Social Media Best Practices: 19 Actionable Tips You Should Use Today

Posted by Manage Inbound's Julia May, last updated on Mar 28, 2019

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You're on social media and you're trying to figure out how to help your brand thrive. 

I'm sure you're savvy enough to understand so does everybody else that's online. 

Social media is more important to society now than ever-- more and more people are online using various platforms (think of all your favorites: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, etc.) 

As of January 2019, 4.4 billion people are active on the Internet and 3.5 billion were social media users

That said, how can you improve your social media presence and more importantly, make it count?

Read on to find out ...

In this post, I'm going to dive into 19 actionable tips that'll equip you with the right tools to hone in on your online presence, help navigate the best platform(s) to voice your brand -- all with the end goal for you to succeed on whatever social media platform(s) that you decide to use.

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1. Focus Your Message to Be Impactful

Target your posts to the main industries your business is involved with as well as your "shoulder niche" topics.

For example, an interior design company might limit their posts to design tips and trends, DIY activities, and local events. Having a more focused message on social media allows for a more cohesive look and makes it easier for you to create posts. 

2. Be Aware - Monitor Your Conversations

With the change of times, more and more people are opting to contact businesses via social media instead of picking up the phone to call. With this increase in social media, it's important to be vigilant of all communication on social media between you and your followers- think messages, comments, mentions, direct messages, and reviews. You  don't want to miss the opportunity to chat online and it's even more important to be timely when you do respond. 

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3. Discover Your Brand's Voice Online

There are plenty of social accounts online whose funny tweets are beloved by all (I'm looking at Arby's, Bud Light, IHOP, and Wendy's). Humor is a popular way to go about developing your company's voice online while also encouraging engagement. 

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While humor is often perceived as a go-to online, it doesn't necessarily work for every business. Don't worry, finding your voice may take some time.

Think of the core audience you're engaging with online and be sure your voice aligns with what the audience will respond to, your company's core values and most importantly whatever goal it is you're trying to achieve online. 

4. Engage With Your Audience - Social Isn't One-sided

This may be obvious, but you need to make sure you're engaging with your audience. Take the time apart from monitoring your social media feed to be sure to check in and acknowledge users who are sharing your content, using your hashtag, posting photos or even just mentioning you via social. You'll find more often than not that your audience wants to engage with you!

5. Be Wary of Censorship

Whether you like it or not, the Internet is a free-for-all in terms of conversation. Unfortunately, not everyone will have an extraordinary experience with your business and some will take to social media to make that heard.

If a user leaves a negative comment/review on any of your social channels, be sure to have a plan in place on how to respond. Remember: deleting the comment is not always the best move as that could only infuriate the user further and take them to another platform to voice their opinion and expose the fact you deleted their feedback.

Often, negative feedback can be an opportunity to remedy the situation instead of trying to hide it. 

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6. Experiment With Video

This is a key way to see your user engagement rise. Video is more personal and attention-grabbing compared to a single image.  It's also straightforward. It has plenty of tools to use to take advantage of immediately.

The best part of video? It can be fit into virtually any budget.

7. Do Yourself a Favor and Just Don't Spam

This one is a cardinal rule. Avoid spamming your customers, both current and prospective, at all costs. This is a simple way to annoy and frustrate people and can lead them to unfollowing, blocking, unsubscribing, reporting (you get it).

Unless a user specifically signed up somewhere to receive your messages, you can't start sending them emails and messages. Just focus on the prospects that signed up for your information!

8. Use Call-To-Actions to Convert

Call-to-actions aren't new but they're vital to any marketing effort. They encourage users to check out more of your content, watch another video, or visit a site page and this is why they should be used in your social media strategy as well.

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9. Align Your Social Media Posts With Your Personal Goals 

Social media is exciting and while it can be tempting just to jump in and start a posting frenzy, it's important to have a plan you can stick with. Regardless of what your key performance variables are, you first need to determine what your goal is for your social media.

Are you striving to become a thought leader? Do you want to grow your subscriber base? Are you trying to drive traffic to your site?

These goals mentioned above all will have varying KPI's. Decide upfront which goal you want to achieve with your social strategy.

10. Remember, Be Customer-Centric

When posting content on social media,  your ultimate goal is to post what your customers want, not what you think they want.

If users followed you because you advertised insider marketing tips, they're going to want to see that, not a video about your businesses' brand new office. While this may prove difficult at the beginning of your social media journey, you'll see results with testing different posts and some patience.

A key indicator here is post engagement- clicks, likes, comments, and shares. 

11. Publish Posts With Your Audience Screen Time in Mind

Figure out the best time to post by understanding and researching your audience. Some indicators of when your followers are most active include post frequency and engagement frequency.

For example, if you're an HVAC company, your audience of homeowners are probably actively posting after the workday, whereas a digital marketing company is targeting fellow marketers, who have access to their social media during the workday.  

12. Integrate Messaging Apps to Be Less Intrusive

A survey from Twilio found that 9 out 10 respondents would like to use messaging apps to communicate with businesses. 

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It's no surprise that messaging is a popular medium with users. According to Mary Meeker's Internet Trends Report, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Instagram, and Twitter total 5 billion monthly users. These stats from Meeker's report show that over one-half of teens are spending three or more hours per day on those apps. 

One-on-one communications like messaging should be used wisely, but it's certainly something that users are looking for with their favorite businesses. Tread lightly with outreach and make sure to avoid unsolicited conversations, as using these apps means shifting into user's private spaces. 

13. Gain Quick Wins With the Story Format and Delight Customers

Regardless of how active you are on social media, you've seen the "stories format" that has blown up on social platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp and is even in the works of being tested by LinkedIn.

Why are stories so successful?

They're meant to be casual and viewed in real time with a smartphone in hand. Also, due to their ephemeral nature, disappearing usually in 24 hours, they leave room for creativity and give off an immediate and extremely personal feel.

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Due to this shift toward the stories format, Hootsuite believes that the newsfeed may become obsolete soon. 

The best part about the stories format: It's unpolished and doesn't require much production. You can use this in your social media strategy to open the door to your customers, investors, and followers by sharing more "human stories." 

14. Expand Your Personality With Shoppable Posts to Sell More

Hootsuite recently showed that social commerce has taken storm in Asia,  stating that 70 percent of Gen-Zers in China are buying products directly from social.

While it's not quite taking over the U.S. yet, Meeker's 2018 report did show that 55 percent of survey respondents have purchased products online after discovering them via social media.

The gap between social media and commerce is coming to a close, thanks to video plugins and in-stream payment tools.

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Users want to buy from a brand with a face and from fellow users-- companies and individuals with a social following and profile. 

If you're going to start using "shoppable" posts, be sure to make sure this isn't a hard sell and is more of an extension of your brand's social media personality.  

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"Turn written product descriptions into videos, do live stream demonstrations of your products and services and encourage video testimonials from customers", says Hootsuite in its newest report

15. Incorporate Paid Ads, If You Can

The bad news: organic reach is dwindling due to constant changes with social media algorithms and with this comes more and more paid advertising. This means that businesses will have to opt for spending more of their budgets to follow these changes.

The good news: paid ads are very targeted and Facebook ads specifically are well known for their success and ability to reach precise audiences. 

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16. Create a Balanced Posting Schedule  

Posting on social media walks a fine line-- post too little and your engagement and followers will dwindle, post too much and users will easily get annoyed.

Unfortunately, looking up "how often should I post" isn't going to give you a straight answer as a posting schedule depends on a lot of factors.

Hubspot's advice is to change your Facebook post frequency according to the number of followers you have. 

For example, Hubspot found that businesses with over 10,001 followers saw clicks per post peaked at between 31 - 60 posts each month whereas businesses with less than 10,000 followers that post more than 60 times a month receive 60% fewer clicks per post than those companies that post 5 or fewer times a month. 

The main takeaway...

Quality over quantity. Spend more of your time crafting quality content for your audience instead of trying to post a large quantity in their feeds.

17. Master One Social Media Channel at a Time

Often, we can get swept up in the buzz of using every social media platform out there to reach the largest audience possible. Yes, the reach is higher utilizing this tactic, but it also leaves much more room for error.

Being involved in too many platforms, risks too much time being spent on creating and posting on each channel, monitoring for responses, retweeting and sharing, etc.

SEO guru Neil Patel suggests that you should stick with one social media platform so you can hone in on it and churn out great content. Unfortunately, there's no magic number for how many platforms you should be on-- that's up to you.  

According to an article by Forbes, choosing the best platform largely can depend on the kind of business you're running.

If you're looking to use social media marketing for your B2B company, LinkedIn is rated most effective whereas a consumer goods company like Budweiser can find more success by streaming ads on a video-sharing platform like YouTube

18. Build Credibility for Your Brand's Voice with Consistency

Keeping your brand's voice consistent helps increase trust, engagement and reliability from your audience. Often, users interact with brands directly to get a response or a simple question answered.

A report by Oracle found that 43% of social media users only interact with brands to get a direct response to an issue or question. The key here is to maintain a consistent message and voice for your brand.

Here are some places to keep in mind when trying to hone in on consistent messaging:

  • hashtags
  • ads and promos
  • social media bios
  • personal or direct messages
  • call-to-actions
  • replies 

19. Engage & Humanize Your Brand

One of the final essential tools for your social media best practice is how willing you are to engage. It's 2019. No one wants to talk to a pushy sales rep or receive robocalls in their voicemail.

Directly engaging with users and sending real responses in real-time to interact with your audience will bring increased engagement and humanity to your brand. 

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If you ignore users and don't respond to them, you'll lose customers and lose money.  About 30% of social media users will try their luck with competitors [source].

Not sure where to start to improve engagement?

Follow these 5 easy steps to get started:

  1. Listen more to your users; they're the voice of your brand.
  2. Inspire users to share, respond, like, converse or engage.
  3. Provide entertainment for users to engage with, but don't overdo it.
  4. Be a beacon of resourceful information to users.
  5. Follow-up with conversations and give more than what is requested by users.

My Final Parting Thoughts For You

Social media is everywhere. While it can be a little intimidating getting started, it can  be an amazing asset to make your brand stand out!

As I said before, don't get too caught up in what's right and wrong, everyone's brand is different. In the end, don't forget to just enjoy using social media and have fun!

Since social is so widely used, it's constantly changing and growing.

Don't worry, we'll do our best to keep this guide updated so you can always be "in the know" on whatever platform(s) you're using.

Which of the 19 practices did you find the most helpful?

Are there any you're planning to use first?

What platform are you using now (or going to use) that you like best? And why?  Are there any important ones I missed?

Drop a comment below, I'd love to hear from you!

blog author

Julia May

Julia is certified in Content Marketing, Inbound, and Email Marketing. She has a passion for the written word and utilizing all forms of social media to make an impact with her clients.