Nowadays, it seems there’s at least a million rules, tips, guidelines, etc. that businesses should follow to have a successful social presence. And while many of these tactics may be useful, the bottom line comes down to being authentic and seeing what works well for your business. Stick to what social media platforms were meant to do—sharing up-to-date, useful information and interacting with valued customers, future customers and brand enthusiasts—and you’ll see that it’s actually a lot less complex than many make it out to be.
Now, by saying that social media isn’t as complex as it might seem, it definitely doesn’t mean: “Social media is easy and doesn’t take any time or strategy to do.” Because that’s certainly not the case. It just comes down to being real with your audience and communicating effectively with them. Here are a few ways to do that:
TALK LIKE A PERSON, NOT A ROBOT.
No one wants to talk to a machine. Think about how annoying it is when calling a customer service department only to find that you have to talk to an automated voice for a few minutes just to get to the representative you wanted to talk to in the first place. Social media works the same way. Your posts should be natural, current, conversational and easily understandable by your followers (unless, of course, your business calls for more industry-specific jargon).
SHOW YOUR BUSINESS’S UNIQUE PERSONALITY.
With the amount of social media interaction there is and continues to be (regardless of industry), your brand needs to stand out to get noticed among all the noise. So don’t be afraid to show your true colors. If your business is smaller and has a more casual feel to it, talk to people conversationally. If your business is larger and needs a more professional spin on content, talk to people more technically or with industry-specific jargon. Whatever best represents your company or industry—whether it has to do with content, imagery or topics—make sure to show your brand’s unique personality so you don’t go unnoticed.
PICK YOUR PLATFORMS WISELY.
The key here is understanding that you don’t need to have every social media platform out there to have a successful social presence. In fact, if they’re not relevant to your business or even industry, having them could make your company seem unauthentic and even deter people from engaging with you. So play to social platforms that work best for you. For businesses with a lot of imagery to showcase, using visually rich platforms like Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram might be a better option than using something like Twitter, which is better for quick reads or short bits of information. Additionally, with the platforms, you do choose to utilize, be sure that you know how they each function—not just for personal use, but for professional use as well.
CREATE EVERGREEN CONTENT.
Social posts should always be current and relevant, no matter what your industry. However, there should also be posts that promote something called evergreen content, which is content that will always be useful, sustainable and long-lasting. It’s information that is always fresh for new readers and can continue to be relevant long after it’s been published online. Some of the most common forms of evergreen content include:
- Lists and Forms
- Top Picks and Tips
- “How-To” Guides and Tutorials
- FAQ Pages or Informational Articles
- Videos (not specific to a holiday, season or current fad)
- Other Educational Articles
POST AT TIMES THAT ARE BEST FOR EACH PLATFORM.
While it’s true that the most important thing to do with social is to be real and interactive with followers, rather than focus too much on the exact times of day to post, it’s still a good idea to have some parameters to go off of. Alex York of Sprout Social has published this article that shows the general best times and days to post based on each platform. Of course, there are many other factors that contribute to your posts’ success (i.e. the content, the imagery, the type of platform, etc.), but having an idea of who is on certain platforms at which times of day can help you know when to post so you can get a little more visibility than posting more at random.
EXPERIMENT WITH IMAGES AND VIDEOS.
Visual content often performs much better than text-based posts. In fact, there are a ton of statistics that show how much more effective videos, photos, infographics and other image-based posts tend to perform. Be sure to include original photos and videos though, as you don’t want your posts to only consist of other people’s content or stock images.
MAKE SURE YOUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS ARE TWO-WAY STREETS.
It’s one thing to be a business who actively posts content and shares relevant information on their social platforms. It’s another to do all that and respond to others’ posts or comments—both good and bad ones. Nothing is more frustrating to a social media fan/follower than asking a question on a business’s page or in a message and seeing no response for days, but rather an abundance of posts that drown it out. Be courteous to your fans/ followers’ inquiries—they can be your biggest advocates or your biggest threats to your business.
Similarly, there are some business owners or managers that belief ignoring a negative review or a criticizing post from a disgruntled customer is the best way to go—that it will blow over quickly and get lost among new posts/reviews. But people notice the posts that go unaddressed and often wonder if they’ll have the same situation happen to them. Your best bet is to be interactive, honest and sympathetic toward whatever emotion they’re experiencing as a result of your product or service.