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Five Social Media Engagement Tips For Online Publishers

Hi, I’m Tom and I’m a new recruit to Custard Media, having travelled up from a job on the news desk at NME.COM to become Custard’s Social Media Executive.

As a nice introduction I thought I’d demonstrate some of the tips I picked up while I looked after the NME Twitter and Facebook accounts during my time there. I joined NME in December 2010 and left at the end of last month. When I joined NME, it had just over 100,000 followers on Twitter and when I left it had 355,000.

Of course, I wasn’t the only one tweeting or posting updates on Facebook, the website is updated 365 days a year and from 8am until midnight, there are lots of people who help out, but I made a few strategic changes to the way NME showcased its content on social media, which really seemed to work.

1. Tweet Often

It’s often been written that the more you tweet, the more followers you’ll get, but it’s completely true. Over time, NME more than doubled the amount of tweets it would send out each day and instantly began to see rewards in terms of the number of followers it gained. The website also gets a big second wave of traffic from the US during the evening, so every day I would time the day’s biggest stories to be re-promoted on Twitter during the night. Occasionally the UK’s night owls complained that they were seeing the same story twice, but as long as I answered them and explained why, they were find about it.

2. Don’t Be Afraid To Re-Promote Your Content

While no-one obviously likes to be badgered to click on things, there’s really no harm in promoting the same thing quite a few times as you long as you’re creative in how you re-promote it. If you’ve published a big news story or a massive announcement at 8am, chances are, a lot of people will still be asleep, or travelling, or just somewhere else. As long as you preface the tweet with ‘If you missed this earlier’ or ‘A big announcement from earlier’ then you won’t annoy people who’ve already seen your content and can hook in lots of others who won’t. This can also work for weekend roundups of the week’s big news or daily roundups for an audience in another part of the world. Being honest that the content isn’t hot off the keyboard can also be a motivating factor for people to click as most active readers hate to think they’ve missed something.

3. A Bit Of Mystery Goes A Long, Long Way

Sometimes the post you’re putting out there is so seismic that the headline would tell its own story, but, if you’re promoting something with less immediate click appeal, sometimes it’s better to be extremely vague. This story, for example, was informing readers that a festival in Coventry had been cancelled due to bad weather. Normally, this would only be of interest to the people attending the festival or the most hardened Echo And The Bunnymen fans. However, when I promoted it on Twitter, I did so with the tweet ‘Yet another UK festival has been cancelled’ and scored 6,000 clicks in around half an hour. Had I tweeted all the details of what was going on, you’d have been looking at more like 60 clicks.

4. Hashtags

Readers love being part of a story, and, especially when it’s a topic that they’re passionate about, they’re happy to contribute. A good example of this occurred earlier this year when Peter Andre revealed that he’d consider writing his own ’50 Shades Of Grey’ style erotic novel. We invited users to tweet their only title for the book under the name #50shadesofpeterandre and, as well as getting some hilarious suggestions. We also got the hash tag trending within 20 minutes.

5. Retweet and Retweet

If you’re trying to get people talking on social media, it’s much easier for readers to see that you’re succeeding if you actually provide evidence that you are. Retweeting reader comments is great for a number of reasons, firstly people get a real kick out of being retweeted by a big presence and secondly, it’s far quicker to retweet something than to create a new piece of content, meaning you can give your hashtag some real momentum and be trending in no time.

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