Top Social Media Best Practices
Using social media for business, but not quite sure if you’re doing things right? Make the most out of social media by applying these best practices.
By: Liz Azyan
Can you think of a business that currently isn’t on social media? I’m talking about any major brand or company that doesn’t even have a Facebook or Twitter account.
It’s a safe bet that it would take you a long time to think of one, if you could even come up with just one or two answers in the first place. After all, why wouldn’t they be? Establishing their presence on social media doesn’t have to cost businesses a single cent, especially if they feel that they don’t need to hire a social media manager and decide that they can handle their pages themselves.
Earlier, we talked about why your business needs to be on social media. In a nutshell, the social media landscape offers a significant boost to any business seeking to market itself simply by levelling the playing field and giving everyone an equal shot at getting noticed, building a brand, and nurturing a community of loyal followers.
However, as they say, it’s not just about the tools, it’s about how you use them. In this case, your business’s tools are social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn — and there are strategies that apply to each social media channel in order to optimize them for your business’s needs. I’ve compiled a list of some of the most effective tips and best practices for four of the most popular social media platforms for businesses. Make sure to take these into consideration when you start implementing your social media management action plan:
Unsurprisingly, Facebook has yet to be unseated by any other social media site as the biggest and most widely used one on the planet. Facebook remains the top choice for businesses of all shapes, sizes, and industries who want their marketing efforts to reach as many users as possible or to grow their community rapidly in a short span of time. While Facebook is geared more towards nurturing personal connections, many businesses still find it to be an ideal venue for their promotions – as a matter of fact, a ton of small businesses that don’t even have a physical store peddle their goods and services through their Facebook accounts.
1. Facebook’s built-in analytics tool is your best friend.
Through Facebook Insights, you can learn more about your followers – how they’re distributed by age, gender, location, and so on. You will also be able to see who among your fans engage with your page and posts the most. This information is crucial in developing your content strategy, and will allow you to accurately target your audience when you put up ads.
2. Schedule your posts strategically.
It has been shown that Facebook posts that go up at 9 AM tend to get more engagement than posts during other times of the day. Also, Facebook users are most active on Facebook on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
3. Post meaningful and engaging content.
Keep it interesting for your fans – a mix of original content and relevant links that your audience will find appealing. In general, limit your posts to 80-100 characters, and attach a photo to improve the chances of engagement. Avoid writing in the passive voice, and include a call-to-action that would invite your followers to engage with your page.
4. Be warm and nurturing.
Remember what I said earlier about Facebook being more focused on personal connections? You can use that to your advantage. Developing loyalty to your brand through great content and active engagement – basically, letting your target audience feel that you’re “real” – will translate into opportunities for you to sell your services and products via targeted offers and special promos.
Twitter is fascinating. In 140 characters (or less), you’re expected to share information, evoke emotion, express an opinion, or entertain — and surprisingly, given these limitations, users succeed in accomplishing these and so much more. The hashtag system is probably Twitter’s most useful feature: it allows you to categorize posts and make it easier for people to search for tweets relevant to a topic they’re interested in. This makes it easier for
Twitter users to target and reach out to specific audiences.
1. You only have 140 characters; use them wisely.
It’s best to limit your post copy to 90 characters in order to accommodate links or images that you’ll be attaching to your tweets. These are a big help in making your tweets – and thus, your brand – stand out in a sea of updates from all over the world. Also, share other Twitter users’ content as well, as long as they’re engaging and relevant to your audience. (Tagging their accounts helps, too!) Due to Twitter’s nature as a highly dynamic social media platform, make sure to post timely news and updates whenever you can. Lastly, publish your content multiple times to increase your reach.
2. Follow strategically (and make sure to monitor trends).
Follow thought leaders and pioneers in your industry; not only is this a great way to reach out to them, but you’ll also learn a thing or two from their updates. As for monitoring, pay attention to your feed, and partake in conversations related to the brand or products and services you offer.
3. Be smart when using hashtags.
Do NOT ride on the success of pre-existing hashtags, especially if they have no direct connection to the type of service or products your business offers.
4. Use lists.
Your lists keep your contacts categorized and sorted – this is really helpful if you want to filter specific updates or keep track of who you’re subscribed to. Your lists keep your contacts categorized and sorted – this is really helpful if you want to filter specific updates or keep track of who you’re subscribed to.
LinkedIn is the social media platform for people who are more focused on building a professional portfolio and establishing connections with people in the same industry. Think of it as the B2B version of Facebook.
1. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and updated.
LinkedIn is particularly useful for reputation-building, which is why it’s important to keep your information updated and accurate. Additionally, the text in the Job Descriptions and About sections should be 200-300 words long, with relevant keywords in each section.
2. Join LinkedIn groups.
Join Groups that you think could help yield better results for your marketing efforts, and participate in discussions that are relevant to you or your services.
3. Take advantage of LinkedIn’s features.
One of the main differences between LinkedIn and other platforms is that LinkedIn requires a direct connection between users before they can go straight to sending messages to each other. With the InMail feature, though, you can bypass this rule and send a message to a person you’re not directly connected to (at some cost).
Another useful feature is the platform’s Advanced Search, which allows you to filter your results and find exactly what you need, much easier. Lastly, use the Tags feature to group your connections properly and make it more convenient for you when sifting through your contacts.
If your business deals with visuals and aesthetics – especially if you sell decorative products or clothing, or offer design services – then Instagram is the platform for you. Like Twitter, the photo-sharing channel uses hashtags, helping users in putting out targeted content and appealing to a specific audience.
1. Understand your audience.
Engage with your followers. You can follow them back, or hold photo contests every once in a while. Basically, think about the defining traits of your audience – their interests, characteristics, beliefs, and so on – and figure out what you can offer (and if it can be effectively conveyed through your posts).
2. Content is king.
Establish a theme for your content (and stick to it). Make your Instagram content compelling enough to make people want to follow you.
3. Tell your story through your photos.
You can use Instagram’s built-in filters or other photo editing software to send your brand’s message and establish your identity through unique and creative photographs. Use hashtags, but don’t overdo it – keep them relevant to what you offer. Lastly, post only once or twice a day; otherwise, you’ll come off as spammy.
Liz Azyan is interested in the ways new kinds of social data and technology introduce challenges and opportunities to society. Get involved with Liz’s latest project here.