Your (Updated) Guide to Social Media

Everything You Need to Know About Using Social Media to Market Your Business, in Honor of Social Media Day

Cass Polzin

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Today marks the 8th anniversary of Mashable’s Social Media Day, now an official global celebration. Way back in 2010 when Mashable first started Social Media Day, it was almost entirely different from where it is now. One thing that has not changed is how fast it is growing and continuing to dominate almost our entire lives.

Social Media in 2010

Back in 2010, US Presidential Candidate John McCain blessed us with this tweet.

Ah, how times have changed. Pop culture has changed, for example: Keeping Up with the Kardashians has largely taken the place of Jersey Shore. Social media and marketing has changed just as much, if not more.

In 2010, there were tons of sites just starting that never really went anywhere. Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter had already started, though, and were quickly gaining traction and growing exponentially.

Mobile was becoming necessary for accessing social media, an environment created by many companies who banned social media — which was a result of the networks taking over work days.

Social Media in 2017

In 2017, we’ve gotten to the point where not having social media is ground breaking. If you don’t have a Facebook profile, Airbnb won’t think you’re a real person. If you don’t have an Instagram, how will your recent Tinder match stalk you before your date? Why would you get hired at your next position if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile that’s up to date with recommendations from colleagues?

Just as it has become a necessity for individuals, businesses now need to be online, specifically social media to be recognized as legitimate. If your business’s Facebook page hasn’t posted since 2013, you can guarantee most millennials will think you’re a scam, especially if you sell straight to consumers.

Social Media Best Practices

Today, just existing on social media isn’t enough. You should show up and participate — but in the right ways.

Facebook Best Practices

No matter your business, you should be on Facebook — there’s no avoiding it anymore. There are nearly 2 billion monthly active users (MAU are defined by users logging in to Facebook at least once in a month’s time).

Use a Facebook PAGE not a PROFILE.

Profiles are for people. Pages are for brands, communities, and more.

Fill in all available information.

Include your business’s name, phone number, hours, a specific description, and everything else you have on your page. People shouldn’t have to work hard to find information about you, they should be able to access it easily.

Use a logo (or other brand recourse) for your profile image.

Use a high-quality logo for the profile image so your page is easy to identify. This helps to encourage brand recognition as well.

Switch this up during holidays or brand redesigns. For example, a rainbow version of your logo during Pride Month or a green version for Saint Patrick’s Day.

Promote a current offer or recent brand happening on the cover image.

You cover image should be like the letter boards outside displaying your specials. It doesn’t need to be changed every day, but should be rotated regularly and utilized as a free, digital billboard.

Post frequently- at least once a day.

Facebook is an algorithmic feed. This means that posts do not show up chronologically, they instead show up based on who likes posts and their engagement rate.

To have the most chances of showing up on people’s feeds, even people who follow you, you should post often. At least once a day is a generally accepted minimum. Leeward posts twice during the work week.

Post about community related events.

Facebook is the best place to put your community efforts. Share your charity efforts, community give back, and employee happenings (new hires, birthdays, certifications, etc), if applicable.

Share lifestyle posts.

You shouldn’t be marketing your product or service. You should be marketing what the product or service does for your customer.

For example, a swimsuit company doesn’t need to focus on how their swimsuits dry the fastest. Instead they should promote the lifestyle of someone living on the beach, surfing, tanning, overall being carefree.

Encourage employee engagement.

Ask your employees and partners to engage with your brand on Facebook. If people are engaging with your post, you’ll show up higher in the algorithmic feed.

Have a personality.

This isn’t the place to be all business. Have some fun and showcase your brand’s personality. Facebook is largely used to engage with PEOPLE, take advantage of this and be human.

Post videos.

Video has recently blow up on Facebook. Use it to your advantage. The same swimsuit company could share videos about beach hairstyles or sunscreen hacks.

*Make sure your videos are optimized to be viewed on mobile and without sound. Include captions if necessary.

Use live video.

The rise of applications like Snapchat go hand-in-hand with having a personality. People are enjoying humanizing qualities online more now than ever. Everything is becoming less filtered, less edited, and more raw.

Live videos are a great opportunity to be raw. Interview your top designer on her favorite beach coverups for Summer 2017 or share your company playing dodgeball for a local charity event.

Respond to comments and reviews.

Don’t leave people who engage hanging! Respond to any messages, comments, or reviews. The more timely, the better.

Learn about advertising on Facebook!

Twitter Best Practices

Twitter has 313 million monthly active users, and it is the platform with one of the lowest barriers. Each tweet can only be 140 characters, which makes shorter messages necessary.

Use a logo for your profile photo.

Just like for Facebook, a logo is best for profile images.

Use a current promotion for your cover photo.

This is also like Facebook, a promotion is great to be utilized for a cover photo.

Include an image in every post.

140 characters is not nearly enough to catch someone’s attention and get a point across. Images help with grabbing attention and they help people remember you.

Average two hashtags per post.

Two hashtags per post tends to be the best number. Anymore or any less and engagement starts to drop.

Engage with people posting in relevant hashtags.

People posting in the same hashtags as you probably have similar interests. Engaging with them will help them notice you and hopefully start following.

Do the same with people you want to follow you.

Engage with your competitor’s followers, your partner’s followers, and more. This is a good way to build an audience.

Tag accounts.

Don’t spam people, but if you are talking about someone in your tweet, mention them. This will encourage them to engage, either by liking, retweeting, or replying. But…

Don’t start tweets with an @.

When you start a tweet with an @, Twitter treats it as a reply and then it doesn’t get shown in people’s feeds.

Post a lot.

Twitter is also an algorithmic feed and things move a lot faster. These things considered, you need to post more to show up one people’s feed more and not get buried in their other following.

LinkedIn

Ahh, the professional Facebook. The only social media you’re supposed to be on during work hours.

Create a PAGE not a PROFILE.

Just like Facebook, this step is key. Make sure to create a page for your organization. This way it is set up correctly and people can follow it instead of having to friend it.

Encourage employee participation.

If your employees aren’t on LinkedIn, ask them to join and list your organization as their employer. This will help your business seem more legitimate.

Request employee engagement.

Ask them to like, share, and comment on your page posts to help them in the algorithmic feed.

Post about business-related happenings.

This is the place for blogs, case studies, and other professional material.

Post at least once a day.

Algorithms.

Google+

The number one social media network… For Google employees.

Google+ is best utilized when treated as a tool for improving search engine optimization (SEO). Apply effort in setting it up, but not for maintaining it.

Set up Google My Business.

Add photos, hours, location information, etc. Any and all information should be completed and accurate. When you are setting up your business’s physical location, you will need to receive a post card from Google to verify your address as accurate.

Synchronize other social accounts.

Pick another social media account and just have all posts go to Google+ as well. Facebook or LinkedIn are great for this. The point of doing this is to increase backlinks and relevant keywords tied to your organizations name to help build SEO.

Instagram

My personal favorite, Instagram, is THE photo sharing site. Instead of an emphasis being on the word content, Instagram is about pictures, with captions taking a back seat.

Set up a business account.

You CAN do this after creating an account and all you need is a Facebook page to link it to. By creating a business account, it makes it easier for people to contact you directly through the app and you get analytics (no real analytics exist for personal accounts at this time).

Use user-generated content (UGC).

This makes your life a lot easier and gives customers a reason to interact with your brand online. Encourage customers to share on Instagram using a certain hashtag or by tagging you to have the opportunity to be featured.

For example, if you are an ice cream shop you should encourage customers to take a selfie with their cones of ice cream. Then, you will re-share the best selfies.

Post fairly frequently, but consistently.

Yet another platform using an algorithmic feed. Post frequently to take advantage of it. Anywhere from once a day to once a week is sufficient, as long as it is consistent.

Use hashtags, people tags, and location tags.

Each of these will help you get noticed. Use hashtags relevant to you and then go through those hashtags and like a handful of photos.

Use account tags when necessary! This is great for tagging partners or customers if they are featured.

Use location tags whenever relevant — such as at a national conference or other though leader event for your industry.

Post to your story.

Post to your story every so often to give a behind the scenes look at your organization’s happenings. Use a location tag (sticker) to show up on your town’s story!

Use aesthetically-pleasing photos.

Instagram is all about pictures. Post high-quality photos that look nice. Don’t post crap. Don’t over use filters. Etc.

Don’t post mosaics.

Mosaics are when you post any multiple of three photos in a row to make picture on your profile. People don’t generally look at your profile, but they will see your photos in their feed.

Since the feed is algorithmic, it will not be in order and your followers will only be confused and annoyed by the spam. Most importantly, I will be very disappointed in you.

Pinterest

The DIY haven. Pinterest is great for photographers, event planners, and apparel companies. Pinterest is NOT for business to business (B2B) companies.

Include sources for posts.

Don’t post photos without a source link, so your followers can find out more about the image and the owner gets proper credit.

Have specific boards.

Separate your pins into specific boards so people can find what’s relevant to them.

Post consistently.

Like all other platforms, post consistently for the best effect.

Use UGC to promote your own products.

It’s great to make style boards using your own apparel and customer’s photos.

Medium

Medium is the best blogging platform I have found. People go to Medium specifically to find blogs and Medium promotes you to their users. Additionally, it’s just as easy for people to visit it as it would be for them to visit your website. But, my favorite part about Medium is it automatically does all SEO best practices for you.

Link it to your website.

Set your Medium URL up to be a part of your website (blog.yourwebsite.com). This helps your website’s SEO and makes it easier for people to find your blog.

Add tags to your blogs.

You can tag your blog with up to five categories. Do all five whenever possible to help get the most exposure.

Use images.

Images make for a much better user experience and they make the content easier to digest. Use landscape images are best for breaking up text. Square and portrait images are good for examples or diagrams to be displayed next to text.

Be consistent.

You don’t need to post very often, but it does need to be consistent so people know what to expect from you. Once a week is great, but minimum would be two a month.

Use a variety of lengths, topics, and more.

Try different lengths of posts to see what your followers respond to best. Do the same with your topics and format.

Try infographics!

Once you find a few people tend to like, try to have a pretty consistent rotation.

Promote your blog posts on all your platforms.

Even old posts can be promoted to continue to get new views.

Learn more about promoting your blogs:

Website

I’m not going to tell you that you need a website, because if you don’t know that, I cannot help you and you might need to fire your marketing team and find a new one.

Optimize for mobile viewing.

Website platforms like Weebly do this automatically for you, but if you don’t use a platform that does this, you need to make sure you invest in mobile optimization.

Have easily accessible pages.

Contact, About, and Blog pages should be easy to find in the menu. Don’t make people search.

Use clear call to actions on every page.

People shouldn’t have to think about what to do next, it should be evident.

Make your contact info accessible on every page.

Every page should have your social icons, general email, and phone number on them so all your web visitors can easily access them.

Keeping Up with Changes

Change is inevitable. Pay attention to changes and current happenings and look for opportunities to take advantage of. Don’t get too attached to anything and be flexible with your techniques so as to best keep up with changes.

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