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Avoiding the “cricket chirp” post: Three factors to optimize social media engagement

Creating engaging social media conversations is both an art and a science. As Hearsay Social’s Data Analysis Manager, I’ve identified three factors that most impact a post’s response: 1) media type, 2) timing, and 3) language.
The “cricket chirp” post
If you’re an active social media user, you’ve probably experienced this. Like a joke that falls flat, a cricket chirp post is one that doesn’t get any response. No comments. No retweets. Not even a “like.”

Photo by A Bremner

After posting a cricket chirp post you may find yourself wondering, “What did I do wrong? Not funny enough? Stale topic? Bad timing?” It happens to everyone, but thankfully, addressing these three factors will decrease the likelihood of such instances.

 

A post was viewed 1,106 times but received no "likes" or comments; a well received post, right.

1. Media type

The first thing you should consider is what type of media you are posting. Text, pictures, videos, links, and polls each have their own benefits. Here’s a brief summary of your options:

  • Text – The standard form of posting on social media. Text allows you to communicate a message, ask a question, or make a comment.
  • Link – Including a link in your social media posts gives your followers somewhere to go to explore the subject in more depth. You can link to a blog post you’ve written, share product info, or educate your contacts on industry news.
  • Image – Attaching images to a post allows you to share a visual experience. In Facebook, you can upload pictures into a post. You can also post pictures on Twitter by using services like TwitPic, Twitgoo or yfrog. These services allow you to include a caption with your image.
  • Video – Embedding video in a post allows your followers to watch a clip straight from their dashboard. You can use this to include a video of yourself, like a video blog. Or you can post a video relevant to your business. This is a great way to share instructional, funny, or topical video content.
  • Poll – This relatively new feature on Facebook allows you to ask questions and have your followers respond with votes. Polls make it easy to keep track of industry trends and preferences, especially when you have a lot of followers.

2. Timing
In the real-time world of social media, many companies are realizing that when a message is posted can be more important than what the message is. An otherwise successful Facebook post can fall to the wayside if it’s posted at the wrong time.
It’s important to understand your market and who your target audience is. Every group has different trends of when they use social media. Males aged 18-24 won’t have the same Facebook habits as stay-at-home moms. There are even differences across networks: Twitter, for example, is very busy on Mondays.
Looking at a graph of your audience’s log-in rate helps you get a better idea of when to post. (For industry-specific charts, stay tuned for future blog posts!)

By posting content before peak usage times, you’ll help increase the amount of eyes on your post. But at the same time, posting during peak hours might cause your message to get buried under a flurry of other posts. Fortunately Facebook’s newsfeed allows your customers to filter posts by “most recent” or “most popular” (as judged based on number of comments and likes). When your posts get more comments, they will appear to more potential customers. So, getting the timing right will give you an extra boost!
3. Language
Word selection in social media is an art; the only limit is your creativity. The language factor can be further broken down into voice, sentence structure, and placement.

  • Voice – The one thing that all great social media users have in common is that they use a distinctive voice. They speak to their audiences in natural and relatable language. I follow @TechCrunch for technology news and @SurfingMagazine for surfing news. Both use a vocabulary and tone that suits them. @TechCrunch doesn’t use the word “stoked,” nor have I ever heard @SurfingMagazine use the word “disruptive.”
  • Structure – Depending on how you word it, your post can be considered more direct or passive. Consider these examples:
    • Interested in buying a new 2011 widget?  Click here for more info: http://www.link.com
    • Tom from Grove City, PA loves his 2011 widget! What do you think? http://www.link.com
    While both of these examples link to the widget website, they take different approaches. The first is a strong sales pitch, while the second offers a personal feel and asks an open-ended question. Which do you think is more likely to get a response? (Spoiler alert: It’s the second one.)
  • Placement– Where you place certain elements in a post makes a difference. Are you asking a question at the very end or somewhere in the middle of the post? If you’re including a link, is it going at the beginning or the end of the post?
    • On Twitter, there are a number of popular elements such as @ and #. If you’re directing your post at someone, you can choose to include an @ at the beginning of the tweet—where his or her name would appear naturally—or tack it onto the end. Placement affects how the message is interpreted and received.

Hope these factors lend some insight on avoiding the “cricket post.” Check back for my future blog posts featuring specific tips, industry insights, and supporting data. See you then!

Greg Kroleski

With a background in data science, SEO and analytics, Greg Kroleski owned the creation and launch of the Hearsay Sites product from conception to sales and implementation.

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