These social media best practices are brought to you by WhiteHot Marketing, Official Marketing Partner of Midtown Indy.

By now, social media is not a novel tool. Most of us use various social media platforms for personal use on a daily basis.

But having personal accounts does not a social media master make. Frankly, nor does being a millennial, or younger “digital native.”

This is because, while the platforms may be relatively new, social media success relies on long-standing principles of marketing, branding and customer service.

Now, to be fair, keeping up your personal profile does require skills that can be applied to social media marketing.

For instance, you check your personal account to interact with your friends, see what they’re up to and get their feedback. The same principles apply to social media for business. The most successful brands use these platforms to listen to and engage with their audience.

Personal social media usage is also regularly integrated into your daily routine – not an extra side task or an afterthought.

That’s how it should be in marketing too.

A strategic social media presence should be incorporated into your marketing plan, just like any other tactic.

Basic Dos & Don’ts

There are a few common mistakes we see businesses make on social media. Listed below are the ones we see most often, and a few tips on how you can avoid falling into the same traps.

DON’T: Give TMI.

If your newsfeeds look anything like ours, you probably see a lot of lunch photos, unsolicited personal opinions about every single recent event, and possibly even detailed accounts of recent lovers’ quarrels.

It’s merely annoying in your personal feed, but it’s downright inappropriate for business feeds.

DO: Give behind the scenes sneak peeks.

Are you visiting a valued client today? Having a brainstorming lunch at your favorite local pub? Participating in a community event? All of these make good posts.

Behind the scenes posts help personalize your business and give your audience a VIP look into what it’s like to be a part of your team.

They’re also a great way to increase engagement and show some love by mentioning companies you work with, shouting out loyal customers or tagging frequented local spots.

DON’T: Post sporadically.

We’ve all followed people or companies that seem to disappear for months at a time on social media. Or those that seem to post on a total whim.

Social media algorithms favor consistency, and frequent engagement increases the likelihood that you’ll show up in newsfeeds. Long periods of inactivity can mean your profile quickly fades into the background.

DO: Find balance in consistency.

How often you post will depend on the platform and your audience.

For instance, business-to-consumer organizations may find they need to post more frequently to maintain a conversation with their audience. Three to five posts sent out in one day on Twitter is standard but would cross over to annoying on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram.

Whatever your perfect balance is, decide on it and stick with it to maintain your audience.

DON’T: Talk at people with endless self-promotion.

We’ve seen countless businesses that clutter their feeds day after day with their latest promotion (generally followed by an alarming number of exclamation points – but that’s a whole other story).

All marketing requires some self-promotion, but none of it should consist of shouting information at your audience. Social media marketing should be a conversation. These platforms make it all too easy for people to tune out when they tire of seeing the same boring, spammy posts.

DO: Engage with your audience.

Social media gives you an instant tool to connect with the people you’re trying to reach. Use it!

It’s fantastic for real-time customer service, starting conversations, and building a community. (Side note: The community you build is what matters most for your business – and is the part that lasts.)

Whether you’re B2B or B2C, become a reliable source of interesting, helpful and shareable content relative to your industry. Give your audience a reason to check in on your profile daily.

DON’T: Post Impulsively.

Instant connection and immediate communication is a big plus, but it can also be a risk.

There is no master erase button for the internet and brands have faced plenty of trouble for insensitive or inaccurate posts (beware the screenshot!).

DO: Have a social media plan.

A little planning up front can go a long way.

Create an editorial calendar. These can range from a basic outline of relative content topics and upcoming campaigns to fully crafted, ready-to-go posts for the entire month.

Either way you spin it, using social media without a clear strategy or goals will eat up your valuable time. Creating a social media plan will allow you to achieve efficiency and avoid the big mistakes businesses often make.

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