1. Engage by not self-promoting
Emotional intelligence is essential when creating relevant and engaging social media content. The formula for social media marketing success must include showing your fans and followers that you genuinely care about them. Focus on starting and joining conversations, not advertising your services. Many people suggest the 80/20 rule: 80% of your content should be personable and engaging, with only 20% of it being self-promoting. This might even be high, and perhaps you should even aim for 90/10. The more you limit your promotions, the more power they have when you post them. You can create a passionate social media community by recognizing the type of content that is relevant to your fans and followers.

Real world example:
We manage a handful of restaurants, and we keep an eye on what our competition is doing. Certain competitors posts promotions on a regular basis, and see little engagement as a result. Conversely, when one of our restaurants posts a promotional special, our engagement actually increases on average. You read that correctly, our engagement increases when we post promotional content. This is because we don’t over-do it.

2. Emotion matters
People use different social networks to build profiles that are extensions of who they are. Consequently, people share content that helps communicate their desired identity. Unfortunately, it is not likely that people are passionate about your actual product (at least not yet). It’s what your product enables them to do or what it allows them to express about themselves that’s relevant to them. Think about what your product or service says about those who use or buy it. Similarly, use social media to share your passion for your product or service. By doing so, this passion will be contagious, and you will create a vibrant, engaged community with common interests.

Real world example:
We help manage a pediatric dentistry Facebook page, and recently hit the 1,000 fan milestone. We posted a picture of the founder with a heartfelt message that thanked all 1,000 fans. We are currently at 200+ likes/comments/shares and have gotten an additional 10+ fans. This type of goodwill and exposure has been essential to their growth.

3. Keep your content current
Posts feel more authentic and genuine when done so in a timely fashion. Use current events and trending subjects in a creative way to engage users and join conversations.

Real world example:
One of our clients is a sports bar, so during the NCAA tournament they real-time tweeted about scores and upsets. They joined conversations with people in the local area. This increased their visibility and helped establish their brand as one that is passionate about sports.

4. Make them laugh (sometimes)
When you go out and laugh with your friends, you don’t remember the jokes, you only remember that you laughed. The emotion your content elicits will create a memory, and humor is a great way to connect with people. With that said, staying consistently funny is almost impossible and varies from person to person. Test your humorous content on friends before you post it.

Real world example:
April Fool’s day is like Christmas morning for social media marketers. With an Italian restaurant we were able to pull a prank on their fans. The result: one of the most engaging posts we’ve had in months. The prank: The owner has spent the last 9 months creating a pizza perfume. It was a ” a limited-edition fragrance that celebrates the irreverent, mysterious, and playful nature of pizza with a scent bold enough to excite, delight, and awaken your hunger within.” People caught on and enjoyed the harmless prank, but not until after they clicked the image.

5. Use nostalgia socially
People use social media to share their past experiences (i.e. #ThrowBackThursday). Content that pays tribute to something your customers might miss or may have forgotten creates connections amongst customers who share the same emotional reaction. Understanding your demographic of clients/customers will help you better understand what they are nostalgic about.

Real world example:
We work with a doctor who has a large amount of female patients of all ages. Last christmas we created a list of the top five Christmas toys of all time. We made sure to include everything from the Easy-Bake Oven, to Barbie, to Beanie Babies. Additionally, we left one spot blank so that fans could give their opinion. This generated a lot of conversation, as some fans commented in agreement, whereas others could not believe that we left off their favorite toy.

6. Take a stand
Showing support for a cause is something that people are eager to express (nonprofits have a significant advantage here). Let the passion you have for your organization shine by highlighting the services your organization provides. Be inspiring and your readers will be inspired to share. With that said, be careful not to be divisive as to alienate potential customers. You want to create content that promotes a cause that you are proud to endorse and fits your brand.

Real world example:
We work with a Hawaiian wedding magazine. One thing that they are passionate about is marriage equality. We developed a social media marketing plan that celebrates their support of marriage equality. The result is that we have been able to generate good will from all their fans and followers who share their passion. While there is a chance it alienates a handful of potential customers, the positivity from those who support it easily offset any negativity.

7. Keep it positive
Being positive promotes engagement and encourages sharing. Equally as important, being negative may cost you fans. People are quick to unlike a business if posts are negative or controversial.

Real World example:
Early in Social Research Strategies’ development we consulted with a “stock market guru.” He had appeared on television news programs, and had built a substantial Twitter following. We wanted to learn all we could from him, and the most important piece of advice he gave us was that he ALWAYS lost followers when he posted negative content.

8. Avoid talking about yourself
In social settings, brands (like people) get boring if they only promote themselves. Of course you want to sell more products, but unless you have genuine news or product offers, brands should focus on being interesting and interested in what their fans/followers have to say.

Real world example:
Lets put social media on the back burner for this example. We all have that friend or co-worker that only talks about him/herself. This person is often insufferable. When you talk about your business too much on social media, you become that annoying friend or co-worker…

9. Don’t tell your customers to like you and follow you, tell them why and how they should.
Everywhere you turn, you see “Like us on Facebook” and “Follow us on Twitter.” Why? Give your customers a reason to connect with you on social networks by answering the question, “What’s in it for me?” and then make it incredibly easy to do so.

Real world example:
For every client, we create “promotional brochures/business cards”. On these, we include all of their social media links. More importantly, we explain why following/liking this brand is beneficial. If your social media is useful and entertaining, these brochures/business cards are easy to make. If you struggle to find good reasons why people should follow/like you, reevaluate your current social media marketing strategy.

10. Think before you post: “is this something I would like to see?”
If it is not something you would want to see in your newsfeed, then avoid posting it. The best content is going to connect at an emotionally social level. Carefully plan your posts and try to think of the value you are adding by posting any and all content.

Real world example:
There is no specific real world example because this should be the case for EVERY post. Carefully consider if you are adding value by posting, or if you are just adding more “noise”.