Estimated read time: 10 minutes
Organic social media results used to be so much simpler:
- post something to social media
- people would see it as long as they follow you or one of their friends liked or shared it
Quick definition: What is organic social media? Organic social media means your content is distributing without any ad dollars behind it. That means it’s “organically” getting in front of people.
Today, it’s much harder to drive results with organic social media. But there are ways to still make it work as I discussed on this episode of the Business Storytelling Podcast.
At the end of the day for organic social media content performance to happen we need a mind shift change. Many marketers or content teams think of social media participation this way:
We create an account on the social media network and we share content on it. Please like and share it ya’ll.
Creating brand accounts AND posting to them is important. That does help with organic search and can help with organic social media results. That used to be the main strategy, too, but things have changed and organic reach using that strategy has been shrinking for most – if not all.
Let’s dive into some of my tips on how to increase organic reach. This graphic gives an overview as well:
Content ideation and planning
As we are planning content, keep in mind how it can fit on organic social media:
- Can we create an infographic
- A short video
- A GIF
- Tweetable quotes within the article
Also keep in mind current sweet spots for each network. Those certainly change without notice. If you work with clients that can be especially problematic. “But we bought a LinkedIn video … and now it didn’t work?” I prefer to offer “social media video” and we can maximize it on whatever platform is currently best. Or even throw it a parade on all networks and see which one wins.
A couple of years ago I ran a video campaign on several networks. LinkedIn was the winner at that time. Then I found success with live audio on Twitter and audio in general in the forms of podcasts. Much more so than video.
But other times video has worked better. Like when I did a virtual reality video of an active shooter training I participated in. It even won the Best Immersive Storytelling category at the 2019 Folio awards.
Things change all the time on social media. But the strategy of looking for the sweet spots for each network is something that works.
Let’s dive into other strategies to drive up organic social media reach.
For journalists this is old hat: Of course, we interview people – the experts – for our stories. There are even services out there that find you experts to interview. Of course, the experts want that free press as well.
Finding experts – or at least people willing to talk – isn’t that difficult. In 2019, I started having guests on the Business Storytelling Podcast. Sometimes I would turn those podcasts into companion or related articles on my blog. I’m currently booked out about two months with finished podcasts and booked guests.
Once the podcast or article publishes, most guests also share the link with their network. Two recent examples:
It’s certainly appreciated when guests and people quoted in articles share those articles. That can drive our organic reach as well. In addition, I learn so much from all of my guests and people I have interviewed over the years.
Reach out to connections once content publishes
This is a bit of a public relations play. Let people know that a piece of content has published and hope they will share it. Often these messages look like this:
Hello. I just published an article on <insert topic> and I thought you and your followers might find it interesting. Feel free to share. Here’s the link: <insert link>
When overdone this can feel spammy and I personally hardly ever share content that comes to me this way. Especially when I don’t even know the sender. If I know the sender and we have a good, mutual relationship I may add it to my queue. I’m more likely to share it when it’s truly unique and not just a rehash of a story that’s been told over and over.
I always share content when I’m quoted in the article – unless there’s an obvious mistake. I’ve even created a page – Media coverage featuring Christoph Trappe – to link to those articles.
I used this strategy when my new book launched and many of the people I sent a note to, shared my book and a comment. In fact the organic campaign was more successful than the paid version.
Connect with others in the vertical through reverse content marketing
I’ve called this reverse content marketing before here. Basically, agencies or brands search for others who are talking about or have talked online about the topics they want to reach audience members in.
Many of the pitches I receive in this model arrive a bit too quickly. I don’t even know the sender, yet, and they already want me to work for them for free. Doing this at scale likely still works when they sent a bunch of requests. Somebody will share their content.
Sometimes they will tell me that some big names in the industry are also sharing it. I can see how that can work. “If <big name> participates and I participate I’m just like them.” Maybe.
If you want to take a lighter route consider this:
- Find people
- Connect with them on Twitter and maybe other channels
- Let them discover your content that you shared on your channels
Certainly it’s not guaranteed that they will see your content. If they never share or like, assume they just didn’t see it. Maybe send them a link a few weeks into being connected.
Participate in Twitter chats
Twitter chats might seem like an old-school strategy, but they are still happening and performing in some areas. There are three ways to participate:
Be a guest on a Twitter chat
I’ve been on a number of chats and have several booked in 2020:
- SEO Talk
- SERP Stat
- Indie Authors
- Content Marketing World
My own account’s organic impressions go through the roof those weeks. That’s because I tweet more, more people engage with me and don’t forget about the lurkers.
Many chats create promotional graphics that you can use as well.
Being a guest on a Twitter chat can help you share your knowledge and message, establish you as an expert and you likely will make some new connections. I usually gain a good amount of followers as well.
Start your own Twitter chat
You can also consider starting your own Twitter chat, but that can take time.
Twitter chats are a great way to connect with people around a specific topic during a specific time period.
Twitter chats also used to be called Tweet Chats or Twitter Parties. Everyone gets into a virtual room and talks.
Twitter chats happen around a hashtag that makes the topic clear and that allows participants to follow the discussion while momentarily ignoring the rest of Twitter.
While people can use the chat’s hashtag anytime, the actual chat happens during a set time period. Sometimes that’s 8 at night, over the lunch hour or even in the morning. Chats happen on all seven days of the week. It all depends on the chat host’s location and when community members are available.
There certainly are plenty of chats out there and one might wonder: Do we need any more?
The answer is that it depends. Some topics are over saturated as it is. If there are already five chats happening for your topic of interest, consider joining those chats instead.
Let’s assume you have a topic that could use its first or another chat. Here are some steps to follow to get going.
Determine that there’s interest. Search Twitter and see if anyone is already tweeting about your topic and related topics.
Determine a hashtag. You might even use a hashtag that’s already in use, but not being used in a very structured way, yet.
#cmworld, for example, is a hashtag used for Content Marketing World, the annual conference in Cleveland, and the weekly content marketing Twitter chat.
Then determine what you’ll talk about. Topics can – and should vary – especially with recurring chats, but it’s good to have an overarching topic idea. For example: Our weekly chat discusses how to use social media in healthcare.
Determine frequency. Some chats happen weekly. When they have a loyal following that can work. Others are monthly or on other intervals. Others yet are one-time occurrences.
Determine outreach strategies. Some chat organizers tweet directly at people they think would be interested in the discussion. Many times those people – if available – join in.
You might also setup a Facebook event and invite people that way. They would then click over to Twitter when the event starts.
Using promoted tweets can also help you get the event in front of more relevant people.
Decide on co-hosts. Many chats have an expert come on and answer questions on a specific topic. This is a good way to get expert opinions shared while also getting the chat in front of the people that follow the expert already. She will be using the chat’s hashtag.
It’s good to review what worked and how many people participated and viewed the conversation. There are many users out there that do not share their input during a chat, but are nonetheless reading along.
Hashtracking is one tool that allows you to measure your hashtag’s impressions and other metrics. For healthcare chats, The Healthcare Hashtag Project is another tool. You can register your hashtag with them and they will publicly share metrics. They do have several rules in place so not all hashtags submitted are accepted into their database.
Twitter chats are great. I’ve participated in many, been a guest on several and have learned a lot and made new friends.
Chats are worth participating in and it’s worth starting ones if there’s a need. After all, we wouldn’t have all these chats today if somebody hadn’t started them.
Listen in and participate
I’ve shared tips on how to participate. It’s quite simple: Share your thoughts on the questions and converse with the other participants and the guest.
You don’t need to be the guest to share your knowledge. Just participate and share your thoughts and opinions.
Share buttons on your website
I’ve shared before the importance of share buttons on websites. Good ones that is. People are more likely to share your content when it’s easy to do so. That includes having:
- share buttons on top and the bottom of posts preferably
- maybe on the side
- pre-written copy. Don’t just share a blank update with the link
- include all relevant networks prominently
Organic social media conclusion
The hardest part is measuring the results. I can see organic reach for the accounts I have access to. But I can’t necessarily see how many people saw the post shared by my guests and experts. In the long-run we hope that those shares lead to clicks to the website. That does happen but not always. It’s likely that a top expert’s share of my article was seen by hundreds, of which dozens maybe clicked over. I can see the dozens but I can’t see the hundreds.
Certainly organic social media results are harder to come by today than a few years ago. Nonetheless, it’s still possible to win some battles in organic social media with the right strategies and more importantly: The right implementation.
Tools you can use to tell better stories for organic social media