Social Media Best Practices for Small Businesses
By Becton Loveless / 1 Comment
The greatest value social media provides businesses is the ability to foster and engage with a community. In fact, engagement is at the core of social media. Employing a best practices approach to social media will ensure you have the opportunity to engage prospective customers and build strong relationships with current customers on a huge scale.
The world of social media is constantly evolving, so it’s important to stay up-to-date with how you harness this powerful tool. Below we’ll explore social media best practices for 2021 and beyond… making sure your social media strategy is modern and effective.
1. Get to Know Your Audience
The first social media best practice is getting to know your audience and showing them that you care about their needs. Theodore Roosevelt said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” The same concept holds true for social media. If you approach social media with the attitude “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” you’ll turn off your audience. First, give your audience what they want, and then they’ll give you what you want (their business.)
Give your audience what they want, and then they’ll give you what you want (their business).
It’s important to understand who you are trying to connect with through your social media strategy. You should aim to be as specific as you can. Consider things such as:
- Life stage
- Spending habits
- Hobbies and passtimes
Thoroughly research and understand your current customers and target demographic. Knowing who your current customers are will allow you to develop content targeted to individuals with similar traits and attract new customers.
Learn how to perform an in depth target market analysis.
2. Determine Which Social Networks to Use
There are many different social networks available to marketers, but you can’t use use every single one. You don’t want to spread yourself thin across too many social networks. Be selective about what social networks you decide to use. Examine the demographics of each network, and determine which network is best suited to your target demographic.
The top social media sites and networks for businesses include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter, but you should choose the social networks that make sense for your business model.
- 2.7 billion active monthly users and 1.49 billion active daily users
- 54% female and 46% male users
- 88% of online users 18-29 are on Facebook
- 84% of online users 30-49 are on Facebook
- 75% of online users with $75k income are on Facebook
- 90% of Facebook’s Daily Active Users (DAU) from outside the U.S. and Canada
- 93% of marketers us Facebook advertising
- 1 billion users, 500 million DAU
- 71% of age 18-24 use this network
- 56% female and 44% male users
- 120+ million Instagram users from the U.S.
- 89% of users are outside the U.S.
- 72% of teens use Instagram
- 73% of teens say Instagram is the best way to reach them
- Users spend an average or 28 minutes a day on the platform
- 2 billion monthly active users (source)
- 30 million active daily users
- YouTube TV paying subscribers 300,000
- 5 billion videos watched per day
- 73% of U.S. adults use YouTube
- 62% of YouTube users are Males
- 68% of U.S. women use YouTube
- 80% of YouTube users from from outside the U.S.
- Large political platform. More so than the other networks.
- 330 million active monthly users (AMU) (source)
- 152 million active daily users (DAU)
- 45% of new users have a college degree
- 500 million tweets sent per day
- 66% male users; 34% females users
- 22% of U.S. adults use Twitter
- 42% of Twitters users access the platform daily
- 56% of Twitter users earn more than $50k a year
- 700+ million users
- 171 million users in the U.S.
- 46 million students and recent college grads use LinkedIn
- 24% Millennials (18-24 years old)
- 90 million LinkedIn users are senior-level influencers
- 17 million LinkedIn users are opinion leaders
- Strong B2B marketing platform
- 2 billion users in 180 country
- 1 billion daily active users
- 23 million U.S. users
- Usage highest among 18-24 year olds
- Has over 5 million business users
- 41 percent of of TikTok users are between 16 and 24 years old
- 56% are male; 44% are female
- Over 50% of TikTok’s audience is under 34
- TikTok is most popular in China
- 26.5 million monthly active users in the U.S.
- 360 million month active users
- 218 million daily active users
- 86 million users in the U.S.
- 3 billion “snaps” created daily
- 78% of users are ages 18-24
- 24% of U.S. adults use Snapchat
For a comprehensive list of 75+ social media sites visit Influencer MarketingHub.
3. Develop a Plan. Develop a Strategy.
Social media success requires planning. Before beginning any social media campaigns, you should determine what your goals are, and what metrics you will use to determine success. As you develop your plan and set goals, you should evaluate common social media KPIs for your industry that will help you measure your success.
The basics of good social media planning include:
- Select marketing goals that align with your business objectives. This will allow you to determine a return on investment (ROI). You goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, and time-bound.
- Get to know your audience so you can create relevant, engaging content.
- Research your competition and determine what they are and aren’t doing well. This will help you spot opportunities.
- Perform a social media audit that focuses find out what’s working, what’s not, who is engaging, which social networks your audience uses, and how your social media presence compares to your competition’s.
- Setup profiles for each social media network you will use. Optimize your profiles to maximize engagement and conversion.
- Find successful businesses within your industry that are winning and duplicate their success.
- Determine the right content mix for engaging your audience and achieving your objectives. (e.g. 20% of content for business promotion, 20% for personal interaction, 20% to entertain your audience, etc.)
- Create a calendar for tracking developing and publishing new contact with your network. Your calendar should also account for the time you will spend interacting with our audience.
- Evaluate and adjust your social media plan to achieve your performance objectives. If as you implement your plan, you’re not achieving desired results, you may need to evaluate and adjust your strategy.
Recommended social media KPIs (key performance indicators) to track:
- Impressions. Number of times your post appears in someone’s feed
- Audience growth. Rate of growth in your social media followers.
- Social share of Voice (SSov). Number of people who mentioned your brand versus your competitors.
- Average engagement rate. Number of people who like, share, and comment as a percentage of your total followers.
- Applause rate. Number of people who clap, like or favorite your post, as a percentage of your total followers.
- Amplification rate. Percentage of your followers who share your content with other people via shares, retweets, repins and regrams.
- Virality rate. Percentage of people who had a chance to see your post (impressions) and shared it.
- Click-through rate (CTR). Rate at which people click on your call-to-action links.
- Bounce rate. Percentage of users who click on your call-to-action, land on a page, and then leave without converting.
- Conversion rate. Percentage of visitors who click on your call-to-action or take the action you ask of them.
- Cost-per-click (CPC). How much pay per click for your sponsored social media posts.
- Cost per thousand impressions (CPM). How much you pay for every 1000 people who scroll past your sponsored post.
- Social media conversion. Percentage of conversions that come from social media.
- Comment conversion rate. Ratio of comments per post to total number of followers.
4. Perform Constant Competitive Research and Analysis
Competitive research and analysis is the key to success in just about any competitive market environment–the same holds true for success in social media.
No matter what industry you’re in, you will have some competition in the social media space. Keep an eye on your competition. What niche are they serving? Are they targeting the exact same audience as you? Try to be as objective as possible when analyzing your competitors. In addition to informing your overall strategy, you can also look to competitors for inspiration on the type of content that you post.
The better you know your competitors, their weakness, their strengths, and their strategies, the more successful you’ll be in your social media marketing and strategy efforts.
Learn more about how to conduct a social media competitive analysis to improve your compete analysis and social media marketing results.
5. Monitor, Listen and Engage
When using social media, you should actively monitor the landscape of the network(s) that you’ve chosen. Monitor trends, hashtags, and posts for mentions of your brand or product. And when you see customers discussing or appreciating your work, feel free to respond. This can foster a positive relationship between the customer and your company. It’s very important to respond to messages, comments, and other types of customer outreach. If you are unresponsive, it will communicate that you simply don’t care about your customers.
Don’t only monitor. Listen! Social media monitoring looks back. It focuses on information gathering, details and measuring success. Social media listening looks forward. It focuses on the analysis of information, it considers the big picture and guides strategy design for the future.
Monitor, listen and engage.
6. Establish a Voice
Your social media presence is about much more than just photos, videos and posts. It’s about your brand. Every time you post on social media, you’re putting a sample of your brand into the world. So, make sure that you apply a consistent, on-brand voice to your social media posts, comments, photos, and content.
What is brand voice?
It’s the distinct personality a brand portrays in its communications.
Why is it important?
The social media landscape is crowded. It’s filled with thousands of brands all vying for the attention of consumers. Compelling products and visual content are important, but alone they’re not enough to make you stand out from the pack. Everything you produce and present in your social profile should personify your brand voice so you stand out and keep users coming back for more.
A key to developing a strong brand, is consistency with your brand voice. When a brand voice changes, it confuses consumers as to who you are. Make sure everything you introduce through your social media network reinforces your brand voice.
Brand Voice Document
Unless you have one person managing all of your marketing and communications, it’s important to develop a brand voice document. A brand voice document serves as a reference for anyone in your organization who writes in the brand’s voice. It ensures social media posts and marketing copy are consistent with your brand.
7. Don’t Copy/Paste Same Content Across Networks
Avoid posting the exact same message or post on different networks. This can make you look lazy, or like you simply don’t care about your audience. While you can post similar pictures and videos across networks, be sure to tweak the messaging just a little to suit the specific network you’re using. For example, you should not use the same tone on Snapchat as you would on LinkedIn. Be sure to tailor your content to each individual network. While your brand voice can be the same across networks, your content should be unique to the language and theme of the platform.
Crafting unique messages for each social media network might sound like a lot of work, but it’s really not—you don’t need to start from scratch every time. If you want to use a similar message, tweak it a little bit so it sounds different, more appropriate for the specific network.
Below are the practices for optimizing content across different social media platforms. Follow these tips for optimal engagement.
- Optimize content for each network.
- Develop a strong headline or caption that grabs reader’s attention.
- Write copy that is both clear and emotionally evocative.
- Use a mixture of visual content to increase engagement.
- Vary your content regularly. Use questions, poles, and user generated content to facilitate engagement.
- Test to find optimal posting times for each network. Optimal posting times differ for each network.
- Don’t release too many messages to the same network at once. Post regularly, but don’t overdo it.
- Share the right content in the right places. A meme or trending hashtag works well in a tweet, but doesn’t work on Facebook.
- Maintain self-promotion content at about 33% of all published content, ideas from influencers to 33%, and brand building stories to 33%. About 2/3 of your content should be sharing.
- Share valuable information, not just product information.
- Magnify brand messaging by having employees share your content over their personal social networks.
- Use a social media scheduling tool to ensure your posts go out on time.
- Respond to your community posts and feedback in a timely fashion.
- Include a clear call-to-action (CTA) with each post.
8. Post at the Right Times
Each social network has its own ideal time to post. For example, LinkedIn is oriented toward professionals, so posting during the workday is perfectly suitable. However, you should post in the evenings or early mornings on leisure social networks like Instagram and Snapchat.
9. Use Social Media Tools
When executing a social media strategy, be sure you have the right tools for the job. There are plenty of third-party applications that can provide you with powerful tools and insights. Some apps, like Planoly, allow you to schedule posts ahead of time. There are others like Canva or Story Slicer that help with content creation. As you plan your social media strategy, be sure to keep these types of tools in mind.
10.Monitor, Analyze and Adjust Your Strategy
In order to know if your social media strategy is producing results, you have to monitor and analyze your posts, engagements, campaigns, and conversion. As a rule of thumb, if you’re spending more than you’re earning, your social media strategy isn’t working.
Many social media apps provide insights and analytics that allow you to see the performance of your content. If something you’re doing doesn’t seem to be producing data-backed results, you should tweak your strategy to improve your results. While having a clear plan is very important, being flexible is just as important.
Some of the more useful (mostly free) social media analytics tools include:
- Google Analytics: measures traffic and lead flow to your website from social media channels
- UTM parameters: measure web traffic and conversion from social media channels (used with web analytics tool like Google Analytics)
- Hootsuite Analytics: provide performance data for individual social networks in one place
- Brandwatch: track and analyze data from more that 95 million sources, including forums, blogs, review sites and social networks
- Talkwalker: analytics tracking of social conversations (mentions, brand sentiment, influencers, etc.) beyond your own network
- Facebook Analytics: tracks engagement with your Facebook Page
- Twitter Analytics: monitors performance of your paid and organic Twitter posts
- Instagram Insights: tracks the performance of your Instagram posts and stories
- Snapchat Insights: tracks reach of Snapchat content
- LinkedIn Page Analytics: see who is visiting your LinkedIn Page and evaluate effectiveness of posts and recruiting efforts
- Keyhole: monitors both Twitter and Instagram keywords, hashtags, URLs and usernames
- Digimind: measures keyword sentiment. See how the public perceives your brand
- TweetReach: measures impact of social media discussion
- Sprout Social: provides analytics to increase socail media engagement. Publishes posts and allows team collaboration
- Zoho Social: schedule posts, measure performance and track conversations
- Falcon.io: helps maintain consistent brand presence across all networks
- Buffer: posts content across all your networks based on predetermined schedule
11. Establish a Cadence
It’s important to post regularly and frequently, but it is also possible to post too often. Be sure that you are not overwhelming your audience with content. Simultaneously, you should post frequently enough to remain relevant in the minds of your viewers.
12. Keep Things Fresh
It is not a good idea to bombard your viewers with repetitive messaging. Publishing content that is too similar over and over will lead to a lack of interest from your subscribers. Make sure to vary your content with each post. If every post is some kind of product promotion, your followers will lose interest quickly. Instead, consider including all of the following types of content: company news, culture posts, event promotion, job openings, and branded content.
13. Create a Disaster Plan
Social media can be an incredibly powerful asset. However, if handled poorly, it can also be very destructive. Small social media missteps can have enormous consequences, so it’s critical to have a ‘social media disaster plan.’ Determine who needs to be informed in the event of a social media crisis, as well as what steps should be taken.
14. Ignore Trolls
Having a social media presence is going to attract both the good and the bad. While legitimate customer issues should be addressed, you should ignore users who are trolling just to get a reaction from your company. No good can come from responding to such users.
15. Keep it Concise
Social media is designed to present users with information in short, bite-sized snippets. Be sure that your social media copy is concise and to-the-point. This also applies to your company’s profile and “about” sections.
Social Media is a Powerful Tool
Social media channels can be enormously powerful for marketers, but it’s important to use them correctly. Follow these tips as you develop your strategy and you’ll be well on your way to social media success.