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For most of us, social media is a great way to stay connected with friends and family, stay up-to-date on newsworthy events or even just unwind with funny memes or videos after a long work day. For some, social media accounts are utilized for professional endeavors.
Communications professional and social media guru Samantha McCain has some tips and tricks for users looking to get the best use out of their socials as we dive into 2020, no matter the reason you login each day.
Here are five ways you can improve your social media presence in 2020.
Figure out what story you’re trying to tell through your accounts, and curate your content around it.
“Personally or at work, I always strive to tell a story,” McCain said. “From the captivating humans (and animals) I do life with to the everyday work world – there’s always a story to tell.”
This may translate differently depending on which platform you’re using. Meaning, you wouldn’t post the same content on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
For instance, McCain said each platform lends itself to a different form of story-telling.
“Dependent on the platform – I might post every few days; and it’s always either an anecdote about Milo the dog, wellness-related (food or fitness), photos from an event, something that strikes an emotional cord – or promotion for an event/service I really believe in,” she said. “Right now, that might look like a story about Milo who is away at obedience training, photos from my recent vacation to the Smoky Mountains, shared content from what’s going on with the wildfires and wildlife in Australia or sharing info regarding scholarships that are available through the Pinebelt Foundation.”
Each of these things are personal to her, but also resonate with others.
“People are people. They want to connect, not be sold to,” McCain said. “This is always a driving factor behind how I create content – regardless if it’s personal or in my professional roles. To me, they aren’t separate and one plays a vital role in how I use the other.”
Not everything is “grid-worthy.”
In a social media minded world, it may be tempting to overshare. The trick is figuring out what content is worthy of holding on to in your Instagram “grid,” and what is better suited for the Instagram story feature, which disappears after 24 hours.
McCain says she devotes her “grid” to milestones, events or other big life moments that she wants to remember, like a scrapbook.
“I’m not very good at grabbing photos of myself or with me in them. Instagram helps me stay accountable to that and also lifts the photos that are keepers from the thousands I take,” she said. “If you look at it, my grid is a mix of social moments, Milo the dog and still life objects with meaning. It’s intentionally mixed and something I’m way more conscious of now than I used to be – say – 2,300 posts ago.”
The story feature, and its 24-hour cutoff time, allow for quick, fun posts that you don’t necessarily hope to hold on to. If you do, save those slides to your “highlights” section on your profile.
“I reserve daily stuff for my stories – but there, I’m still intentional,” McCain said. “For me, it’s mostly fitness, food, socializing and – when appropriate – a look behind the scenes of my day-to-day role with a focus on the communication industry side of things.”
She added that data drives her posting decisions, whether it’s for work or for personal accounts.
“While my grid is reserved for big life moments and more for my personal archive of ‘keepsakes,’ I often use the feedback I get and engagement from stories to determine what I post and when,” she said. “I also ask myself if what I’m posting is something I would like if it were someone else posting it. If not, I scrap the idea. This is kind of a rule of thumb for me; because If I wouldn’t like something, why would someone else?”
Let your authentic self shine through – consistently.
“If you are sitting right next to someone and talking about ALL the topics of the world, there’s a sense of ‘trust’ that builds,” McCain said.
This is the reason that “social media influencers” thrive, as they’ve built a following based on that sense of “trust.”
“In that same regard – the content that wins the most is the content that makes you feel that sense of safety…a trust authority. That typically means the content is not branded or sales-forward, but represents a real-life approach,” McCain said.
Many of the accounts gaining popularity of late are those that do not only show a perfectly-curated grid of images, but also throw in some real life as well. Authenticity builds connections more than perfection.
“Refreshing an approach to any platform – specifically Instagram – comes with going back to why the platform was created. Social platforms were never intended for sales or marketing – be it big brand or as a person of influence,” McCain said. “They were developed to connect people on a different level – whether it was via status updates, photos or now – video and music. When you shift the perspective to start there, use also shifts. With that understanding, the biggest tip I have is to be human. Oh! And lay off the filters.”
Utilize other apps and tools to fine-tune content.
Gone are the days of selecting an image, throwing a random filter on top and posting. Now, there are countless resources for photo editing and video production.
McCain suggests Adobe Lightroom to get photos just right before posting.
“Adobe Lightroom for the phone is my favorite way to take photo editing a little further,” she said. “Making colors pop and defining shapes, lines and landscapes can go a long way in telling a story through strong visuals. StoryArt is also a great app for helping craft a look and feel that works best for you.
For those who plan to post a lot of video content, McCain implores you to invest in a tripod. There are tons of inexpensive options that take no time to set up.
“Shaky videos are rough to watch,” she added.
Last, but certainly not least, think twice before publishing.
Again, it may be tempting to overshare, but there are some things that not everything should be shared online.
“It’s important to note that I believe wholeheartedly that not everything belongs on social media,” McCain said. “I rarely use filters and what you see is very much a real look at my life – but it’s not the whole story. In that regard, you will rarely see me complain or be negative on any platform. The old adage ‘with great power comes great responsibility,’ and I think every single person should say that to themselves before pressing ‘post.’”