Shama Hyder, Social Media Guru, on Five Strategies to Help You Break Through the Noise

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In the early days of COVID, racking up social media views was suddenly easy—after all, everyone's schedule had suddenly cleared. But, as the pandemic has worn on for months, social media expert Shama Hyder notes, "People are becoming even more choosy about their [media] consumption. The first webinar's cool, the second's cool...and the 80th webinar better really bring it, right?"

Every Thursday at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT, I host Better, a Newsweek video interview program streaming on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Hyder—founder and CEO of Zen Media, a digital marketing and PR firm, and author of The Zen of Social Media Marketing and Momentum: How to Propel Your Marketing and Transform Your Brand in the Digital Age—was a recent guest. During the interview, she shared these five strategies to break through the noise on social media, even when it seems noisier than ever.

Follow the Three Cs

Hyder believes the most impactful social content these days has three key characteristics: It's compact, consistent, and creative.

"Micro is winning right now," says Hyder, because of short attention spans and general media overload. For instance, if you're giving a virtual talk, she suggests scheduling it for 30 or 45 minutes, rather than the traditional 60-minute presentation, because audiences will be better able to pay attention.

Dorie Clark, Shama Hyder
Better host Dorie Clark (right); social media expert, Shama Hyder

Consistency—building a relationship with your audience by sharing content at regular, predetermined intervals—also matters. For instance, in my book Entrepreneurial You, I profile popular men's fashion video blogger Antonio Centeno, who believes frequent, consistent posting has been the secret to his massive subscriber growth.

Finally, Hyder says, we have to be creative in order to stand out. That means continually experimenting and trying new ways to connect with your audience. Among the switch-it-up tactics you might try: talking about different topics you don't usually cover, varying the length of your posts or your videos or creating some content that's more personal in nature.

Don't Be Everywhere

"It's very easy for me to sit here and say, 'Be on every [social channel]," says Hyder. "I know a lot of gurus do that. But it's such terrible advice because it all depends on your bandwidth. Do you have a team of 20 you can deploy?" Most of us don't.

The solution, according to Hyder: "Get on the platform where you can be consistent." That usually means the intersection of the platform where your audience congregates and where you enjoy posting. For instance, Hyder and I work with professional clients, and therefore we both put most of our online efforts into LinkedIn, where I also offer a weekly e-newsletter.

Create Pillar Content

Hyder is a believer in what she calls "pillar content"—meaning, creating rich material on a particular topic and then leveraging that content in multiple ways.

An example: "When trade shows were canceled [at the start of COVID]," she recalls, "we did a macro topic of 'what to do now that your trade show has been canceled.'" She created both a video and an article on that theme, and then deployed her team to mine them for tweets she could send out, a related Instagram post she could create, additional places to share the video (such as LinkedIn and YouTube), and more.

Play the Long Game

Since the dawn of social media, the quest to "go viral" has become a cultural obsession. But Hyder says that's not the point. "What's more true is that [growing a following is] much slower than that. It really needs time to build. You have to look at it as a long game."

Viral hits are rare, Hyder notes, and lasting success doesn't stem from a one-hit wonder. "If you're really looking to build something long term—your business, your brand, your career, whatever it is—you have to realize that it's not that one thing that matters," Hyder says. "It's that thing that you do every single day."

Be Willing to Experiment

Not every piece of social content you share is going to be a hit. So you have to be willing to take chances and accept that failure is part of the process.

At the enterprise level, for instance, "You have to have leadership that's open and willing to experiment and try new things," says Hyder. As the post-COVID economy shakes out and employees start eyeing other opportunities, Hyder believes that the ability of companies to retain talent will depend on their agility, flexibility and willingness to say, 'Hey, let's do it. We're game.'"

The same holds true for us as individuals experimenting with social media. "There are times I put something out there that I'm like, 'Whew, best work ever, Hyder, great job!'" she says. But the audience isn't always interested, so she learns from it and moves on.

Most companies—and by now, most professionals—recognize the importance of building a strong brand on social media. Connecting with engaged followers enables you to gain valuable consumer insights, recruit talent and sell your products more quickly, and have a bigger impact in your field and beyond.

But as I describe in my book Stand Out, breaking through the noise is more of a challenge than ever, as millions of homebound professionals sit glued to their computers, often creating content of their own. By following these strategies, you'll have a far better chance of getting your ideas noticed and heard in a crowded world.

Dorie Clark, author of Entrepreneurial You and Duke University Fuqua School of Business professor, hosts Newsweek's weekly interview series, Better, on Thursdays at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m, PT at newsweek.com/linkedinlive. Learn more and download her free Stand Out self-assessment.

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