With so many brands investing more and more in their social media presence, it is becoming harder and harder to stand out.
You need to be always experimenting with new tricks and formats, and you need to always surprise your current followers to acquire new ones.
With that in mind (and as a preparation for the fast-approaching new year), I’ve compiled a list of some of the most creative tools and tricks you can use to make your social media content stand out!
Of course, different social media platforms may require different tricks, but this collection of ideas offers almost universal tips and examples:
1. Up Your animated GIF Game
Images have scientifically been proven to improve social media engagement and animated images perform even better, so it is only natural to start by upping your visual marketing game.
From creative cinemographs to humorous movie memes, animated GIFs made a confident come-back to our lives a few years ago, and they remain powerful social media content these days.
You can certainly find great animated GIFs online (or even download from Twitter), but your best bet is—as always—to create your own original content. The good news, you don’t need to hire designers or buy expensive software for that.
Pixaloop, a creative app by Lightricks, is one of my latest (and favorite) discoveries. Pixaloop allows you to “bring your photos to life.” In essence, the app allows you to animate any part of your photo:
- Use arrows to set the motion direction
- Place anchors to hold parts of image in place
- Freeze sections of photos to keep them still.
On top of that, you get a variety of video effects, overlay objects (stars, butterflies, candle flickers, coffee steam, etc.), camera effects, and movements. It is a powerful toolset for creating awesome updates that can fit just about any social media feed, regardless of the platform.
The app has a free option which I upgraded to an unlimited access for (I think) about $4 per month.
2. Take Advantage of ASCII Art
Text art (also referred to as ASCII art) is another older trend that made a comeback thanks to Twitter.
There are many people out there that don’t appreciate ASCII art; we call those people “idiots”.
Somewhere between the widely popular shrug emoticon and the sign bunny memes, turning your keyboard symbols into funny cartoons is a thing again!
Some brands are actually becoming famous due to the creative (and well-branded) ASCII art. @MoonPie is the perfect example of putting their products inside a hilarious and sharable context by using basic ASCII art:
If you are willing to explore this trick, here are a few resources and tools helping create social-media-friendly ASCII art:
- Here’s a collection of ASCII bunnies to copy-paste in your social media updates or comments
- Here are more text figures and emoticons to copy(, edit) and paste!
- If you are geeky enough, here’s a nice tutorial on using Node.js to create ASCII art from any picture.
3. Create Long-Form Content
Long-form content is an overall trend that impacts many marketing tactics. More and more brands are creating huge lists and tutorials that take hours to read. They have been found to rank better (longer content receives 77.2% more backlinks than short articles) and they appear to do well on social media.
But long-form content is not only good for your on-site content—it’s also great for social media updates. More and more thought leaders are putting long Twitter threads together that read like articles. For example, when talking about Quora on Twitter, Anita Campbell, founder of Small Biz Trends, includes personal stats, results, and tips to achieve more on Quora.
Obviously, Twitter is not the only social media platform to try long-form content. Other networks seem to be adopting longer content formats as well. Fohr has published a research study claiming that the average caption length on Instagram has more than doubled since 2016.
[There’s a good reason to believe, the caption length will grow even more in 2021]
Sharing stories on Instagram is quickly becoming a thing! Followers like to watch pictures, but it’s the text caption that makes them comment, answer questions and contribute their opinions.
When creating long-form content, don’t forget that it is still your official account and your brand. Make sure your voice is consistent and professional:
- Before you ever schedule long-form posts for social media channels, proofread everything. It is a good idea to use a grammar checker tool.
- To generate more ideas, use Text Optimizer. It will suggest more angles and help you create better optimized context for your long-form content:
Bonus: Keep an Eye on Your Results
No serious marketing strategy can exist without careful and consistent measuring of results. Social media is no exception. There’s no shortage of social media analytics tools that help you monitor your content performance and identify your best performing updates.
Agorapulse is one example. It gives you full control over your social media schedule and helps you track your cross-channel content performance.
It is always a good idea to adjust your analytics dashboard to instantly see how your social media traffic is interacting with your site. There are a few powerful solutions for that that also integrate with your site, but the easiest (yet the most in-depth) one is probably Finteza: a service that lets you slice and dice your data by traffic sources, demographics and on-site engagement:
Creating social media updates that stand out is art. There’s no single way to do that. It takes weeks and months of experimentation and measuring results. It involves lots of brainstorming and creativity. And this makes the process so exciting!
I hope the above ideas will help you come up with some original social media content that will bring new followers and brand advocates. Good luck!