These days, having a strong social media presence is no longer an option – it’s a necessity. According to research, 40% of young adults follow their favorite brands via social media. One in four of those users follows a brand from which they might make a purchase. With numbers like that, you just can’t afford to miss out.
Unfortunately, with all of the different channels out there, things can get confusing. From Facebook to Snapchat, to Twitter, each platform has its own rules, post types, and best practices. Without some solid guidelines, managing a social presence can quickly become overwhelming (even for the professionals).
We’ve gone ahead and put together a quick and dirty list of all the basics, so you don’t have to stress. These rules are simple and easy to follow – and they’ll work no matter which platform you’re using.
Choose the Best Platform(s) for Your Business
First things first: you can’t be all things to all people. That’s kind of Marketing 101. You have to find your niche and stick to it.
The same applies to social media. There are dozens of channels out there, and to maintain a presence on all of them would be a full-time job. Instead, focus only on the platforms that are best suited to your business. Here’s how to figure it out:
- Who is our target audience and where do they hang out? For example, if you’re looking to connect with thirty-somethings in academia, then you’d probably want to stick to something like Twitter. But if you’re trying to reach young college-aged consumers, you might want to try Instagram or Snapchat. With a little basic research, you can easily determine which networks your target demographic uses most frequently.
- What are our company goals? Different platforms are good for different things. Where you choose to do business should be at least partly based on what you hope to accomplish (network with peers, drive sales, establish authority, etc.).
Create a Strategy for Each Platform
You may choose to use just one platform, or you may choose to use two or three. Either way, it’s important to have a plan in place. Keep in mind that what may work on one channel might not necessarily work on another; for instance, Instagram is all about images, while Twitter is about short and sweet text – and plan your content accordingly.
Don’t Stretch Yourself Too Thin
It may be tempting to say you’re going to post three times a day to three different networks – but be realistic. Keep all of your obligations in mind and consider how much time you actually have to create or source new material every day.
If you can only fit 30 minutes into your schedule, then maybe each network only gets one post a day – and that’s fine! Remember, it’s the quality of your content that counts. It’s much better to share ONE great post than several pieces of fluff.
Use a Social Media Calendar
Once you’ve figured out what type of content you’re going to share, and how often you can realistically post, it’s time to put together a calendar. For busy professionals, and those that just have a hard time keeping track of things, a visual reminder can really help keep you on track.
Your calendar doesn’t have to be anything fancy – a simple spreadsheet or planning document will do the trick. Anything will work as long as you can plan out which content you’re going to share to which platforms on which day of the week.
Use a Social Media Scheduling Tool
Tools like CoSchedule, Hootsuite, or Buffer can be a lifesaver when you post regularly to several different platforms. Rather than posting every piece manually, these tools allow you to load everything and schedule it in advance. You can do it as often or as little as you like, so if you want to load your content once a week, you can do that. But if you want to load everything once a month, you can do that, too.
As an added bonus, many of them allow you to view upcoming posts on a calendar or timeline, so you can see what your content will look like when it’s all laid out.
In a nutshell: if you’re not doing business on social media, you’re not doing business; especially if you’re trying to reach a younger crowd.
As the years go on, it’s only going to become more important to have a strong online presence. If social media isn’t part of your strategy, make it one today.