Social media is not for sales. Let's repeat that: social media is not for sales. Now that we have that clear, let's talk about what social media IS for. Social media is used for raising awareness. These communication channels are intended to disseminate a message about your product, company, organization, etc. It allows entities and individuals to engage in conversations and create genuine relationships that, in the past, couldn't be achieved through paid advertising. 

Relying on the greatness of your product alone doesn't guarantee anything. You have to make sure people know about it. It would make sense to think that, thanks to social media, getting your message out to the world is easier than ever, but you'd be surprised. With the broad accessibility of social platforms, businesses have to fight more and more each day to cut through the noise that surrounds social media marketing. Luckily, there are ways to use social media efficiently to maximize your level of engagement. 

Here are some Do's and Don'ts that everyone trying to reach an online audience should know:

1. Do Specify Your Audience. Don't Generalize. 

We are all unique. Keep that in mind when reaching out to your customers. There are social media platforms for every preference, so find the one that appeals the most to your audience. Don't assume everyone is just using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. There are many other high traffic but often under appreciated places to connect like Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, and LinkedIn. You have to really think "who am I trying to appeal to?" and find the social media platforms that best fit that description.  

2. Do Share Consistently. Don't Spam. 

There's nothing worse than an oversharer. Understand that, just as all of your customers are unique, so too are the platforms they use. Each social media has a science behind it and being able to cater your content to specific to the strength's of each one will do wonders for connecting with your audience. Here are some rule-of-thumb social media guidelines for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn from Quick Sprout and Buffer:

Facebook

  • Best days to post on Facebook are Monday through Friday with engagement peaking on Thursdays and Fridays
  • Best times of the day to post are 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM with 1:00 PM for more shares and 3:00 PM for more clicks
  • Post no more than twice a day to avoid a decrease on likes and comments

Twitter

  • Tweets intended for B2B interactions find their best days Monday through Friday, while tweets intended for B2C interactions are most effective on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays
  • Best times to tweet are 5:00 PM for most retweets and 12:00 PM & 6:00 PM for highest CTR (Click-through Rate)
  • Post three times or more per day for best engagement 

Instagram

  • The best days to post on Instagram are Monday through Saturday with engagement peaking on Monday
  • Best times to post are off-work hours with 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM receiving the most engagement 
  • Post on average 1.5 times or more per day

LinkedIn

  • Best days to post on LinkedIn are Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday with Wednesday within business hours receiving the most engagement
  • Best times to post are 7:00 AM - 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM with Thursdays from 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM receiving the most clicks and shares 
  • Post one time per day to reach up to 60% of your audience

It's important to keep in mind that these guidelines are good stating points, but should be adjusted depending on your industry. The best way to know what works for you is by assessing your own data and posting accordingly. 

3. Do Use Visuals. Don't Overwrite. 

We live in a highly visual world. For the most part, we prefer to look at pictures rather than read descriptions or lengthy explanations. According to data collected by MDG Advertising, content incorporating compelling images receive 94% more total views than content with nor images. In addition, 67% of customers consider high quality images to be more important and carry more weight than a product's information, description, or rating. 

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, but in your case it could be worth revenue and new customers. 

 4. Do Utilize Built-in Analytics. Don't Play a Guessing Game. 

You need to asses your own data. Almost every social media platform brings a built in set of analytics that are specific to you. Not to everyone in your industry, but to you and only you. Instead of frantically blasting your message out to everyone, pay attention to the activity of your followers and focus on that. This will allow you to draft the perfect message for your customers and share it at the time with the most traffic. 

5. Do Be Authentic. Don't Plagiarize. 

If you weren't allowed to do it in school, you best believe you're not allowed to do it for business. Plagiarism is highly frowned upon in social media. It happens often, but it is also discovered very quickly. Companies should absolutely create their own content. This not only allows for a cohesive feel and consistent online presence, but also adds authenticity in the eyes of followers and customers. 

If you do decide to use someone else's images or videos, be aware of the copyright. According to Creative Commons,  there are various copyright licenses that stipulate whether an image is allowed to be used by other. Do some research and figure out under what category the image you're looking to use falls under, before using it. Remember that using others' work without their permission is not only illegal, but it's also very rude. So be courteous to others and establish yourself as a transparent, fair, and respectful brand by always sharing your sources. Credibility is one of the most powerful assets a brand can have. 

Overall, social media can be the best or worst money you ever spend. It will come down to how you use it. Take advantage of the helpful features it provides and start putting your message out there in a focused and strategic way. Work smarter and unleash your social media accounts full potential.  
 

This was a post guest authored by Sabrina Torres. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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