The Social Media Best Practices Handbook: 13 Experts Give Their Perspective on the Industry

Last week we put out The Foundation: our shareable, printable, hangable cheat sheet guide to all major social networks. Featuring the best times to post, ideal image size, ideal hashtag, and more, The Foundation was created to act as a resource for not only industry professionals, but everyone with an active presence on any social network.

As a follow up, we interviewed 13 social media marketers. Ranging from the community manager of Bitly to the social media assistant of Mashable, check out what these experts’ advice on how to win over your audience and what it’s like working in the trenches of social media.

Be mindful of organizational objectives.

Liz Gross | Founding Director, Campus Sonar

Always tie your goals to organizational objectives. YOU know that social media matters, but you’ll be better positioned to explain this to stakeholders if you know exactly how your work supports the mission and objectives of your organization. Once you’ve clarified your goals, your strategies—and how you measure their effectiveness—will make more sense to the people that control your budget. And, you won’t be stumbling to figure out what you should do next or what metric to measure—your goals will guide everything.

Retain your followers by being a publisher instead of a marketer.

Stephanie Nairn | Marketing Manager, Flipp

Think of yourself as a publisher more than a marketer. Share solid content with your audience—the kind you know they like because you’re listening to them. Be interesting to them every day, not just when they’re looking to buy, so you retain your followers and they’ll be more receptive to the marketing messages that you sprinkle in.

Dispose of the fluff and buzzwords.

Tyler Becker | Director of Content, Crowdcentric and Social Media Week

Use language and copy you would use in real life for your brand’s social channels. Digital communication is still humans interacting with one another, so why should our language suffer just because we’re talking online? I often see articles, social posts, and everything in between use words and phrases rarely said aloud amongst friends and family, and that makes no sense to me. We’re all humans, both online and off, and our communications, regardless of platform or context, should undoubtedly maintain that human element. It’s a combination of “de-fluffing” our content and acting as if you’re talking with a friend that drives communities forward.

Don’t try to be everywhere at once.

Erica Moss | Community Manager, Atlassian

I have a list of best practices that inform how I approach social media as a whole, but one I feel really strongly about is resisting the urge to try to be everything to everybody. If you spread yourself too thin across a million social channels, you end up becoming a jack of all trades and master of none. Do an audit, find out where your current and prospective customers are, and then really dedicate your time there. The impact/ROI will be much greater, and you’ll begin to build a strong community versus a fractured one.

Focus on measurement more than production.

Catherine Llamido | Account Associate, BRG Communications

Managing and producing content on social media platforms is one thing, but measuring your growth and engagement means so much more.

Conversations are built by discussions, not broadcasts.

Jenn Pedde | Alumni & Community Global Manager, Oliver Wyman

Watch your tone, be conversational, and be human. Ask yourself, “Would I engage in discussion with this if I saw it?” or “Am I yelling this from the rooftops, or looking for a conversation?”

Leave the canned responses behind.

Peter Kim | Marketing Strategist, Ready Artwork

If you’re not putting yourself in your audience’s shoes and speaking to them in a voice that doesn’t connect, you’re failing. Focus on true engagement. It’s easy to copy and paste responses or use generic replies, but you won’t be able to build your brand or your community to its full potential. Be personal.

Useful content increases conversions.

Jayme Pretzloff | Director of Marketing, Wixon Jewelers

Content marketing and social media are perfect for one another and they are powerful when combined. I have found that one of the best uses of social media is to be useful to your followers by giving them content that they enjoy seeing in their social media feeds. Not only will you see engagement levels go up, but conversions as well. You need to be inherently useful to your followers. Not just kind of useful but truly useful and they will keep you close to them.

Listen more, talk less.

Daniel K. Lobring  | Vice President of Marketing Communications, rEvolution

Don’t forget to listen. Sharing, commenting, distributing might all get top billing that you may forget to listen and then engage. Don’t forget to listen and remember that social media works best a two-way street.

Stalking can sometimes be a good thing.

Carolyn Shaffer |  Social media coordinator, C. T. Bauer College of Business at University of Houston

Engage your audience! Don’t simply push content out on your channels. People are constantly bombarded by content and are easily overwhelmed. Thank new followers and find out something about them to build a relationship. If someone retweets a post, ask them what their biggest takeaway was. Engagement builds relationships and creates a community around your brand.

Be strategic on Instagram.

Christina Makoyawo | Owner and designer, SOHO + CIENEGA

The great thing about social media is that it’s still new so the rules and guidelines are ever-changing. I usually stick to posting between 2-4 times per day on Instagram, allowing flexibility for impromptu happenings. You’re not going to stop yourself from posting a run in with a smiling Kanye West at the CFDA awards just because you hit your Instagram cap. Early morning posts before work hours and late day posts after work hours I noticed gain the most engagement for accounts.

Captivate your audience.

Christy Owenby | Brand Development & Marketing, MOXY COMPANY

Make it count! Just like a movie trailer has 2 minutes and 30 seconds to capture their audience, your social media channels have a scroll through chance of grabbing the attention of the follower! Your social media channels are the trailer to your business or product.

Don’t be a robot. Let your personality shine!

Tracey Edouard | Social Media Assistant, Mashable

Giving that twinge of humanity in posts is so important to readers. It reminds them that there is actually a human being behind the screen manually writing and scheduling posts. At Mashable we want to inform, inspire, and entertain our audience. Naturally, we’re pro-people. When we share funny, viral videos, you’re going to feel the personality behind the prompt.

Updated November 22, 2017.


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