In an ever-increasing digital world, social media has grown to become a critical component of any effective marketing plan. A powerful marketing tool, it can help your brand gain the visibility it needs to maximize business results—from building brand awareness and driving engagement, to increasing website traffic and positioning your brand as an industry leader.
In order for your social media strategy to be effective, it should combine thoughtful planning and clearly defined objectives with an active presence that shares engaging, relevant content. By taking these measures to optimize your social media plan, you will ensure each platform aligns with the overall strategy and is mutually beneficial for both your brand and its target audience.
Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach for social media, it is an art and science involving best practices that should be incorporated—and avoided—to get the best results. Follow these 10 do’s and don’ts to build an effective social media strategy for your brand:
1. DO: Maintain an Active Social Media Presence
While many brands are on social media, few maintain an active online presence. Social feeds that don’t have a regular flow of fresh content—or, even worse, are inactive—don’t offer a good look for your business. Plus, social media is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to promote your brand. Once you’ve narrowed down which social platforms are most appropriate for your business, maintain an active social media presence by sharing a consistent stream of fresh, engaging and relevant content.
2. DON’T: Veer Off-Brand with Your Social Media Content
Any social media content that your business pushes out should align with its overall brand strategy and the needs of your target audience. Although the way your content is presented may change depending on the social media channel at hand, it should maintain the same brand voice, tone and messaging in order to promote a cohesive brand image. This allows your business to tell a powerful brand story that will best resonate with your target audiences on each social platform.
3. DO: Cater Your Social Content to Your Target Audience
Just as no two audiences are the same, no two social media platforms are either. Networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all have their own style, tone and pace. That’s why it’s important to have a clear understanding of your target audiences and where they are most likely to consume content online. This allows you to not only craft social media posts that are highly relevant, but also get them in front of the right eyes.
4. DON’T: Duplicate Content Across Your Social Media Channels
Aim to capture and preserve the interest of your audience by posting new and creative content on a regular basis. This includes catering your social media content to the audiences and best practices of each channel. For instance, you may have noticed that the thought leadership content on LinkedIn differs greatly from the microblogging nature of Twitter or compelling visual content shared on Instagram. By understanding these different audiences, you can repurpose your social media content across all channels to fit the specific needs, interests and best practices.
5. DO: Incorporate Captivating Visuals into Your Social Media Posts
In a world that is saturated by social media, content is constantly flowing through our day-to-day lives. As the saying goes, a picture is worth 1,000 words. A recent MIT neuroscience study revealed that the human brain can process images in as little as 13 milliseconds—or just over 1/100th of a second. Aside from this benefit, social media posts that contain a photo receive 10x higher engagement. As attention spans have shortened, compelling visuals are the perfect way to communicate your brand’s message. Although a professional photographer and/or graphic designer is helpful, it’s certainly not necessary. Great visual content, such as short-form video, can be created by incorporating elements such as natural lighting, the right focal point and a creative background.
6. DON’T: Ignore Questions, Comments & Messages From Followers
It’s almost never a good idea for a brand to ignore questions or other comments—no matter how negative—on social media. Doing so can hurt your social media traffic, frustrate your followers and, ultimately, even impact your bottom line. We stressed the importance of being “social” on social media—and this also means addressing difficult situations, whether it’s a customer compliant or a complicated question that requires engaging different parties within your business. Each comment left on your feed is an opportunity for your brand to engage with your audience, in turn building trust and loyalty. By ignoring customers, brands are not only missing that opportunity—but essentially handing their business over to a competitor who will gladly help.
7. DO: Use a Content Calendar to Drive Your Social Media Strategy
A content calendar can do wonders for kicking your social media strategy into high gear. This organizational tool will help your brand keep track of upcoming content by specifying the platform, content type, topic, deadline(s) and responsible party associated with each piece of content being promoted. It will also ensure your brand maintains an active and consistent presence across all of its social media channels. Keep in mind that it’s important to consider the optimal days, times and frequency for posting on each platform. By leveraging a content calendar, your brand will be equipped to produce a consistent mix of high-quality content without overwhelming your feeds.
8. DON’T: Post to Social Media Without Proofreading First
Although a simple typo or grammatical error may seem minor, it can ruin your brand’s credibility with its social media followers by appearing inept, creating confusion or even promoting misinformation. Before publishing your social media posts, make sure that a second set of eyes have reviewed them for any mistakes. Trust us when we say that you won’t regret taking the extra time to proofread your social media content—as opposed to troubleshooting once the posts have already been made live.
9. DO: Focus on the “Social” Element of Social Media
It’s not called social media for nothing. When it comes to marketing your brand and its products and/or services on social media, it’s critical that you take the time to truly connect with your target audience. A big part of what makes social media so powerful is the ease of interaction and accessibility between businesses and their customers—it’s meant to be a two-way dialogue. With that in mind, it’s important to regularly engage and interact with your followers, as well as humanize your brand on social media. For instance, be sure that your brand is actively responding to comments, sharing user-generated content and participating in relevant industry threads.
10. DON’T: Go Hashtag Crazy on Social Media
Although loading your social media posts up with hashtags may have worked several years ago when social media platforms were still gaining popularity, this is no longer an effective strategy. In fact, the overuse of hashtags can even hurt the performance of your social media channels by making posts feel less genuine and more spam-like. This runs the risk of attracting more bots and fewer engaged followers who are actually interested in your brand. That said, hashtags are still very useful for brand monitoring and research. Because they’re search-engine friendly, they also help your target audience discover and engage with your brand on social media. As a general rule of thumb, limit your use to 2-5 relevant hashtags per social media post.