This morning I had to give an online presentation to my WiRE Hub group on social media and the best practices businesses should adopt to make the most of social media and using it to their advantage.
Even though this was an online presentation, I was still a nervous wreck with my social anxiety going into overdrive. But somehow I manage to struggle my way through it, only losing my notes twice and getting one slide wrong.
Never one to miss an opportunity for new content, I decided to turn this presentation into a blog post to help any other business owners confused by what they should or shouldn’t be doing on social media.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of best practices but will hopefully give you some ideas.
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1. Make a commitment to stick with social media
Unfortunately, many businesses have quit using social media as a marketing tool after just a few months mainly because it wasn’t working for them right away. Just like a certain famous shampoo commercial once said, “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.” It can take at least 8-12 months to establish a solid following and consistent content stream. You may not see any results after just a few weeks, or even months. Be patient!
By devoting some time each day/week/month to creating or curating your content, and with some forward-planning, it’s quite within the realm of possibility to have thriving social media channels. There are so many tools out there to help you with your social media content, which I’ll go more into in the next tip.
Your efforts on social media are for cultivating connections and building relationships through your channels, which takes a certain level of commitment and dedication. Those connections and relationships are very valuable and will help your business grow. If you are willing to put the time in, you’ll reap the benefits. So, STICK WITH IT!
2. Set time aside to plan, create and schedule your content
You need to make time regularly to plan your content calendar, whether it be weekly or monthly. As I mentioned earlier, there’s plenty of tools available to help you with planning, creating and curating content. For my content calendar, I love using Airtable, which is like Microsoft Excel on steroids.
Be sure to utilise the free online content creation tools available. When it comes to creating my content, I rely on tools such as Canva for my graphics and Lumen5 or Renderforest for my videos. For curating content, I use good old Google search, social media or content aggregators such as Feedly or Flipboard.
Using a scheduling tool to schedule your content takes away the stress of having to remember to post your accounts regularly. With tools like Buffer or Hootsuite, you input your already written content, add images/videos/links, set the date and time and the posts are published for you. This is not “set-and-forget” though. You still need to be present to engage in any comments or messages resulting from your posts.
For me, I dedicate one day a week (roughly 4-5 hours) to creating my content calendar for the following week for my clients. This involves any research I need to do, creating any graphics/videos and adding all my captions and everything else into my content calendar for scheduling.
3. Focus your efforts on select platforms
The fact is, not all platforms are suited to your business. If your business is product-based, it may be more suited to visual platforms such as Instagram or Pinterest, whereas service-based businesses might perform better on text-based platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn.
Take the time to get to know who your customers are and which social media platforms they are using. Does the platform they use make sense for your business? Can that platform be used to boost your brand? If you are unsure of the demographics of each social platform, download the latest version of the Sensis Social Media Report to see where your target market is hanging out. Websites like Social Media News also have up-to-date social media statistics for Australian users.
Spend your valuable time on the platforms they are using and don’t concentrate your efforts on the ones that won’t work for you.
4. Build trust and credibility with your audience
I find it highly irritating when I like a page on a certain topic and the content they post has nothing to do with the said topic. That’s a sure-fire way to get me to unlike your page. Be consistent with your content.
This should go without saying but never, ever make things up or over-exaggerate just to sound impressive. In the long run, this can actually do more harm than good. And nobody likes a bragger, even on social media.
I’m sure you’ve seen those posts that have a headline line like “Wait until you see what this girl did at the beach!” – you know the ones. These over-dramatic, sensationalised headlines not only sound ridiculous and fake, the story is usually boring and anticlimactic! Not to mention Facebook for one is now penalising pages that do this by not showing their posts. Don’t be that guy. Always deliver the content the headline promises. Let’s #EndClickbait!
It’s OK to be yourself on social media – Be authentic. Do the right thing by your audience, every time – Be honest. And always do what you’ve said you were going to do – Be accountable. Your audience will learn to place their trust in you. Which leads me to my next tip.
5. Don't be afraid to let your personality show
Your audience wants to connect with you so pull from your life experiences to find something relatable to share with them. This is your chance to be a storyteller! Just be aware not to overshare though. Your audience needs to know they are doing business with a real human and not an automated robot so let them get to know the person behind the business.
6. Listen to your audience
Are you truly listening to what your audience are saying? They may be telling you what they want from you but you aren’t hearing it. By actively listening to your audience and what they are saying to you via comments, direct messages, phone calls, and about you on social media, forums, etc, you can gauge a better understanding of what it is your target market wants from you and then adjust your products or services to suit.
Another great reason to listen to your audience is so you can take any questions they are asking and turn it into quality, informative content. For example, a question about your product/service could become an entire blog post or infographic. A client asked me a question a few weeks ago about blogging for business so I took his question and turned it into a two-part series on ‘Business Blogging’ my own blog. Check it out if you’re keen to start blogging for business but don’t know where to begin.
Make use of the many free tools available for monitoring your brand. Monitoring is searching the internet to see what is being said about your business or products/services. There are tools to automate this process so you aren’t spending days trawling the web. Again, by learning what people are saying about your products or services, you can use this information to be more responsive to mentions and enhance your business.
P.S. What are some other best practices you’d add to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.