Who thought that telling people something could be so confusing? With a myriad of social media channels out there and businesses spreading themselves thin across the growing list of options, it can be daunting to work out how, when and where to communicate your message.

Truth be told, the goalposts are often shifting and well-accepted patterns constantly overturned with the continuous developments in social media. However, we’ve outline five hot tips to help you structure your messages, in the right format and at the right time so you get the best bang for your post.

1. Keep it simple

Think about it from the readers’ point-of-view. If you’re scrolling through a Facebook home page or Twitter feed full of updates, you won’t linger on a lengthy and descriptive post. There’s a reason Twitter only gives you 140 characters to work with! Our eyes have become trained to scan and look for the interesting points that we want to engage with. Your social media messages should be a teaser or abbreviation that drives people through to a full-length message, ideally off the social media channel. This bring us to our next tip…

2. Drive your audience back to your website

Social media is great in the sense that you can update your audience with news and information. However, you do not own the space and you can’t directly conduct business within it. Your social media messages, or “teasers”, should be driving people through to your website, blog or online store where customers can engage with you directly and conduct business with you. In as many posts as possible you should be including a link to the direct page in your website you are talking about so people read the social media message, are intrigued and then click through to find out more information.

3. Intrigue your audience

A picture says 1000 words! What you want to avoid in text is what you want to make up for in imagery. Although this isn’t quite so applicable to Twitter, it’s an important consideration for Facebook. Whenever possible, include an image! People love pictures and especially pictures of other people. In your Facebook status updates try to always include an interesting and relevant image that gets your audience to pause when they see it rolling down their home page. The image makes the entire post larger, giving the message larger presence on a news feed.

4. Tag up a storm

The power of tagging and hashtagging is huge. Spread the reach of your post by tagging the pages of other parties you’re talking about and hashtagging popular subjects in your message. This not only increases the likelihood of your message being shared on other pages, but also appearing in searches by people looking for your sort of message. If you’re mentioning a brand, event or person that has a page, you should always tag that page. This will extend the reach of your message and grow your own page exponentially. The snowball effect!

5. It’s all about timing

For maximum effect, the timing of your post is crucial. Just as you wouldn’t call your friend at 3am, you shouldn’t put a post up when people are asleep! Even for a multinational company that has followers across the globe, posts should be put up at the peak timing for a particular group or audience you’re trying to appeal to. As a rule of thumb, mid-morning between 10am and 11:30am is effective (when people have cleared their morning emails and before lunch) or between 1pm and 4pm in the afternoon. If you’re going to write something then you want as many people to read it as possible, so get it up in optimum times.

Bonus Tip:

Your posts are 51% more likely to get shared if you ask for your audience to share it.