Do you use social media to engage with existing and potential customers? Do you have a business profile on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn? If so, there may be some tweaks you can make to improve your performance on these valuable digital marketing platforms. We have compiled this set of 10 rules that will help to improve your company’s presence on social media. We hope you find them useful:
1: Treat social media with the respect it deserves
Ask yourself… “If my best client saw this, what would they think?”
Your social media posts have the power to be seen by many people. Just because it’s on a digital platform, don’t underestimate its importance. It still deserves the effort to make sure it’s the best it can be. Pound for pound, social media marketing can be way more effective than print advertising if done properly.
Just imagine how much time or budget would go into designing and laying out a newspaper or magazine ad. Or indeed any printed format. However, people tend to shoot from the hip when it comes to social media. And often they feel the need to post something when they haven’t really got anything to say. This can only lead to low quality content that will not inspire confidence in your brand.
By adopting a mindset of quality over quantity, you will enhance your brand online. Remember, that anything you post is an official statement on behalf of your business. Therefore:
- Make sure you set aside a good amount of time to plan and create your social media content.
- Ensure you proofread everything before you post it.
- If possible, get someone else to read it before posting.
- Ensure you use professional imagery (more on that later)
2: Don’t spread yourself too thin
What platforms are right for your business… and what resources do you have?
There are a lot of Social Media platforms out there right now, and they are constantly changing. Just because they are there and accessible, doesn’t mean they are necessarily right for your business. Take time to think about your customers and your audience, and what social media platforms they are likely to use.
Also consider what resources you have. If you don’t have the budget to pay someone to manage your social media, then evaluate how much time you can spend. It’s better to create good quality content on 1 platform than poor quality content on 4 or 5 platforms.
It’s important not to panic and feel like you have to post on all platforms… all of the time. Be at peace with only posting on the platforms that are right for your business.
3: Respect your brand
Your brand is more than just a logo… It’s everything you say and do
You’ve gone through the process of designing a logo, developing a brand and forming an identity for your business. So, it’s important to use it. But make sure you use it well! For example, if you’re creating graphics, use the exact brand colours. Don’t think “my logo’s blue, so I’ll pick a similar blue”. Ask your graphic designer for the correct hex or RGB value and use that.
Make sure that if you use your logo, it remains strong and isn’t cropped or obscured. Ensure that it has sufficient space around it. It needs space to breathe. “Nobody puts Baby in the corner!”
We can all think of some big brands who have a strong voice, identity and marketing presence. Well, there is no reason why your brand can’t be equally as strong and cohesive on social media.
Your brand is the face of your business. But on social media, it’s more than just colours and a logo. It’s what you say and how you say it. Your tone of voice is part of your brand. What imagery you choose. It influences how people out there perceive and react to your business. So, make sure it remains consistent and professional.
- Use good quality imagery.
- Think about your spelling and grammar.
- Check, double check and triple check it. After all, this is an official announcement from your business.
- Create some graphic rules for your brand. By always using your logo in the same way or by using the same brand colours, you will create consistency. Similarly, by using the same image style or tone of voice, you will create an online persona for your business. By creating and sticking to rules, it will make your posts instantly recognisable and strengthen your brand.
4: Create a content schedule
Consider how frequently you should share content… Don’t over-post.
Take some time to schedule your posts. Consider whether it’s daily, weekly, or monthly. You use a calendar to keep track of your own social appointments, or your kid’s sport’s clubs? So, create a social media calendar for your business too. This will ensure that you are posting the right content at the right time.
It will also help you to focus your content creation efforts into manageable chunks. It’s a great feeling when you’ve created a few weeks’ worth of content and you know you don’t need to worry about it for a while.
Here, we use our own calendar that we have created in Microsoft Excel, but there are plenty of other options. You can search for online calendars or scheduling tools. Or you could just use an Outlook calendar or even a paper one. They all do the job nicely.
Social platforms are now starting to offer free-built scheduling tools so you can pre-publish your posts. Previously you had to pay a reasonable amount of money for decent tools to do this. These tools are great as it means you can publish your content in advance.
- Facebook: Creator Studio
- Instagram: You can also use Creator Studio (If you’ve linked the account to your Facebook page)
- Twitter: Tweet Scheduling (Create your tweet and hit the schedule option underneath)
5: Categorise your Posts
It’s not all about the ‘Sell, Sell Sell’… Less than 1/3 of your posts should be promotional.
We all love a freebie, and the same goes for social media. It’s important to give people something for nothing. It could be helpful information that will improve their lives in some way, important news or simply entertainment. If you only bang on about how everyone should buy your products, then you’re just going to annoy your followers.
By all means share industry-related posts if they’re relevant or show your authority in your industry. You can do that without being too salesy. But, make sure you have an even mix of post types. Some of the categories we like to use are Inspirational, Expert, News, Community, Curated Content and, of course, Promotional. But whatever category it falls into make it appropriate for your audience and most, importantly, your business.
If you can create a column or a colour-code for your categories, you can enter them into your content calendar. This will allow you to see at a glance if you are posting too much of any one category.
6: Keep an eye on your competitors
Bookmark your competitors feeds… and keep abreast of what they’re posting.
Now, this might sound like homework, but it’s worth taking time to check out what your competitors are up to. Make a note of what’s working for them… and also what’s not. To keep things easy for yourself, create a folder of your competitor bookmarks. This way you can refer back to them again quickly and see what they’re up to.
Plugins like Tabs Outliner for Google Chrome are perfect for saving groups of tabs in your browser. This allows you to label and organise browser windows so you can quickly access repeat social feeds on your desktop.
Now let’s be clear, we’re not saying you should rip off or plagiarise your competitor’s content. But instead, it can often lead you to find inspiration or think about your own content in different ways.
And don’t just follow your local competitors. Follow some of the larger companies in your industry both in your country and abroad. And when you stumble across good content ideas, save them in an ‘Inspirations’ folder. This can contain any sources of inspiration that you’ve seen and may want to post about in the future.
7: Assess the visual quality of your posts
This is an official publication from your business… Would you be happy if it was printed in a magazine?
Before hitting the ‘Post’ button, it’s worth asking yourself, ‘Would I allow this to be posted in a print publication?’ It wouldn’t be the worst idea to use a professional to make sure your post looks good. (We can of course help with this 😉). After all, would you print your own business cards? Would you build your own PC? Or would you do your own bookkeeping? Ensuring you use high-quality visuals will instil confidence in your brand. But conversely, the opposite is true if you use weak graphics and imagery.
However, if you choose to create your own visuals, make sure you use the best tools available.
Now, a word of caution. Different platforms prefer different image sizes, so make sure what you post looks good on the platforms you use. If you use the wrong image sizes, you may find crucial information being cropped from your image. At the time of writing, the image sizes below will not be cropped for standard posts. Make sure all your images are exported at 72dpi in the following size.
- Insta: 1080×1080
- Facebook: 1200×675 (or 1080×1080)
- LinkedIn: 1200×675
- Twitter: 1024×512
- Google My Business: 1024×768
These are by no means set in stone. It’s just what we have found works for us.
You should also consider the following before you post:
- If you’re using images, check you have the right to use them
- Designing for print is very different to designing for digital platforms. Don’t simply upload your newspaper ad or your leaflet designs. They won’t necessarily look good on a desktop or a mobile phone. Think about it this way… If you’re paying a professional to design something for print, why wouldn’t you pay them to design it for digital?
- Check that any text in the image is readable on a mobile device. Simply email it to yourself. You can then open it on your phone in portrait position to check that you can read it.
- Are the images clear on a mobile? Sometimes, an image looks great on your desktop. But when reduced to the size of your phone it can be hard to see the necessary detail.
If you don’t have access to professional image editing software, then try using an online tool like Canva. It may take a bit of getting used to, but it will improve the image quality in your posts.
Additionally, if you can, sign up with an image bank to improve the quality of the imagery that you post. iStock and Adobe Stock are reasonably priced subscription options.
However, if you don’t have budget, there are several free resources that you can use. For example, Pixabay, Unsplash and Freerange all provide free images. Be careful though, some of them request that you credit the photographer, so be sure to follow their rules.
8: Think mobile first.
Does your content look good… on both desktop and mobile?
Did you know that less than 2% of Facebook users are looking at your content on a Desktop? As this is an official publication from your business, take time to make sure it looks good on all devices. It’s easy to make something look good on a desktop screen. But often detail can get lost when you reduce the image to the size of a mobile phone.
- Make sure that whatever content you create is designed first and foremost to look good on a mobile device. After all, this is how the majority of people will see it.
- Avoid putting paragraph text in images. The likelihood is that it’ll be too small to read. Which means your audience will need to pinch and zoom to be able to see it.
- Ensure your images are still clear when reduced to a mobile phone size.
- Check your content by e-mailing images to your mobile and opening them to see if they are clear. Remember to check them in portrait mode (rather than landscape) as this is how most people will see them.
9: Demonstrate your knowledge of each platform
Use all the features that each platform offers… and be aware of the limitations.
Just a few notes that increase your command of your platforms of choice:
- Instagram: You can’t add URL’s. Well, you can, but they won’t be clickable. Adding long URLs to your Instagram posts will frustrate your audience as they will not be able to click it.
- Twitter: Posts are allowed a maximum of 280 characters. This really isn’t much, so whatever you post to Twitter will have to be clear and concise.
- Facebook: Are you tagging your location? If you run a local business, make sure you tag your location to increase local awareness.
- Facebook: Add ‘Call to Actions’ where you can. *
- Tag other businesses where it is appropriate to do so. This will increase your exposure and the likelihood of engagement from those that you tag. (As long as you’re saying nice things about them).
- Research and use hashtags. But don’t go crazy. Businesses tend to look a bit desperate when they list every conceivable hashtag that they can think of. (There are limits on each platform, but they’re quite high.) For each post try and research and use a maximum of 4 or 5 decent hashtags that you can use. But do make sure they’re relevant.
*Note that social platforms are constantly changing – as is the functionality that you can apply to your content. Facebook, in particular, is constantly evolving. Sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. Make sure you keep an eye on what you can and can’t add to your posts. And where possible, use all the features that are available to you.
10: Reply to all comments and mentions
If someone tags you or engages with your content, be sure to acknowledge them.
Think about it this way: It looks good if you acknowledge your followers. But equally, it looks bad if you don’t. You are creating a rapport with your audience, and it may encourage further engagement, maybe even more ‘shares’.
Don’t be afraid of challenging a negative comment. Look into their issue and find out if it is legitimate. If so, don’t’ be afraid to apologise. And if their tone is curt or rude, do not respond in kind. Remember this is a public conversation so be on your best behaviour and project your company image in the right way. It’s really important to respond in a professional manner.
Thanks for reading. We do hope you have found this useful.