Getting your content seen means meeting your audience on the sites where they spend the most time. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram all rank within the top 20 highest traffic sites on the internet today, with YouTube and Facebook landing in the top 3.
What does this mean for you? Whether you’re a business trying to churn up more web traffic or a blogger who is wanting to monetize his or her content, having a social media presence is an absolute must.
But in order to be successful on these platforms, you can’t just wing it. You have to know how to navigate them as a professional.
Being a business on social media isn’t the same as having a private account. There are different rules, tools, and etiquette you need to follow.
Welcome to The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Best Practices. In this blog post, you’ll pick up the basics of how to utilize and optimize a professional social media presence.
What Social Media Does for You
In the early stages of social media, businesses didn’t really see the purpose of being a part of it. It was new, different, and didn’t accommodate direct sales strategies.
Today, we know better. Facebook is now utilized by millions of businesses, and consumers expect to find them there. In a survey conducted by MarketingSherpa, 95% of adults between the ages of 18 and 34 admit they are likely to follow brands they are interested in via their favorite social media platforms.
It’s a place where businesses can build lasting relationships with potential, new, and long-term clients and consumers. These relationships foster new or repeat purchases of your goods or services, which is why being present is so crucial.
After all, relationships are a two-way street. You can’t build them unless you invest your time in resources into making a connection.
How do you do that?
By following the best practices detailed below.
Social Media Best Practices
These best practices cover more than just online etiquette. They are the building blocks of a comprehensive digital strategy that will help you make new connections that lead to brand awareness and conversions.
Content that Performs Best on Social Media
The biggest way to turn off an audience is to bombard them with advertisements for your products or services.
But wait, isn’t the whole point of social media to make money?
Yes, and no. Social media opens the door to building relationships with your consumers. When done properly, this can turn into conversions and profit, but ultimately you’re there to build and engage an audience.
To do this, you have to have a good content strategy. This includes posting interesting and valuable content on a regular basis.
You can share special deals and promotions from time to time, but for the most part, your content is going to be free entertainment and resources for your target audience.
- Relevant or interesting news trending within your industry
- Advice, tips, or hacks your audience can use – just always make sure they are relevant
- Reactions and responses to trending posts
- Posts that share a window into the human element of your business, such as photos of employees or the office cat
- New job openings or opportunities your followers may want to take advantage of
- Memes, jokes, and funny videos–because everyone enjoys a good laugh
As you can see, social media doesn’t have to be 100% serious. Have fun with it, and share what you think your audience will enjoy.
Visual posts perform best, including photos, videos, and infographics. Quality visual posts matter as bad visual posts will work against you.
When to Post and How Often
Now that you know what kind of content to produce, your next questions probably involve how often you should post and when.
The answer to this question isn’t entirely black and white. The truth is that it depends on what your followers demand.
Some target audiences feel bombarded by more than one post a week.
Others want to hear from you every day.
The trick is to pay attention to their reactions and your analytics. If you’re publishing content three times a day, but you’re dropping followers like flies, back off a bit.
A good average for quality content is 3 to 5 posts a week. Of course, this number depends on the platform. While it’s more acceptable to post more often on Twitter, posting too often actually works against you on Facebook. It’s about finding the right balance .Pay attention to what kind of engagement it gets.
If you aren’t seeing results, you can use your marketing budget to boosts post. This will expand your post’s reach so it falls in front of new eyes and garners more followers.
If that’s not working, look at your analytics and try to figure out why. Every business has it’s own target audience and niche. Don’t give up if you don’t see results the first time around.
Instead, tweak your content and your target audience until you find your company’s sweet spot. Once you do your engagement and your audience will grow.
How to Create and Handle Audience Engagement
Building your audience is only half the challenge on social media. Once you have followers, you need to find ways to engage them.
Some people won’t need a lot of coaxing. They will react to posts and share their opinion fairly easily and openly. When this happens, make it a point to respond in a timely manner.
Answer questions, respond to “@” mentions, and share your thoughts on followers’ commentary. Be a part of the conversation so that they form a connection with your brand and the voice behind it.
But what about pages that are relatively quiet? Even if you’re posting regularly, you may find that your audience needs a little nudge in order to create engagement.
Identify the trending topics your target audience is talking about, then start a conversation. Ask a question or share your opinion on these topics as a way to invite others to do the same. A great way to do this is by going through relevant hashtags and jumping on conversations happening in there. Always target people with small audiences because they are more likely to respond than people with large audiences.
If your audience is small, use a marketing budget to get your content in front of people. Organic reach isn’t what it used to be. In fact, it’s dwindled to the point that paid reach is now an essential strategy for most.
But don’t neglect to invest in social media because of this. Remember, even if your paid boosts aren’t turning into a direct ROI, it is accomplishing something that one day will, and that’s building an audience.
Always Stay True to Your Brand
While social media platforms are relatively informal in nature, businesses and professionals still have to maintain their brand voice. After all, your account is representative of your company, not the person running your social media strategy.
If you haven’t already, establish a branding guideline for your business. This includes defining your brand’s voice, colors, logos, fonts, and everything that defines who your company is and how you want it to be perceived by the public eye.
This branding guideline should translate into all internal and external forms of communication and should include your tone and your manners as you engage audiences online.
Know the nature of your target demographics and speak to them in a way that is human, but also aligns with your brand’s identity.
How to Connect with Your Audience
Let’s say you’ve built up a sold sized audience. How do you begin to foster a connection with them?
A connection isn’t the same as engagement. Just like you can engage a stranger out on the sidewalk, so can individuals engage with your posts. These are singular interactions.
Building a connection means building a relationship with your followers. Make them take an interest in your online presence and feel connected to your brand.
Forming a connection is important to young consumers. They want to find value in what you offer them while feeling valued by your brand. To do this, you have to build three things: trust, familiarity, and likability.
Avoid spamming your followers with content, hashtags, or sales pitches. Instead, show a more human side of your business. Be present on your social media accounts and reliable. Let them know if they message you or interact with your brand, they can expect a prompt response. In other words, find a way native to the platform to present your products in your content. it shouldn’t look like an infomercial just someone casually using your items presented in an artful way.
Offer value through your posts and interactions. Don’t show favoritism. Be kind and take an interest in every engagement you receive.
By doing this, you’ll garner the interest and respect of your consumers.
How to Handle Fires and Crises
As you start to grow on social media, not all of your interactions will be pleasant. There will likely be moments where a disgruntled customer or online “troll” will call your company out in a negative way.
Be proactive by putting together a crisis mitigation strategy. That includes taking the conversation out of the public space whenever possible. Have a process for responding to bad reviews, bad comments, or negative information going viral.
Never forget your customer service and always take the high road in every situation. If your company did something wrong to instigate a negative response, use it as a learning experience.
Correct what problems you can through quality customer service and adapt your procedures to help prevent them in the future, if possible.
Understand Analytics and Use Them to Grow
Almost every social media platform has some form of free analytics. These tools detail content performance, audience demographics, and your general reach information.
Use these tools to your advantage.
Gauge what posts and posting times perform best and try to understand why so you can replicate that success. Also, explore and analyze the details provided so you can better define your demographic. You may discover that it’s slightly different than you originally thought.
All of this information is free, so there should be no reason why your company doesn’t tap into it. Combine it with your other social media best practices and you have the tools you need to carve yourself an influential presence online.
Put Together Your Digital Strategy
Now that you’ve learned the basic social media best practices, it’s time to translate knowledge into action. Utilizing what you’ve just learned, construct a digital strategy that will drive traffic to your site and turn clicks into conversions.
Need help? No problem! Our digital marketing gurus can help with that. Contact us today and we’ll discuss how we can put together a tailored social media strategy for your business that is bound to get results.