Everybody talks about engagement, but does anybody really know what it means? For me engagement has a lot to do with loyalty. If people like the content that you're putting out, they come back for more. Either it's interesting, funny, or funny and/or interesting. (For an example of funny and/or interesting, see @pourmecoffee on Twitter.)
If You Were a Content Tree, What Kind Would You Be?
To make social SEO work for you, you have to practice it. A lot. Some recommend posting a blog a day, or at least several times per week. To create all that content, you'd better like doing it. So we have to ask, What do you naturally like to do? Some of us are writers. Others are talkers, and still others are visual people. Take some time to think about the content you really enjoy posting and you'll find the best fit.
Blog articles are the gold standard of social SEO. Heidi Cohen has just posted a terrific guide to what goes into a successful blog. She suggests researching keywords to find out what is popular, taking the time to craft a consistent message, and recommends posting often. That last part resonates most with me, and it is the most challenging thing for many. To post often you have to plan. You have to research topics (or hire somebody to do it for you), break out a calendar so that you know what you're posting about next week and the week after that, and stack up usable rough drafts in advance so you aren't creating on the fly all the time. If you have more ideas than time, you can hire writers or invite guest posters to fill in your calendar. My Blog Guest is a free service that facilitates content sharing. Here at Red Cup we work with teams of writers to develop blogs for posting our clients' sites and other high-traffic sites.
If you'd rather talk than write, podcasting is a great way to go. I host a weekly podcast called TechSmart that is about start up culture and also business applications that are well designed and fun to use. Whether you set up your podcast on your own (as I have done through SoundCloud) or go with a service like BlogTalkRadio where they do everything for you, podcasting affords you a fun way to discuss issues that are important to your business, brand or cause. You'll need to know how to ask good questions, and listen, and the only writing you'll do is a short introduction to the podcast. It's easy to get a podcast on iTunes or Stitcher Radio to enhance distribution.
If you are often snapping pictures, and can find a worthwhile theme that advances your cause or expresses your brand, then Pinterest or Instagram are both excellent choices. A client of ours, Smidge Wines, has been posting a Vintage Diary on Pinterest. It gives viewers an inside look at their vineyards, harvest, and even bottling. Another client, Lars Topelmann Photography, posts on Instagram and Facebook about an ongoing worldwide street art project. When you post images, be sure to provide links back to your home site.
People spend lots of time looking at videos, and yours doesn't have to be about cats to be a success. (Although it is possible that in the near future, all videos will be about cats, at least according to one ad agency.) Gabrielle Bernstein posts videos that are blog-like (called Vlogs), and Mama Natural posts a new video every Tuesday. The secret to success, as in blogging, is to be present and consistent with your posts.
Social Media Support
You have to choose one home base. This is usually the place where you need your visitors to take action, join your movement, or make a purchase. If you're measuring site visits to chart your success, for example, then you'll want all liks to lead back to your website. If you find Facebook to be your base of operations, then be sure all paths lead there. You can't be good at everything, but you owe it to yourself to try as many forms of social media as possible to see what sticks.Twitter, your mailing list, Quora, LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest are all worth a spin. But once you've determined what works and what doesn't you'll need a little discipline. You can connect with thousands of people daily online, but if you want to achieve measurable success, you'll need focus the traffic toward your best goal. For most of us, that's Facebook or our home page.
Photo Credit: Jesse Pearl via Creative Commons License.