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February 25, 2018

How to Make Social Media Videos That Get Liked and Shared

How to Make Social Media Videos That Get Liked and Shared

On ocean-going ships, lifeboats are painted a very particular orange. They are designed this way to stand out against the ocean which is so vast and dull colored that this color is the only way to have a hope of being spotted by rescuers, even when they are specifically looking for the lifeboats. The noise of our digital world is, in many ways, like the ocean and if you want your brand to have a chance of being noticed, you really need to work on standing out. Today, one of the best ways to stand out is to use video. In particular, social media videos stand out from static content like photos and text  – just like orange colored lifeboats stand out from the ocean.

Social media videos get far more attention than any other form of communication. In fact, I read a Forbes article that said social media videos generate 1200% more shares than text and images combined. The catch here is social media video – not just a video housed solely on your website. Video is, by nature, a social experience — and your audience wants to engage socially with the videos you create. They want to respond to it with “likes” and if they really like it, they want to be able to share it with their friends! Thankfully, technology has made it easier and cheaper than ever before to create compelling social media videos for your small business. You no longer need a film degree to create killer social media videos to raise your brand’s awareness and grow your following. So today let’s talk about tips, hacks, and best practices for creating DIY social media videos that will get likes and shares. This is one of the most affordable ways to market your business, gain brand awareness, and grow your following.

Social media videos generate 1200% more shares than text and images combined.

Successful Social Media Videos Start With a Story

This article is part 2 of a 5-part series. In part one we discussed ways to create a compelling story as the basis for your small business’ short marketing videos. I started the series with the topic of storytelling because it really is the foundation for the success or failure of a video. Without a strong hook and an interesting story, the video will tank. So once you’re confident that you have a story that others will be interested in watching, you’ve got to choose which social media platform(s) you want to share it on. Here’s the catch— you can’t create one video and then simply dump it onto every single one of your accounts. Each social media platform has its own quirks unique requirements and best practices for getting engagement from your audience. If you’re like me, you’ll find this frustrating. You might even pout for a while. Then you’ll slowly succumb to the fact that you can’t avoid video forever; your competition is already making cool social media videos and it’s ticking you off; and finally, you’ll grit your teeth and start hustling harder to understand how to hack social media videos. So, let’s begin.

So Many Social Media Platforms to Choose From

I hope your company isn’t on every single platform. We’re not. In fact, we’re finding that our ideal audience has been shifting away from Twitter and turning more towards Instagram and the “old standby” Facebook. For some of you reading this, Twitter might still make sense. But I’m not going to spend time today discussing how to make social media videos for platforms that:

  • I perceive as dying,
  • Are geared for youngins who likely aren’t your target market, or
  • Tend to appeal to a smaller subset of businesses within limited niches (Tumblr, Flickr, etc.).

We’re going to focus on creating social media videos for the following platforms and for these reasons:

  1. Facebook. I can’t think of any business that shouldn’t have a company Facebook account. It’s literally the #1 performing social media platform out there today.
  2. Instagram. Since Facebook bought Instagram in 2012, they’ve been integrating the two platforms. In fact, if you create a marketing video on Facebook, and then pay to have it sponsored, it actually gets automatically sponsored on Instagram as well. Two for one! Plus, we’re seeing major growth every month in the number of new Instagram users. If your customers are getting on Insta, you should too! Here’s our free webinar of tips to help small businesses leverage Instagram to grow their following and earn customers.
  3. YouTube. Everybody uses YouTube. If there’s anything your customers want to know or see, they likely visit YouTube first. It’s like the Wal-Mart of social platforms—it has everything! From how-tos to just pure entertainment, YouTube is the one-stop shop for most consumers. Although we at Communication Hackers aren’t using it to grow a huge fan base of ‘tubers, we do use it as a cool free place to park our videos, edit clips, and ultimately to hold them so that we can play them from our company website. This means the videos appear nicely on our site, but YouTube is actually doing all the work to hold them so that our website’s load time doesn’t suffer and deter our site visitors. If you don’t have a company YouTube account, you need one.
  4. LinkedIn. Again, you need to be on LI. LinkedIn is a horse of another color, however, because it was created for B2B, not B2C. Sure, it’s great for networking, collaborating, and helping educate your connections—but I can’t stress enough that your videos on LI better be a lot different than what you post on the other platforms. I triple hate it when my LI connections try to sell their crap to me. We’re on there to share ideas, not make purchases. Rant over.

How To Make a Winning Facebook Video

Facebook is my favorite platform to create social media videos for because it’s so flexible. With 2.2 billion active monthly users, your audience is likely very diverse. Tweens, professionals, moms, even grannies are all potential viewers of the videos you make for Facebook. If your video tanks with one audience, no worries ‘cuz other sects of your audience might love it.

Facebook Video Tips

  • People use Facebook for entertainment. Therefore videos here should be emotionally engaging.
  • Aim for just 2-4 minutes. Although FB allows for a maximum of 45 minutes, I highly discourage making marketing videos which venture anywhere close to the maximum time limit. Your audience most likely watching your video on a mobile device; they are there to stroll and scroll (with itchy thumbs). Don’t expect them to sit through a 20-minute video; unless you’re hosting a Facebook Live TV program (like Dave Ramsey’s very successful daily The Dave Ramsey Show), in which case do yo’ thang.
  • Add captions. This seems like a minutia detail, but your audience is likely watching your social media video on their smartphone. Captions will allow them to keep watching even if they’ve turned off their sound. Without captions, you may lose viewers who aren’t in a position to turn their sound on.
  • Share natively. Rather than uploading your video to YouTube and simply linking to it from Facebook, upload it natively. Why? Because the Facebook gods have given priority to native videos. This means that their algorithm is rigged to show preference for Facebook native videos and will give those more and better placement in your audience’s feeds.
  • Do this every time: add a call-to-action and a link to the end of every video you post. Even if your link simply sends them to your Facebook page or to your company website, take advantage of that feature.
  • Try using Facebook videos for shareable content such as interviews, training, reviews, and to promote your company’s events that viewers might be interested in.Social media videos

How to Rock an Instagram Video

Instagram currently appeals to a young-ish audience. Teens, millennials, and 30-somethings are drawn to the candid nature of Instagram videos. They’re We’re also drawn to the artistic nature (beauty, intrigue, freshness) of content that succeeds on Insta. The upcoming generation of thought leaders is tired of impersonal, boring brands. Instagram will allow you to showcase your brand’s human side and connect more intimately with your viewers. Keep that in mind when you create Insta social media videos. (Hint, no one wants to see dudes in suits handing out company awards and shaking hands. Gag!)

Instagram Video Tips

  • Stories keep you at the top. Instagram allows for two types of videos: regular feed stories that are located in the general feed, and video stories that you pin to the top of the feed and that only remain up there for 24 hours before they magically disappear. Make both. But keep in mind that regular video posts max out at 60 seconds, while Insta stories (the kind pinned at the top) have a max of ten seconds.
  • Experiment with the free tools. Instagram was made for social media videos! As such, there are tons of free apps out there designed exclusively for making cool Insta videos. For example, I use Boomerang for my iPhone to create super-short videos that really aren’t much more elaborate than a 2-second GIF. Here’s a list of rad apps compiled by Sprout Social to help you create eye-catching Insta videos (#13 through #20 on the list pertain to videos).
  • Get your fans involved. Instagram stats show that user-generated content does really well. Basically, that is where your fans themselves upload content for you. Tint goes in-depth about UGC (here) and examines campaigns that have gone viral on it. Anytime you can encourage your followers to respond to your video by uploading their own content, you’ve hit the jackpot.
  • Here’s what Insta is a good fit for: behind-the-scenes tours, quick how-tos, and product launch videos.
  • Here’s what sucks about Insta videos: lack of ability to use links. You literally get to insert one clickable link…the one you provide in your profile.

Social media videos

I use Boomerang for my iPhone to create super-short videos that really aren’t much more elaborate than a 2-second GIF.

How to Create a Killer YouTube Video

YouTube is the second greatest social sharing platform, only behind Facebook. Perhaps you want to be a famous YouTuber. Perhaps you don’t. Either way, you’ll likely want to create video content for YouTube. As I mentioned above, it’s a terrible idea to upload (house) videos on your company website. It slows it down immensely. Instead, you can upload directly to YouTube and then simply provide the embedded link into your website. So whether you want to host a poppin’ YouTube channel, or if you’re like me and using it as a means to an end–this is a platform you’ll want to consider because it has so many slick free video editing & video creation features already built in.

YouTube Video Tips

  • Add captions. Here’s a how-to video that explains how to easily get free captions on your YouTube videos.
  • The blur feature is like a magical eraser. Did you know YouTube has a free, built-in, super-simple way to blur out faces or objects from the videos you upload? Yep. It’s easy. If you shoot a video with your camcorder and later realize you need to blur out faces of passersby or perhaps the license plates of cars driving past, no worries. This tutorial will show you how to do it within the YouTube platform itself.
  • Make clickable links. After your viewers have watched your video, you don’t want them to chase the next squirrel. In fact, by default, your video will end and your audience will be offered a follow-up video (likely made by someone other than you)…and poof! your viewer is gone forever. That’s bad. By adding a clickable link right towards the end frame of your video, you can strategically direct your viewers to take action—hopefully by having them click a link to your website, another video of yours, etc. Here’s how to create one.
  • Here’s what YouTube videos can be great for: reviews, training, interviews

Social media videos

By adding a clickable link right towards the end frame of your video, you can strategically direct your viewers to take action

How to Create Helpful Videos for Your LinkedIn Network

LinkedIn is obviously a professional networking platform. Clearly, that means uploading silly cat videos is a no-no here. The videos you post should demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in your professional field. It’s also a great way to let your connections see your personality shine through when they’re used to nothing but your polished profile and perfect portrait. Video here is a great way to let connections get to know you better—the real you.

LinkedIn Video Tips

  • 80/20 rule applies. We use this rule for most of your business profiles. That is, aim for creating content that is 80% helpful, 20% promotional. Sure, you might have a great new service to unveil, but make sure you’ve already created the hoopla with 80% of your videos geared toward informing/instructing/educating on the topic before you drop a promotional video on your audience.
  • Here are the specs. LI videos can be between 3 seconds and 10 minutes in length (aim for < 3 minutes). Videos silently autoplay in the feed, so know that your users will need to manually click on the video to engage the sound. Did you know you can download the LI app for your phone so you can film, edit, and upload directly from your phone?
  • Tips for video caption. Before people typically turn on the sound to your video, they’ll first read the text you typed to see what the nature of the video is and to decide if they’re interested before actually tuning in. Here’s a great tip: type a question as your caption; then ask the question in your video itself and use the video as a way to answer the question. This is provocative and makes for dialogue between your connections and you. How much text should you type to introduce the video? Well, one to three sentences is usually enough as that sets the context of the video without giving away all the juicy details.
  • Consider screen sharing. Since your audience is there to network and learn, try creating a video where you teach about a topic in which you’re an expert. You can download Camtasia for a high-quality screen-sharing tool, or go low-tech and free by using PowerPoint’s built-in video recording capability (only in Office 365) so you can record yourself on video talking while you progress through slides.
  • Here’s what LI videos are best suited for: how-tos, to introduce an upcoming webinar, and to answer FAQs in your industry.

Social media videos

PowerPoint’s built-in video recording capability (only in Office 365) allows you to record yourself talking while you progress through slides.

Final Tips for Creating Engaging Social Media Videos

Nike was right. Just do it! You’re not likely to create a social media video that goes viral on your first try. But you’ll never get likes and shares on your social media videos if you never produce any. I always say, “Perfection is the enemy of execution.” Just start making videos, listen to feedback from your followers, take cues of what when well and what went wrong. Then refine and try again! You can do this!  Now stay tuned ‘cuz I’m already working on the next article in this DIY video series. The next article will be chocked full of tips as I explain the various (dozen or so) types of DIY marketing videos from your small business you can easily create yourself. Not all videos are created equal. From animated explainer videos, to talking-head videos, to instructional how-to videos…I’ll give you the skinny on each type, when to use, where to post each type, and other insider tips from someone (yep, me) whom has tried them all and lived to tell the tale.

February 1, 2018

How to Use Storytelling to Make a DIY Video Like a Marketing Pro

How to Use Storytelling to Make a DIY Video Like a Marketing Pro

If you’re a small business, you’re likely feeling the pressure from the world to create more DIY video. In fact, I bet that’s why you are reading this article. Video is so hot that 2017 statistics revealed one-third of online activity is spent watching video. Whether you’re a 10-person small business or a solopreneur, you can make DIY video easily and affordably. Honestly, you can.

Because there is so much to learn about DIY video, I’ve decided to break this up into a 5-part series. After years of researching DIY video, investing in dozens of DIY video-making software programs and mobile apps, and using them in my own small business, I want to share what I have learned with you. After all, Communication Hackers is all about learning the “hacks” and sharing them with you— so you don’t have to painstakingly figure this all out on your own.

The Breakdown of This 5-Part Series

Today, as part 1 of this series, we’re going to focus on storytelling, the foundation of a good video. Every DIY video must begin with a compelling story– otherwise, why bother? Here’s what the rest of this series will contain:

  • In part 2 of this series we’ll talk about DIY video-making tips for the leading social media platforms (including Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn).
  • Then in part 3 we will discuss the hottest types of DIY video that small businesses can incorporate into their online marketing strategy and how and when to use each type.
  • For part 4 I will share my favorite five DIY video tools, such as super-affordable DIY video creation software and mobile device apps.
  • Finally, we will wrap up part 5 with practical tips for making DIY video (think lighting tips, best practices for audio and music, the ins and outs of using captions, and video editing tools we use and recommend).

The First Question to Ask Yourself

As I mentioned, you need a compelling storyline. Each time you create a video you are, in essence, a storyteller. We’ve seen effective storytellers take an otherwise boring topic, yet turn it into a compelling video because they were able to expose an interesting vantage point about the topic. For example, blenders. Yes, kitchen blenders. They’re boring. However, when Blendtec came out with the “Will it blend?” marketing campaign, it soon went viral. I still can’t get my kids to shut up about Blendtec blenders destroying everything from baseballs to silly putty.

Before we create anything— whether that’s a video, article, some web copy, whatever— the first thing we must ask ourselves is, “Is this interesting, compelling, or useful?” If the answer is “no,” then I wouldn’t waste my time creating the thing from the get-go. Because, in the words of my 13-year old kid, “#NobodyCares.”  That’s right, your story isn’t much of a story if nobody cares.

What Topics Suck for DIY Video?

Not everything we find interesting is actually interesting to the outside world, particularly your customers. If you’re going to make a DIY video about a mid-level promotion of a staff member, an award, internal changes, or something similarly uninteresting, I beg you to reconsider. A good story must suck in the viewer, make them feel connected to your brand, and evoke emotion from them.

Criteria for a Compelling DIY Video

Occasionally unexpected videos go viral causing nearly every awkward teenager, exhausted mother, and jovial grandpa to views/share/like the video. Sometimes these outrageously popular videos don’t even seem to fit the mold for good cinematography. But life is weird and unexplainable, so… whatev. Thankfully, just like criteria for judging a breathtaking piece of Renaissance period art, there are criteria we can use as a guide to make a DIY video that will help you raise brand awareness and build trust with viewers.

Here are some DIY video criteria:

  1. Opens with a Strong Hook. The hook (the first 5 seconds of the video) literally suck your viewers in and compel them to keep watching. (More on this in the next section of this article because I really feel like this is the #1 most important criteria [criterion??] for making a DIY video that people will actually watch in its entirety.)
  2. It’s Brief. Appropriate length varies some depending on the use and which platform it will be hosted on, but typically a video to promote your brand and gain trust from your “tribe” should be less than 2 minutes. Pretty short, ay? In fact, 60% of online viewers will stop watching a video after 2 minutes. Hubspot has got a 3-minute read here providing specifics for the ideal length of a video for each of the major social media platforms. It’s a bit scary that our attention spans really aren’t much greater than that of a goldfish. In part 2 of this article series, I’ll go into tons more detail about what works for each of the leading social media platforms, far beyond just length specificity. So stay tuned!
  3. It Uses a Full Story Arc. What’s a story arc? Have you ever watched a movie and at the end you were like: “What’s the point?” Yeah, me too. I hate those. Since the dawn of time, man has craved stories. And many intellectuals claim that every story follows one of the six basic story types (plots). Rather than get into the weeds of historic literature (I have an English background and could really geek out on this topic), let’s think about storytelling in general. The story arc is the progression of either events (or emotions) from the hook, to the climax, to the ending. In a bit more detail, a good story requires an emotional hook, rising action (like conflict), a climax (where the tension is highest), a falling resolution (where the solution to the conflict is employed), followed by a resolution (the triumph at the end).

How to Craft an Engaging Video Story Hook

I could tell you that there are dozens, no hundreds, of hooks you can use to start a video. But that would no doubt be overwhelming and might make you hate me. Instead, what if I told you that we’ve got two hooks that we use all the time for Communication Hackers videos. These are our go-to hooks. Like a pair of tried-and-true aces up our sleeves.

Try These Two DIY Video Story Hooks

  • You’ve got this problem, I’ve got the solution. This might sound obvious, but it’s actually a great way to begin a video. Think about how often you yourself visit YouTube. You’ve broken something (perhaps it’s a 404 website error, or a broken do-dad around the house)— so you visit Dr. YouTube and begin typing “How to…” You’ve got a problem, and you’re desperately seeking a solution. A good video will suck your viewers in because they can identify with it. Perhaps they can identify with the frustration you’re highlighting. Starting with a problem and quickly letting your audience know that this video is gonna provide the solution is perhaps the #1 way to score an audience. Here’s a “problem —> solution”  example video by Mailchimp, where the problem isn’t explicitly stated, but rather implied. In this 30-second video, Mailchimp identifies with people who run online businesses who struggle to get it all done with “just one brain.” Between doing ads, sending emails, and communicating with customers, the video explains that the struggle is real. However, Mailchimp’s video here provides the solution— their Mailchimp marketing automation platform.
  • Imagine a world where… Everybody likes make-believe. But what is even better is true magic in the making. Sometimes your product or service isn’t addressing a gaping problem at all. Sometimes your product or service is visionary or your customers don’t even know they need it yet. Want a concrete example? Here’s the ultimate “image a world where” storyline: Apple’s unveiling of the first iPhone. You see, people weren’t sitting around with a problem on their hands waiting for someone to develop a solution. We already had laptops. We already had cellular phones. Our needs were met. But then along comes Apple with this visionary product that suddenly had nearly every American (okay, nearly every person with a pulse on planet Earth) lined up for hours prepared to trade their first-born for this device. Apple introduced the first iPhone with an “imagine if” scenario. The scenario came across as: Imagine a world where you can have the power and functionality of a computer in a device so small that literally fits in your hand….introducing the iPhone. Not only was the product great, the marketing of the product was great too! If you’re selling a good or service that you know people need even though they might already seem content, this hook might be your best choice.

DIY video

Here’s the Bottom Line

Behind every successful marketing video, storytelling has been strategically crafted and weaved into the fabric of the viewer experience. Although not always obvious or blatantly stated in the video’s dialogue, I find that most videos follow one of these two hooks I shared above. The first connects to peoples’ fears and frustrations, while the second example evokes excitement and imagination. Both are timeless emotions that can form a solid foundation for a compelling DIY video. As I’ll explain in part 3 of this series, there are dozens of different types of DIY video that small businesses can use to tell their stories so be sure to read that one when it comes out. Sure, you’ll have to decide for each video what style would be most appropriate (such as explainer video, how-to video, whiteboard animation, or perhaps a testimonial video), but before considering the style of video, I suggest you first consider your story and then craft a hook that will appeal to your viewers.

December 31, 2017

5 Digital Marketing New Year’s Resolutions every Business Should Make

It’s New Year’s resolution time. This year, why not skip the boring resolutions that you’ll forget about before January is up. Let’s focus on your business instead and make some resolutions that you’re likely to keep (and will make you money to boot). Here are 5 digital marketing New Year’s resolutions every business should be making.

Make 2018 your year to build a competition-dominating digital marketing strategy!

Read More

September 12, 2017

The truth about Instagram marketing. 3 simple reasons you need it.

The Instagram marketing train is leaving the station. Are you onboard?

Everyone is talking about Instagram. But, isn’t it just for teenagers? Can Instagram marketing be used for your products and services? Does this simple, picture and video-driven platform really work?

Yes! You can and should be using Instagram marketing to promote your business.

In fact, you can’t afford to do without it.

It’s time to stop talking and start doing. Get the jump on your competition and get your business on Instagram before your competition does!

Still not convinced?

Here are the top 3 reasons you should add Instagram to your B2C or B2B digital marketing strategy.

Reason #1 It’s The Fastest Growing Social Media Platform

As of April 2017, Instagram has more than 700 million monthly users—and counting!

Six out of every 10 adults are on Instagram, and 77.6 million Instagram users are from the US.

So, while Facebook and Twitter may be popular, you simply can’t afford to ignore Instagram for much longer.

In fact, a recent study shows that while Instagram is seeing meteoric growth, Facebook is holding steady, and Twitter is actually losing users!

Reason #2 The Early Bird Catches The Worm

Even with its rapid acceleration, very few businesses are using Instagram. Remember, only 77.6 million people in the US use Instagram. That means lots of room for growth.

This is good for you because early adopters get rewarded.

Between 2016 and 2017 the number of users placing Instagram on a monthly basis grew from 200,000 to over 1 million. So, as you can see, things are really picking up!

Start using Instagram today, before your competition catches wind.

Can you imagine being one of the first businesses to really capitalize on Twitter in the early 2000s or Facebook in its initial growth years?

Now you can do that with Instagram.

Reason #3 Engaging Visuals

People love pictures and stories. Instagram delivers both.

And not to worry because you don’t have to be a whiz with photoshop. Instagram’s built-in filters and photo editing tools are easy and intuitive. After just a few posts you’ll have the hang of it.

Since you may not yet be familiar with Instagram, you can also post 3 to 60-second videos on Instagram.

In fact, when videos were introduced to the social platform—over 5 million videos were uploaded in the first 24 hours. Statistically, these videos generate 2 times the engagement of photos posted to your current social platforms.

While many other platforms are still mostly words, Instagram delivers what people crave: a clean, simple interface, and beautiful images.

Instagram Marketing: You Don’t Want To Get Left Behind

Want to get a leg up on your competition and build an Instagram presence for your business the right way? Sign up for our FREE Instagram for Business training workshop. We debuted the workshop last week to the Washington Center for Women in Business and they loved it. So we will be offering some live classes in Tri-Cities, WA and will make it available as a webinar by October. Wanna get in on the action? Just sign up for the pre-launch list and you’ll be the first to know when it is available!

Get on the Instagram train. It’s leaving the train station now, and we don’t want you to get left behind. You don’t wanna get left behind.

July 7, 2017

5 deadly social media profile mistakes you can easily avoid

Avoid these 5 deadly social media profile mistakes

Social media profile mistakes are like the Asian Giant Hornet.

People often underestimate it.

But in Japan, where this monster lives, it kills an average of 40 people a year.

Just like hornet stings, social media profile mistakes can kill your business’ brand & digital reputation if you don’t watch out.

Fortunately, you can easily avoid the most common of these social media profile mistakes.

Take a few minutes and take stock of all your social media profiles (especially the inactive ones). Are you making any of the mistakes in this article? A few minutes to clean things up could really boost your business’ brand, digital reputation, and ultimately your bottom line.

Ready for the mistakes you should be avoiding? Here they are!

Mistake #1 – Not having a profile

This is a mistake that is all too common but really shouldn’t be. Don’t just leave your profile blank!!! This is probably the most common of the social media profile mistakes I see (but shouldn’t).

I don’t care if it’s your personal Instagram page or the Twitter profile that you just use for following your long lost cousins who have a traveling oompah band in Germany. If your social media account references your business in any way whatsoever, or if your mug in the profile is easily associated with your business, don’t leave your profile blank.

First impressions happen fast and last a very long time. For example, these psychological studies demonstrate that people stick to their snap judgments even when shown evidence to the contrary.

A blank profile screams “I don’t care” or “I’m just too busy to do this right.” Is that the (possibly first) impression you want to leave anyone?

A title or headline isn’t a complete profile. It’s just the start. Make sure you include a good profile pic along with that title or headline, and a write-up about your business. On social platforms like Twitter, Instagram, & Snapchat, this write-up will have to be brief. You can elaborate a bit more on LinkedIn. Specific listings of the solutions you provide to your customers, or types of projects you can work on, are appropriate there. When it comes to your Facebook page, fill in absolutely as much as you can on your profile. A completed Facebook page is good not just for attracting fans. It also helps with search engine optimization and visibility within Facebook’s own search algorithm.

Mistake #2 – A bad (or nonexistent) profile pic

Your profile pic is often the first thing people will see when your profile pops up on searches or in follow notifications. For example, lots of people use the search pane in the native Instagram app to look for interesting people or posts. The results of searches here will just show three things: The profile pic, the username, & the actual name. Guess what grabs the most attention from people on this very visually driven platform?

Yeah, your profile pic.

In fact, people are inherently visual and form first impressions in split seconds when they see faces. So spend some time and maybe even some money to get that profile pic right.

Don’t crop yourself out of a family pic or just take a random selfie while sitting at your computer. You know what I’m talking about. If I had a dollar for every profile pic that has an unattached arm over a shoulder, or a few strands of hair from the person who’s face was inartfully cropped out…

People will judge your profile pic. Then they will subconsciously extend that judgment to your business.

So spend the time (and even money) on a good profile pic. Try to find a photographer who has experience doing profile pics and has a studio where you can get some done. This will be some of the best money you’ve ever spent on your digital marketing efforts.

Or, if you have to take the DIY route, look for a good step-by-step, well-shared article by someone who knows what they’re talking about.

Mistake #3 – Writing in 3rd person

Social media is supposed to be conversational. As soon as you start talking about yourself or your business in 3rd person, you start sounding a bit arrogant. Or, at least you sound stilted, removed, and not very personable. Writing in 3rd person is an easily avoidable social media profile mistake.

By the way, what I mean by writing in 3rd person is something like: “XYZ company was founded in 2005 and is the premier seller of coffee in downtown Mytown.”

The alternative, using 1st and 2nd person, would be something more like this. “We love coffee and have searched the world for the best brews to serve you. Since 2005 we’ve been brightening days with a bit of caffeine and lots of great service. We’d love to brighten yours!”

People relate better with peple. When it comes to brands, they relate better to brands with personality. Even the commonly held notion that credentials are highly important when it comes to first impressions (which might lead to writing third person) has been disproved by research. See our earlier blog post: Your credentials don’t matter. This does for more insight into why your customers value warmth, trust, and relatability with first impressions.

Write your profile like you’re having a conversation with your audience. That’s how you create a human-sounding brand that your customers can engage with.

Mistake #4 – Not tailoring the profile to the platform

Have you ever gone to an event and forgotten to ask about the dress code? Maybe you showed up to a business casual work social in something way too casual. Or, even worse, showed up dressed to the nines to an even where everyone is in T-shirt and shorts.

Well, each social media platform also has its etiquette and not understanding it can be as embarrassing as a dress code faux pas. Don’t just write a profile once and then cut and paste them on all of your profiles. Using a generic profile (and ignoring etiquette) is a social media profile mistake you can easily avoid.

Here are just a few examples if platform-specific etiquette. Some quick internet research will give you even more insight.

  • Use abbreviations (recognizable ones) and hashtags in your Twitter profile. Your space is really limited here.
  • Don’t use hashtags in your Instagram profile or you’ll look like you just cut and pasted your Twitter profile. Don’t do that by the way.
  • Use appropriate emoticons in your Instagram profile.
  • Provide more than just a short, Twitter-length description in your Facebook page “about” and “story” sections. Your Facebook fans expect more than that.
  • In your LinkedIn profile, make sure to explain and give examples of exactly what your business can do for people, especially if you provide services. Your connections are great referral sources but they can’t refer you any business unless they know exactly what you do.

Mistake #5 – Not taking advantage of the URL link

One of your main goals in social media marketing should be to lead prospects back to your business website. While having followers on social media is great, nothing beats getting those people to visit your website instead. Not having a URL link to get people back to your website is a huge social media profile mistake.

Social media is rented property (and you can have your account suspended or shut down anytime for breaking the rules there). Your website is owned property where you make the rules.

If e-commerce is part of your business (or you ever want it to be) then you need people to visit your site in order to sell to them.

Newsletters (or whatever you want to call them) are one of the best ways to build customer loyalty. Of course, the best way to build your mailing list is through your website.

You’ve gotta get people to your website. So use that URL link to do it.

Leaving the URL link blank defeats half (if not more) of the entire purpose of using social media marketing in the first place!

Ideally, this URL link should point to a customized landing page (here’s the landing page we use for social here at Communication Hackers) but at the very least it should point somewhere interesting on your site. This could be your blog page or your homepage.

Mistake #6 (bonus) – Writing to highlight yourself

Here’s where a social media profile for your personal use is MUCH different than one for your business.

When you have a social media profile for personal use the profile is all about you: likes, dislikes, hobbies, location, status, etc etc. That’s expected.

When your social media is for business, the rules of the game are different.

How often do you read business social media profiles that are just a generic self-description?

Or, in the instances when a business does write in more detail, it’s details that are important to them, not their customers.

The fact is, people really don’t care about you or your business. Sorry. They’re too busy for that.

Instead, what people do care about is what your business can do for them. So that’s what you should focus on.

Show your readers you understand them. Identify an urgent problem they have. Then show how you solve it in a unique and effective way.

Say you own an HVAC business. Don’t just put a generic description of your business (“we provide full service HVAC services in the greater ____ area and service all major brands”) or put details that your audience doesn’t care about (“we are the largest HVAC service company in the ____ city and have been keeping HVACs working since 1950”). The reaction from your readers will be “yawn” if they even stop to read your profile!

Instead, focus on your audience and their problems. Maybe it’s convenience and price in this case. Explain to them why you’ve thought long and hard about these exact problems and have a solution. Something like “Whenever your HVAC needs us – 2 PM or 2 AM – we’ll be there with conscientious, competitive service. No high pressure upsells. Financing always available” can show your audience that you’ve been thinking about them instead of just yourself.

There you have it. Six common, deadly, and avoidable social media profile mistakes.

I know I promised five but I thought I’d over-deliver 🙂

What do you think? We’d love to hear from you. Did we miss any social media profile mistakes that you’ve seen? Will you be changing any of your social media profiles? If you’d like some help with your profiles feel free to drop us a line and we’d love to help!

Finally, no matter what, stay away from that Giant Hornet!!