Growth hacking as pretentious as it sounds has become one of the most popular buzz terms used in business today. Especially in online business and companies looking to achieve high growth through optimized inbound marketing. With more and more stakeholders jumping onto the bandwagon of SEO, content creation, and social media; marketers, programmers, designers and copywriters are constantly pushed into achieving higher results with lower budgets and outsmart their competition through ingenious social media campaigns. So, when you need to get more by doing less; short cuts, tips, tricks and growth hacks come in very handy indeed, like a veritable breath of fresh air on a sizzling summer day in fact. Check out these 5 simple social media growth hacks tips today to optimize your time and spend on social, draw more traffic to your site and increase your conversion rate. #1. Hashtags Everywhere you look on social media you’ll find hashtags. Once the domain of Twitter alone, hashtags have now become popular and gained traction across many other platforms as well. Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest… there’s no denying the hashtag explosion. So how are hashtags helpful? Designed to help users find topics faster, see what’s trending and who’s making the headlines, adding a hashtag or two to your posts can be a very handy way of increasing its visibility. Many great internet discussions have been generated off the back of a humble hashtag and they’re a great way of attracting more followers to your profiles, clicks to your site and likes and shares for your posts. A lot of internet users, especially when it comes to Twitter, look for hashtags manually, as a short cut to finding out about the latest news and events happening around the globe. Hashtags are a marketers delight and awesome hack to finding out what’s hot and what’s not, the trending topics of the day and what types of content are likely to appeal to an audience, based around what people are searching for. Beyond getting a valuable insight into what customers want to read about and see, using hashtags in your posts gives you a higher chance of getting rolled up in the snowball effect of an epic discussion and getting – you guessed it – more interested parties viewing your posts. Trendsmap is a superb free source that you can use to exploit the power of the hashtag and see popular Twitter topics locally or globally. To make the most of this simple social media hack, be sure to keep on top of what’s trending and try to come up with content based on popular themes of the day. Remember that time is of the essence. Just because people can’t get enough of Pokemon today, doesn’t mean they’ll care about it tomorrow, so make sure you strike while the metaphorical iron is hot and don’t schedule a trending post for next week. #2. Schedule Your Posts Wisely There are tons of studies about the right and wrong times to post on social. The problem with even the best of them is that they won’t necessarily apply to your business. While you can use the law of common sense when it comes to posting (you’re not going to target your audience in the middle of the night when they’re fast asleep), just because you read a study that says engagement is higher on a Wednesday afternoon, doesn’t mean that will always be the case, or that what holds true for one company will work for another. The main way to ensure that you schedule your posts wisely is really by putting in the groundwork with trial and error and learning about your audience’s habits. There’s not really any hard and fast rules for this, although many social media studies agree that the best time to post on social is often when your audience is outside of the office and able to give your post their full attention. However, it really depends on the nature of your post and your business, as some customers may object to being marketed at on their free time. Luckily all the important social media platforms now come with handy analytics tools to help you study your audience. Check out Pinterest Analytics, Twitter Analytics, Facebook Insights and the Analytics Tab for Company Pages on LinkedIn for all the insights you need. Remember that if you have customers and followers living in different parts of the world, you’ll need to ensure that you post at different times to accommodate their schedules and time zones. Luckily you don’t have to wait up late to post in the exact moment, as you can schedule your posts by using a handy platform like Hootsuite, or directly from Facebook or Twitter. #3. Use Images to Increase Engagement If a picture is worth a thousand words (and social media is all about limiting your characters) then using a great image will not only speak volumes and save on valuable word space but using photos on Twitter has been shown to boost retweets by 35%. Added to that the fact that 70% of the most popular shared posts on Facebook are images, and that Instagram has the highest engagement of all social media channels, and there’s no denying that using the right images is crucial when looking to grow your online presence. Keep in mind as well that people are pretty fed up with turning on the news and seeing negativity. They’re stressed at work, worried about the world, their kids, and making ends meet. So try spreading a little positivity. Photos of cute animals never fail, especially if you use high-quality images. You can even create your own original GIFs by mixing images up with some text and branding them with your company logo. Social media image editing tools, like Pablo or Canva, are great for creating memorable, shareable GIFs with minimal cost and time. #4. Try Boosting Your Facebook Posts It’s easy to boost your Facebook posts to make sure they get exposed to more people. Starting at just $5 per post, Facebook’s post-boosting tool can help you promote your online business, doubling the number of views for your message in one day. You can also make use of their targeting tools and select your audience according to location, age, gender and interests. Check out Facebook Ads Manager to see how successful a campaign has been before you launch a new one and adjust your audience accordingly if needed. #5. Try a Good Old-Fashioned Giveaway People love getting something for nothing, so whether you have your own cool product to give away or you want to partner with a vendor like Amazon, if you can offer your fans and followers the chance to get something for free (even better, if you can hold regular giveaways) you’ll increase engagement and attract new visitors to your site. Generally, it’s been found that giveaways work best when associated with a particular event, so think carefully about the timing. It may be the launch of a new product or service, or public holiday for example. Try to choose a giveaway event that’s relevant for your business and don’t be dismayed if you don’t get mind-blowing results the first time around. Experimenting with your social media growth hacks, keeping an eye out for new ones and mixing up your tactics, post types and times is the key towards rapid and sustainable social growth. Image: “Growth hacking” note with arrow pointing up, on blue background.