We’ve all seen the articles entitled “Social Media Best Practices,” “Best Practices for Twitter,” and “Best Practices for Brands Online” that promise wild success for all who heed their tips. But there’s bad news: you won’t get wild success from the vast majority of those articles. Tweeting at the peak tweet time, creating a hashtag campaign or soliciting for Likes won’t get you what you want to achieve.
Not unless your audience is receptive to those things – which no amount of blog articles can tell you. Rather than replicating other brands on social media, take some time to develop a sound strategy for yourself. There are major problems with “Best Practice Articles,” and you should be able to recognize them.
First, none of these are brand specific. Hopping on popular trends might work for a company like DiGiorno on Twitter, but not all brands can latch on to existing trends successfully. Some “best practice” blogs encourage this type of content, but blanket statements are rampant in these articles, preaching tactics that may not be ideal for some companies.
Best practice articles disregard your brand’s identity in the name of getting clickable content out on social media. The tips and tricks of a writer who has no idea who you are shouldn’t dictate your social media strategy – you should. So let’s get into how to create your own best practices and develop a truly effective content strategy for your audience.
Identify Your Users
Where are they? What do they do for a living? What do they care about? Answer these questions before doing anything and you’ll see that most of the information from a “Best Practice” article is completely nullified.
Conduct research into user bios using free tools like FollowerWonk’s Analyze Tool or paid software like Sysomos. Get a feel for the types of people following you and gain insight into what interests them most – then develop messaging themes based on these interests.
Find out when your users are online
Peak times mean nothing if your audience is comprised of mostly stay-at-home mothers, for example. There’s likely little commuting, especially during rush hour. So when are they most likely to be online? Major social networks and third-party companies have tools that can help identify when users are most active by gauging interactions and newsfeed activity.
Facebook Insights has a clear visual representation showing when a page’s followers are online. Your most important content should go there, and you should avoid posting at the lowest times, of course.
Perform A/B testing to determine optimal post types
The same piece of content can be presented any number of ways, so test different styles to see which resonates the best. Attach a high-quality image in one post and then adjust the copy and include a different call to action a few days later. Consider using different images, adding a video or posting plain-text with the same piece of content over a few weeks at different times of day (based on the above).
Don’t be too concerned with posting the same piece of content more than once. Facebook organic reach truncation allows only 1-3% of followers to see organic content at any time, regardless of the audience size. So recirculate the content to ensure more users see it – nobody is going to get upset because they already saw a particular piece of content, and those who haven’t seen it won’t even know it exists and will be completely unaware of its value.
Create social response guidelines based on audience analysis
Determine if your followers are there to speak with you or with others. Some brand Facebook pages serve as user-to-user forums more than user-to-brand conversational environments. Sometimes it’s better to sit back and let the people discuss amongst themselves than it is to jump in, and vice versa. Guidelines help keep responses appropriate and don’t leave a bad taste in the user’s mouth.
Stay in your lane
Really, let’s keep this simple. Don’t feel forced to create a Vine account, hop on Snapchat or go all-in on Pinterest unless it’s truly something you think your audience would flock to easily. Certainly do so if it makes sense, but first understand your audience and the social platforms that would benefit your strategy before making these decisions.
It’s important to know something can be done, and even more important to know it shouldn’t be done by you.
Brands seeking “best practices” cannot solely rely on industry-generic blog posts for content and publishing recommendations. Learn about your audience, study similar brands in your industry, and make strategic decisions based on data.
What content strategy development pieces do you think should be included here? If nothing else, what “best practice” tip makes you furious?