SEO basics: How to use social media

Social media endeavors should be a part of your SEO strategy. As social media usage increased in popularity, Google and other search engines couldn’t ignore them any longer. This means that your site’s popularity on social media ties in with your SEO more and more. The reason for this is simple: if people talk about you, online or offline, you’re relevant to the topic at hand. In addition to that, you’ll want to know about these conversations. In this post, I’ll give you some fundamental tips on how to use social media.

How to use social media

Below are some tips you can use in order to set up or to improve your social media strategy:

1. Keep your account alive

The most crucial advice in the use of social media is that you need to keep your account ‘alive’. Make sure you post on a regular basis. Sharing your new blog posts is a good start, but also let people know what you’re working on or what interests you. If you go on vacation, schedule posts for the time you are away, or at least let people know when you’ll be back. And, after a while, you could repost older content to draw people to your website with existing content.

2. Write captivating excerpts

When you decide to share your blog post on social media, make sure to select or write a short and appealing excerpt in order to draw people in. You could, for instance, choose the most important sentence or the main point of your post. Or you could simply choose to share the introduction of the blog post, if you feel that is captivating enough. You want this piece of text to get people to click on the link and read the whole post. And do ensure that people can easily navigate to other pages on your website, once they are there.

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3. Diversify

You can share different types of posts on your social media account. As mentioned in point 1, you could share your blog posts, but you could also share short news items, videos or simply some (behind-the-scenes) pictures. These kind of posts can make our brand more fun and personal.

In order to decide which posts do well on social media, you should analyze the number of views, shares and likes. Of course, we’d advise to share types of posts that receive a lot of views and likes more often.

4. Handle comments

If you share your posts on social media, you could also receive comments. Don’t forget to monitor this. You should handle these comments swiftly.

Read more: ‘How to handle comments on your blog’ »

5. Use awesome illustrations

For some social media (Pinterest and Instagram) it is all about the illustrations. But also on Facebook visual content is really important. They make your post stand out from all of the other posts in someone’s timeline, and can boost clickthrough.

When you use Yoast SEO Premium you can check what your blog post or product page will look like, before sharing it on Facebook and Twitter. See how easy that is!

6. Be part of the community

If you’re active in a certain community or niche, you’ll soon discover other interesting people in that area that your audience follows. Follow them too and interact with them, this could help your and their audiences grow.

7. Add metadata

Smart use of (hash)tags can also help your growth immensely. For instance if you are at an event, include the hashtag for that event in your post, so everyone searching for that event will come across it. There are also hashtags for certain interests or technology. Some people might even retweet everything that is posted in a certain hashtag, which is a great way to boost your post. But don’t go overboard! Nobody likes a post that is filled with all kinds of random hashtags.

Conclusion

Social media is a key aspect of every SEO strategy. Setting up a decent social media strategy can be hard and will ask for a bit of creativity. And, it’ll definitely consume much of your time. But, it’ll be worth it! And if you think about it, social media and blogging are very similar in many aspects.

Keep reading: ‘Social media strategy: where to begin’ »

Insights in Instagram analytics

Instagram isn’t yet the traffic source Facebook is. But Instagram is growing rapidly. Just last month, the milestone of 500 million users was reached. It makes you wonder whether or not to incorporate Instagram into your default marketing mix, right? Therefore, it would be nice to have Instagram analytics.

In 2015, 33% of US teens chose Instagram as their personal number one social network. Of all the Instagram users, about 50% is male. 96 percent of US fashion brands use Instagram. Those are all impressive stats, but what about your Instagram account? What are the stats on that? For these numbers, you’d say you have to dig into Instagram analytics, right? I found no such thing. Facebook has Insights, Twitter has Analytics, Pinterest has Analytics, YouTube has Analytics, Instagram has… no such thing. There is no native analytics for Instagram. Facebook Ads for Instagram gives some insights, but that is just for the companies advertising on the social platform.

How do I get to my Instagram Analytics!?

I can’t imagine that Instagram won’t roll out Instagram Analytics (or Instagram Insights, following Facebook Insights) at some point in the future. But it won’t be rolling out as fast as Pokemon Go, that much is clear. There are some stats in business insights for advertisers, but hey, not all of us advertise on Instagram. As far as I know, these business tools are still a work in progress and not available to all. Brand Profiles will be limited to companies that have a Facebook Page (for now?). Be sure to check this article for more insights on those stats. Long story short, for the time being, we have to fall back on third-party applications. And that works pretty well, actually!

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Third party Instagram Analytics apps

There are a ton of iOS and Android apps for Instagram, and a lot of these are apps that give you stats. Most provide an overview of things like new followers or most popular media. All of these apps seem centered around this information:

  • New followers
  • Lost followers
  • Users that are not following you back (called ‘non-followers’)
  • Followers that you don’t follow back (called ‘fans’)

This is the standard information every one of those apps gives for free. And to be honest, I wouldn’t waste my money on the other intel these apps provide. Although it’s quite hard to publish on Instagram from your desktop, the third party analytics apps have a way better overview than most mobile apps. Again, there are tons of desktop/browser apps available. Apps like Minter.io or Quintly handle more social networks than just Instagram. These cost a nice monthly fee and will tell you more about your social efforts and the effects they have.

In this article, I’d like to focus on another tool that I find very handy for my Instagram Analytics: Iconosquare.

Iconosquare

Iconosquare has a free trial, and after that, it costs you from $49/yr (per IG account) up to $499/yr. Key differences between the packages are these:

  • The cheapest package doesn’t allow for hashtag monitoring
  • The more expensive ones add competition monitoring
  • Comments will be tracked for the last 5, 15 or 30 media
  • The most expensive one includes photo and video contests

They all include a variety of interesting stats. Your Iconosquare dashboard will show you Instagram analytics like your follower growth and the number of lost and gained followers, much like the other apps I mentioned.

Iconosquare: overview | Instagram Analytics

It will show you the love, talk, and engagement rate of your Instagram posts:

iconosquare: love, talk and engagement rate | Instagram Analytics

  • Love rate is based on the likes given by your followers divided by the number of followers at the time of the post.
  • Talk rate is based on the comments received from your followers divided by the number of followers at the time of the post.
  • Engagement rate is based on the likes and comments received divided by the number of followers at the time of the post.

Makes sense, right? Next to that, Iconosquare will tell you what your most liked, most commented and most engaging media is. You can base your Instagram strategy on that: post more of what is popular among your audience.

Engagement

For better insights in your posts, check the Engagement section of the tool. It will tell you things like average likes or comments, but also what Instagram filters work best. The one that works best for me is Aden. I have to say that that name isn’t directly ringing a bell for me, as I usually pick a filter by what it does to the photo, not the name :)

Furthermore, the engagement section holds tag cloud with your most-used tags, which I like as I am a heavy tag user these days. Tags simply work like a charm to trigger engagement with / market towards new people.

Best time to post

What I like as well, is the Best time to post – Engagement rate table. It will tell you when your posts trigger the most engagement with your audience. The darker the square, the better the engagement is:

Iconosquare: best time to post | Instagram Analytics

To me, that is one of the most important pieces of information Iconosquare provides. It’s good to optimize posting times, using for instance Later.

Community

Another section in this Instagram analytics app is Community. This section provides information about your followers, like their location or the structure of your community (how many followers have your followers):

Iconosquare: location | Instagram Analytics

You can zoom that world map, by the way. Makes it a bit easier to analyze!

Another interesting section is the “Top Followers” section. It shows you the followers with the most followers, so to say. You know that you will reach the most people when you interact with these followers (comments, likes)will be seen by the most people. So be sure to do that as well, to grow your following towards their numbers.

To sum things up

Even though there is no such thing as Instagram Analytics (yet), there are lots of ways to get these valuable insights about your efforts and followers. I think Instagram will make its own analytics available, maybe even for non-business Instagram users. If that time comes, I’ll be one of the first to write the insights about that on this blog :)

Read more: ‘Facebook Page Insights explained’ »

Instagram for business?

Instagram for businessInstagram is Facebook for teenagers. At least, that is what I heard. Demographics seem to (at least partly) disagree. At Yoast, we don’t actively use Instagram for business at the moment, to be honest. With the increasing popularity of the platform, I heard they already topped Twitter’s user base, it made me wonder why we are not actively engaging in the Instagram community.

In this post, I will explain what I think Instagram for business is, who should or could use it and why we don’t use it much in our own social marketing efforts. Yet.

Why use Instagram for business

Business.instagram.com has some case studies you might want to read. As our business is different from the businesses highlighted, I did some more digging into the active brands on Instagram and roughly found four different kind of businesses on Instagram:

Product showcases

This seems to be obvious, but if you have a physical product, get your Instagram account now and start photographing. Like Pinterest marketing, Instagram for business will make your product sharable and visible on yet another social platform. Inform the community of new products or show off your spring collection in advance (sneak preview).

Examples:

Great photography is part of your business

That seems like an odd one, but we all expect National Geographic to share nicer photos than Barney’s Car Repair. If your business consists of great photos already, please do share them on Instagram as well, as we really want to see these. Personally I think that any background information provided with great photos makes them come alive even more. When your main business is great articles and awesome photos, Instagram is definitely right for your business.

Examples:

By the way, if you are a photographer, also be sure to read this post about Photography SEO we did.

Community oriented brands

If your business has an active, outgoing community, be sure to use Instagram for business. If you can get that community involved, for instance using Instagram contests, you can easily grow your social following on Instagram even more. Larger brands like Starbucks and Ben & Jerry’s leverage that community very well in Instagram.

Examples:

Personal branding

Although most businesses won’t be able to relate to these, Instagram is used a lot by celebrities, of course. Justin Bieber gets 60K+ comments for just sticking his tongue out. But that’s not our business…

Examples:

Next to the obvious photographers, I am sure you can come up with more businesses that will do well on Instagram, but these are the four main groups I found. A number of weeks ago, Instagram announced they have over 300 million accounts at the moment. Regardless of how active these accounts are, with over 70 million photos and videos shared every day, that’s a lot. Period.

Using Instagram for business

The common thread of all Instagram business profiles seems to be either great photography or a mix of business (product photos) and fun (either funny images or happy employee pictures). I totally agree with Kevan Lee from Buffer, who mentions these important Instagram for business guidelines:

  1. Post consistently, but avoid being pushy.
  2. Show what others can do with your product, not just the product.

Keep in mind that Facebook, that acquired Instagram in 2012, still has a much larger user base. Sharing your Instagram efforts on Facebook as well seems to pay off as a result of that. Besides the easy ‘mixing’ of Facebook and Instagram for business purposes, Facebook also repeats the hashtags created on Instagram.

Hashtags in Instagram

These hashtags are very valuable. In fact, you can’t go wrong with these. In the same article, Kevan mentions a finding (after testing) by Max Woolfe: The more hashtags you use, the more likes your photo will get. The article states that: “Instagram photos which have the maximum of 30 #tags receive, on average, about three times as many Likes than photos with only a few tags.”
Now I don’t want to encourage you to add 30 hashtags to every image – I like less tags for better user experience – but it does seem to work. In the image based setup of the social platform, Instagram might be less easy to browse and relies a bit more on hashtags because of that. But that is just me thinking out loud. Bottom line: use hashtags.

Instagram for your consultancy business

Like Pinterest, Instagram is about visualisation of your company. Some brands and products are easy to promote via Instagram, others seem less likely to succeed in this. Do we use Instagram at Yoast? Hardly.

Although our target audience might be on Instagram, Facebook remains a very effective and perhaps easier to turn to platform to reach that audience (due to reach, experience, etc). But we do realize that the ease of posting on Instagram, Facebook developing the tool, growth of use and celebrities and big brands using it actively, Instagram for business could be / is the next big thing.

Thibault Davoult from Nitrogram wrote a very nice article: The 5 Biggest Misconceptions About Using Instagram for Business. I had all these arguments about why we don’t actively use Instagram and he basically killed all the arguments in that one post. Be sure to read it when you feel that your product, like ours, files under ‘unsexy’. The only remaining reason is that it isn’t in our regular social media system. Yet.

Convince me.

Convince me on how to incorporate Instagram in our social media strategy. Should consultancy companies, or software companies for that matter, fill their own Instagram feed and how? What kind of images would you be interested in from Yoast, for instance?

If you are a self-proclaimed Instagram for business guru, I trust you will have some insights for us. Looking forward to these!

This post first appeared as Instagram for business? on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!