Social media marketing has become a challenging “game” for brands. Organic reach isn’t just dropping; it’s plummeting. That makes things difficult enough for brands that are prioritizing native content over paid ads to reach their audience. It gets worse. In spite of the fact that social platforms are making it difficult to reach your target audience, people are still inundated with an overwhelming amount of branded content.

There’s a lot of noise out there. The only way to take advantage of the reach you do have is to create social media content that really makes an impact. Here are four hacks to make your content resonate on social.

1. Be ready to respond to breaking news quickly

“Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.” This Tweet by Oreo came out right as a blackout delayed the Superbowl for more than 30 minutes. Needless to say, the timing made that tweet go viral.

Turns out, it wasn’t just luck and good timing. Oreo had a social media team actively watching the Superbowl. Their job was to look for meaningful events that they could use to reach out to their audience. One clever content creator found that moment and made something out of it.

This is where being on top of things that are relevant to your audience can really help. If you’re the first to share breaking new, or to leverage a trending hashtag, you’re going to get the attention and engagement that latecomers are not. To do this, subscribe to relevant news feeds. Set Google Alerts for topics that are relevant to your audience and be otherwise actively on the lookout for news and events that are of concern.

2. Initiate a conversation

“It’s best to think of social media as a conference table, not a podium,” said Bogdan Stevanovic, founder of Aquare. “Content that initiates conversation is going to travel further than content that is simply broadcasting your thoughts. Focus on content that gives audience members a chance to share their own thoughts.”

A poll is a great tool for seeding a conversation. Not only will people answer the question you’ve posed, they’ll also engage with you and one another over the topic you’ve chosen. Your job is to find a topic that really sparks interest, then be an active participant in that conversation.

Reddit may be one of the most underutilized social platforms for brands and AMAs are one of the key reasons why. AMA stands for “ask me anything”. These are live Q&A sessions that people host on the Reddit platform on one of the many AMA subreddits, /r/IAMA being the most popular. Anybody can host an AMA. Celebrities have done it. So has president Obama. Many brands have as well.

Hosting an AMA is a great way to share your brand’s story, announce exciting news and answer questions from your audience. The keys to holding a successful AMA are promoting it beforehand and writing a seeder post that piques interest. Next comes the difficult part; holding your own with the often irreverent and confrontational audience that makes up Reddit. Succeed at that and you’ll earn some loyal followers.

3. Add more emotion to your posts

Emotional content gets a reaction. It earns shares and comments. Think about it. What is more likely to make you share something than a post that makes you laugh out loud, that brings tears to your eyes, or that makes you angry on another person’s behalf. Take a look at the most viral Facebook posts of 2017. Now look at the tags associated with them. Amazing, inspiring and heartwarming come up time and time again.

To use emotion in your social posts you can:

  • Engage in storytelling.
  • Share your human side.
  • Use images to paint an emotional picture.
  • Encourage your audience to share their stories as well.

4. Use live video

Brands are using live video to increase their organic reach. It’s one area that doesn’t seem to be nearly as impacted by the downturn of unpaid social reach. Live video draws people in. It makes them feel as if they are a part of something important and it encourages them to participate.

Use live video at events, to share behind the scenes content, or simply to give live updates on topics that you think will interest your audience. Remember that great hosting is really important. Recruit someone who is outgoing and has a great camera presence.

Finally, be sure you’re well prepared to handle traffic in case it shoots through the roof. Increased visitors from these social campaigns can slow down or even crash your site if you are not prepared for the traffic spike. So what can you do? Cache and compress your website resources to minimize load times for viewers, switch from a shared hosting to a VPS or dedicated server or even to the cloud and use a content delivery network(CDN) to bring your site closer to users.

Your social media posts are probably reaching fewer people than ever. The only way to combat this is to ensure that your reach goes as deep as possible. Accomplish this goal by using these tips to create content that makes an impact.