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Best practices for social media marketing

April 15, 2022

Best practices for social media marketing

As I decrease the amount of time I spend on social media, I’ve come to recognise the importance of strategic management of our team’s online presence. Without an established plan and procedure, I often find that we as a team still spend a large part of our time managing social media that could be better used on other activities.

This blog is a combination of what we’ve found so far as a team as we evolve how we show up online. Enjoy!

Index

In this post we explore:

💡 TLDR; We’ve found that all platforms are different. Rather than trying a “blanket approach” for all major channels, we are niching down to two platforms only and dropping the rest. The rest of the blog discusses best practices and also shares a heap of tools to help streamline your social media management.

Our mission

Why we are using social media and what we expect

We recognise the potential that social media has as a marketing channel, however, we want to ensure we use our time effectively. We, therefore, want to set measurable goals, choose the right platforms, adopt best practices and create a repeatable process with as much automation as possible.

The ongoing result should be increased brand awareness, an increase in followers and more people helped through our content, courses and services.

💡 What is your mission for using social media? Hit us up in the comments below!

Goal setting

Identifying our goals

It is important to identify our goals for using social media in order to determine the success of our campaign. Without clear goals, we will not be able to measure our progress or identify what is working.

For example: If our goal was to increase brand awareness the activities we choose to engage with might be different if our goal was to increase signups to our email list.

The goals we’ve established for Trailblazer FM are to grow brand recognition and increase our follower base, especially on YouTube and the Podcast.

💡 What are your goals for social media? Pop them in the comments below!

Which platforms?

Choosing the right social media platforms

People like Chris Do from The Futur recommend showing up on one platform and doing it really well. We’ve often been tempted to show up on all platforms thinking we’d be increasing our reach. However the logic there may be broken. Later on in this post, we explore what people have recommended as best practices per social media channels.

It quickly becomes obvious that every platform has its own quirks and what works on one, may not work on another. Trying to cover all platforms will stretch our limited resources.

Having tried to maintain a presence across multiple channels we’ve narrowed it down to YouTube and Facebook for our business. This is because these platforms have generated the most engagement and tend to be where our target audience hangs out.

💡 Key takeaway: Where does your target audience hang out? They are the platforms you want to focus your efforts on.

Brand consistency

Maintaining our brand image and voice

From our research, we recognised that brand consistency is important. Both visually and in the tone of voice. Looking at our past work we’ve experimented with different images, tones of voice and types of content. There appears to be no method to our madness and it’s very difficult for a potential follower to know what to expect from us.

We will seek to keep things simple:

Brand colours and identifying marks

Our brand’s logo is an important part of our identity. It creates a strong, lasting impression with our audience and helps them easily distinguish our brand’s content from others.

We’ve worked with our preferred design agency, Design Box in order to develop brand guidelines that cover:

  • Logo.
  • Fonts.
  • Colours.
  • Images.
  • Templates.

With our unique logo, combined with fonts, colours and image cutouts, our content is instantly recognisable as coming from us. This should help our content stand out online to both our current followers and potential new ones.

💡 Don’t underestimate the power of branding.

Brand voice

It’s important to develop our brand’s tone and voice when creating content. Our brand should have a single, consistent voice, but we can use different tones depending on the specific topics we are covering.

We’ve established our brand voice by considering:

  • What we stand for
    • Values.
    • Mission.
    • Personality.
  • Who we help
    • The problems we help them solve.
    • The dreams we help them achieve.
    • Where they may be emotionally at this point.

From this we’ve established we want to be:

  • Friendly and approachable.
  • Clear and honest communication.
  • Fun but serious when the topic needs it.

Internally we’ve created a range of example posts covering key topics and situations to help our team understand better how to communicate consistently. For example, we love our Gifs and emojis! 😂

💡 Have you an established brand with guidelines? Do you understand your tone and voice? Would be awesome if you could some examples in the comments to help others!

Platform best practices

Best practices per mainstream social media platform

To date, we’ve been trying to represent the brand across all major social platforms. This lead to extensive research (some of which is listed below), into best practices per channel so we make the most impact.

It soon became clear that each platform has its own unique quirks, and simply blasting the same message across all channels wasn’t going to cut it. Hence as an agency, we’ve chosen to focus on two primary social channels and do them well.

Below are key best practices we discovered from our research for Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter:

Facebook

By creating a Facebook Page for our business, we can connect with potential and existing customers, building a strong presence through regular post updates and engaging content.

Facebook Business Pages can also help improve our website’s search engine rankings, in addition to providing a strong social media presence.

To improve our chances of success on Facebook, here are some recommendations we found:

  • Facebook page image – Optimise Facebook page image size and ensure text and imagery are visible.
  • Brand guidelines – Ensure page image plus all other image posts reflect the company brand guidelines.
  • Business info – Complete all the necessary page profile information. Including items such as location, website, contact details etc.
  • Profile image – Add an eye-catching profile image (such as a logo, mascot or brand-related image).
  • Call to action – Include a call to action in all posts and the page header to increase engagement.
  • Mix it up and go native – Use mixed media including images and native videos in our posts. Native videos are said to perform better than third party links. Facebook wants to keep people in its ecosystem.
  • Hashtags (still?) 😳 – Apparently hashtags still count! Use relevant industry-related hashtags. This aids in content discovery more than people “subscribing” to a particular hashtag.
  • Engage – Responding to comments and encouraging more debate.
  • Post times – Despite countless algorithm changes, the advice still seems to be to choose the best time to post. One way to discover the best times is to monitor engagement and views on previous posts. More help here.
  • Facebook Ads – Boost or promote the high performing posts. BUT don’t do it without some training. We are following this legend to learn more!
  • Analytics – Review performance statistics both on-page and on ads in order to post more of what works.
💡 We’ve struggled with our Facebook page and found success with a vibrant Facebook Group. Having taken a break from the group for a year, we’ve certainly been penalised by Facebook and engagement is currently low. The same applies to a Facebook page. We’ve learned we have to put in the work in order to get results.

Youtube

YouTube is undoubtedly the number one platform for video marketing. As the second-largest search engine in the world and its integration with Google search results, there is a huge amount of potential. We explore driving traffic to YouTube content in this video here.

Here are some simple SEO steps, we are following to get better performance from our video content.

  • Optimised title – Having catchy, clear, short and descriptive titles should help to increase the click-through rate on our videos. The addition of a primary keyword can assist with content discovery. More help here.
  • Snazzy thumbnail – Clear relevant thumbnails (preferably on-brand), help catch the eye when scrolling. We’ve found shortened punchy versions of the title help on our thumbnails. More help here.
  • Keyword-rich description – Adding a well-written description to our YouTube videos can help improve discoverability. An overview of what the video is about can help comprehension and encourage people to watch. Adding keywords, hashtags, links, and timestamps in our video posts can help improve engagement and reach. It’s good to add as much value as possible including links to helpful resources and a relevant call to action.
  • Relevant tags – When creating tags for our YouTube videos, we try to keep them simple and to the point. We don’t include misleading or vague tags, as this can deter viewers from engaging with us in the future especially if they feel our content wasn’t relevant. When creating our tags, we start with the keyword that we hope to rank for and then order the rest of our tags by importance. We also take keyword inspiration from other high performing videos on YouTube.
  • Discovery – use tools such as TubeBuddy or VidIQ to find topics that are relevant to your audience in order to create videos that might perform better. (Or ask the community).
💡 Creating YouTube content is time-intensive. The return for us has been YouTube contributing to a large percentage of traffic driven to our website, and in turn subscribers to our Podcast.

Instagram

Instagram is one of the most popular and engaging social media platforms, second only to Facebook. This is due in part to the platform’s unique ability to connect users through visual content.

Here are the top tips we’ve gleaned for Instagram.

  • Who – Identify the target audience the account should attract as followers.
  • What – Research what hashtags the ideal follower may be subscribed to.
  • Branding – Ensure imagery and videos are on-brand. This includes photography style. Apparently, there is nothing worse than a messy looking Instagram account. Ask Lee’s daughter! She keeps judging ours!
  • Stick to the schedule – Like with Facebook establish a schedule and keep posting consistently to it. This is more relevant now as Instagram has re-introduced the option to view content in order of time.
  • Reels are not just for the cool kids! – Experiment with reels to share short valuable messages or show personality. Some crazy ideas here.
  • Share stories – Use stories for account discovery utilising relevant hashtags. More help on hashtags here.
  • Hashtags are key – Use trending hashtags (optionally branded hashtags) to enable profile and content discovery to a wider audience.
  • Creator or Business – Update the account to a creator or business account in order to be able to review analytics. The analytics help us understand what is or is not working and we can adjust accordingly.
💡 As with any platform, engagement metrics can help us understand which content is resonating well with our audience and what isn't. This information can be used to improve our content strategy and ensure that our future posts are more aligned with our target audience.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a professional social networking site that enables users to connect with others in their field or industry. It appears that most users on the platform are professionals who might be looking to get a new job or businesses focused primarily on business to business sales.

The site contains a wealth of content, including articles, blog posts, and product information, so there’s plenty to get to grips with.

Here are three key tips we are focused on in our sister agency for LinkedIn.

  • Quality over quantity – There is a lot of competition for attention on LinkedIn. People providing value seem to get the most engagement. Be that a video, blog post or quotable.
  • Don’t make it personal – Try to avoid political or religious content. Equally, avoid using it like Facebook sharing family life or public bathroom selfies!
  • Specific content – LinkedIn is more likely to promote content that is unique to its platform. Consider writing specific content for LinkedIn posts and articles that are not necessarily on another website.
💡 LinkedIn is a different beast from most other social media platforms. This helps illustrate how a “one size fits all” approach to multiple social channels can fail and highlights the importance of tailoring your strategy to each individual platform for successful multi-channel marketing.

Twitter

If it’s good for Elon, it’s good enough for us. Right? Personally, I find its fast pace exhausting, however for a business that enjoys fast-paced communication with clients and leads and near-instant feedback, it’s paradise!

Here’s what we found for Twitter for those brave enough to venture there!

  • Account details – Make use of the account details area including relevant business information. Call to action essential including website.
  • Don’t overdo the hashtags – Add minimal but relevant hashtags. More help finding the right ones here.
  • Promote others – Retweet content from other industry-related accounts. Helps share the value and build a network. Depending on the account, retweets are likely to be reciprocated.
  • Credit where credits due – We make sure to give credit, whenever we use information from other sources
  • Short links – Long URLs look messy. Twitter will reduce any long URL to 23 characters however using a service like Bit.ly will help free up those all-important characters.
  • Eye-candy – With new posts being made every second, visual content can such as an image or a video can help capture attention in someone’s feed.
  • Business account – Switch to a business or professional account for better analytics and the ability to add a category to the Twitter account.

💡 Analytics are not necessarily turned on by default on a Twitter account. Click on “More” and “Analytics” to activate them and see up-to-date information on performance.

Planning and scheduling

In order to ensure we consistently put out quality content, we are working on a content plan and schedule. We are batching content, and are developing a list of supporting assets we use to promote specific content.

For example, for our YouTube videos we plan:

  • The full video.
  • 2x pre-promotion posts.
  • 1x same day promotion post.
  • 1x two-week reminder.
  • 3x video shorts using soundbites from the original video.
  • 3x 16:9 videos using soundbites from the original video.
  • 3x image quotes taken from the captions.

Our target platforms are YouTube, the YouTube community function and our Facebook page. Reviewing the numbers, we found “shorts” on YouTube and 16:9 video clips on Facebook help drive traffic and subscribers. When we tested the same on other platforms such as LinkedIn or Instagram we didn’t attract many views and got zero engagement.

With our content plan and above asset list, we then schedule everything based on a calendar cycle so we aren’t having to manually post things during the week. This ensures we are prepared, we automate and we free up our time for each campaign to be engaged in comments and promotion.

💡 We use Publer in house and Facebook to schedule Stories. Cheap, cheerful and works for us!

Scheduling Tools

To get you started, here are a range of scheduling tools with calendar functionality to check out! Enjoy these shiny new objects! Let us know in the comments what platform you use if you have one already!

Publer

The scheduling tool we use house coupled with the story scheduling directly on Facebook makes this an affordable option for us!

Visit – https://publer.io/trailblazerfm

CoSchedule

CoSchedule is a social media management tool designed to help marketers better manage their online presence. It includes automation of social schedules and real-time blog and social media calendars. CoSchedule is a mature product that has been around a long time in internet terms.

Visit – https://coschedule.com/

Loomly

Loomly features include Social Media Calendar, Schedule Posts, Insights, and more. It also provides the scheduling option on Instagram and Facebook stories.

Visit – https://www.loomly.com

Buffer

Another mature product, Buffer offers social media plan that helps brands collaborate and publish content. Buffer helps people plan and publish content for various social media platforms

Visit – https://buffer.com/publish

SocialBu

SocialBu allows people to publish, respond, analyse, and automate their social media accounts.

Visit – https://socialbu.com

Airtable

With Airtable, users can collaborate with teams or individuals to create content plans. A content template is available for free here. We use Airtable to plan all our content then we paste the final versions into Publer. You can however connect Zapier for automatic scheduling of social posts.

Visit – https://tbfm.net/airtable

Be sure to check out the “tools for analytics” section below which includes many more tools for scheduling with an extra focus on detailed analytics.

💡 If you have a plan, you can use pretty much any tool, even the native scheduling tools within some social platforms. Don’t plan to fail, by failing to plan!

Social listening

I am the worst for missing comments and questions on our social channels! From our research, we understand that there are several advantages to listening to and engaging with an audience. Including:

  • Algorithms reward active accounts. (Allegedly).
  • The audience appreciates two-way conversations.
  • Get to know the community better.
  • Generates fascinating new content ideas based on follower feedback.

We also discovered that people talk about our brand outside of our social circles on multiple platforms! Being able to jump into a conversation and help with brand perception and management.

Thankfully there are tools to help folks catch-all comments on their social channels and be notified when someone is talking about their brand!

Here are some popular tools that can help with social listening and tracking!

Mention

Mention is a tool that helps brands and agencies monitor social media networks, listen to their audience, and glean insights into competitor activity.

Visit – https://mention.com/en/

Awario

Awario helps businesses track their online reputation, identify potential leads, and get insights into customer sentiment.

Visit – https://awario.com/

Brandwatch

Brandwatch is a social listening tool that offers analytics, image recognition, demographic data, and trending topics.

Visit – https://www.brandwatch.com/

💡 Effective brand management even includes the difficult conversations that might be happening behind your back.

Social media analytics

I am not someone to relish looking at charts, tables and graphs. My attention span is limited and I usually need someone to explain things to me in simple terms! To my detriment however, I have learned the importance of measuring things and also making informed decisions.

The two biggest areas our agency has neglected in the past are:

  • Reviewing our own performance.
  • Monitoring “competitor” or similar industry accounts.

Most social media platforms include some form of analytics to show account performance, however, we are not aware of any offering competitor analysis as well.

We were using Publer for performance metrics, then TubeBuddy for YouTube to understand our performance and measure/review against our competitors.

💡 Rant - Why I hate the word competitors: I’m personally sick of the term “competitor”. There are enough people in the world for everyone to be able to provide products and services. In our agencies, we make sure we understand what the alternative providers in the industry have to offer, and we actively send potential clients their way if we feel what we have doesn't meet that particular need.

Reviewing competitors

Watching other people feels a little creepy right? We’ve told ourselves that we’re seeing what works for other people and trying to emulate some of that success. (Makes us feel better). Also, let’s face it, we can be inspired by strategy BUT, our ideal client will be attracted to our brand, and their ideal client attracted to theirs!

Here’s how we’ve been monitoring competitors or as we like to term them: “alternative providers” as we’d recommend them all in a heartbeat to the right potential customer.

  • Make a list of alternative providers.
  • List their products and services and in particular highlight those that are similar.
  • Review how they promote their products or services, especially those that are similar.
    • What types of posts get the most engagement?
    • What do people talk about in the comments?
    • What topics resonate the most?
    • What platforms do they appear most successful on?
    • What are they doing that rocks that could be replicated?
  • With all this data, we list out what we think we could try on our accounts.

In all things measure and iterate. What works for one brand will not necessarily translate to another. Therefore, whilst taking inspiration from those who’ve done it before in the same niche,

Analytics for social media

Here is a list of popular social networking platforms that provide more in-depth reporting capabilities. Considering that most offer planning, scheduling, and other functions as part of a suite, it’s worthwhile to investigate whether one tool can replace several in your organisation.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite has been around since 2008 and offers social media scheduling for a wide range of platforms. Popular with agencies they also have a rich set of analytical tools.

Visit – https://www.hootsuite.com/

Sprout Social

Another scheduling tool with a wide range of reporting options. From automated reports for presentations to full picture cross-network data, Sprout Social appears to have a lot to offer.

Visit – https://sproutsocial.com/

BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo allows folks to monitor competitors, brand mentions, and industry updates. Alerts for important events are sent to reduce content overwhelm. BuzzSumo also has a huge range of content generation and planning tools to check out.

Visit – https://buzzsumo.com/

Keyhole

With Keyhole you can track multiple social accounts and also compare data with alternative providers in your industry. Like Sprout Social, they also feature a range of report templates.

Visit – https://keyhole.co/

Falcon.io

Compare your brand to competitors and the best in the field. Get a complete picture of consumers and prospects, both individually and together.

Visit – https://www.falcon.io/

Social Pilot

With Social Pilots’ “easy-to-read” charts and graphs of vital indicators, you can get a clear view of your account’s performance and acquire insights into your audience.

Visit – https://www.socialpilot.co/

Agorapulse

Useful reports that rapidly inform you what is and isn’t working with your social media initiatives. Plus scheduling, and engagement manager. Popular with a lot of influencers!

Visit – https://www.agorapulse.com/

Keeping informed

Social media is evolving all the time, with new features and trends. This post is probably already old 10 minutes after publishing! Jokes aside, it is wise to keep your finger on the pulse of what is trending. We do that by following social media influencers who understand the platforms we are targeting.

To illustrate:

💡 It’s important to find influencers, mentors and teachers that resonate with you. If they are from a similar industry or know how to market your particular type of product or service, then you’re onto a winner!

Your turn, let’s talk!

OK, we’ve done all the talking, so now it’s your turn in the comments below!

  • What are the social media practices you follow to grow your agency?
  • What is your biggest takeaway from this post?
  • What tools do you use?
  • Who do you follow to keep your finger on the pulse?
  • What will you implement tomorrow?

Let’s get chatting and see you in the comments below!

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