27 Social Media Best Practices to Elevate Your Presence
Every social media channel is different.
Each one has its own guidelines, different post types, and more that need to be navigated by your social media team.
All of this information can be incredibly overwhelming.
Fortunately, we’ve condensed the most important social media best practices you need to know into one easy-to-skim list.
When you read this post, you’re going to learn:
- How different tactics can help you create a strong social media presence across channels.
- How to understand strategic and tactical best practices to help you plan and execute better social media marketing.
- How to find inspiration from real-world content that’s already succeeding.
Don’t miss out on a chance to maximize your social media presence and increase your influence.
Plan And Execute Social Media Marketing Better With CoSchedule
CoSchedule is the life vest that will save you in a sea of content. Here are a few ways how:
- Social Campaigns: Create and automate coordinated campaigns in less time.
- Social Engagement Reports: See how your posts and network accounts are performing, all in one place.
- Best Time Scheduling: Make sure every post goes out at the best time, automatically.
You don’t have to take our word for it, though. Snag a free trial here and try it free for 14 days.
Grab Five Social Media Infographics + Social Calendar Template
This post is packed full of information that might be tough to remember (we’d recommend bookmarking this post for reference). You might also want to download these five free infographics to keep on hand too. They include:
- How Often to Post On Social Media?
- The Best Times to Post on Social Media
- How to Set Up a Social Media Posting Schedule
- How to Use Hashtags the Best Way
- How to Schedule Social Media Content Curation for Massive Growth
Plus, we’ve even included a social media calendar template to help you plan every post in advance.
Tip 1: Choose The Right Channels
The first step in creating any sort of social media presence is to make sure you’re on the right channels. Where is your audience the most active? That’s where you should be focusing your efforts.
“But Breonna, how can we find where most of our traffic comes from?”
Let me tell you about this handy-dandy tool called Google Analytics. Google Analytics will allow you to track your traffic and see your most popular social channels.
Go into your Google Analytics and select Acquisition:
Then select Social from the drop down menu and Overview:
In that screen, you’ll be able to see your top social channels that are driving sessions back to your website. If your goals are more focused on brand engagement your top channels would be ones where messages are getting the most likes, comments, and shares.
You can also find all of this out automatically and save yourself a headache by using CoSchedule social engagement reports.
The engagement report tracks top content across all social channels as well as each posts, likes, comments, and shares:
Tip 2: Define Your Social Media Voice And Tone
Is your brand serious or funny? Professional or sarcastic?
These are examples of traits that inform the voice of your brand on social media. And finding your voice is key to connecting with your audience. Why? Because people like brands they can relate to and that understand their needs.
Defining your voice involves tackling three things:
- What do you want your brand to sound like online?
- Who is your target audience and what vocabulary do they use?
- Based on the first two questions, what will your audience want to hear from you?
As you think of answers some adjectives should start to emerge. Pick your top three and those are what your voice will be defined as on social.
Now, take a look at a pair of brands that have successfully established effective voices.
Microsoft: Professional (But Not Corporate Drone)
Microsoft has mastered the balance between being professional and personal online. Just look at this Facebook post:
When Easton LaChappelle built a robotic Lego hand for his 8th grade science fair, he didn’t know it would be his first prototype for an artificial limb that has the potential to change millions of lives.
Learn more: https://www.microsoft.com/inculture/peoplewhoinspire/easton/?wt.mc_id=AID631239_QSG_SCL_174743
Posted by Microsoft on Thursday, July 13, 2017
This post works because while it is professionally written and formal, the post still has heart and makes a connection with the audience.
Target: A Balance Between Sales And Trends
Target knows their customers often come in for one thing (and stick around a while … and leave with a full cart).. What else did you think was gonna happen when you put a Starbucks in there? They know how to have fun but also subtly push products.
— Target (@Target) July 13, 2017
Why does this post work? If you look at any social account that has someone mention Target you’ll see a common thread. I went into Target for one thing and I came out with 50 things I didn’t need and I forgot the one thing I actually went there to buy.
Target successfully plays off this and discusses their company in a way that their fans can relate to.
For more information on establishing voice and tone, check out this guide from Mailchimp.
Tip 3: Learn How To Be Genuine When It Comes To Dealing With Negativity
Don’t you hate when brands send you messages that say they’re sorry about an issue but deep down it just comes across as lazy? If you don’t like receiving them as a customer, your audience base isn’t going to enjoy them either.
The best way to deal with negativity is with empathy. While it can be tough to take the high road sometimes, the more genuine you can be, the better.
Creating truly genuine messages to harsh comments can be difficult, so here are some templates to help you inspire your own:
Hey _____! We’re so sorry this happened to you. That is definitely not what we want our customers to experience. Can you reach out to ___________ and we’ll get this straightened out for you.
Hi _____, thank you for bringing this to our attention. We want to fix this for you right away and make sure that you are getting the _____ that you were promised. Can you direct message us so we can get that process started for you?
[Name} we are so bummed to hear that ______ happened to you. We strive to provide our customers with the best experience possible. Can you email us at ____________ and we’ll make sure that we fix this for you. If you have any other questions in the meantime you can reach us directly at ___-____-_____.
Tip 4: Post When Your Audience Is Most Active
In order to maximize the number of eyes that see your content you need to post your messages at optimal times:
You can find in-app analytics on best times to post from Facebook and Instagram, but other major social media networks (Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) calculate days, not times.
CoSchedule solves this for you with our best time to post feature that is built right into our social calendar. No more second guessing or manual research, CoSchedule will do it all for you, for every network!
Tip 5: Find The Perfect Posting Frequency
Finding the perfect posting frequency is almost like trying to balance a nickel on its side; it seems impossible but once you get it, it’s amazing. Now it may seem easier to post as much as you can but according to Sprout Social, posting too much accounts for 34.9% of all unfollows.
The reverse is also true. Sprout found that if brands were too quiet, they would cause about 17.9% of their audience to unfollow them.
So how can you find the perfect posting frequency? To get you started, take a look at CoSchedule’s standard posting schedule for promoting blog content:
Depending on how active your channels are will determine your posting frequency? Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re building your own frequency:
- The life span of a tweet is about 18 minutes so be prepared to post more frequently to that channel.
- Posting more than three times to Facebook in a given day is a no go. Why? Because multiple messages can come off as spammy or ingenunie.
- If you’re posting to Instagram once a day, mix up the times that you post. Try early mornings or late evenings when your followers may be more active
- You have time to work your way up to a higher posting frequency. Stick within your limits and don’t over-commit your team right off the bat.
Tip 6: Focus On Quality Over Quantity
The same Sprout Social study that we referenced earlier also found a very key piece of information when it comes to your social media channels. The quality of your content is more important than the quantity of your content.
Why? Because according to Sprout 41% of people will unfollow a brand if the information isn’t relevant to them.
So how can you make sure that your social media messages are full of quality content? And what if you have a quota of posts to meet?
First, you should try to meet your quota of social media posts, but never publish a piece of content just to hit a certain number. It’s better to miss that number than to force content on your audience that just doesn’t work.
There’s also a way you can find and publish high-quality content without having to create it all yourself. Curating content can save you time and still allow you to publish high-quality content.
To find and curate great content:
- Find a tool like Feedly or Buzzsumo to help you find the latest content for your industry.
- Set a specific time (ie. once or twice a week) to go through the content that these tools find.
- Read through selected pieces to make sure they fit your audience.
- Schedule content to fill in gaps in your calendar.
Follow this guide to get even more in-depth knowledge on how to curate your content.
Tip 7: Be Consistent With Your Social Media Schedule
It’s been mentioned previously that keeping a consistent social schedule is key. Without regular post updates, your audience might start to think that something has gone wrong with your company, or worse, think that you’re closed.
Posting consistently also allows your audience to get into the habit of checking back at a certain time for your content.
Think about our Actionable Marketing Podcast. We keep a consistent schedule by publishing content every Tuesday so our fans know exactly when they can expect new content.
What does an optimal posting consistency look like for each channel? According to research that we compiled, we found the following is a good starting point:
Remember that you don’t need to post this frequently, you can back down or increase the number of posts that you send per channel depending on where your audience is the most active.
Tip 8: Automate Your Process Where You Can
If you can’t tell already, running a social media program can be incredibly time-consuming. One way to save you and your team’s time by automating parts of your social media process.
What can be automated in your social media process?
- Scheduling social media messages.
- Filling in images into your social media messages. See how CoSchedule can do this for you with our social templates.
- Resharing content at optimal times.
For example, automating your social posts so they go out without you having to do anything can save your team time. You won’t have to go through and worry about if your posts are sending at the right time.
CoSchedule can help you automate your social media process with social media campaign templates and best times to post, taking the stress of coordinating and sending your messages of your plate.
Tip 9: Don’t Sound Like A Robot (Be Human On Social)
Didn’t we just talk about automating your processes? We did, and there are many different processes that you can automate but responding and interacting with your audience is not one of them.
Automated messages can come off as incredibly insincere. If you are dealing with someone who is upset, an automated response could make it even worse. It’s better to treat each issue as it’s own individual situation and remember that whether you’re responding to a negative or positive comment, your responses are public.
What does a brand that is humanizing their content look like?
Target is a great example of a national brand that is doing everything they can to connect with their audience. They know that their shoppers often joke (myself included) about buying more at Target than they intended. So Target is able to connect with them through their content.
Casper is one of those brands on Twitter that you won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
Why? Because everyone likes to sleep and jokes about still wanting to be sleeping when you’re wide awake are usually well received.
So Casper creates a memorable human moment by connecting to those desires to want to sleep in. They’re not pushing their products they’re just trying to relate to their followers.
It’s raining, it’s pouring.
We’re still in bed snoring.
— Casper (@Casper) July 14, 2017
Oh Wendy’s. The brand that suddenly got sassy and told it like it is. Not every brand can pull off this style of humanized content, but when they do it right, it can be really successful.
Tip 10: Actually Respond To Your Audience
No one likes being kept waiting and having to sit for answers, whether that be to a general question or a complaint.
How can you make sure that your brand is responding in a timely fashion to your audience? Set up the maximum amount of time that one of your customers should have waited to hear from you.
A Facebook message should be responded to within 15 minutes of it being sent except when:
- Is it sent after 10pm CST?
- It is sent on a holiday?
A Twitter complaint should be dealt with, within 10 minutes of receiving it. Exceptions are:
- Exception A
- Exception B
Now, this seems like a lot of work right? It might be easier if you have a process in place of how to respond to complaints, compliments and more.
Here’s a base to help you get started:
Compliment towards the brand —> Thank the customer for their positive feedback. Ask if there is anything else you can do for them to improve their experience.
Negative response towards the company —> Apologize for the mishap and assure the customer that their experience should never have been a part of their relationship with the company. Respond to the customer as often as necessary so they feel as though they are in the loop of our corrections process.
Tip 11: Showcase Who You Are As A Company
One of the great things about social media is that you can give your audience real time access as to what it’s like to be in your shoes. This type of content allows your audience to see what it’s actually like being a part of your company, which in turn can help boost their overall loyalty.
Finding the right type of content to post can be difficult. Some ideas to get you started could be things like office culture or behind the scenes moments.
Show them what your office is really like. Do you have fun traditions? Different meeting strategies that make your employees actually want to attend them? Or maybe your office has an internal hashtag where employees can participate and show off your culture?
We have an internal culture hashtag that we post to quite frequently on our personal Twitter pages. Our #OverheardAtCoSchedule posts can give our audience a pretty good idea of what goes on in our office on a daily basis, including listening to cassette tapes.
— Megan Otto (@mgnotto) June 27, 2017
Behind The Scenes Moments
Social media messages that revolve around behind the scenes moments take your audience in and show them what’s it’s really like being a part of your team. The more transparent you can be with what is going on the more your audience will connect with you.
For example, we usually film short videos called Overheard at CoSchedule where we talk about different marketing topics and try to educate our fans on how we do things in our office. This video broke down that formality a bit and showed that while our videos are perfect post production getting there is sometimes a process.
Here’s a little sneak peek at some bloopers from our #OverheardAtCoSchedule video series! Enjoy :)
See more: http://cos.sc/2lHATFZ
Posted by CoSchedule on Thursday, March 9, 2017
What types of content can you post to showcase your company culture? Check out the following list to help you get started:
- Office dress up days
- Office birthdays
- Major milestones
- National holidays
- Job postings
- Event set up
- Virtual office tours
- Fun snapshots during project planning
Tip 12: Don’t Jump Into Conversations Just Because You Feel Like You Have To
Nothing is worse than when you can tell when a brand is trying too hard. What that means is that you cannot force social media interaction it has to happen on its own. The minute you jump into a conversation because you feel like you have to, it becomes inauthentic.
For example, I tweeted about my engagement ring and in less than two minutes I had a response. While the thought was appreciated, the extremely quick response comes across creepy.
Me now that I got my engagement ring back: pic.twitter.com/XIxd0L8cnl
— Breonna Bergstrom (@brebergstrom) July 11, 2017
Avoid this mishap by asking yourself the following before you respond:
- Is this relevant to our industry?
- Is there a relationship here? Could there be?
Tip 13: Mix Up Your Content
No one likes to see social media posts that are all about products 100% of the time.
According to Hubspot, 45% of people will unfollow brands because they post too many promotional items.
Since they already took the time to follow you on social media there is a good chance they are already interested in you as a company. Publishing promotional posts non-stop will turn people off to your brand because it seems like you care more about your products then you do about conversing with them.
In order to avoid those promotional posting schedules try mixing it up with different message topics try mixing it up with:
- Job postings
- Company culture posts
- Community news (if it’s relevant to your brand)
- Industry news
- Branded content
- Informative blog posts
Tip 14: Don’t Use Slang Unless It’s Relevant To Your Brand
Do you remember that moment when your dad or mom tried to be cool and use the “hip lingo” that all the kids were using? Remember how embarrassed you were?
When brands use slang (if it’s outside of character) it has the same effect. That same Sprout report that we’ve referred to a few times found that 38.4% of people will unfollow brands if they use slang or jargon.
The best way that you can interact with your customer base is to use the same language that they use.
To find out how they’re discussing you and your brand start to monitor and respond in the same language that your followers are using. You’ll begin to see trends emerge as you continue to watch and listen.
Tip 15: Research Your Competitors
Taking the time to research your competitors could help inspire your own content. Why? Because your competitors are fighting for the same audience that you are. If their content is drawing over your fans it might be time to revamp your social tactics.
Draw from the best and make it your own after all.
How can you accurately track your competitors?
Start out by making a list of your top five social media competitors. From there, pick your top five channels and note which competitors are on each of your top five channels.
This next part might seem incredibly time-consuming but trust us, it’s worth it. Look at their past 6 months of content and observe the following:
- What types of content are they sharing?
- On average how much engagement do they seem to get for each message they post.
- What tone and voice type do they address their audience with?
Tip 16: Create A Social Media/PR Disaster Plan
Social media while a great tool is a very powerful one. One misstep can send you company spiraling into a social nightmare and creating a plan while cooler heads are available will save you from the last second “what do we do” panic.
And unfortunately, social disasters are more common than you might think. For example, think about the backlash that Pepsi received earlier this year for their commercial. Because Pepsi was quick on their feet they mitigated some of the long-term damage that commercial could have caused.
To create a disaster guide, lay out the following information to start:
Who needs to be notified in the event of a social media crisis?
- PR team
- Social Team
What should we do before a crisis strikes?
- Prepare standard responses to common issues.
- Pre-draft apologies that don’t make you sound like a robot.
- List of press contacts – get your story under control.
- Place all of your social media account login information (including your social publishing calendar) into one place that is easy for your team to access and pause any content that is about to go out.
Tip 17: Track And Act On Engagement Data
Social media allows you to track a wide variety of statistics but depending on your overall goals the statistics you need to be tracking will change.
If you’re looking to track engagement statistics you’re going to be looking at how often your followers are interacting with your content. You need to track likes, comments, and shares for each one of your posts manually or you can use tools to track that engagement for you.
CoSchedule tracks all of your engagement data including likes, comments and shares into one social media engagement report. The best part? You can sift through information to find what you’re looking for and sort through data based on each channel. Pretty slick huh?
Rivall Q is a tool built specifically for social media analytics and it’s engagement tracking tools are incredibly powerful. Rivall breaks down the performance of each one of your posts and makes it easy to grab that data you’re looking for and continue on with your day.
Simply Measured is another powerful social media analytics tool that like CoSchedule and Rivall Q will create and store data from your social channels. Simply Measured is able to track likes, comments, and shares as well as dark social (messages sent through message apps or places that aren’t visible to a brand).
Tip 18: Claim Your Usernames On Channels, Even If You’re Not Active On Them
This may seem counterproductive, but taking the time to claim usernames on channels even if you’re not active on them.
Because if you ever do move on to the channel, you know your username is already accessible. You can also use the empty profile page to direct your potential fans to your other social sites or your website.
How can you know if your username is available on a social media site? You can use a free service like namecheckr to see if your username is available.
What does a tool like namecheckr do? They keep a database full of different social channels and the usernames that are currently in use on those channels. You can type in your potential username and see where it is already in use and where it’s not. This can help you decide if you want to keep the name as is and adjust for other channels or create a new username entirely.
Once you have accounts set up on each of channels you potentially want to be on, set up a message that directs your fans to your website or another social channel.
Tip 19: Utilize User-Generated Content
A study done by the Social Media Advertising Consortium found that 50% of people trust user generated content than any other form of content. This could be due to the fact that people connect with other people like them.
Another plus to user generated content is that you don’t have to create it yourself. Your fans are creating the perfect content for you. You would be crazy not to take advantage of it.
How can you encourage your followers to send you content? Tweets with a specific hashtag are also a great way to generate content as well as having people send Instagram pictures for a chance to be featured on your account. You might be surprised by how many people will jump at the chance to be featured on your Instagram.
Simple messages like the one below can easily help you collect content from your audience.
“Show us how much you love our _______. Post a photo below in the comments for a chance to be featured on our _______ page.”
The Love Your Melon brand does a really nice job of encouraging users to send in photos to their Instagram account which they then use across all of their social channels. Check out how naturally they generate user content.
Congratulations to @steph_vella for being our #LYMPicoftheWeek! She is rocking her beanie in New Zealand! Every Wednesday, we will select our favorite photo and the winner will receive a beanie of their choice. To enter use #LoveYourMelon in your best photos and yours could be the next pic of the week!
Tip 20: Be Smart About Your Social Media Contests
Social media contests are usually a big hit because who doesn’t like free stuff? Using this form of content can have some massive benefits including high audience growth and encouraging interactions with your fans.
So how do you run a successful social media contest?
- Pick the channel that you want to focus your growth or engagement on.
- Decide what your giveaway is going to be. Have your graphics team create media about that giveaway.
- Set a deadline that your audience needs to enter the contest by.
- Schedule your posts.
- Keep track of names of entrants in a spreadsheet that are following all of the entry steps.
- Announce and tag winners in social posts after the deadline has passed.
For even more information on how to run your own social media contest, check out this blog post from Social Media Examiner.
Tip 21: Don’t Rely On Auto Cross Channel Posting Settings
I’m going to be honest here. Brands that have their Facebook or Instagram page post automatically to their Twitter account drive me insane. On my list of pet peeves, it sits at number one.
What am I talking about? Check out this tweet from Ed Sheeran:
Q magazine is out now. Also loads of Hoo-har about me quitting stuff. I haven’t quit anything,… https://t.co/pZqrifrFiW
— Ed Sheeran (@edsheeran) July 5, 2017
I love you Ed, but when your Instagram captions are too long and I need to click into Instagram to read them, that’s just annoying.
No one wants to take the time to click to go to another social channel to read your content. You need to make it as easy as possible for them to access your content, and yes extra clicks are extra work.
You can avoid this by simply taking the time to make sure that each of your social channels has its own link to your content. It can be time consuming, however, it does make it easier for your audience to access your content. Plus you can create more robust analytics reports by having individual tracking links to see which channel is creating the most traffic.
Tip 22: Research Your Hashtags Before You Use Them
Anyone remember the time that DiGiornos accidentally sent a tweet about pizza with a hashtag that domestic violence survivors were using to explain why they stayed in their relationships?
You can imagine how well that went over.
But it is a perfect example of why you need to triple-check what a hashtag means before you use in your social media messages.
To find hashtags to use for your social channels, open your company’s Twitter profile and scroll down to your Trending Hashtag section. You can change where your trending hashtags are being gathered from as different areas around the world will have different trending hashtags.
You can also use a tool like Tagboard which tracks the conversations that people are having around a certain hashtag. All you have to do to find out what people are saying with a hashtag is type it in:
You should be able to get a good idea of what the hashtag is about from those pages which will make your decision of whether or not to use the hashtag in your message.
Tip 23: Use Humor Sparingly
Humor on social media can be both a blessing and a curse. One misstep and your joke can spin you into a social media disaster war zone.
However hit the right notes for humor and your brand can take off. Look at what happened to Wendy’s when they went a little snarky on social media:
HELP ME PLEASE. A MAN NEEDS HIS NUGGS pic.twitter.com/4SrfHmEMo3
— Carter Wilkerson (@carterjwm) April 6, 2017
The best way to see if humor is going to be the right voice for your audience is to test out a few light hearted jokes and see how they react. You can’t force humor on to your audience, so be wise about how and when you use it.
And when it doubt, don’t tweet it.
Tip 24: Limit Employee Access To Company Social Media Accounts
Social media is in and of itself a social endeavor. That means you want your employees to be involved in the conversation as well. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone should have access to your company social media accounts.
Look at what happened to HMV when they fired a bunch of people at one time including their social team. Team members went rogue, tweeting about how they were all getting fired at once. The worst part? The people that were staying had no idea how to shut it down.
You need to have control over who has that kind of power so save yourself the headache and create a list of who should have access to that account.
Who should have access to your social channels? Here’s a possible list to get you started:
- Marketing manager
- Writers and social media specialists
- Graphic designers
Also, if someone on that list leaves the company, you need to revoke their access and change passwords.
Tip 25: Optimize Your Social Profiles For Maximum Exposure
If your social profiles aren’t filled out the maximum with the same information about your company you’re missing out on an opportunity to connect with your customer base.
Go through your current social profile and make sure the following are consistent:
- Profile and header photos
- Company descriptions
For example, one brand that keeps a consistent, well thought out LinkedIn profile is Adobe. It’s initial profile page is laid out with branded profile pictures, a general overview, jobs and information on what life is like at Adobe:
Their profile continues it’s excellency by adding in a thorough “About Us” section.
Tip 26: Ignore Trolls
If you’ve ever experienced that one person that just seems out to get you as a brand, you’ve probably dealt with trolling.
The best thing to do with trolls is to ignore them. However, it is important to note that actual customer complaints and trolls are sometimes difficult to tell apart.
Your actual customers with a complaint will have real reasoning behind it. They’ll have a problem that you can solve. It would probably look something like this:
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”><a href=”https://twitter.com/CoSchedule”>@CoSchedule Not getting notifications for IG posts, but looks like my notifications are set up properly. Known issue? pic.twitter.com/G1RlJpz5QP
— Brigid McWhirter (@brigidmcwhirter) July 19, 2017
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″>
Trolls, on the other hand, are going to come at you with some sort of complaint that has no basis. They want to provoke a response from you. No matter what you do you won’t be able to make them happy and that is the whole point of them trolling you.
Bonus Tip: Keep Your Social Media Marketing Organized With CoSchedule
So we just ran through a lot of information. Give it time to sink in and let yourself strategize freely. Then once you’re ready to move on to execution, check out CoSchedule where we’ll help you plan everything from your content to your social media posts.
With Social Campaigns:
With Task Templates:
And with Social Helpers:
See how you can plan and publish all your content from one place. Schedule your demo with CoSchedule today to see it all in action.