Practice(s) Makes Perfect: Best Practices for Your Company's Social Media Channels
With 59.5% of the global population now online and $4.28 Trillion USD in revenue generated worldwide through Ecommerce each year, more and more companies are turning to social media to promote their products, share business updates, and engage with customers.
Some companies - like GoPro and Nike - do a great job managing their social media presence, while others appear to be struggling to adapt to the (mostly) virtual world we now find ourselves in. If your company falls closer to the second category, we've put together this list of best practices to help you manage your social media channels.
Best Practices At a Glance:
To use or not to use social media platforms?
Revisit your current social media channels
Tailor content for the intended channel
Grow your audience organically
Show support for others
Listen & observe
Use featured content options
Explore platform offerings
Use appropriate hashtags
Proof read posts - before & after publishing
To Use or Not to Use Social Media Platforms?
This question doesn't refer to whether or not you should even be using social media (the answer to this is an emphatic yes), it refers to whether your company should rush to create profiles on all the new social media channels that get introduced each year.
The answer to this question can be found quite easily; observe who the largest user group of the new platform is (or is likely to be), and determine if this demographic aligns with your target audience. If it doesn't line up, there's no rush to add yet another time-consuming content maintenance task to your roster.
Revisit Your Current Social Media Channels
This same concept should apply to your current social media channels - if your ideal customers aren't found on the social network you're using, you likely don't need to maintain a profile on it.
Be sure to take this litmus test from time to time, as audience demographics change as people adopt new technologies or "age out" of trends.
The audience you started with on a social network ages over time, and your ideal customer may be an early adopter or in the youth market. If this is the case, you may need to introduce new social networks on a regular basis rather than rely on the "old faithful" you've become comfortable with.
How often should I post company updates to social media? This is another question that comes up frequently, and can be answered simply: you should post as often as your audience appreciates receiving your content, and as often as your time and marketing resources allow.
Posting updates once per day per channel is more than enough for most audiences, however if your time or resources are constrained, publishing one or two quality posts per week will still enable you to engage followers in a meaningful way.
Remember not to stretch yourself too thin as quality content posted less frequently is preferable to posting weak content just for the sake of putting something out.
Determining the best time of day to post may depend on the type of content you're sharing or the channel you're using. For example, if you have time sensitive news or a live event happening, you may elect to use a "live" post on Facebook / Instagram, a YouTube video premiere, or tweet frequent updates on Twitter.
The good news is that for most content types and channels, the time of day you post isn't too critical as your audience will still see your post when they refresh their social feeds.
However if you do want to ensure maximum engagement for your content, you can review your social channel analytics for top audience viewing times / days to determine your peak viewership and schedule your post to coincide with it.
Tailor Content for the Intended Channel
As mentioned above, different social media channels suit different types of content, such as Instagram for visual content, TikTok for short video clips, and LinkedIn for corporate updates. Picking the appropriate channel for certain content may be easy enough to decide, but what do you do if you have one update that you want to share on all your channels?
Your company is best represented if you tailor your content to suit each channel you're posting on.
This is especially important for graphics or images that have dimensional restrictions or text that requires editing to fit within character limits. If your post looks unedited, your message will get lost as your audience questions its integrity.
Grow Your Audience Organically
When you first create your company page, you are offered an opportunity to invite friends to follow, "grow your audience", or upload / share your contact list to get follower recommendations.
Take advantage of the social media platform's options to grow your audience, as it's a great way to establish a follower base fairly quickly.
Another way you can grow your audience is by inviting people who engage with your posts through shares or other followers' comments. These folks may not already be followers, however they've expressed an interest in your content and will likely be receptive to your page reaching out.
Keep in mind that social media is exactly that - social - and you've elected to have a social media presence to encourage engagement with your audience. Using the power of social media, your followers have the ability to engage with your company in a more direct and personal way.
Through Inbox messages, post comments, and tagging your company directly, followers can contact you with questions or concerns; be sure to respond to these messages and comments as quickly and diplomatically as possible to avoid miscommunication or other followers hijacking the post in a negative way.
Show Support for Others
When other businesses follow your page, it's good practice to follow them back. Not only will this show your appreciation, it will also help you stay up to date on your followers' activities and industry trends.
When you show support for other companies, it creates industry links that social media algorithms can take advantage of to recommend content to new followers.
There are many different types of content you can feature on your social media channels. For creating your own content, follow the guidelines set out in our Neapolitan Ice Cream approach to social media strategy.
Content types vary by industry, channel, and method of delivery, but the strategy for social media is universal: create quality content that engages your audience in a meaningful way.
Alternatively, when sharing industry news or content created by others, be sure you add value to the content as noted in Tip #5 of our Top 10 Tips for Representing Your Brand at Its Best.
Listen & Observe
You may surprised how much you can gain from monitoring your company's news feeds. If you've "followed back" your followers (as noted above), your news feed will be full of updates that could impact your company or provide new opportunities.
It's also good practice to follow influencers in your industry, as this can provide insight on trends or help you gather strategic intelligence on competitors.
Use Featured Content Options
Most social media platforms offer the ability to "pin posts" or select featured content that appears at the top of your timeline when followers visit your business page. This is a great way to draw attention to content you want more visible, such as critical news or special promotions.
Take advantage of the featured post settings offered by your social network as they provide additional opportunities to draw attention to your content.
Some social media platforms also offer "stories" to highlight timely content at the top of followers' screens as soon as they open their social media app on their mobile device. This is also a great way to draw additional attention to your content, however be sure to format your stories appropriately as the dimensions are set in portrait orientation for viewing on mobile devices.
Explore Platform Offerings
Take time to explore the many different features offered by each social media channel, such as marketplace listings, job postings, offers, guides, shop catalogues, publishing tools, and business suite items.
Social media channels offer a variety of tools to optimize and distribute your content to a wider audience, so take time to learn which ones can best help your business.
These additional features are created to help distribute content to appropriate audiences based on the platforms' algorithms and can extend the reach of your User Generated Content (UGC).
Use Appropriate Hashtags
Another tool that can help you expand the reach of your UGC is the hashtag. Hashtags are searchable in every social media platform, and are often monitored by industry professionals and enthusiasts alike.
By using an appropriate hashtag - either placed within the text (when it flows in the sentence) or in a list after the main body of the post - your content may be viewed or shared by a much wider audience.
When using hashtags be careful not to use punctuation marks such as a hyphen, space or period as these break up the text string and only the text preceding the punctuation mark will be readable with the hashtag. For example, #handy-man will only be read as #handy rather than the full #handyman.
Proof Read Posts - Before & After Publishing
If nothing else, this best practice is by far the best to practice for maintaining the integrity of your posts; proof read your posts before AND after you publish them.
Far too often you'll see typos, grammatical mistakes, or spelling errors in posts that end up reflecting poorly on the company that posted it.
Planning to proof read your posts after they're published also helps catch little errors - such as paragraph or line spacing - as content is formatted for output to various devices. You may also quickly catch publishing glitches, image crop errors, or video resolution problems that you can rectify (by deleting and reposting or editing in-channel) before your followers even see it.
With all of the best practices listed above we've tried our best to capture our approach to managing owned social media channels, however if you have any best practices of your own that we may have missed, let us know in the comments below!