Social Media Best Practices
Every social media channel is different. Each one has its own guidelines, different post types, and more that need to be navigated by your social media team. All of this information can be incredibly overwhelming.
- How Often to Post On Social Media?
- The Best Times to Post on Social Media
- Setting Up a Successful Social Media Posting Schedule
- Using Hashtags the Best Way
- Scheduling Social Media Content Curation for Massive Growth
- Be honest and transparent about your identity.
- Post accurate, concise, and useful information.
- Make sure your contribution will be of use to readers.
- Fact-check all information before you post. If you make an error, correct it quickly and visibly.
- Cite and link to sources whenever possible.
- If you have any question about the appropriateness of posting on certain topics, talk to your supervisor first.
- Keep your posts concise and easy to read.
As a company, there are some general guidelines worth following across all different social networks.
Never start a social media marketing initiative without goals. The best goals are always SMART:
Select the Best Channels For Your Business
Not every business needs to be on every social network. Rather, it’s best to focus on the platforms that provide the most opportunity for your business. If you’re unsure whether a network is a good fit for your business, start by reviewing each platform’s purpose and strengths:
Then, answer a few more questions:
- What is our company trying to achieve on social media? Think broader business objectives (increase brand awareness, drive sales, establish authority, etc). Then, consider tactical aims like driving website traffic, conversions, and the like.
- Can a given network help achieve those goals? If traffic is a primary goal, something like Instagram might not be the best choice. Have a strong visual brand, though? Instagram is where it’s at. Weigh objectives against strengths on each platform.
- Would our audience reasonably expect us to be on a given platform? See if you have any competitors doing well on a given network. If they’re present, that’s a strong indicator you have a potential audience on that network.
If any networks don’t pass this test, consider dropping them and placing more resources behind platforms where there’s more opportunity.
Define Your Social Media Voice And Tone
Is your brand serious or funny? Professional or sarcastic?
These are examples of traits that inform the voice of your brand on social media. And finding your voice is key to connecting with your audience. Why? Because people like brands they can relate to and that understand their needs.
Defining your voice involves tackling three things:
- What do you want your brand to sound like online?
- Who is your target audience and what vocabulary do they use?
- Based on the first two questions, what will your audience want to hear from you?
Don’t Sound Like A Corporate Drone
Nobody wants to follow a brand that sounds dull and robotic. Regardless how boring you think your niche might be, you are communicating with real people. So, use language your actual audience uses, and respond to users with language that sounds like it’s coming from a real person.
Handle Negativity With Grace and Sincerity
The best way to deal with negativity is with empathy. While it can be tough to take the high road sometimes, the more genuine you can be, the better.
Post at the Best Times
In order to maximize the number of eyes that see your content you need to post your messages at optimal times.
Find An Effective Posting Frequency
Finding the perfect posting frequency is almost like trying to balance a nickel on its side; it seems impossible but once you get it, it’s amazing. Now it may seem easier to post as much as you can but according to Sprout Social, posting too much accounts for 34.9% of all unfollows.
The reverse is also true. Sprout found that if brands were too quiet, they would cause about 17.9% of their audience to not follow them.
Focus On Quality Over Quantity
Some social networks require a high volume of content to make them worthwhile. Twitter is one that immediately comes to mind. Pinterest may be up there, too. But, always emphasize quality over quantity. Avoid posting anything simply for the sake of it, and make sure every post is connected to a broader goal or objective.
Mix Up Your Content
No one likes to see social media posts that are all about products 100% of the time.
According to Hubspot, 45% of people will unfollow brands because they post too many promotional items.
Since they already took the time to follow you on social media there is a good chance they are already interested in you as a company. Publishing promotional posts non-stop will turn people off to your brand because it seems like you care more about your products then you do about conversing with them.
In order to avoid those promotional posting schedules try mixing it up with different message topics try mixing it up with:
- Job postings
- Company culture posts
- Community news (if it’s relevant to your brand)
- Industry news
- Branded content
- Informative blog posts
Don’t Use Slang Unless It’s Relevant To Your Brand
Do you remember that moment when your dad or mom tried to be cool and use the “hip lingo” that all the kids were using?
Or, maybe you’re that parent right now.
In either case, it’s always embarrassing for everyone involved.
When brands use slang (if it’s outside of character) it has the same effect. Sprout reports that 38.4% of people will unfollow brands if they use slang or jargon.
The best way that you can interact with your customer base is to use the same language that they use.
To find out how they’re discussing you and your brand start to monitor and respond in the same language that your followers are using. You’ll begin to see trends emerge as you continue to watch and listen.
Research Your Competitors
Taking the time to research your competitors could help inspire your own content. Why? Because your competitors are fighting for the same audience that you are. If their content is drawing over your fans it might be time to revamp your social tactics.
Draw from the best and make it your own after all.
How can you accurately track your competitors?
Start out by making a list of your top five social media competitors. From there, pick your top five channels and note which competitors are on each of your top five channels.
This next part might seem incredibly time-consuming but trust us, it’s worth it. Look at their past 6 months of content and observe the following:
- What types of content are they sharing?
- On average how much engagement do they seem to get for each message they post.
- How does their voice and tone compare to your own?
Use A Social Media Calendar
Keeping a busy social media schedule organized is nearly impossible without a calendar.
Follow Correct Social Media Image Sizes
Create A Social Media/PR Disaster Plan
Social media while a great tool is a very powerful one. One misstep can send you company spiraling into a social nightmare and creating a plan while cooler heads are available will save you from the last second “what do we do” panic.
And unfortunately, social disasters are more common than you might think. For example, think about the backlash that Pepsi received earlier this year for their commercial. Because Pepsi was quick on their feet they mitigated some of the long-term damage that commercial could have caused.
To create a disaster guide, lay out the following information to start:
Who needs to be notified in the event of a social media crisis?
- Customer Service
Claim Your Usernames On Channels, Even If You’re Not Active On Them
This may seem counterproductive, but taking the time to claim usernames on channels even if you’re not active on them. Why? Because if you ever do move on to the channel, you know your username is already accessible. You can also use the empty profile page to direct your potential fans to your other social sites or your website.
Research Your Hashtags Before You Use Them
Anyone remember the time that DiGiornos accidentally sent a tweet about pizza with a hashtag that domestic violence survivors were using to explain why they stayed in their relationships? You can imagine how well that went over. But it is a perfect example of why you need to triple-check what a hashtag means before you use in your social media messages. To find hashtags to use for your social channels, open your company’s Twitter profile and scroll down to your Trending Hashtag section. You can change where your trending hashtags are being gathered from as different areas around the world will have different trending hashtags.
Use Humor Sparingly
Humor on social media can be both a blessing and a curse. One misstep and your joke can spin you into a social media disaster war zone. However hit the right notes for humor and your brand can take off.
Limit Employee Access To Company Social Media Accounts
Social media is in and of itself a social endeavor. That means you want your employees to be involved in the conversation as well. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone should have access to your company social media accounts.
Look at what happened to HMV when they fired a bunch of people at one time including their social team. Team members went rogue, tweeting about how they were all getting fired at once. The worst part? The people that were staying had no idea how to shut it down.
You need to have control over who has that kind of power so save yourself the headache and create a list of who should have access to that account.
Who should have access to your social channels? Here’s a possible list to get you started:
- Marketing manager
- Writers and social media specialists
- Graphic designers
Optimize Your Social Profiles For Maximum Exposure
If your social profiles aren’t filled out the maximum with the same information about your company you’re missing out on an opportunity to connect with your customer base.
Go through your current social profile and make sure the following are consistent:
- Profile and header photos
- Company descriptions
If you’ve ever experienced that one person that just seems out to get you as a brand, you’ve probably dealt with trolling.
The best thing to do with trolls is to ignore them. However, it is important to note that actual customer complaints and trolls are sometimes difficult to tell apart.
Your actual customers with a complaint will have real reasoning behind it. They’ll have a problem that you can solve.
- Keep your discourse civil. Avoid making offensive and/or inflammatory remarks.
- If you think someone else’s post or comment requires a reply (not all of them do), be sure you are the appropriate person to respond before you post.
- Don’t go off-topic.
- Write in the first person.
- Whenever possible and appropriate, share a link to an official source to clarify an issue and offer to help in the future.
- Always give people proper credit for their work. Before you post anything that’s not your own, make sure you have the right to do so. Better yet, link to the work instead.
- Do not post confidential or proprietary information about Lewis & Clark, its students, alumni, or employees.
- If you discuss a situation that involves individuals, post nothing that could identify those individuals.
- Keep a close eye on activity. More than one person may need to be assigned to this task.
- Post and update content at least once a week, if possible.
- Respond to any questions in a timely fashion.
Social media is only as strong as your network and your content. It pays to nurture both.