Social media managers are kind of like journalists. They are expected to become experts in any one, trending area instantly. Yesterday was Facebook Live, today is Instagram Stories and tomorrow could be an entirely new platform. And while there is no way to accurately predict the future of social media, there are several, fundamental best practices to help keep brands and their social media managers nimble, creative and adept in a constantly evolving landscape. Here are the top ten tips for brands and their social managers alike:
1. Plan Ahead: Cultivate one or multiple content calendars. These should capture both critical internal events and conferences as well as external holidays and moments. Plan the content for these posts 30-days in advance or as much as reasonably possible.
2. But Stay Timely: If posts were planned ahead of time, scan through them a day in advance to ensure they are still appropriate. If there is a live event or real-time opportunity for your brand to engage, create a fast approval process by reaching out to the key stakeholders ahead of time to ensure someone is on standby to review content in a timely manner.
3. Activate Employees: Company leaders are great brand ambassadors but junior employees can also serve as micro-influencers. Encourage them to share job postings, content and continue to build the power and authenticity of a brand. Being a brand on social media is meaningful but when it comes down to it, people follow people. The message will always seem more accessible and relatable from a person than brand. If there are limits on what folks can say from a regulatory perspective, train employees to make these boundaries clear.
4. Show, Don’t Tell: The visual matters. Not just on Instagram but on every single social media platform. Make it more eye-catching and native to the platform and less mundane and corporate. Along these lines, limit the text on photos. Many social media platforms even have regulations for the amount of text that can appear on advertisements. For example, Facebook and Instagram will reject paid advertisements with text on more than 20% of the image.
5. Engage with Other Brands: The best feeds are a mix of original content and repurposed content. Depending on the brand, some relevant examples of external opportunities could be articles about the company, posts from philanthropic partners and university publications highlighting employee alumni.
6. Customize and Optimize by Platform: One video file can’t be shared effectively across every social media platform. Cut it to the correct dimensions and requirements for each platform. Beyond dimensions consider the entire user-experience, especially audio. In general, social media videos should be designed for sound-off either through closed captions or graphical animations. Plan this ahead of filming as much as possible. It will make everyone’s (graphic designers, editors, social media managers, etc.) life much easier.
7. Perform Competitive Analyses: Look at the content core competitors are creating and sharing on social media. Outside of traditional competitors, check out what best-in-class brands are sharing on their handles. Follow others, subscribe to newsletters, ask questions at industry conferences — do everything you can to learn through osmosis.
8. Cultivate a Voice: Write social media copy in the same way you would speak to a colleague, friend or family member. This can be tougher for B2B marketers but to the extent possible, write copy in a conversational tone. If legal over-rules this, at least you tried. And on approvals…
9. Create a Reasonable Approval Process: Startups are generally more agile here but many B2B companies often need several parties to review each post before it publishes. Align on processes for planned content (see tip one) and timely content (see tip two) and try to settle on reasonable timeframes for both of these.
10. Stay Agile: The platforms, content and audiences are likely to continue to radically evolve in the next five years. Know that whatever works today probably won’t in six months. Social media is constantly changing and that’s what makes it both exciting and exhausting.
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