It's all in the presentation. That's why fancy restaurants can get away with beautiful dishes that make you crave them just by seeing them, without having to actually serve you enough food to stop the rumble in your tummy. We all know at this point that visually stunning posts on social media are the most effective traffic drivers (you know this, right?), but that doesn't mean you're posting them correctly. Or that anyone knows what you're talking about when they look or even click through. Or that they're even seeing what you post. Let's fix all that right now, shall we?
Get the Optics Right
Before anyone even realizes who you are or what you are trying to convey, they see your images. That's how you want it be, too, but don't make the mistake of thinking that just because you posted a picture on Facebook that anyone is actually going to pay attention to it. They won't if it's not sized correctly. We've all seen an entertaining image or an infographic that we wanted to pay attention to or learn something from, but because the poster didn't optimize the image we can't make heads or tails out of it. Text is cut off, the picture is stretched or cropped so as to be practically unrecognizable, and we just don't have the time to click through to their website to try and suss out the details, so we shrug and move on down our news feed. This is a rookie mistake that is easily remedied. Before you drag and drop that image into your social page, take a look at this image sizing guide. This is current as of July 2014, and provides the correct image sizing for every aspect of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, and YouTube. Before you post, resize. Having a brilliant image does no good if it doesn't translate when uploaded. This practice also applies to your blog header and any products you may be hawking. The image is your first impression, make it a good one. Tools like Sendible enable you scan the link for available images but also let you first upload your (correctly sized) image and then attach the link to the image.
This isn't a classroom
Once your images are popping and grabbing attention, you have to make sure that the message gets across. If you have a very technical blog and your target audience expects industry jargon and dry, detailed information, good for you. For the other 99% out there, start talking to people like you're standing in front of them. You want to use a conversational tone in almost everything you write so that people will pay attention and absorb your message as easily as possible. Social media is still a conversation, even this far into its existence. When you begin to tell your friend about a great new film you've recently seen, you probably don't say anything like "The new film from [blahblahblah] takes [some subject] in a new and unexpected direction which will leave you feeling [emotion] and [emotion] about the state of [something]." While that isn't entirely inappropriate for the body of a blog post, it's not how you want your social media post to describe it. Something like "If you liked [other film], you need to run - not walk - to see [new film]. It is simply brilliant!" Less information? Yes. More compelling? Yes. Leave the bulk of the information for the click-through. Post the excitement on social, and do it like you're sending a note to your friend. This assumes that your friend isn't a stick-in-the-mud, of course. One way to be more personal in your posts is to always try to use personal pronouns such as you, I, and we. When you talk to your friend, it's doubtful that you use "one might think" or "studies say". You would probably say "you might think" or "I've heard that", and that kind of tone is what you should use on social media. Make it personal and you'll get more attention.
Is Anyone Out There?
Every network has their own schedule. There are numerous posting schedules out there on the interwebs that tell you the best times and days to post to Twitter, or Facebook, or whatever, and many of them are based on good research and studies. However, there isn't a single suggestion that has polled your specific readership to see what their preferences are. Only you, or someone you hire, can do that for you. If the biggest audience on Twitter is Tuesdays between 4pm and 6pm, but only 10% of your specific audience is on at that time, what good does it do you? It's a good idea to use these studies as a jumping off point for your post campaigns, but that's all they should be. From that point on you need to measure and analyze your schedule so that you can tweak it for maximum reach and effectiveness. The best way to do this is by using a social media dashboard that is capable of cross-platform monitoring and has built-in analytics. This way you can measure exactly what you want to know: how many people are seeing, liking, sharing, and engaging with your posts in particular. Who cares if half the world is on Facebook right now if your target audience is all asleep or at work?