Best Practices for Social Media (Instagram, Facebook, & LinkedIn)
Sep 03, 2019
At Stout Heart, we manage our clients’ social media accounts to help them drive awareness, create engagement, and meet business goals. Although our clients’ accounts have dramatically different target audiences, we have uncovered a few tried-and-true social media best practices that should be followed regardless of industry or business type. In this post, we will discuss some general suggestions to get more out of social media and detail platform-specific best practices to follow. If you are ready to make your social media outlets work harder for your brand, follow these best practices to grow your communities, engage with your followers, and drive positive social ROI.
General Social Media Best Practices
The first social media best practice is to set reasonable and achievable goals. While everyone wants to have the largest following amongst their industry competitors, that might not be an achievable goal in year one of your social media strategy. Increasing a following or even reaching 100 likes on a post can be a good goal. Goals do not only need to be related to driving sales or driving more website traffic (though you can certainly argue that follows and likes are related).
When starting out on social media, set a schedule for posting and engaging with your followers before determining goals such as increased sales, improved site traffic, and community growth. This will allow you to set realistic objectives and set expectations accordingly. It’s important to ensure that you are posting often enough. This should be outlined in your strategy. Make it a part of your daily/weekly marketing efforts so that you can meet the targeted business-related goals that you have outlined.
If you have been utilizing social media as a marketing tool for some time now, it might be time to step back and take a holistic look at its performance. When we begin working with a client, Stout Heart does a full social media audit that includes metrics such as community growth, website referrals from social media, a review of the type of content receiving the most interaction, and brand recognition. Once you see what your historical numbers are, set new goals and apply specific tactics to meet those goals over a specific period of time. An example of this strategy would be: If you are currently seeing a 10% network growth every six months, aim for 15% in the next six months and connect outreach, hashtag usage, and sponsored posts to meet that goal.
Here are some starter goals:
- Post weekly to each social channel
- Aim for 5% network growth each month
- 5% CTR on average for all channels (Pro tip: Use a tool like Link.Bio for Instagram links)
- Look to increase all of these metrics after six months, one year, two years, etc.
Know the Social Media Platforms
Knowing which platform to use for your message is important. Some are more business and information sharing while others are focused on brand building and connecting. The main networks we focus on are Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin. Here are the main usages for brands:
- Facebook – Network with your audience, leverage different Facebook apps to sell online and market or promote your business, branding, company culture, and products and services. Great for telling your whole brand story, products, and services.
- Instagram – This photo-sharing social networking app enables you to capture the best moments of your company, products, and services, through photos and videos. Great to easily showcase your brand and quickly create a following.
- LinkedIn – A professional social networking site that is available in over 20 languages. It is used across the globe by all types of professionals and brands to connect businesses, locate and hire ideal candidates, and promote brands. Great for though-leadership, promoting events and meetups, and connecting with like-minded professionals.
Know Your Audience
When it comes to social, there’s always room to improve your tactics to engage your audience or target a new one. Social listening is becoming increasingly important when it comes to crafting your content. Each platform provides a great deal of useful audience analytics. A great place to start is knowing when your audience is online and what content they’re interacting with. Are they more interested in short videos, funny memes, or thought-provoking social copy? Checking in with your audience allows you to keep your posts relevant.
Pro tip: don’t sleep on competitive analysis. Check-in with your competition and consider what they might be doing better than you. This could uncover content that’s not currently out there and give you a new burst of inspiration.
Establish Your Social Media Voice and Tone – And Stick To It
Much like our best practices for branding, stick to one voice and tone in order to keep your brand consistent in your audiences’ eyes. Your following, while diverse in some cases, decided to follow you for your brand, product, or service. Those items were defined by the positioning that you have worked hard to create, so stick with the brand standards you leveraged to gain that market position. While you can stray from time to time with your post’s subject matter, keep your posts voice and tone on-brand to avoid confusing your followers.
Follow the social media ‘Rule of Thirds’
Social media networks have their own unique values to the users that engage in them. Make sure to share content that is right for the platform that you are using for your business. Then, make sure to use the “Rule of Thirds” to provide the most engaging content to your following. If you only promote your brand, people might be turned off by your constant sales speak. Instead, break up your posts into thirds. Use these three content focuses to generate the best possible social media strategy outcome:
- Share posts to promote your business, convert readers, and generate profits;
- Share posts of ideas from influencers in your industry (or like-minded businesses);
- Share posts of personal stories to build your brand.
Mix Up Post Types – Text, Images, & Video
Much like the “Rule of Thirds”, mixing up the types of posts you share with your network is crucial to keeping your networks engaged. Posting just images or just text could make your network numb to your messages. Mix it up by providing your network images, videos, and text that align with your brand and goals.
Don’t Repost the Same Message Across Networks Every Time
As we noted earlier, each platform excels at presenting different content forms over the others. Instagram is best used for images and videos while Facebook can better handle longer-form copy. While you can post some of the same content across some of the platforms, try to create unique posts using the same main content (image or video) to maximize the platforms’ features like tagging, location, hashtags, and linking. We know your time can be limited so using a tool like Sprout Social to manage all of your posts will greatly help maximize your time while creating unique posts for each platform.
Change the Cadence and Time of Posting to See What Works Best
Reaching your target audience at the right time to make a connection, drive a sale, or influence them to take action with your brand can be very hard. The best way to find out when your networks best engage with you is to run a few tests to see when your audience engages with specific types of content. You might see better engagement with photos in the morning and product spotlights in the afternoon or the opposite. Keep testing your post frequency to see what helps meet your engagement and social goals. Then, when you think you have the magic formula, test again. Your audience is evolving. You should too.
Pro Tip: Use a post scheduling tool to target audiences in different timezones.
Include Calls to Action, Most of the Time
When you share posts with your following, you are most likely focused on creating a specific response or action. For this type of post, consider adding a call to action to encourage your followers to complete that task (like buying, reading, or sharing). Much like website best practices, you should include calls to action in all posts where you are trying to get followers to act. If you don’t, your following may not take any action at all. That said, not all posts need a call to action. Some of your posts are just there to create an emotional response by either telling your brand story or sharing insights into who you are and why you are in business. Those posts don’t need calls to action as their main goal is to build trust with your network.
Respond to All Comments and Mentions—Promptly
Make it a company policy to respond to comments and mentions in a specific timeframe – like under two hours. This will show that your company wants to support their followers, engage with them, and cultivate a community so that it doesn’t seem like you are only on social media to promote your products and services. Given today’s fast pace and highly connected society, your followers expect you to respond to their mentions and comments especially if they are talking about your products and services or asking questions. These are great opportunities to provide value-added touchpoints with your clients and prospects – so use them to your advantage!
These general social media best practices will help you provide the best experience for your network and help you reach the goals you created for yourself. Engaging with social media can be an all-consuming task that not all businesses are ready to tackle. If that is the case, let’s talk to see how Stout Heart’s social media experts can help you get the most out of your social networks.