It’s easy to feel stressed out when it comes to social media. Many small business owners feel pressured to be on every social media channel, regularly posting, and constantly engaged. As a result, post quality falls victim to quantity, and post performance falls flat. To help you see engagement in the form of interaction on your social media posts by friends, customers, and fans—we’ve put together this list of 6 social media best practices that you should be using every day.
1. Keep Your Posts Short and Simple
Shorter posts are more conducive to the way individuals use social media. Studies have indicated that shorter posts can increase engagement by up to 86%. A brief and direct post is worth more than a million words.
But knowing what the ideal length is, when you don’t have a character limit, can be tricky. So what’s the definition of short and simple?
- Twitter: 71 – 100 characters
- Facebook: 40 – 119 characters
- Google+: 60 characters per headline
Sticking to these character counts will get you more retweets, likes, and comments.
2. Include a Link
You want your social media posts to leave your followers wanting more, while simultaneously providing them with an easy way to get more. Always include a link with every social media post.
Social media platforms are great tools for driving traffic to your digital properties. However, make sure the content of what you’re linking to is relevant and matches the context of your post. Also, have an easy way for your viewer to then share that piece of content directly on the page—through a tool like AddThis Share Buttons—so that they don’t have to backtrack.
3. Images Get You A Lot More Clicks
Always include an image with your social media posts. Posts with a well-designed piece of creative or an engaging photo are much more likely to grab the attention of your followers. According to Search Engine Journal, studies show engagement skyrockets when an image is included with a post. Social media posts with visuals deliver 180% greater engagement and images make up 93% of the most engaging posts on Facebook.
However, not all businesses have the in-house resources to create beautiful graphics or take professional photos. Luckily, there are companies such as Shutterstock and Visual.ly who offer a plethora of stock images and custom-made infographics, respectively. There are also a number of free resources out there that you can explore.
4. Be Social on Your Social Media Networks
Engagement is a two-way street. You want your supporters and brand ambassadors to know that you’re just as invested in them as they are in you. On Twitter, follow your engaged followers and respond to their mentions. On Facebook, like and share posts of followers who frequently like and share your posts. On Instagram, respond to comments and @ tag friends on photos that are relevant to them.
It’s not just about reciprocity—it’s also about building relationships. Monitor hashtags on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and participate in relevant conversations. Even if you prefer to not express an opinion, acknowledge the conversation and ask your followers and fans what they think.
The takeaway here is treat social media as a way to interact with your community.
5. Posts, Like Cats, Have More Than One Life
Posts die quickly on social media, and not all of your followers see all of your posts.
According to Facebook, each time someone visits their News Feed, there are—on average—1,500 potential stories. Only about 57% of these posts are ever seen.
All social media posts are ephemeral, some more so than others. The average lifespan of a Facebook post is approximately 14 hours. A tweet has an average lifespan of just over 4 hours. And an Instagram photo’s lifespan is approximately 21 hours.
Social media is a great place to experiment and test. Share the same article or graphic more than once. Experiment with several factors—try using different messaging, hashtags, calls to action, and mentions. Also, try posting at different times of the day and on different days of the week.
6. Nail the Right Recipe—Post Consistently and Diversify Your Offering
There are three factors that have to be taken into consideration across your social media accounts in order to nail the right recipe. The first is making sure that you’re leveraging the right social media channels for the content you plan on sharing.
The second is that you need to diversify the types of posts you’re sharing—strike a balance between promotional, conversational, and personal posts. Try not to have only promotional posts—it’s an easy way to lose followers. And the last step is to post regularly and consistently. Business adviser Chris Brogan’s Twitter stream is a shining example of how to diversify posts, with a mixture of conversation, personal posts and promotions.
Nailing the right recipe will take some time—it’s not only tied to best practices, but also organizational resources. For instance, you might only have the capacity to share one post a day, and that’s ok. What’s key is you experiment and not be afraid to change course when something’s not working.
By following these 6 best practices you’ll be on your way to becoming a social media maven, growing both follower counts and engagement levels. To help simplify the process, we’ve created a handy checklist to use as you manage your social media strategy.
Last modified: December 15th, 2015