How to boost your personal social media

Social media has taken the world by storm, with the many applications becoming an extension of ourselves. As friends of mine always say, “if it isn’t on Instagram, it didn’t happen.” But, putting up statuses, and pictures with no one commenting, or liking is kind of like shouting in the crowd and hoping for someone to notice above the noise – most of the time, they don’t.

Following on the feature from last week, on how businesses can boost their social media, this week, Moneybags journalist Ashleigh Brown looks at how you can boost your personal social media.

Many of the rules that businesses have to follow apply to you as an individual.

As Nick Bedford the business director at Social@Ogilvy says, social media is one-on-one communication on steroids.

“How difficult is it to speak to 25 friends and keep them all happy at the same time? The likelihood is that you won’t be able to do that. The similar principal applies from a social media point of view. The benefit we have is that there is technology and we can send off multiple messages at one time to a number of people, creating those one-on-one messages at scale,” says Bradford.

But how, pray tell, do you first find those 25 friends to share with? We speak to experts to find out what ground rules you need to follow when it comes to your own social media.

Make your choice

Just like a business needs to make a choice of what social media platform is the best for them, so do you. There are a myriad of sites out there, and not everyone is going to be right for you.

“When it comes to personal use of social media, the best site depends entirely on what you are trying to do,” says Charlotte Kemp, a professional speaker, author and trainer in social media.

Kemp says that if you want to connect with friends and family, and you find most of them on Facebook, then that would be the place to hang out.

However, sometimes younger people find their friends on Instagram and share there, and other segments of society are more interested in the community on Twitter where they can share information faster. It all depends on where you are most comfortable.

Though, choosing the exact platform you want has become a little easier with some of the tech today. Most platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr allow you to link you accounts together. This means that if you post a photo on Instagram, it will load to your Facebook, and Twitter too. That takes the pain out of managing multiple accounts at the same time.

Though, remember, that a follower on Twitter may not be the same as someone on Instagram, as each platform caters to different needs.

Social media never forgets

You may think that you have a small following, and that what you says gets lost in the vast void that is social media, but Kemp says that it is important to remember that social media has a memory.

“While you may think you are using the platforms in a personal capacity, almost everything you post can be found by potential employers as well as strangers. There is no reason to post information that will reveal too much about yourself or reveal behaviour that will cause you to be fired or not even employed,” says Kemp.

Kemp has some good advice when it comes to posting online: Think once before speaking, think twice before writing, and think three times before posting to Facebook.

Another thing to look out for, says Kemp, is be careful not to automatically share or retweet something that tugs at your heart before checking it out for truthfulness. Check stories on Snopes.com to see if they are real or fraudulent.

This is not a numbers game

Kemp says that if you are using social media for personal reasons, then there is no reason to consider how well you are doing, or how many followers you have.

“If you are trying to use social media to build your personal reputation for professional reasons, then approach social media as a business exercise and not a personal communication tool,” says Kemp.

Kemp says that the only way to have any meaning on social media is to write good content that has value for people

Bedford agrees, saying that you definitely need to focus on quality rather than quantity.

“Once you have engaged [people on social media] from a content point of view, then people liking or following you is much more likely. The benefit of that is that people are engaging with you for the right reasons,” says Bedford.

Pictures are worth a thousand words

Visuals are always more engaging than simple text. “It is important to recognise the power of images on social media to your bottom line,” says Wendy Tayler, the digital account director at FleishmanHillard South Africa.

“I heard a young teenager say the other day that they only look at pictures on Instagram because the words were just too boring. The pictures can have words on them, and that may be the best way to get content across to some people,” says Kemp.

Kemp explains that visuals are important because the brain can process an image something like 60,000 times faster than the same description in words.

“Images can be processed faster, recalled easier and communicated better than trying to do the same recollection with words or text. In social media it is also more likely that images will be shared rather than text,” says Kemp.

Dean Lederle, head of social media and design at Brandnew Creative Agency says that as far as the hierarchy of content of social media goes, most people will engage with video first, imagery second and then a plain text post last.

“It’s just how we as humans are wired and it shows that the majority of us are stimulated by visuals more than text. Clever video and imagery will most definitely attract more attention in a cluttered Twitter feed,” says Lederle.

At the end of the day, your personal social media platform is an extension of yourself. What you want the world to know about you, is what you should put out there. Make the content engaging, don’t be afraid to add your opinion on trending topics, use hashtags, and have fun.

But remember, that what goes out there stays out there. Be considerate towards other people, and make sure you think about what you have posted before hitting that send button.