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Marketing, Social Media

20 Social Media Lessons from Social Media Legend Guy Kawasaki


Social media giant Guy Kawasaki has amassed well over 7 million followers to date and knows a few things about social media and its many platforms. The former chief evangelist of Apple, Kawasaki is currently the chief evangelist of Canva and a brand ambassador for Mercedes Benz USA; he’s authored 13 books including The Art of Social Media the The Art of the Start 2.0.

Here’s a roundup of his best advice gleaned from his popular presentations and blog posts to help you use social media more effectively and become an evangelist for your business.

1.     Understand the Platforms

In order to master social media, first make sure you understand the differences between the platforms. Here’s his take on the breakdown of the main players:

  • Facebook: People – Staying in touch with people you already know.
  • Twitter: Perceptions – Sharing news, daily observations, snippets of information to help build your reputation and visibility.
  • Google+: Passions – Forming new friendships, connections or relationships through interest-centered Google+ communities.
  • Pinterest: Pinning – Sharing images of things that are attractive, interesting and compelling.
  • LinkedIn: Pimping – Putting yourself out there (“pimping”) to find a new job, form professional connections and help position yourself as a serious person and influencer.

2.     Do it Now

Kawasaki says as soon as you have your product, service or vision in mind, that’s the moment you launch your social media marketing. Plan on about nine to 12 months to get it up and running. He says if you don’t think you have time, you’re making a mistake. “The only way I see that an entrepreneur can get the word out without a large budget is social media and the only way to do this is to build a platform in advance.”

3.     Create a Great Profile

The first step in developing a strong presence on any platform is to create a compelling profile, Kawasaki says. People decide who to follow in about two seconds, so take some time and make sure your avatar looks good.

4.     Upload a High-Quality Image of Your Smiling Face

The image should be 90 percent your face; an off-center composition is best, not smack-dab in the middle.

5.     Choose an Avatar that Makes You Appear Likable, Trustworthy and Competent

6.     Only Use an Avatar of Yourself

Do not choose an avatar image that includes anything or anyone else, such as your spouse or your dog.

7. Showcase a Secondary Image

Don’t neglect the secondary image behind your avatar; use that area to showcase your interests and passions. He says if you want to tell people you are “clueless about social media,” leave the default image up there. His advice: change the picture.

8.     Fill Everything Out

Fill out all of the required fields for your profile. People know who you are based on your profile, so make sure it’s complete.

9.     Be Bold

When creating the perfect social media post, he suggests you go bold when choosing topics in order to break through the clutter and the noise – post about subjects and issues that you care about.

10.  Keep It Short

Other than the current 140-character limit on Twitter, most posts on other platforms tend to be too long. Keep your posts from three-to-five sentences long; if you have more to say, “write a blog post and use social media to drive people to it.”

11.  Give Credit to Your Sources

Many social media posts involve curation (sharing others’ relevant content) as opposed to creation. “You’re acting as a filter and arbiter of taste to help people find existing great content.” He says to always link to the source of your post, which gives appropriate credit to the content creator and helps your followers learn more.

12.  Post Often

Kawasaki says the most common mistake made with social media is not posting frequently enough. To be effective, plan a generous posting schedule and stick to it. He advocates repeating posts, too, since people have greatly differing schedules and if you only post once, you’ll get lost in the feed. “I even repeat my tweets three times, eight hours apart, because this triples the amount of click-throughs.”

13.  Upload Native When Posting Facebook Videos

He recommends uploading video natively to Facebook, which he says can greatly increase the views compared to embedding a YouTube video (he experiences triple the amount of views when he goes native). The reason? “If you were Facebook, would you promote native video or video of Google/YouTube, a competitor? This recommendation doubles your work—but I never said social media is easy.”

14.  Post What’s Trending

Kawasaki says the easiest way to “cheat” when it comes to posting what people are interested in is to jump on the trending bandwagon. Look to see what’s trending on Twitter, what’s hot on Google+ and Facebook and then go post it. “If the system is telling you this is a hot video, don’t be proud. Post it like you found it.”

15.  Include an Image

Kawasaki suggests doing some basic things to “candy-fy” your posts to make them look good and attract your followers’ attention. “Social media sites are busy places, so people don’t notice all-text posts or posts with small pictures,” he says, so always add a graphic to every post, whether it’s an image or an embedded video. This simple step attracts attention and can double engagement.

Kawasaki recommends Wikimedia as a great free resource to find images. If you have the budget, purchase stock photos if you find a compelling shot, or snap your own pictures.

16.    Use the Right Size Graphic for Each Platform

Different platforms do not support the same size graphics, so be sure that you use the optimal size image for wherever you’re posting. Here are the general guidelines:

  • Twitter (1024 x 512)
  • Facebook (940 x 788)
  • Pinterest (735 x 1100)
  • Google+ (800 x 600)
  • Instagram (640 x 640)

17.    Make Sure Your Posts Are “Scannable”

Write clear headlines and choose images that convey what your post is about – “Scannability is paramount in an information-cluttered world.”

18.    Don’t Make Your Posts All About You

The right proportion of self-promotion versus curated content that your audience may be interested in is up to you, but according to Kawasaki, “It might be five percent about you, 95 percent about others. But it should never be 50 percent about you.” So, most of the message should be content that is curated for your audience or customers. Use this philosophy when posting on forums, Google+, LinkedIn and when commenting on blogs.

19.    Consistently Respond

Make sure to stay connected with your audience and respond to comments, or join in if something you’ve posted generates conversation. If you don’t respond or communicate, it looks like you’re simply promoting your product and you don’t care what people think.

20.    Be Positive

“There is no upside to posting harsh or negative comments,” Kawasaki says, so take the high road and don’t engage the trolls.

What’s your best tip or piece of advice on making social media work for you? Share it with us in the comments below.