You ever have that dream where you’re standing in front of an audience and you don’t know what to say?
Like, you’re up at the podium, and you’ve forgotten your speech. Or it’s opening night of the big show, and you don’t know any of your lines. And everyone’s watching, and waiting for you to say something, and as much as you don’t want to disappoint them, you open your mouth to speak, and…nothing.
(‘Cause I mean, *I’ve* never had that dream! That would be ridiculous! Haha…um…anyway.)
Point is, that’s a nightmare – literally – and it’s one that a lot of people experience when they’re trying to figure out what to say on social media. They sit down at the keyboard, they’re ready to post something to Facebook (or wherever), and they just can’t think of anything to say.
If you have social media update writer’s block, you just need a little inspiration.
That’s why today, I want to take a closer look at some of the most popular types of status updates out on the interwebz today.
These are the updates that almost everyone uses from time to time, whether they’re a big ol’ corporate Twitter account managed by a bunch of uber-hip millennials or an online solopreneur’s Facebook fan page. If you’re feeling a little stuck, one of these might be just the ticket!
So, what are other people sharing on Twitter, and why should you do the same?
1. Links to your own content
Aight, we’ll start with a no-brainer. (Your business IS blogging, right?) You’ve filled out an editorial calendar, you’ve written the posts – now you’ve gotta share them with the world.
Here’s one example of my own:
Wait! Before you hit that shiny red launch button, make sure you have these 6 systems in place! http://t.co/seydFcEgt3
— Laura Roeder (@lkr) July 27, 2014
Not too complicated, right? Just a quick, easy value proposition – this blog post is gonna tell you something that you really ought to know. Remember, your posts exist to be seen, so don’t forget to direct traffic to them on a regular basis!
Speaking of directing traffic to important places, let’s look at the next major category of status update (and arguably the OTHER most important one of all).
2. Promotional links
Promos! Promos are awesome! They’re how you spread the word about whatever it is you offer, whether it’s a paid product or a freebie you’re giving away.
The thing is, though, it’s easy to let the awesomeness of promo posts go to your head – and sometimes, people fall into a pattern of ONLY updating with promo posts. (Those are the sorts of people that end up getting unfollowed a lot. Not exactly role models.)
Fight the temptation to just promote yourself all the time! That’s what the blog post you’re reading right this very instant is here for – so you can balance out the super-juicy promo updates with other useful content!
Not sure how to promote yourself without sounding too advertisey? Here’s a good example of how to do it right:
Ann isn’t actually promoting the thing that she’s selling – she’s promoting how beneficial it is for you – and that’s how you get more clicks.
Of course, you want to spread the love around a little on social media – don’t just talk about yourself all the time. That’s why this next category is so important.
3. Other people’s content
As much as your followers love you, the truth is, they love other people, too. And they love other people’s content – not just yours.
The good news, though, is that you can totally share other people’s content with your followers. That’s a legit thing that pretty much everyone does, like so:
— Anne Samoilov (@annesamoilov) July 29, 2014
“But why do I want to send my followers to someone else’s site? Don’t I want them to go to MY site?”
What an excellent and conveniently-timed question! Remember, your social accounts don’t exist to help you – they exist to help your followers. That’s why your followers go to the trouble of following you in the first place!
The more value you can provide to your followers – in whatever form – the more they’ll pay attention to what happens on your social media. Plus, valuable content – which includes links to sites OTHER than your own – gets shared, and shares help expose your profile to newer, bigger audiences.
So while sharing other people’s content doesn’t necessarily have an immediate benefit for YOU, it has an immediate benefit for your followers – and putting them and their interests first is a great way to retain them AND to pick up more.
Another great way to retain and gain followers? Look no further than our next big category…
4. Engagement questions
Social media isn’t just for passively broadcasting links and promotions – it’s a place for real, live interaction.
Asking your followers questions is a great way to engage with them – to learn their opinions, get to know their personalities, and just plain interact!
There’s no shame in asking the same question from time to time, either. Sure, some people may see it get posted multiple times, but most of them will only see it once – and that means you’ll get all kinds of new answers and fresh opportunities. (It also means you get another shot at engaging your audience in case nobody really responds the first time. Don’t let your fear of not getting any answers stop you from asking questions!)
Finally, an added bonus to this sort of update is that because of Facebook algorithms, posts with more engagement get bigger audiences – and a lively discussion is the perfect way to do just that.
But hey – there’s more than one way to get engagement. How about another popular choice?
5. Quotes, tips, and super-shareable stuff
Just last week I was talking about the importance of getting shares on social media, and this is one of the best ways to do it.
Super-shareable content is great for two reasons. First of all, it speaks to your followers. It resonates with them, and it helps establish your own brand identity at the same time. Second, because it speaks to your followers, it’s, well, super shareable!
Take a lesson from one of the masters of creating super shareable content, my ol’ pal Marie Forleo:
See the stats on that? She’s a queen, and it’s because she knows what she’s doing. Not only is she sharing an inspirational message – I mean, who wouldn’t want to retweet that – but she’s doing it with an adorable and eye-catching image at the same time.
If inspirational quotes aren’t your bag, don’t worry – there are plenty of other ways to create updates that your audience will love (and love to share). Case in point: life hacks and pro tips.
PRO TIP: Keep a roll of blue painter’s tape and a Sharpie in the kitchen for labeling. Sticks forever, never fades.
— Stephanie Stiavetti (@sstiavetti) July 26, 2014
Because who doesn’t want to make their life easier, right? And who doesn’t want to be the person who shared the awesome factoid with their own friends at the same time? (And bonus points for you, because you helped out your followers while establishing your own authority at the same time – booyah!) If you’ve got a bite-sized nugget of wisdom to share, go ahead and share it.
6. Topical stuff
Social media – Twitter especially – is perfect for engaging in a virtually limitless dialogue about what’s going on in the world. Don’t miss out on opportunities for real-time engagement when people are talking about something specific!
Sometimes, it’s a big thing that virtually anyone could have an opinion on. For example, the jokesters behind the DiGiorno Pizza Twitter account never miss an opportunity to participate in a national conversation – even when they arguably have NO reason to:
Is it silly? I mean, duh. But things like that pay off, sometimes – when the frozen pizza giant live-tweeted last year’s broadcast of “The Sound of Music Live,” for example, it scored thousands of new followers within days.
Other times, topical news doesn’t have to appeal to a massive audience – just your own. For example, here’s one from when Twitter announced its strong stock performance last week:
— Derek Handley (@dgh) July 29, 2014
Now, do as many people care about Twitter’s stock announcement as, say, the World Cup or the Super Bowl? Probably not – but a huge percentage of Derek’s 51K+ followers probably do.
If there’s something interesting happening in your particular scene, don’t hold your tongue just because it doesn’t have some ridiculous amount of mass appeal – if it matters to you and it matters to your followers, then it matters enough to share.
Finally, there’s one last thing that you should always remember to post:
7. Whatever the #@*% you want
Because hey – it’s your social media, right?
There are no set-in-stone rules to this thing – like I’m always sayin’, the things that work for somebody else aren’t necessarily going to work for you!
So while certain things are must-haves for basically any business – like self-promotional links – there are plenty of things that aren’t right for everyone’s different audiences. Take inspiration from lists like the one you’re reading now, but don’t think of them as rigid guidelines.
For example, you might be the type to offer up recommendations on #FF (that’s Follow Friday), or a marginally-embarrassing photo on #TBT (Throwback Thursday, of course). If that sort of thing fits you and your brand, go for it – whether or not it looks like other people are doing the same.
Now go write some amazing updates, aight?
Are those creative juices flowing a little bit easier now? Good – then get to it! Go ahead and write a handful of updates that you can plug into a scheduling tool and publish over time (and make sure you’re hitting a variety of different categories, while you’re at it).
So, what’d I miss? What are some of your other favorite categories of social media updates – the things you post on the reg and your followers just couldn’t live without? You’ve got bragging rights, so share your success in the comments below!