No longer is the writing on the wall. It is now on your newsfeed, timeline or pin board, just to name a few places. And guess what, it’s not just your writing. It’s photos, graphics, GIFs, memes and video.
The fact is, social media allows us to reach countless people on a constant basis. It also opens the door to countless possibilities, as PR Newswire’s Victoria Harres covers in Identifying Opportunities & Issues: Keys to Monitoring Traditional & Social Media.
Social media makes it easier to uncover customer trends and pain points, competitive intelligence and new business. Of course, your competition and other brands have the same opportunities. That’s why it’s vital that your brand gets your social media strategy right.
The term social media describes the greater virtual community that allows people to interact. But not all social sites allow users to interact in the same way.
While there are some overlapping strategies or actions that pertain to every social media channel, each network has its own nuances and unique opportunities for engagement. And with so much competition out there, it is imperative that your marketing and PR content follow social media best practices.
PR Newswire and Cision’s communications and content teams have partnered up to bring you 105 tips for some of our favorite social media channels for brands.
Thank you to Victoria Harres (@victoriaharres), Amanda Hicken (@adhicken), Jamie Heckler (@jamieheckle), Stacey Miller (@staceylamiller), Camille Sheehan (@CSheehanPR), Kathryn Gaab (@KathrynGaab), Maria Materise (@mariamaterise) and Michelle Dziuban (@dziubs) for your contributions to this comprehensive list of social media best practices!
Let’s start with 20 tips that encompass proper social media etiquette as a whole and apply to all channels.
1. For security purposes, update passwords on a regular basis, especially if you recently had staff turn-over.
2. Use a social media management platform to share access to social accounts without having to give too many people access to your brand passwords.
3. Devote your efforts to social channels you know your audience is paying attention to.
4. Discover what your audience cares about by listening to the conversations they’re having on social channels.
5. Be sure your profile picture and header images are up-to-date and sized correctly. No brand should have a grainy picture adorning their social profiles.
6. Your branding should project consistency. Use the same or related profile images across all channels.
7. Update your contact information and periodically check links in your profiles. Don’t miss a chance to engage with someone because your profile information is wrong or a link is broken.
8. Never link brand accounts! No one wants to see 10 hashtags from Instagram in a Facebook post.
9. Respect people’s time by posting relevant and interesting content. Quality over quantity.
10. Test your posting times. Whether it’s by 5 minutes or 5 hours, vary timing to see what works best for a specific channel and your audience.
11. Be responsive when someone reaches out to you via social.
12. It’s easy to respond to positive comments; you get extra points for responding to a complaint in a way that doesn’t announce a problem to all your followers.
13. Engage with influencers and peers. Social media has made everyone accessible, take advantage.
14. Be sure you are matching the appropriate tone and voice with each channel. Instagram may be fun and conversational, while LinkedIn has a more professional and formal atmosphere.
15. Build your social channels by using cross promotion. Don’t hesitate to remind your Twitter followers you’re also on Pinterest (and vice versa).
16. Accomplish something big? Let everyone know. It’s good for business.
17. Monitor your success and your failure. Paying attention to analytics is the only way to figure out what is and isn’t working.
18. Track your links: This can be done with various marketing automation tools, or use Google URL parameters, which gives you an in-depth view of performance in Google Analytics. You can also see conversions this way (hello, ROI!).
19. Pause automated publishing when your company is dealing with a crisis, or during times of tragedy to show respect.
20. Social media success is all about trial and error. Experiment with what, when and how you’re promoting content to improve performance.
Now that we have that squared away, let’s look at our top 5 social media platforms. Though there are new social channels being launched regularly, these are among the most popular with B2C and B2B brands.
With more than 1.65 billion daily active users, the “social network” is still the most popular amongst brands and people. By now, almost the entire world is on Facebook it seems, so let’s make sure we are getting it right with these 11 best practices for brands.
21. Stick to a schedule. Post 1-3 times per day depending on the amount of content you produce.
22. Be engaging by asking questions. Comments on posts can be a great place to converse with your audience.
23. Accomplish something of note? Pin your noteworthy post to the top of your page for everyone to see each time they visit your page.
24. Remember that people have a greater expectation for visuals on Facebook. Post quality images that appropriately accompany your messages.
25. When creating posts, keep them short and direct, and include a call to action.
26. Hashtags? Skip them on this channel. When was the last time you searched for a hashtag on Facebook? Us neither.
27. When possible, add locations, tag people, places, teams, etc.
28. Share relevant and original content your audience would be interested in. With the frequent algorithm changes, you may not get many chances to appear in people’s feeds – so make the most of your content.
29. Don’t be afraid to boost a post that performed well organically. It can be economical and effective when the post is properly targeted to audience interests.
30. Leverage Facebook Live! The Cision team saw a 40x boost in engagement. Your audience wants to see the people behind the logo…invite them in!
31. Try sharing posts from other Facebook pages – Facebook algorithm will boost the post which can mean more engagement on your page.
Social media has exploded since the first tweet in 2006; however, brands are still flocking to the 140-character medium. Whether you’re announcing news or educating customers, Twitter offers a unique, interactive platform people love.
32. Start with listening. Be conscious of trending topics in your industry or current events that may impact your tweeting.
33. If there is major news breaking or some major event that your audience is preoccupied with, be sensitive to that and put your scheduled/automated tweets on hold.
34. Do schedule your strategic tweets. Posting to Twitter multiple times per day can be difficult to keep up with, so leverage a social media engagement tool that has a scheduling feature.
35. Be strategic about why and how you’re tweeting. Use clear calls to action and participate in conversations that relate to your goals.
36. Use relevant hashtags wisely. 1 will do, 2 is ok, 3 is pushing it and 4 starts to become hard to read.
37. Research hashtags before using them. A minute of research may save you days of headaches. (Read All About Hashtags for more #tips.)
38. Tweet consistently! Compared to other channels such as Facebook, you can post more often on Twitter.
39. However, don’t overdo it by tweeting for the sake of tweeting. Be selective and keep your followers’ interests in mind.
40. Keep your tweets around 100 characters. With Twitter’s recent announcement about what will or won’t count against your character limit, this should become even easier.
41. For now, when starting a tweet with someone’s handle, be sure to add a character in front of it (i.e., .@BrandName). If you don’t, only you, the other person and your mutual followers will see the tweet. But this is changing soon, so be on the lookout for that update from Twitter.
42. Converse with your audience. Ask questions, run polls, get your followers involved.
43. Add photos, GIFs and other images to your tweets. Research has shown tweets with photos get 313% more engagement.
44. Be sure to leverage the Twitter app, where you can now edit images, tag people and locations, and add descriptions and stickers to photos.
45. Think before you tweet! If you think your message might be inappropriate for the channel, it probably is.
46. Remember, your tweets represent the brand and shouldn’t represent your personal opinions on current events, politics, etc.
47. Twitter is a two-way street. Retweet, reply to and like your followers’ tweets.
48. Like Facebook, don’t be afraid to “pin” an important tweet to the top of your page.
49. Share third party articles that support your brand message, are relevant and interesting. Bonus points if written by one of your followers or influencers.
50. Be sure to tag authors of third party articles you Tweet.
51. Join Twitter chats! Think of them as networking events, minus the suit and tie. They’re a great way to engage with people in your industry, and they’re educational – double whammy!
52. Leverage Twitter Polls. They’re a great way to spark engagement and gather audience insights.
53. Create a “to engage with” list. Add industry pros and influencers to a private Twitter list and engage with them regularly.
54. Make the most out of your “likes.” If you’re a brand, consider saving your “likes” (hearts) for tweets that mention your product or service in a positive light. That way, when people visit your Twitter page, they can click on it and see all of the positive posts in one place.
Unlike other social platforms, LinkedIn is more focused on business and industry insights. The tone is more professional and the content shared should be as well. These 9 tips help keep us on target when posting to LinkedIn.
55. Remember that LinkedIn is the more formal representation of your brand.
56. No hashtags. LinkedIn does not support them.
57. One or two posts per day tend to work best.
58. Focus the timing of your posts on your audience’s work week, but experiment with evening and weekend posts. People frequently check LinkedIn when they’re not in the office.
59. Forgo the link generated preview and attach an image or other rich media to your posts to drive more views. The URL to the content you’re promoting can still be included as a short link in the text of your post.
60. Consider sponsoring your top-performing content to reach a target audience beyond your followers. Because people share so much business information on LinkedIn, you can target your promoted posts with precision.
61. And like Facebook and Twitter, keep pinning those important posts!
62. Don’t forget about Showcase Pages. They are a great way to highlight certain aspects of your business or services you provide.
63. Jump into LinkedIn groups in your industry. You’ll be amazed at the amount of people you can learn with and add to your network.
Instagram is not a newcomer to the social media scene, but it is a rising star among marketers. When done right, it can add an engaging multimedia layer to your marketing strategy. Let’s look at 18 ways to tell your brand’s visual story.
64. Instagram is a visual channel. Don’t even start here unless you are willing to spend the time creating high-quality multimedia assets to share.
65. Graphics must look good on mobile. Instagram is a mobile app created for cell phones. Images and graphics that look great on your desktop or iPad may cause people to squint or be confused on Instagram.
66. Remember that you cannot link from individual posts, only from your bio. Instagram only allows links in a post when it’s a paid advertisement.
67. You only get one link in your bio, so make it count!
68. Speaking of links, if you are promoting a link via a post, be sure to tell people that they can find it in your bio.
69. Announcing new content or promoting an upcoming event? It’s easy to update the URL in your profile to point audiences directly to the new content you’re promoting.
70. Use your hashtags wisely. You can add up to 30, but it’s not recommended. Keep it to 7-10 good ones.
71. If you want to use many hashtags, add them to a comment below your post, keeping the original message clean. They will still function in the same way as putting them in the post itself.
72. This is a great place to highlight your office and co-workers. It helps to humanize your brand.
73. Be conscious of how your page looks. When people visit, they instantly see a grouping of photos. Make sure it is inviting and not chaotic.
74. Instagram is about photos, so take good ones. Crisp, clean and interesting.
75. Post often. Due to current algorithms, it can be difficult for brands to show up in the Instagram newsfeed, so get your content out there.
76. Take time to use Instagram filters and edit photos. You don’t need to have professional grade photos, but quality is important.
77. Utilize Instagram supported apps such as Boomerang and Layout to turn your posts up a notch!
78. Play around with text over your photos. If you don’t have a graphic designer on the team, various free or inexpensive graphics apps can make it easy to create eye-catching posts.
79. Tag your location when taking photos out on the town. This will allow users that may not have otherwise heard of your brand to find it.
80. Use the video option to tease upcoming product launches or company news.
81. Instead of posting a single photo, post a series of photos that complete a larger image, like puzzle pieces! (Check out this example from Mazda.)
Pinterest differentiates itself from the social media pack by providing a visual search engine with a social twist. Users can follow topic-specific boards or search for content based on keywords and category prompts and then save pins to their own boards.
82. Like Instagram, Pinterest requires a devotion to quality visual content, but with lots of breathing room. You can link from each post and you can organize posts into boards/folders.
83. Are you pinning enough? Experts say 5x per day.
84. Leverage captions when pinning others’ content. When saving third party pins to your boards, rewrite the descriptions for effectiveness and improve search results.
85. Keep the description on your Pins short and sweet. The longer the description, the more likely a user will think your Pin is spammy, or will skip re-pinning it.
86. The taller the better! According to Dan Zarrella, taller images get more repins. Repins will get your content more attention.
87. Strategically place your boards on your home page. Users visiting your page will be drawn to the boards closer to the top and center of the page. Place your most important boards in that location to maximize traffic to them.
88. Keep your audience engaged with a Pinterest board contest!
89. Diversify the content you pin by including images, GIFs, videos, infographics and Cinematic (animated) pins.
90. Quotes and infographics are a hit with users of this platform. Pin a blog post with a quote graphic.
91. Use bright colors when possible to draw the eye of viewers and other pinners.
92. When including text in your Pinterest graphics, make sure it’s easy to scan, even on smaller screens.
93. Pinterest search is not Google. You will need to adjust your search optimization to make it specific to the platform. Test search your general keywords within the platform and take note of the prompts that Pinterest offers.
94. Optimize your board titles and descriptions for Pinterest search.
95. Be sure your pin captions include a call to action.
96. Regularly export metrics to keep track of trends. Measurement tools only go back 30 days.
97. Promote your high performing pins to help take them viral. The more interactions your pin receives — through either organic or paid promotion — the more likely it is to appear in search results and generate even more interaction. Even a small investment can make a big impact.
BONUS CHANNEL! SlideShare made our list as a reminder to branch out into other social media networks. At PR Newswire (and especially for our senior creative manager Jamie Heckler!), SlideShare has been an amazing channel for promoting webinars and larger content pieces with a visual flair.
That includes this article’s SlideShare 5 Top Tips for Top Social Media Channels.
Here are Jamie’s tips for making the most of this network.
98. Don’t think of SlideShare as just a repository for used presentation slides. Be strategic. Create ‘new’ content just for SlideShare.
99. When sharing a deck from a live presentation, make sure it holds up without an active speaker. You may need to add slides to fill gaps in information or story flow.
100. Make sure your slides have high graphic appeal… this is a multimedia format after all.
101. You can embed videos in your SlideShare decks after they are uploaded.
102. When posting demand generation content, include a CTA on the 4th or 5th slide. Be aware that SlideShare disables all links on the first three slides of your presentation, but you don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to direct your audience to your website and/or promoted content.
103. Remove “builds” (embedded animations) from your PPT file before uploading it to SlideShare.
104. Always optimize for readability on small screens. All text should be 18 pt or larger.
105. You may want to export your PPT to PDF before uploading to SlideShare. PowerPoint does not embed fonts, which means your formatting could be compromised if your fonts aren’t universal standards.
To truly define what social media practices will work best for you, you need to continually monitor and measure conversations. Learn how to develop a social media monitoring strategy that will pair well with the above tips by downloading our white paper Identifying Opportunities & Issues: Keys to Monitoring Traditional & Social Media.
Author Ryan Hansen (@RPH2004) manages social media at PR Newswire, sharing the latest PR, marketing and social media trends across our networks.