The scene begins … I’m holding a heavy cabinet while my friend checks the spirit level. “It all begins with the cornerstone cabinet,” he’s says. I nod. My yoga breathing is helping me as he levels the cabinet and drills the screw holes.

long-form content on social media

When the last cabinet was in, I was reminded of the golden rule of carpentry. When the foundation is right, everything that follows is true. If that first cabinet starts off even the slightest bit out of alignment, by the time you get to the end of the wall, the very last cabinet is not just a little out of whack, it’s A LOT out of whack.

So we go along, putting each cabinet up, straightening, nudging, aligning. We make it right.  And the spirit level (how great a name is that for a tool?) is consulted time and time again. We are constantly seeking the right level.

“Trust the bubble,” he says. “It never lies.”

Trusting myself

When I began writing blogs and posting on social media, the bubble in my internal spirit level was off. I was trying to follow a format that existed rather than find my own path. It took awhile, but now I post in my own style.  The caption or blog might be short, it might be long depending on what I have to say. And I’m OK if not everyone likes everything. The key is to simply show up consistently with something to say.

Case in point, a friend recently said to me, “I love the way you write and I will read all the way through, but I’m wondering if your posts might be too long for most people.”

They say your vibe attracts your tribe. I’ve always had a person in mind when I write and you are still there with me – that person who says thank you, or I get it, or that helped me today.  It’s about you. I want to connect with my perfect person and if that person doesn’t like reading three paragraphs, they probably 1. aren’t reading this anymore!  And 2. aren’t right for my message.

For clients, I post in a style that is true to them, but lately, with the changes Facebook and Instagram have made, my team and I experiment with post length, style, time of day, etc. For instance, last week we posted three stories of about 300 words each on the Images by Lighting Facebook page — one a day — small blog posts about three fantasy events, perfect for getting in the holiday  spirit. We got the best response EVER. From the stats on the back-end, we got thousands of views and on the front end, more likes than we had been getting just posting one pretty picture at a  time. Next month we will try more Facebook Live sessions. It’s about staying fresh.

Why that works…

Facebook has found that by restricting our access to followers, it can get us to pay to promote posts and take out ads. I don’t begrudge that in the least. They are a business, and that’s what businesses do. But we, as users of this platform, can’t continue to do the same thing we’ve been doing and expect different results. And so we make a shift with Facebook, realigning our spirit level with its in order to find balance.

Business pages used to get 12 – 20 percent organic growth simply by posting. Now, with the new algorithms, it’s five percent at best. It’s important to remember we are not only working to keep our viewers happy, but working to keep Facebook happy too!

Here are a few things we can do to align with Facebook better and revive pages:

  1. Longer story posts instead of links to blogs or articles that take viewers away from Facebook.
  2. Create engagement on our pages  by changing up our cover and profile photos more often.
  3. Do introduction posts once a month about your team, your philosophy, or yourself if you are a solopreneur.
  4. Facebook Live rather than posting Youtube or Vimeo content.
  5. Use some of their emoticons (“Feeling … “) and their color backgrounds once in a while.
  6. Share content from others on Facebook.

And so I’ve gone long …

I’m not alone in liking or promoting longer posts. Ev Williams, the founder of Twitter, made waves when he started a blog called Medium to bring back long-form writing. Yes, the creator of 140 characters believes in paragraphs! He started Medium to find another way to connect because as he said, “There’s more “content” than ever. But it’s also harder than ever to find signal amongst the noise and facts amongst the fiction — let alone inspiring ideas and high-level discourse, which is what the internet was meant to be.” Read more of were Medium is at now after five years.

And yet, even with the noise, people are finding their tribe via long-form. On Instagram, most of the people I follow are doing more than sharing pretty pictures. They are telling stories, engaging with followers and imparting information and inspiration. A few of these are @hilaryrushford, @jasminestar, @onlinestylist, @laracasey, @ryanholiday, @jengotch. Even @garyvee, who made his name with video, goes on for a few paragraphs. And for those of you who like some hard evidence, last year the Pew Research Center came out with a study that showed people will read longer content on their smart phones if it captures their attention and is of value.

The point is …we might have gotten out of whack with what we thought that social media was.

marketing goalsWe thought it was a lot of followers, a lot of likes. Then that changed.

We thought it was great visuals. Then everyone had the same photo and style.

marketing goals

We thought it was about about connecting through thoughts, feelings and making content that matters. And we were right!

 

I’m hoping that our spirit levels will check the bubble again and see content, words, connecting as something more than just clicking on “like.” Leave a comment on posts you like, start a conversation, go ahead — it is, after all, SOCIAL media! It’s a bubble, to be sure, but the bubble never lies when we are true to our spirit.

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