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According to Social Media Today, there are 2.8 billion active social media users worldwide. Isn’t it time you tapped that market to increase your bottom line?

Your journey towards social media success will be easier and take less time if you look for and incorporate tips, techniques, and shortcuts from the thought leaders of the social media world.

Use these tips to ensure your social media success.

Focus on one network when starting out. You can expand later.

Although it’s true that one has to have a good grasp of all the major social networks, specializing in one social network will help you achieve success. Choose the one where your target audience is located. After establishing success in the first network, add another.

Create a Cover Photo that Reflects and Focuses on Your Specialty

Creating a cover photo that truly showcases you and your work will be one of your most powerful strategies. Include a call to action, or call attention to an event. Use your tagline if it’s especially catchy. Be creative! But make sure your actual photo relates well to your main business message.

Use Share Buttons

Being a social media superstar means not missing a trick. You make the most of every opportunity to share – on social media feeds, and off. When your goal is to get people to share your blog post on social media, you want to make it as easy as possible to share. Make sure you have one-click buttons to share the blog post available for all your social media sites. If you are running your blog using WordPress you should be able to find a plugin to help you do this. The one I use on my own site is Share This.

Ask for the Share

Buttons are great, but sometimes it takes a little extra push to get your readers to take action. Whatever you post – on social feeds, your Pages or on your blog – remember to simply ask people to share it. Close your articles and blog posts with a little sentence or two that asks them to share on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest etc. if they enjoyed the post. And don’t forget to let them know how much you appreciate it when they share the love.

Use Hashtags

There has been a lot of talk about whether or not hashtags are dead. Are they? Rachel Parker, of Resonance Content Marketing, summarizes the answer very well, “If we’re talking about the thoughtful use of strategically chosen hashtags to initiate and participate in focused conversations, then we can say with certainty that they are very much alive.” For Rachel’s full article and thorough evaluation of the topic, read her full post.

Hashtags are only favored on Instagram and for some purposes on Twitter. Don’t bother on the other networks as it may actually hurt your results. When appropriate, creating your own eye-catching, unique hashtag or using a relevant, existing one that is already trending can help multiply your shares and capture targeted audience members you haven’t even met yet.

Provide Top-Quality Tips

Sharing tips that make your fans’ lives easier is the best way to catch the eye of your target audience (especially if you’ve asked existing fans and followers to share your tip.)

And if you can combine really useful tips with the latest-breaking changes, so much the better.

Illustrate your Posts and Links with Graphics

When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people will retain 65% of that information three days later. (Source)

Your social media shares should always include an image. You can use your post header as a template, but each social media site has its own recommended sizes. Double check graphic sizes before having your assistant or graphic designer create any graphics for your posts as they are always changing. This post from Sprout Social is a quick reference for current sizing guidelines.

People have become immune to links and many have conditioned themselves to gloss over them and keep the eye moving. A photograph helps stop people in their tracks if it “tells” them instantly what they’ll get when they glance at the photo.

Be Generous – Credit and Share

If someone else has written the post you found useful or provided a fabulous list of resources or a juicy tip – share it and give credit to the author! Never be afraid to share your secrets with your audience. You’re proving you have their best interests at heart and that you are all in the journey together. Just as important, share your followers’ posts and tips too (people love to be noticed and acknowledged; particularly by experts).

Don’t Over-Promote

If you use the majority of your social media posts to drive people to actions you want them to take, you will come off as just another marketing shark. A recommended rule-of-thumb is to make eighty percent of your posts helpful, general, entertaining or just plain interesting; and less than twenty percent promotional.

Develop Relationships with “Key Influencers”

Don’t just focus on your fans – actively follow and respond to your own favorite “key influencers” in the social media niche. Do make sure you visit their feeds and interact regularly. The more often your Profile Photo appears next to a really helpful post or detail-specific comment, the better your chances of being noticed and remembered.