Social media tips and best practices

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Business tips
Tuesday, August 13, 2013

BY BRITTANY SMITH | BUSINESS TIPS CONTRIBUTOR

08.14.13 Blog BrittanySmithWhen using social media, the best way to get a return on investment for your efforts is to focus on engagement.  Don’t simply post information and messages about your organization, be sure to post content, resources, and information that your target audience will find useful and interesting.   
Think about ways that you can help your audience solve problems and obstacles they face on a day-to-day basis, and that are relevant to the product or service you are offering.  Posts that give your target audience inside information that helps them solve problems will keep users coming back for more.  

To have a successful presence on social media, here are five general best practices:

  1. Be authentic. Connection is the primary reason people join and use social networks, so be your authentic self in order to encourage connection.  When people spend time on social networks they release the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin because these platforms facilitate a sense of trust. How can you create trust on social media?
  2. Have clear goals. Write down your goals for your organization’s social media presence in an intentional strategy. Make sure these goals complement and overlap with your overall organizational goals. You will be able to measure return on investment based upon these goals.
  3. Have social media policies and guidelines that include a crisis plan. An organization without an internal policy and external guidelines for users is like a ship without a life boat. A social media policy and/or guidelines are important for legal reasons as well as to orient both staff and users’ expectations for how they will be able to use social media within your organization.
  4. Listen - and respond within 24 hours. Take what people say about you on social media seriously! Don’t see negative comments as an inconvenience, build them into your quality control or continuous quality improvement efforts. When people ask questions, post comments or engage with your organization in any way on social media be sure to respond within 24-48 hours to either problem solve, thank them, or answer a question.
  5. Learn, learn, and learn some more. Social media is a constantly changing environment and you can’t assume that you know it all. I have found that the best way to stay on top of the changes and trends within social media is to use social media in your personal life. Another good idea is to befriend a young person who can tell you what the coolest app or platform is at any give moment.

In addition to those general best practices, here are specific best practices for Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter:

 Facebook/Pinterest Best Practices

  • Post around 5 times a week.
  • Post between 1-4pm. Wednesday at 3 p.m is the best time to post. Posts made after 8 pm and before 8am will often have lower rates of engagement. Avoid posting on the weekends (depending on your industry).
  • Make posts about 200 characters or less.
  • Whenever a fan posts to the page, thank them and, if appropriate, like the post. Also, if appropriate, share the post on the page’s timeline, or Highlight it.
  • In posts:
    • Ask questions to generate comments. To keep the conversation going, contribute comments of your own.
    • Post videos to generate shares.
    • Post simple status updates to generate likes.
    • Post photos to generate comments.
    • Including links in posts is a good way to get a mix of likes, shares, and comments.
  • Post status updates that give commands and ask people to take an action such as:
    • Asking them to comment.
    • Asking them to post.
    • Asking them to like.
    • Asking them to share.
  • To really draw attention to an important post, Pin it. Pinned posts tend to have higher engagement rates than regular posts, with pinned photo posts performing best.
  • Before posting:
    • Check for correct grammar and complete sentences.
    • Check for typos.
    • Tag appropriate people and companies in photos and status updates.
    • Check for inclusivity and appropriateness. Is there anyone who might be offended or take the post in the wrong way, in particular if there’s humor involved?
    • Check for relevance to your target audience - will it solve a problem for them, will they find it interesting or entertaining, etc.?

LinkedIn Best Practices

  • Post to your Profile and/or Company Page around 5 times a week.
  • Because LinkedIn is a social media platform for professionals, only make posts during business hours. Try and post between noon and early evening.
  • Try and keep posts around 140 characters.
    • Add extra information that would put you over 140 characters into the “Add more details...” box.
  • Post status updates that give commands and ask people to take an action such as:
    • Asking them to like.
    • Asking them to comment.
    • Asking them to follow your Company Page or invite their network to follow your company.
  • If you have a LinkedIn Group:
    • Send new members a message encouraging them to introduce themselves to the group.
    • Ask questions in posts to facilitate discussion.
      • To keep the dialogue going, post comments yourself.
  • In general, before posting:
    • Check for correct grammar and complete sentences.
    • Check for typos.
    • Check for inclusivity and appropriateness. Is there anyone who might be offended or take the post in the wrong way, in particular if there’s humor involved?
    • Check for relevance to your target audience - will it solve a problem for them, will they find it interesting or entertaining, etc.?
  • Would your audience have a higher likelihood of reading and engaging with this information on a different social media platform such as Facebook or Twitter?

Twitter Best Practices:

  • Because the average tweet lasts 2.8 hours, post around 2-3 times per day.
  • Twitter allows posts that are 140 characters or less. Make your tweets around 120 characters, including hashtags, mentions, urls, and pictures. This allows someone that wants to retweet your tweet, and mention you in their tweet enough characters to do so.
  • Respond to retweets, direct messages and mentions with 24 hours. Say a simple thank you or post a new tweet to keep the conversation going — always focus on developing a relationship.
  • Use correct grammar and write in complete sentences in all tweets.
  • Post tweets that give commands and ask people to take an action such as:
    • Asking them to retweet your tweet.
    • Asking them to follow you.
    • Asking them to mention you.
  • Before posting:
    • Check for correct grammar and complete sentences.
    • Check for typos.
    • If you’ve mentioned someone in your tweet double check to make sure you’re mentioning the correct person.
    • Consider inserting a hashtag, if appropriate.
    • Check for inclusivity and appropriateness. Is there anyone who might be offended or take the tweet in the wrong way, in particular if there’s humor involved?
    • Check for relevance to your target audience - will it solve a problem for them, will they find it interesting or entertaining, etc.?
  • Would your audience have a higher likelihood of reading and engaging with this information on a different social media platform such as Facebook or LinkedIn?

Brittany Smith is the owner of Build Social,  a one-woman social media consulting firm. 

 

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