This article originally appeared on 60 Second Social.

With so many of us joining social media and clamouring for attention online, the standards of what must be represented on your account is higher now than it ever has been before. Each day I get new people following me on Twitter, some time ago I would get a small handful each week, now its a small handful each day. There is no shame of course in admitting that I don’t follow all of these people back, I have a look at their accounts and if they are interesting to me then I will return a follow.

As I have pointed out to people before, #TeamFollowBack actually defeats the true purpose of Twitter, it clogs up your feed with spam and junk. The whole idea of Twitter is to curate your own feed of content that you enjoy and that interests you.

Twitter is about you, not necessarily the amount of people who are following you. That being said, it is always nice getting new followers and with social media being ever changing, the standard of what you are tweeting and sharing now has to be higher than before. It is all about making a good impression, so what are some things to take into account as we head further into 2015?

The free lunch days are over (for the managers and power users anyway)

There was a time where social media was touted as the best marketing solution because it was free as well as effective. It is still technically true that social media is free, anyone can sign up and start using a social media account without charge.

However, if you are an SME, a social media manager, or even a social media power user, you will have discovered long before now that social media management and marketing is anything but free. While you can still open free accounts, and that will never change, you need to be prepared to pay going forward whether you are a business or a power user needing power tools.

So what is it you may end up paying for? Running advertisements, social media platforms to curate and organise content, social media consultants to give advice and to help run your social media platforms. These are just some of the more common things you will end up paying money for if you are serious about marketing on social media.

Its not all doom and gloom though, for what you pay out you will get a good return for. Running ads could of course increase conversion rates on your website and reduce bounce rates. Social media tools such as Buffer and Hootsuite charge a small fee per month for some power features. For example, I pay Hootsuite €10 per month and it is well worth it, I get great analytics tools, user support and a whole bunch of in depth social media tools that I wouldn’t get on a free service.

Buffer is around €5 per month and also gives me fantastic analytics tools and suggests great new content for curation and sharing. For what I get from those services it is well worth €15 per month and I would be lost without them.

Content curation is key

Speaking of content curation and sharing content, the standard now is higher than ever expected before on social media. Thousands of people are tuning in, if you share junk then people will view your account as junk. This is even more important if you are advertising your own content, it needs to be engaging. If you post something that is boring, bland and a blatant advertisement to sell something to people then you can expect low engagement and poor reach.

You need to be creating quality, sharable content. You need to create content that people will want to share with their followers. Don’t be disheartened if you create something that you perceive to be good and it turns out not to be the case. This happens to all of us, it is part of the highs and lows of content creation. Personally I have over 500 articles on 60 Second Social and over 100 articles on Irish Tech News and I can guarantee you there are articles in there which I thought were great but would love to take back.

Its not the end of the world if you create something which is not engaging, learn from the experience, make the corrections and make the next piece of content really count.

Failing that you can invest in hiring a content creator, this is becoming more popular among blogs and companies. Someone who has a large following on social media is well established and you can be assured that it is due to the quality of their content.

Visual content is the way forward

This can scare some people, especially those who feel out of their depth when it comes to graphics, however Facebook will begin demonstrating an increased preference for visual content this year. Twitter has already started a similar trend by rolling out an update to the feeds on mobile where the profile picture is reduced and the photo now takes up the full width of your feed (Don’t be alarmed if you haven’t received this update yet it is still being rolled out at the moment).

There is no need to fear though if you are a terrible graphic designer, like me. There are plenty of great tools such as Canva which is an image creation tool and helps you to easily create stunning visuals to share with your social media posts. Just to give you an indication on how important visuals actually are, Kissmetrics reported that photos on social media receive 104% more comments, 84% more clicks and 53% more likes than any text based post.

Social media is all about staying on top of your marketing strategy, adapting quick to new changes and implementing them fast to stay on top of the game. Failure to keep up can have terrible consequences for your social media marketing campaign going forward. If you think you can put a social media marketing plan in place, let it run and then ignore it and hope for results, well you are going to be bitterly disappointed.

About The Author

Mark is the founder of 60 Second Social media where he provides social media news and digital marketing analysis, he is also a proud father of his bearded dragon, Lola. You can follow him on Twitter here. You can also follow 60 Second Social on Twitter here.

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