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9 Unwritten (But Super Imporant) Rules of Social Media

Social media is a tricky beast to tame for some, but it’s a vital resource for many marketers. It is a fantastic way to engage with your audience, to share ideas and get feedback. There are so many variations of social media network, we’re now in an age where we have YouTube, Vine, Snapchat and Instagram (among other more popular social media platforms). According to Icono Square 70% of instagramers have already looked for a brand on Instagram. That’s an audience you’d be foolish to miss!

All of these platforms have their own unique way of engaging with particular audiences, YouTube for example only shows videos but gives users the ability to discuss and rate what they’ve seen. When you have your own business, it can be difficult to decide on which social media sites are best for you and your brand. This all depends on the kind of company you set up, if you’re a nail salon then websites such as Instagram can really help boost business by showing images of your work. If, however, your business has a more serious tone then perhaps LinkedIn might suit better.

At the end of the day, all of them can be appropriate in some way or another to your brand, but only a select few will remain on top. For most businesses, their top 3 social accounts are Twitter, Facebook and of course Google+. According to Statista, by August 2015 Facebook had 1,490 million active users, which was considerably more then any other social network. Twitter boasted 316 million and Google+ wasn’t far behind with 300 million active users.

It’s numbers like these that make you wonder why some business don’t use this fantastic and totally free resource. But for those businesses who have jumped onto the social media train, there are some things you need to know about before you get posting. Below are 9 unwritten rules you need to think about first and why they’re important.

You Can’t Have One Without The Other

It’s all well and good to say you’re on Facebook and have your own business page, but what if most of your audience are more into Twitter? We would encourage you to invest in social media platforms, but we’d encourage you to at the very least to have 3 different accounts. These accounts should be the best for the kind of business you are.

If you sell homemade necklaces then the social networks of choice for you may be Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. If, however, you’re a business that sells luxury cars then the networks of choice for you may be Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. This article by Kissmetrics actually says you should join Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, regardless of your audience or business model. I would agree with this, but if you don’t have the time to keep them all up I would pick the ones most relevant to you.

Keep It Consistent

What I mean by this is the visual and textual content. You want to make sure that the branding you use is the same across all of your social networks, inconsistent branding can confuse people. Have you ever had one of those moments where you have to double take something because it doesn’t look the same as it normally does, but is similar? It’s like that.

When it comes to the text you also need to make sure you’re being consistent. There is a lot of information you need to fill out on some of these social networks and you need to make sure that your NAP info (name, address and phone number) at the very least is the same across all social accounts.

It might sound like common sense, but there are a staggering amount of people who will either forget to fill this information out or don’t update the information when things change. The absence of NAP info on your website can negatively impact on local rankings, so keep an eye on this also.

Post At The Right Times For You

You may have seen many infographics and articles letting you know of the very best times for you to post, but they’re mostly a pile of toffee. No one image or blog post can accurately detail what social schedule is right for you and your business, it’s just not possible. That’s why you should be using websites such as Tweriod, who will analyse your audience and tell you when it’s best to post.

You should only use websites such as this when you don’t have time to do a little research yourself. If you have a business that many others already run successfully then you can use them as guidance on what/when to post. Please bare in mind the time of which your audience is awake! Most of the world may be awake at around 3pm London time, but that doesn’t mean they’re all interested in what you have to say.

Choose times that fit best for your location and area of expertise. This infographic by Neil Patel of Quicksprout isn’t perfect, but it’s a great indication of what direction you need to go in.

Create Different Posts For Different Social Accounts

Post engagement differs from website to website, you’re not going to get the same amount of conversation from Twitter than you would Facebook. Baring this in mind you need to make sure that you’re creating posts that are specifically make for that social network and that audience.

Facebook and Google+ give you the ability to write up to 5000 characters in a post, on Twitter you’re limited to 140 characters (not including any links or images). Remember to optimise your text as much as you can. With Twitter, you need to get right to the point, fast. On Facebook you can spend more time explaining the post and asking questions to your audience.

Many social scheduling tools such as Sprout Social and Hootsuite give you the ability to schedule posts separately, so use that to your advantage. Also (going back to the previous unwritten rule) you should be making sure that these posts are scheduled for a specific time that works best for your business. Weekdays provide 14% more engagement than weekends, so don’t just post when you think people are free.

Don’t Overuse Hashtags

Anyone who is anyone will know what a hashtag is by now, especially when it’s now a function many social media networks use to categorize content. Hashtags are first and foremost a way to place your content into certain categories that might be searched on that social network, almost like using a keyword.

If you share a post on how to put up a shelf, you’ll want to give it a relevant hashtag such as #DIY or #HomeImprovement. When you type in your hashtag you’ll see that you’re given the most popular hashtags related to what you typed, these are the best way to choose more popular hashtags over others.

According to this infographic by Sure Payroll, using hashtags can increase your brand engagement. In the same infographic it states that using more than 2 hastags decreases engagement by around 17% on average. Overusing hastags on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ will end in a drop in engagement, however using 11 or more on Instagram will increase engagement.

Don’t Post Exclusively About Yourself

As awesome as your product or service may be, nobody likes to have information constantly shoved down their throats. You don’t want to sound like a broken record, do you? According to Fast Company, 1 or two posts a day for Facebook is more than sufficient, but that is merely a matter of frequency rather than the content shared.

Social media is not there to be a huge advert for your business, it’s meant to help you get closer to potential customers through engagement. You have to build relationships, you can’t start building relationships by saying “We’re the best, so you better go and like our page”.

Most people will lead by example and follow the 80/20 rule, which means 80% of related and helpful content verses 20% of product and brand related content. If you use this as a basis for your social media you can then move onto split testing your messages a little later down the line.

Use Only High Quality Images

Images are everything when tit comes to social media engagement, just ask Pinterest as they have over 30 billion images pinned. Using high quality images is so important, a low quality image can totally put someone off of further reading into your post. Hubspot revealed that images generate 53% more likes than the average Facebook post, so make sure they’re great to look at!

Although you should be using high quality photos, you must try and stay away from stock images. You can use them for blog posts when appropriate, but avoid using them on social media. The whole point of a social media profile is to have your own social identity, you’re not really a personable company if you don’t have any real world images to share. If you can’t find the right images (and you can’t take the pictures yourself) then have a look at creative commons images in Google or Flickr.

A study by Tagg interestingly pointed out that pictures with a face in it provoked less of a response than those without, so try and avoid pictures with a face in it or at the very least a head on shot of a person.

Don’t Follow Inactive Or Unused Accounts

This might sound like pointing out the obvious, but some accounts will become inactive and unused after a period of time. So you might follow/like/add someone in January and by June they may have fallen off the map, but you wouldn’t really know that they had.

Of course you should be following/liking etc those that are relevant to you, but you want to also make sure that they have a good following first. On top of this you need to make sure they’re always posting helpful content, as you can share that content yourself.

Every so often you should go through your followers or whatever and throw out those who are of no use to you or your brand. That may seem harsh, but with only 35% of Google+ users actively using their accounts it’s best to get rid. It’s also estimated that over 600 million Twitter accounts are unused and inactive.

Don’t Forget To, You Know… Talk

Be social! I know you just want to get your brand out there and that you’re excited about your business adventure but what use are you to me as a customer if you don’t actually interact with me? Interaction is key to fantastic customer service, a bad reaction on social media could spiral into something much larger than the initial complaint.

53% of people recommend companies and products on Twitter, so make sure you’re personally thanking them and making sure that they know you care as a business. Also be sure to give specific offers and deals to those who follow you on social media as it will encourage people to engage with you more.

The average consumer mentions brands about 90 times a week to family, friends and co-workers, make sure that you’re one of those brands.

And there we have it! Thank you very much for reading this blog post. If you enjoyed it, then you might like to have a little read of “How To Successfully Rebrand Your Business“?

Do you have any more unwritten rules you think should be included in our list? Let us know via Twitter!

Feature image credit: Atit Phetmuangtong via 123RF.com

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