As the digital world has become more prevalent than ever, the social media landscape has become a familiar place for brands. For marketers, the importance of posting regularly and generating engaging content is well known.

But with the popularity of social media comes greater competition for attention. So how do you ensure your brand stands out from the social media crowd? Try this checklist to help you ensure each social post is optimized for success:

1. Follow brand guidelines. Establishing or updating your brand guidelines is crucial in how your brand will be represented on social media. When thinking in terms of content, keep an eye out for your brand’s voice tone, imagery and mission in each post. Some questions to keep in mind are:

  • Does your post reflect your brand voice?
  • Is the correct tone conveyed in your copy?
  • Are the images, graphics, visuals or emojis in line with your brand guidelines?
  • Is your post in line with your brand’s mission?

By answering yes to these questions when you post, you create consistency over time, which will build brand recognition and loyalty.

2. Give your audience what they want. Your audience is the star of the show. After all, they put the “social” in all of this, right? The key to social media success begins by understanding who your audience is and their motives in following your brand. Once this is addressed, give them the value they want. Some examples include educational or informative content, current events or industry news. Next, decide the most effective ways to convey this information. This could be a photo, curated article, blog, infographic, video or perhaps a combination of all of these to diversify your content.

3. Create strong copy. As we know, people often rapidly scroll through social media to catch the latest updates. So, how do you get your viewers to notice your post? Creating strong copy may do the trick. For starters, keep it short enough so that scrollers can digest your message in 20 seconds or less. Remember, the goal here is to grab your audience’s interest just enough to make them pause and engage—the last thing you want is to lose them over too-lengthy post copy. Another tip is to use descriptive words that help you make your message more concise, yet attention-grabbing. Asking an open-ended question in your post can also be a useful tactic.

4. Find the sweet spot for cadence. Research and experimentation can help you better reach your audience by determining the ideal timing and frequency of posts. The key is to know your target demographics such as what time zones they live in, their age and how these factors affect when they scroll on social media. For example, a bakery in a college town may consider posting photos of their treats later in the evening to target college students who are up studying late. Frequency is also an important factor. You risk losing your followers by bombarding them, so monitor social performance to determine a frequency that works well such as posting daily or a few times a week.

5. Use relevant hashtags. Hashtags are effective in tailoring the relevancy of your posts towards various topics and interests of your audience and making them searchable. As a result, you may open the door for new visitors to stumble on your content. To decide which hashtags are best suited for your post based on popularity, search hashtags on your social channels to gauge how many posts have utilized that hashtag. If a hashtag is used often, such as posts in the six or seven digits, you certainly don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to give your post more visibility. Just be sure that you are balancing popularity with relevancy. For example, there are currently 246 million posts that use #sunset on Instagram, but if that hashtag isn’t relevant to your post, it’s best to avoid it.

6. Appeal to visual senses. Incorporating visuals in your posts is one of the top ways to attract your audience’s attention. This could be in the form of still images or videos. Social media is well-known as a place of short attention spans, and images are known for having the power to stop the scroll. According to Venngage, visuals increase the desire to read content by 80 percent. So, it’s worth taking the time to consider visuals for every post carefully.

Happy Marketing!