Country Arts WA’s social media tips
Social media can be a bit of a wild west, but if your main concern is the wild west of regional Western Australia – then we’ve got some home grown experience to hand over to you.
This guide was last updated in August 2018.
To help you navigate the ins and outs we’ve boiled down our social media advice to four essential components, and served them up below. We’ll also continue to update this guide to ensure it stays relevant, so check back in every now and then when you’re making your social media plan.
Images and Videos
If you go check out your page’s top posts of all time today, you’ll notice something pretty quick. Most of them probably have great images or videos.
“A picture tells a thousand words” is an adage that has never been truer than today – as we’re bombarded with texts, emails, signs, posts, articles, tweets – and the way to cut through that noise is with an emotive, high quality picture.
There’s two ways to look at the picture issue: One way, as I’ve just described above, is that pictures are much more likely to provoke a strong emotional response from social media viewers quickly – and that means they’re more likely to like or share the post. This is great for you because it means your message gets out to a wider audience, as your fans echo it out for you.
The other way to look at it is to acknowledge the power of the algorithm: Facebook’s brain loves your pictures (especially your videos) and hates your words. The number of people that see a post (which Facebook calls “reach”) is generally far higher for posts that contain a picture or video. You can try and cheat the system a bit by putting text in your pictures, but even that can trigger Facebook’s brain to starve your post of the attention it needs. The best combination is a short bit of text, maybe a link, and a striking, emotive image or short video – try not to put text in the image where possible.
Pick your Platform
You can’t be everywhere at once. If you’re a regional WA not-for-profit or artist, your resources are likely already stretched enough without having to deal with social media. That’s why you should only pick the places where your audience is, and that you have the resources to tend to.
Facebook and Instagram are likely going to be the best choices for most regional arts orgs. Instagram has a slightly younger, slightly more female audience and requires a picture for every post. It’s also pretty hard to link people to different web pages from your Instagram, which can limit it’s effectiveness if you’re trying to bring people to your website or sell tickets. Facebook has more overall users (a wider potential audience), does allow you to post links and can be better for busier folks because it has better post drafting and scheduling tools – but it is losing popularity with younger generations.
If you are using Facebook, Groups are becoming an increasingly important part of the platform. As well as on your page, we absolutely recommend you post occasional plugs for your work in local group pages – using your personal account if that’s something you’re comfortable doing. These groups require you to join them first, and can have tight rules around promotion or sometimes be toxic places, so check things out first. However, if you are able to use them every now and then it’s a great way of getting local attention (examples: Tom Price Discussion Board, Newman Community Discussion, Geraldton Noticeboard, Albany Mums Chat).
Twitter has a more male audience, but isn’t quite as popular in Australia as it is elsewhere in the world. We honestly haven’t used Snapchat all that much – but from our research it’s most effective with very young (school age) audiences and can be difficult to maintain a long-term audience on.
Avoid creating accounts on every platform just to post the same stuff everywhere, that hurts your authenticity. They key thing to remember is that you shouldn’t be on all of these at once. If you can do one platform well, stick to just that one – only expand when you have the capacity and content to do so well.
Tagging and Hashtags
Tagging is a good practice everywhere, but hashtags are only really important for Twitter and Instagram. If your primary concern is Facebook you won’t need to worry about hashtags.
Tagging uses the @ symbol and brings someone into the conversation by telling them that they’ve been mentioned. On Facebook typing the @ symbol followed by the name of the person or organisation you’re trying to tag should create a drop-down menu that lets you select who you want to tag. On Twitter and Instagram there’s no drop-down of suggestions, so you just have to type their exact profile name (which can be found on their profile if you don’t know it off the top of your head).
Hashtags use the # symbol and the mantra to live by is “not too popular, not too unique.” It can be tempting to use the hashtags everyone else is using, however, if they are too common your post will get lost in the crowd. Hashtags are sort of like categories or key words for your post – they help people search for your posts, and signal to viewers that you’re engaged in a discussion. Instagram posts can have up to 30 hashtags, but the best posts tend to have around 8.
Keep it Casual
For many, the trickiest part of social media is ensuring your account sounds like a person, rather than a brand or organisation.
People are bombarded with so much marketing that they tend to automatically tune out obvious marketing messages. To get through that barrier you’ve got to be a little bit fun and conversational. Ask questions in your posts, respond to people in the comments, don’t be afraid to crack a (tasteful) joke. It can be hard balance this while staying professional and trying not to sound forced – but it’s worth trying, because the alternative is often not being heard at all.
It’s also important to acknowledge that the social media landscape changes all the time. Good advice today might be terrible advice a month from now, depending on trends in how people use social media – and how the big websites change their rules. We’ll give you a great place to start, but there’s a world of experts out there online. Have a Google around for tips and tricks – try some out – and most importantly do what works for you. We’ve found that all the advice in the world can’t match up to personal experience when it comes to working out what will get the most eyes on your social media page.
Once you’ve got your head around building your posts, the next challenge is planning them out. Luckily we’ve got some great advice on that in our Community Presenter Guide.
We’re always here to help regional arts in WA, so if you’ve got any questions you’re welcome to send them through to firstname.lastname@example.org