How to Get People to Actually Look at Your Social Posts

How to Get People to Actually Look at Your Social Posts

The ArtSpeak Guide to Optimizing Social Content

Andrew Arrol | August 11, 2020 | Church Marketing Church Website Creativity marketing marketing web Social Media

You ideate, strategize, and spend precious time gathering and creating content.

You have meeting after meeting, process after process, that gets you from nothing to something.

Maybe you’re a lead pastor trying to make it happen. Or a communications director with a team of specialists. Maybe you’re the lone social media manager wondering if anyone will help you move your social media forward.

Whoever you are, we've all felt the frustration of posting content we care about, only to get mediocre results.

Your post barely reaches anyone. That one weird guy who likes everything you do likes it and leaves an off-topic comment. You start to question, “Do these numbers even mean anything?”

While may factors lead to a thriving, engaging social media presence, a frequently overlooked item is post-optimization.

What is Post Optimization?

It’s what it sounds like: optimizing your posts to perform optimally. Specifically, adjusting all aspects of your post to best utilize the platform it’s being shared on.

It’s not so much what the content is, but more how it is presented and what is pulled out of it.

Let’s do a little quiz to highlight what this can look like:

You shoot a promo video inviting your community to an upcoming event. What format(s) do you want to receive that promo video in? 

A.) 16:9  B.) 4:5?  C.) 9:16  D.) All of the above

The answer is...it depends. The main factors include: What channels are you posting to? Why are you posting to those channels? What are you trying to achieve with this content?

And besides the aspect ratio needed for your video on each channel, what about length? Captions? What’s the first thing someone will see - a thumbnail? A screengrab? The video itself?

While a holistic mindset will certainly go farthest in helping guide you towards what content to post and how to present, there are general, concrete best practices for each platform.

Why Optimize Your Posts?

Now, you may be thinking something like: "So what if I don’t know the answers to these questions...our video/graphic is awesome/dope/a banger. Isn’t that all that matters?"

To a certain extent - yes. If you have a fantastic piece of content, that can overcome a lot of obstacles. However, think about it this way:

Let’s say there’s a brand new ice cream shop in town. A friend tells you about it. You see a picture of their decadent ice cream on Instagram. They have 5 star reviews.

You’re all in. You’re ready to get this dairy delight.

You get there, and there’s a line out the door. Must be worth waiting for. You finally get to the front and order your ice cream...but they only take cash.

What? Why didn’t they say anything. There’s a post-it note on the register that you don’t see till you reach the front of the line. You only have a credit card. Now what?

Well, there’s an ATM in the building next door, so you can just run over there. When you arrive, there’s a line for the ATM because so many people don’t have cash. 

You finally get to the front of that line, get your cash, and head back to the ice cream shop. They had to throw out your melty ice cream because it’s been so long, and guess what? You have to wait in line again because everyone wants this amazing ice cream.

There are a lot of obstacles here. And sure, they can be overcome. And the ice cream was good. But do you really want to be in such a chaotic environment again?

Do you really want to come back to an environment where you had to overcome multiple obstacles to get something great? What if you try a new flavor next time and it’s not that good?

There are only so many times you can have dark chocolate peanut butter ice cream a week (or maybe...not? 😉).

The point is: you want the least amount of obstacles possible between you and something awesome. 

And let’s add another layer in: what if you were just walking home and they had a guy at the door yelling “Hey, you! Come try this ice cream! It’s really good. Man, everyone loves it.”

Unless you see someone holding the ice cream, you probably aren’t going to just drop your normal routine to try something new, even if in actuality, it’s awesome.

Add even one more layer. There are hundreds of ice cream shops right next to each other, all screaming the same thing. So, which one are you going to try, if you even try one?

This is what you’re up against on social media: Thousands upon thousands of high quality voices, with great content, just like yours (or maybe even better).

So who’s going to get the attention? Among the hundreds of pieces of content people scroll past every day, which pieces of content will get people's attention?

One of the most consistent factor across the majority of high performing content is this: It’s easy to consume.

You don’t have to overcome an obstacle. It grabs your attention right away. You see what it’s all about. After a few seconds, you’re invested and want to check the whole thing out. Maybe even take a meaningful action.

This is because that piece of content leveraged the format and opportunities the platform it is on provides.

Okay...so how do I optimize my content?

The briefest way to approach optimizing your content is through one mindset shift:

You know the amount of time you spend trying to make sure a piece of your content is centered around a cool concept, looks visually appealing, or sounds witty?

Spend an equal amount of energy thinking about how someone will read or watch this content on the platform you’re posting it on.

First, regardless of platform, remember this: Most online content is viewed on a mobile device.

That widescreen, anamorphic 4K video you shot? It definitely looks cool...but it’s going to take up about one-sixth of a phone screen, unless someone actually bothers to turn off their screen orientation lock and hold their phone sideways, forgoing the ability to continue browsing or engaging with other comments.

The majority of the time, it's best to optimize photos and videos for vertical viewing.

Your really crispy 16:9 4k video of your lead pastor inviting people to the next sermon series will most likely not perform as well as that same pastor in the same environment doing a cellphone selfie video. It may even perform better in front of the church or their house.

Want to know how to use your social numbers to tell what is successful and what isn’t? Click here and get the guide on making sense of your online numbers.

Here’s another factor to consider: most people consume video without sound on.

Want that 30-year-old male and his family to even take the time to check out your church? Make your video consumable when they can't (or don't want to) turn on the sound.

Whether in the restroom, at the dinner table, during a work meeting (8th zoom call of the day—#WFH), or laying down in bed with screen orientation locked, people watch videos on their mobile devices all day.

If you're fortunate enough to grab their attention, but they need to turn the sound on, then guess what? They keep scrolling. At best, your most die-hard advocates will save the video for later.

Adopt this rule as quickly as possible for anything with an audio component: Videos must communicate effectively with the sound off and delight with the sound on.

This allows anyone to watch it. Plus, it trains people to recognize the value of giving full attention and time to your content when they use sound.

Per Platform Optimizations

Okay, let’s get into the nitty gritty, per platform optimizations you can make, on platforms most churches use:

Facebook

  • First thing people see: Copy
    • Therefore: make sure your copy is short, intriguing, and complements the visual content (and doesn’t replace it).
    • Example: Don't list every single topic your upcoming sermon series covers when the cool, vertical bumper video you're posting shares what those topics are. Instead, ask a question that hits on the pain point the series solves. (Here's how to find out what pain points your audience cares about.)
  • Image Content Optimizations
    • Aspect Ratios
      • 4:5 is best practice because it takes up the most screen real estate (and the same format is used by other key platforms).
      • Runner up - 1:1 aka, old faithful. Squares are what social was built on and can still go a long way. Sometimes, depending on the assets you’re using, squares may leverage your content in a more visually pleasing manner.
    • Content - Faces of real people involved in your community will almost grab more attention than a graphic. Fewer graphics, more people!
  • Video Content Optimizations
    • Aspect Ratio: A tie - 4:5 and 1:1.
      • Both can perform about equally as well on Facebook. 4:5 does take up more space on a mobile screen, but it becomes a square on a desktop.
    • The first thing people see for video content (after copy)
      • In newsfeed: the video itself. 
        • The video autoplays unless the user has low power, a bad connection, or autoplay turned off (almost no one does).
      • In Facebook Watch: A thumbnail or a chosen frame. 
        • If Facebook indexes your video and someone watches a related video by tapping into it, your video may be next up in the Facebook Watch video feed. In this case, they will see the thumbnail of your video below the one they're viewing.

Instagram, IGTV, and Reels

  • First thing people see: The visual content. 
    • Make sure your image or video is easily digestible and grabs attention immediately. For video, aim to keep it for at least 3 seconds...usually at that point, people decide if they’re in or not.
  • Images
  • Video
    • Aspect Ratios
      • Feed - 4:5
        • Same reasons as Facebook, but no chance of reduced performance on desktop. 1:1 works if needed.
      • IGTV - 9:16
        • You can post 16:9 videos if your content really doesn’t work in vertical. But next time, plan on making it work, because it’s barely taking up any screen real estate. Plus, there’s just a premium feeling about a video taking up the entire screen of a phone.
    • Reels
      • Reels, Instagram's TikTok competitor, is brand new as of the publication of this article. While people are trying to learn the best way to leverage this new feature, here are some best practices to consider:
        • Length of video: 15 seconds or less
          • Your video needs to be short and punchy. Take a devo, break it into two to three walk-away points, and illustrate + share a walk away per video. Boom - 3 videos.
        • Aspect Ratio: 9:16 only
        • What’s seen first
          • Main Feed: a 4:5 crop of your 9:16 video - make sure that crop communicates clearly
          • Explore: you guessed it...4:5
          • Scrolling through Reels: 9:16 - if you video gets served through the algorithm, the video will start playing from frame 1 full screen. Make sure it’s interesting.
        • Use text to help illustrate each section of the video.
        • Try to break up the video in 3-4 second increments to hold attention the entire time - new text, effects, zooms, etc.

YouTube

  • First thing people see: 
    • In general, it's your thumbnail. But think Facebook for mobile feed, here. Videos can autoplay, and you may be surprised how many people will watch silently for 3, 10, 30 seconds before tapping into the video. 
      • Make sure it’s intriguing from the start and utilizes captions. Often, a graphic isn’t the best thing for people to see first. Instead, try having a real person address the camera head on.
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Safest Bet: 16:9
    • Mobile First: 4:5
      • Doing a mobile-first strategy for YouTube? Maybe you’re trying to reach a younger audience exclusively? 
        • Experiment with 4:5 video - no black bars on mobile.
  • One More Thing: Besides the thumbnail/start of video, there’s actually another item to consider that people see first on YouTube — the title.
    • Use an interesting title that makes someone intrigued about your content. Less “check this out,” more “How to…”
      • Examples
        • How to Study the Bible
        • How to Overcome Guilt
        • 3 Ways to Cultivate Healthy Relationships
        • The One Thing that can Increase Your Faith
      • Don’t give away the video, but hit a pain point or make a value promise.

What Actually Makes Sense?

This can seem like a lot. If social media isn’t your everyday thing, or you’re just getting started, all these little details can seem overwhelming.

Depending on your bandwidth, it may not make sense to try to optimize every little thing on every platform. And, in case you didn't notice, we didn’t even talk about Twitter or TikTok!

You need to consider the amount of time you’re investing in optimization. Remember, you want to invest as much energy into optimization as content creation — not more.

And that’s because there are a few things to consider for your team’s health in relation to the amount of work put into your content.

First, you don’t need to use every platform. And not every platform will be as important to your audience.

Don’t spread yourself thin. Focus on one, maybe two platforms. Get really good at those, then, if it makes sense, branch out.

Work smarter, not harder.

Did you notice some crossover in all of the details listed above? For example, think mobile first. That way, you can make all your content 4:5 so it's optimized for every platform. Or chances are, you’re making a 4:5 crop out of  a 16:9 video. Use your fancy 4:5 version on Facebook and Insta, but keep your initial 16:9 on YouTube.

Also, you can create your assets (video, photos, etc.) with a "vertical-first" mobile mindset. If you take the video or photo in portrait orientation, you’re a step ahead. Or, make sure your subject is centered with breathing room around it.

Listen up! No one’s listening.

Facebook and YouTube can generate captions for your videos automatically. That just leaves Instagram. While we love a good animated captions sermon or podcast clip, you can get by just sticking an intriguing title somewhere on the video that’s easily readable.

Two out of three are optimized, and it takes five minutes to use an app to overlay a title. Work with what you got.

Do the best with what you have.

At the end of the day, God has entrusted you with certain resources. Be thankful for that.

Whatever it is, large or small, high-end DSLR or cell phone camera, you have something. You’re positioned to reach people.

Lean in. Do the work. Be healthy. Execute your mission.

You can do this.

We can help. Fill out the form below, and we'll be in touch with a free 30-minute consultation.