this on Twitter as well.
First we publish it as a link:
The 7 Biggest, Counterintuitive Social Media Mistakes You May be Making http://t.co/EUQC545rRz
— Buffer (@buffer) November 25, 2013
Then, taking advantage of Twitter’s new expanded images feature, we publish it as an image and reframing it:
— Buffer (@buffer) November 25, 2013
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, that according to the latest social media statistics, will garner significant more clicks, Retweets and favorites.
We also try slightly different wording each time we post the same thing, like this:
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:
And you can also copy past updates back into your Buffer queue, which is really useful for getting more out of popular posts:
Another neat feature of Buffer is that you can schedule native Retweets from Twitter.com. This is super easy and works with the click of a button. To get started, you just need to install the Buffer browser extension.
Now, whenever you see a Tweet that’s worth sharing, you can hit the Buffer button:
This will let you easily schedule a native Retweet from any of your Twitter accounts:
Plus, you can easily change the Retweet to the old school “RT @username: Text of the tweet” format. If you hover over the composer, you’ll see an option to “change to quote”:
That’s all it takes! Now you’ll see that Retweet in your Buffer queue, waiting to be published. Of course you can still edit the update to delete, change it to a quote or move it around in your queue:
6. Keep on Top of Your Brand and Find Great Content with Mention & Buffer
Mention is a great tool to help you keep on top of your brand all over the web. It lets you monitor mentions of your brand specifically, 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 + Buffer, you can now add your Buffer account to your Mention alerts so you can publish results to social networks. You can do this when you create a new alert, as well as adding your Facebook or Twitter accounts:
If you add your Buffer account, you’ll be able to publish to all of your connected social 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. If you choose blogs, you can find some great content to fill up your Buffer account:
Once you’ve found a post that you want to share, just click on the “React” menu and choose “Add to Buffer”:
7. Use Followerwonk to Tweet at Optimal Times
Followerwonk is a tool that we love using at Buffer to work out when is the best time for us to tweet.
To get started, head over to Followerwonk and click on “Analyze followers”
Next, pop your Twitter username into the box and select “analyze their followers” from the drop-down:
When your report is done, you’ll see a graph that shows when your followers are most active:
If you use Buffer, you can take advantage of this by creating 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.
Something we’ve found that’s really helped us to bond with our readers and build up a community around Buffer is to be really open about how we run the company. 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:
And about our revenue:
And we’ve even published a deep-dive before on 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, thought that’s a large part of it.
Below is a search results page for the term “Google authorship” showing 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 creators of the content. This gives Google the ability to identify quality, human-created content.
There are several benefits of setting up Google authorship for your content:
1. Your authorship byline will get you noticed.
Look at the below heatmap generated by eye-tracking studies. As you might expect, the top results on the page get a lot of looks, but so too do the results with rich snippets (and not so much for the results in between).
2. Entries with rich snippets have higher click-through rates.
A study performed by search marketing firm Catalyst found that clicks improved 150% 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% of Fortune 500 companies are actively using authorship. Until they do, they are giving a big opportunity to the rest of us.
Authorship may be the future of search.
Don’t take it from me. 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 be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results.
To get started with Google authorship, you can check out this step-by-step guide on the Buffer blog.
That’s it! I hope some of these might be useful for you here. We’ve recently introduced the brand new Buffer for Business too, so in case you’re looking for a powerful social media management tool, take a look, we’d love your feedback on it.
Image credits: Tomasz Tunguz