Note from Mack: This is a Guest Post from Kerry Gorgone, who is an instructor at Full Sail University, a lawyer, and Wonder Woman in her spare time. Check out her previous guest post here on protecting yourself and your works online.
Your brand needs to participate in the conversations that people are having about you in social media. 44% of Americans get information about brands via social networks, and more than half of consumers who mention a brand on Twitter expect a response within one hour. You can’t have a positive impact on brand sentiment or customer service until you join the discussion.
Consequently, going where your audience is makes good sense, provided the content you post there enhances your audience’s experience, rather than disrupting it. Here are some pointers.
Be conversational, not promotional.
For starters, don’t overtly shill. No matter which social network your brand is on, every post can’t be “Enjoy a hot cup of Brand X coffee!” People will unfollow you—or at least hide your posts—if your content is too self-serving.
Hidden posts are especially detrimental for marketers, because it looks as though you have a certain number of “Likes” for your business page, but people aren’t seeing your content, so engagement rates plummet.
Facebook’s algorithm already engineers things so that only a small percentage of people who have liked your page will see your posts, so you can’t afford to lose any. For some general guidelines on how to behave on Facebook, check out Jennifer Kane’s excellent primer.
Instead of pitching or selling via social, ask questions, share tips or quotes, or share photos. Visuals are playing an increasingly important role across the board. Multi-photo posts on Facebook increased engagement 1290% in one case (and that’s not a typo).
Exercise caution when “newsjacking”
“Newsjacking” done right can masterfully direct traffic to your social media profiles and site while the news story you’re playing off of remains “hot.” Newsjacking done wrong can really damage your brand.
Social media posts during a crisis demand extra-thoughtful consideration. While your brand may well want to express sympathy for people impacted by a tragedy, it’s better to say nothing than to post something that people perceive as insensitive or exploitive.
Entrepreneur suggests asking 5 questions to guide you through the decision-making process on social media posts about the news. Run through them before you post: you won’t regret taking the time to reflect.
Match the tone of the conversation
Also remember that each social network has its own culture, so people who follow you on Twitter will expect a different conversational tone than those who follow you on Facebook or Instagram. If you haven’t been active yet, spend some time observing how your audience posts on each social network, so you’ll know what they expect.
Amy Howell of Howell Marketing shared this apt explanation: “Twitter is like being in a crowded, noisy bar. Facebook is like your living room. LinkedIn is like the chamber of commerce.”
Know when and where to use #Hashtags
Including hashtags in your social media posts can help people to find your content and follow the conversation, but they don’t work on every social network, and even if the functionality is supported, they might not be a fit for the culture.
Tweets with hashtags get twice the engagement, but hashtags actually lower engagement for Facebook posts, and hashtags don’t work on LinkedIn at all.
Understand your unique audience
Social media statistics provide a good starting point, but understanding your own audience will help you to deliver the kind of content that users will truly appreciate. Gather information on your audience through analytics and customer surveys, and test different types of posts, as well as post times.
Whether you sit down in a “noisy bar” or network at the “chamber of commerce,” think of social media as an extension of your relationship with your audience.
Is a brand you follow doing it right (or wrong)? Post a comment and tell us about it!