The simplest and most effective thing you can do to gain followers and influence is be interesting. It’s not as easy as it sounds, particularly for companies, as social media is an ongoing commitment and it can be hard to judge success. Whether you’re promoting yourself, your business or both, here are our top tips to give your updates more of a kick.

Don’t talk about the weather

More specifically, don’t say something just for the sake of getting your voice out there. Make what you say relevant to your audience for better engagement and higher response rates. You can still ask the question, but phrase it in a more specific (and slightly more creative) way. Turn ‘What are your plans for the weekend?’ into ‘What design projects are you getting involved with at the weekend?’ for the web industry, ‘What are you cooking for Sunday lunch?’ for recipe and food sites, ‘How are you planning to keep your kids entertained over the next few days?’ for family-themed pages, for example.

If you can’t think of anything to say, that’s fine too. People prefer high-quality, less-frequent updates, so don’t feel pressured if inspiration eludes you.

Keep it human

Automating updates can save a lot of time, but there’s also the risk that you miss out on real-time interaction and discussion. Automating your Facebook updates is particularly dangerous as fans may hide the app you’re using to automate posts if another page is annoying them with it – and so potentially hide all your messages as well.

It’s not (always) about you

Don’t talk about how many followers you’ve got (unless you’re turning it into a contest or special offer). No one is bothered about whether you’ve just hit 10,000, or you’ve got 5 to go before you hit 100…unless they’re going to get something out of it. Reducing people to numbers is also misleading as it’s the engagement that’s important.

People love being asked for their opinions, so make the most of it to get a discussion going. Create polls, use hashtags and pose questions for comment. Post links and resources with your followers in mind.

Be different

Don’t always retweet or repost updates from the same couple of users. You’re giving people a reason to follow them and not you. Make a list of reasons why people would and should follow you on Twitter to help you improve your updates.

‘Be different’ also applies across networks. Try to post different things to your Twitter stream and Facebook page rather than cross-posting from one to the other. This way you’re giving people a reason to follow you on both platforms so they don’t miss out. When you’re sharing the same link across both, vary the message or add a question to keep it interesting and ‘human’.

Use different formats

Sharing a variety of content types is especially important for Facebook pages, because it immediately adds colour and attracts attention to what is otherwise a plain white page. Posting photos, using link previews and image previews and setting up polls creates interest and shows you keep your page varied and interesting.

Now that Twitter has incorporated the ‘Recent Image’ feature to profiles, take the opportunity to tell visitors more about yourself, your projects or your business by refreshing your recent photos and including essential information.

Take feedback seriously

If you get lots of retweets or compliments about an article or shared resource, find/write others or consider creating a series or list. Conversely, if people complain that you’re posting too much or they don’t like your updates, respond accordingly and find out what they would like to see and when.

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