Over the past seven or eight years that we've been blogging, we've written a TON on the topic of social media. While many things have changed, a lot of the 101 stuff has not. So, we've decided to assemble a list of our "greatest hits"—a roundup of how-to's, tips, hacks and practical guidance for anyone seeking to improve their social media presence and engagement.
1. Choose the right channel(s).
You don’t have to be on every social channel. There are just too many and it’s not practical to be on all of them. Instead, choose networks that make sense for you strategically. Is Facebook where your current customers spend their time? Is Instagram where your potential next customer and your target market hang out? Then focus on those two first if you’re just getting started. A good rule of thumb is to start slow and do one or two channels well before branching out. You also want to state clear goals for the channel and know how you will measure success on that channel.
2. Participation + passion.
Active participation and attention every day is key. Passion for social media is another key to success and obviously the person you hire for this role should have a love for social media. Have you chosen social networks that you have the capacity and passion for paying attention to consistently? All the fancy tools in the world won’t help your social media plan or strategy if you don’t “get” social media. When you’re passionate about social media, AND your company and customers, then it shows. Your customers will see there’s a human being behind the posts and tweets.
3. Start amplifying blog posts.
It's no surprise that you gotta pay to play these days. Sharing your blog posts on social media is great, but if you want to get eyeballs on the post and traffic back to your website, you need to boost. You can boost posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Take the time to dial in your message to a particular audience rather than boosting a blog post to everyone. LinkedIn is one of the simplest and best ways to target the right people. It's really good for B2B companies who want to boost articles, blog posts, or videos to industry professionals or folks with a particular job title.
4. Build custom audiences so you can deliver personalized content.
You can build custom audiences on Facebook using demographics and tracking (The following screen shots are from Facebook Business Manager. We love using it to manage all of the Facebook Pages and Advertising accounts we manage, as well as our own.)
As you can see below, we started by adding the tracking pixel on all of the pages of our website. Then we created additional audiences that were narrowed down by what specific content and pages they viewed or did not view on our website. You're more likely to get better engagement, click-thrus and shares if you know what people like ... and then give them that!
5. Respond openly and transparently to negative comments.
People can see when you delete comments and it may make your brand look really bad. If you get negative feedback on Facebook, answer the questions honestly and move on.
Smuckers has been under fire for deleting posts from their Facebook page. The company claims that they welcome posts about their product, but they delete political topics, misleading claims, and spam--understandable. Recently, posts containing questions about whether the products are GMO-free have been deleted too. The company response is that they are following their post guidelines by deleting the posts because they are of a political nature. This may not be the best idea, unless comments get really nasty. People can see when you delete comments and it may make your brand look really bad. If you get negative feedback on Facebook, answer the questions honestly and move on.
6. Create a crisis management playbook.
The previous example is one way to start a self-inflicted social media crisis. Sometimes a crisis brews on its own, and you've done nothing wrong. Be prepared to handle conflict, negativity, and situations before they spiral out of control. If you have a proactive plan for how to handle social media comments, you'll have a more positive presence overall. Use this guide to create your social media crisis management playbook!
7. No blog? Start one by using Pulse on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn's Pulse is an app that lets you consume news tailored to your professional interests, and of course it syncs with your LinkedIn profile. You can like, share and comment on Pulse using your LinkedIn profile, as well as sharing your own thought leadership content from your blog. You can also use LInkedIn's publishing platform to start creating your own content. Let's say your company isn't blogging yet or you want to start blogging, but you don't want to maintain a separate website or blog. Publishing on LinkedIn is ideal for those who want to get thought leadership out there. Individuals can start building a solid collection of blog posts, get comments and engagement from others on LinkedIn, and more. Check out Pulse for yourself and give it a try.
8. Don't use clickbait-style headlines.
Facebook has long been home to clickbait, but now Facebook is serving the eviction notice. Recently, Facebook's war on clickbait has escalated; it's now determined to demote any article that appears in the News Feed that contains phrases that are indicative of clickbait. What does that mean for marketers? Well, if you're not using clickbait tactics, nothing. Your content should be receiving the same amount of attention that it's always received. But if you're engaging in clickbait-style headlines, you could be in trouble.
9. Do use proper headline practices and get creative.
Here's a list of do's and don'ts for attention-grabbing, engagement-worthy headlines.
10. Bring your customer service game to social media.
Often times, people turn to social media because they are frustrated with the standard customer service channels they've tried. They are tired of waiting on hold, navigating auto-attendants and being serviced from a script by unsympathetic customer service reps. If your organization has a Twitter account, you are now providing customer service on Twitter. The same goes for Facebook, as many consumers take to complaining/raving on Facebook as well. This is a simple reality. If your customers and constituents can find you on social media, they will expect you to be responsive and provide service.
11. Keep an eye on what's trending.
Everyone wants to know what’s trending on social media so they can latch onto the topic and gain more views. Hopping aboard a trending topic, when it's appropriate and relevant to do so, shows you're paying attention. You want to engage with people on social media about current events. Visit this list of sites regularly and get a few tips on newsjacking here.
12. Set up alerts to monitor your keywords.
The first step of community management is identifying important conversations and audiences. Where are your people hanging out and what are they saying about your product, service, cause or industry? Start by selecting a few industry keywords to follow and do a search for related hashtags, groups, or forums that may already exist. A tool like RiteTag is a great for finding trending hashtags. Next, set up a simple Google Alert for your topics, so you can get alerts sent to your email whenever a blog post or news article is published with that related keyword. This is a good way to monitor your branded keywords too, in case anyone out there is talking about your company.
13. Experiment with Lead Ads on Facebook.
While it may seem like a lot of work to set up a Lead Ad, it's a really effective way to get users to take a particular action, like register for your next webcast. The nice thing about Facebook Lead Ads is that it reduces so much friction from the process. While we would love to assume that everyone would go through all the steps to register for your webcast directly, sometimes people just don't want to go through all the steps. A Lead Ad removes those barriers because they can stay directly on Facebook and register without having to type anything (because Facebook auto-fills their contact information). Here's a step-by-step tutorial on how to do this.
14. Weave social media into your event planning.
When you're planning an event, think of how you'll be promoting the event on social media. Don't stop there. Do you want to post photos during the event? Live tweet? Use a hashtag to organize your attendees posts and encourage more social sharing? There are multiple ways to boost engagement on your social media presence during an event, so take advantage of those occasions.
15. Planning to jump into a new channel?
Want to target a niche group of customers? Start a Facebook group. Trying to get your "boring" industry on Instagram? Start here. Curious about expanding your visual social presence to Pinterest? See if you're ready. Just now diving into Twitter? No shame in that game – here's a Twitter tutorial from a few years ago, but the basics are the same.
16. Hashtag 101
Don't be shy! Many people still have questions about hashtags–how to use them, when to use them, what the heck are they? We've got you covered here, here, and even a SpinRadio episode here. If you're going to be strategic about increasing your #socialmediapresence and boosting #engagement, then you need to know how to use #hashtags.
17. Be human. Be human. Be human.
Ready for a snackable lesson about being human on the social medias? Here we go.
Dumb things brands do on social media: Hashtag hijacking, being tone deaf, being robotic (just replying isn't being social).
How to do social media right: Use search tool to monitor hashtags and terms, respond to people with help (not to sell), interact with employees, be interested, put forth the effort, and LISTEN!
Our SpinRadio guest Chuck Gose has much more to say on this topic, if you're ready for the main course.
18. Create custom images for your social media posts.
Stock photography can be expensive and boring, but it's an easy shortcut when you don't have time or access to original, high-quality images. Custom images and original photography are more eye-catching, but it still takes time and money to create custom images. Here is a tutorial to help you level up your images and photos so they grab people's attention. Here are some photo editing tools I love to help you be the best artistic version of yourself.
19. Speaking of photo editing... Shutterstock tip.
Michael Reynolds taught some of us this trick in Shutterstock the other day and–no joke–it has been life changing. We have a subscription to Shutterstock because we only want to use licensed photography (so we don't get sued). They recently added a photo editing feature that lets you create custom preset dimensions and sizes for the photos you download. This is SO handy because we have many clients who need particular image sizes for their blog. No need to remember those dimensions or open a new tool to edit the photo. We simply select a great stock photo, open it in the editor, and select the preset size. And bam, photo is ready to go! It's been a huge time saver and helps our photos be the correct posting/viewing/sharing size for social media. You should definitely check it out if you have a Shutterstock subscription.
Social media is such a huge part of our world and an important way for consumers to find out about new products and brands. Personally, I love learning new things and finding ways to improve through experimentation. Social media is a great way to soften your brand, have fun with your customers and clients, and show your personal side of your company. If you're not continually finding ways to engage with people on your channels, then there isn't much point to doing it at all.
Take one or two of these tips today and go have fun on the internet! You can do it!
What are your favorite tips for engagement? I would LOVE to hear them. Drop us a line in the comments below.