Social media can be a nightmare. It can also be exciting. Reaching people you would probably not otherwise connect with in real life, advertising for a pretty reasonable rate (can be free) or having a post go viral. It can be a small business owner’s dream come true.
But you do have to be careful. And aware of your social presence. I have compiled a short list of my do’s and don’ts with social media. It’s what I would tell a new client or just someone looking for a bit of advice. Take what you want but do remember, social media never dies. And neither do your posts.
Here are my top 7 tips for using social media and how to capture the right exposure.
Start one channel at a time
This does not mean to open a Facebook account, then Twitter and Pinterest within the same hour. This means to open an account, learn it, use it, gain your audience and fully understand the channel. This will take some time. Be patient. Six or nine months later, open the second account. Learn it, use it, gain your audience. The biggest mistake on social media is being quiet or absent. It’s the death of your business. If you open too many channels at once, chances are high that you won’t have enough content to share. Then one lapses and it becomes easier to ignore. Social media is content driven. To stay alive, content needs to be relevant and frequent.
When a channel is first opened, you will need to post often and on a regular basis. There are infographics and research has been done to help you best determine the days and times to post. But you know your product. You know your audience. Testing is a good idea. You can test different days, times, content and images. Play around with your posts and see when and what gets the most interaction. Of course, like most things, it will change. But for the most part, you will figure out when your target is online.
Each channel should have different content
This is a major pet peeve of mine. Just because Instagram allows you to share the same post to Facebook doesn’t mean you should. Your audience will become bored and soon will stop following one or more of your channels. It’s hard and time-consuming and some posts actually DO belong on more than one channel. Just don’t post the same day. Take a few days off in between. Or share a different angle of the photo. Certainly, do NOT post the same verbiage. Write it differently for each channel - add some details or a link to your website or another channel. Be more descriptive on Pinterest and shorter on Twitter. If the photo or video is the same, at least give your audience a different take on what you are so excited about that you had to post more than once.
Hashtags started on Twitter. They expanded to Instagram. It’s the searchable tool for people to find things of interest. They do not belong on Facebook unless very infrequently. And I mean very infrequent. If you have a campaign, trying to gain exposure and adding to it once a week or month, then using a hashtag is fine. #TBT #WearItWednesday (I’m still not sure why this one exists). But please, don’t clutter your Facebook posts with unwanted and unnecessary hashtags. It just pisses people off.
Be responsive & be human
Social media is just that - it’s meant to be social. Interact with your audience, reply to their comments. Admit your mistakes. Be genuine. Don’t be defensive. Say thank you. The hardest part is to explain your mistake without being defensive. If you find yourself in this situation, stop. Don’t respond. Sometimes it’s best to let the negative comments or recommendations get buried. If you have a good product, you’ll receive many more positive comments than not. And if you are noticing more negative comments, it may be time to reevaluate your business.
Share your story
People want to know the person behind the doors - the owners of the great boutique or restaurant. Share your pictures and stories of who you are, your family. What are you up to on your day off? Where did you just have a really good cup of coffee? Share your dog on National Pet Day. Why did you decide to finally open your store? What was that big push that helped you into ownership?
Grammar. Please remember what you learned in grade school. I understand the times don’t dictate that you use formal English or even the right punctuation. But try. Or at least know your weaknesses and get the right tools in place. One that I highly recommend is Grammarly. Use it directly from their website or download it to your desktop or phone. You automatically receive notifications if something is amiss and the neat little app explains how to correct it. Sometimes spell check can get a little clunky. That’s why it’s necessary to read and re-read and even have someone else check your work before posting. Some audiences are more forgiving than others. But if you are promoting a business that deals with the written word or communicating in any way, it’s better to keep mistakes to a minimum. And if you honestly don’t know the difference between your and you’re, keep a post-it note handy to reference. Please.