social media tips

There are countless online articles that offer tips for social media marketing. But rather than curating our favorites, we decided to share our own findings. We built our Social Command Studio on the notes we’ve been taking of our successes and failures for the past 10 years. These are our most helpful social media tips learned through good old fashioned trial and error.

  1. Nearly half of consumers say that social media is the first channel they go to with questions or problems. When a customer shares a complaint via social media, respond quickly and move them to a more private channel (email, phone or DM) to resolve the issue.
  2. Use the 80/20 rule for sharing content on social media. 80% of the content you share should be helpful, informative or entertaining. No more than 20% of the content you post should be about your own products or services (BONUS: spend 20% of your time creating the content and 80% of your time promoting it!)
  3. Hashtags can help you reach a wider audience but use them sparingly. On FB, TW, and LI, one or two hashtags is enough. On Instagram, you can use up to 12, as long as they fit your brand, audience, and topic.
  4. Speaking of hashtags, while there is a trend among consumers to use them in a playful way, using them strategically can help you reach a wider audience and even target a specific audience. Before selecting your hashtag(s), check each native social platform to see how it’s used, the types of content with which it’s associated, and the reach.
  5. Not sure what content your audience wants? Look to your customer service team! Create content that answers the most common customer questions and concerns.
  6. Be consistent! Social media feeds are crowded. A frequent, consistent publishing schedule will help you reach the widest audience.
  7. Social is a two-way street. Engage one-on-one with followers whenever possible.
  8. Include a Call to Action (CTA) in every post so that your audience knows exactly what you want them to do (Click, call, try, schedule, read, etc.).
  9. Remember that social media is a long-term relationship, not a one-night stand! Building trust and loyalty take time. Your goal is to develop relationships with customers who will not only purchase from you but will recommend your company to their friends and family for years to come.
  10. A social media strategy that uses only organic or paid tactics will not work nearly as well as an integrated strategy. Use organic social media to create deeper relationships with your audience, learn their wants and needs, and build trust. Use paid media to grow your audience and bring in new leads. [Watch this 60-second video on social media ROI]
  11. Pay attention to how social media impacts your business. Companies are still not convinced that it has a measurable ROI, but it’s likely because they’re not looking for it in the right places. You can fix this by identifying your KPIs (key performance indicators) before each campaign. Let’s say your goal is to schedule more service appointments, so you create a paid media campaign with a special discount for first-time customers. Know your baseline, that is, know the average number of appointments scheduled in a given week. Then check that during and post-promotion. Has it gone up? By what percentage?
  12. Vanity metrics can be helpful but if you want social media to make a difference you can see in your bottom line, you need to take it a step further. If your goal is to grow your social media followers by 50% in six months, know why you want to do that. What will you do once your audience is larger? How will you keep that larger audience engaged?
  13. When scheduling content, don’t assume a B2B audience won’t see your posts on weekends. Some of the most compelling and thoughtful content on LinkedIn is shared on Saturdays and Sundays. Executives are more relaxed and do some of their best thinking and decision making during this downtime.
  14. Social media platforms are a social situation, act accordingly. [Watch the 60-second video]
  15. Respond to every customer question or complaint on social media within 24 hours and you’re doing an average job. If you want to stand apart from your competition, respond within 2 hours.
  16. Use paid media to reach a larger audience. Organic social media alone can’t grow your business. If your audience is on Facebook, try a Boosted Post or a paid FB ad. If you decide to try a boosted post, chose an organic post that has a strong visual and less copy. These tend to garner stronger results. Simply click “boost this post” within FB’s native app. If you’re on a tight budget, start small and select as wide an audience as possible. The more narrow your audience, the more difficult it will be to see results, especially with a small budget.
  17. If your audience resides largely on LinkedIn, under Admin Tools select “Sponsor your updates.” When you create a campaign you’ll be asked to set up your audience. LinkedIn allows you to get very granular in your targeting, but don’t be too specific. The more specific you get, the smaller the audience. Also, be sure to select the LinkedIn Audience Network to reach more people and get stronger results.
  18. Your audience doesn’t care about your product features, they care about what it can do for them. Focus on the customer benefits in your social posts and you’ll improve your CTR.
  19. Managing your brand’s social media presence is no longer a side project but a core component of your sales and marketing strategy. If you don’t have a dedicated team member who can take on this responsibility, consider hiring someone who can. [Read: 8 Tips to Maximize the ROI of Your Social Media Manager]
  20. Pay attention to the competition – somewhat. It’s easy to stalk your competitors’ social media channels, and yeah, we all do it. But don’t get stuck down a rabbit hole of trying to emulate everything another business is doing. For every hour you spend checking in with those profiles, spend five hours building up your own.
  21. Want to gain your audience’s trust? Provide value: Instead of just promoting yourself all the time, share tips, hacks, news, and educational information. Not only will this position you as a subject matter expert, but it will help you gain your audience’s trust, and that leads to long-term loyalty. [Watch the 60-second video now]
  22. Your employees are your greatest untapped resource. Did you know that just a 12% increase in brand advocacy can generate twice the revenue? Yep. Using an advocacy platform like Bambu by Sprout can help you keep your brand guidelines intact while giving your employees the ability to talk about you to their followers. [Read5 Reasons Your Brand Needs an Advocacy Program – and How To Do It]
  23. Social media monitoring can tell you what consumers are saying about your brand. Search by keywords and hashtags and check out your competitors’ social media feeds for ideas on how to reach out to and connect with your core audience.
  24. Social media listening is not the same as monitoring. Listening tells you how consumers really feel about your brand. It goes beyond your own social feeds to take a pulse on the industry, your brand’s health and the sentiment of your brand within the industry. This can help you discover new opportunities for reaching your audience and connecting on a deeper level (Shout out to Sprout Social for this one).
  25. Respond to every review your business receives. Good, bad, ugly or indifferent, these are key opportunities for you to connect with your audience. (Get more tips on responding to customer reviews here.)
  26. Use your manners. Welcome new followers, follow back appropriate handles. The followers with the smallest audience today could very well be the key influencers of tomorrow. If you want to position yourself as a thought leader, you’ll need to pay attention to those who are looking to you already for information.
  27. Say thank you to followers who engage with you or your content. This is no different than in real life if someone congratulates you, compliments you or is always speaking highly of you to their own peers. Make sure they see that you notice and appreciate the effort.
  28. If you’re unsure about jumping into social media, start with listening. Spend a few weeks just paying attention to conversations, following hashtags, watching how competitors and other companies approach social media and taking notes. [Read5 Tips for Getting Your Small Business Social Media Up to Speed]
  29. Get in the habit of checking your scheduled social posts for the day – Every. Single. Morning. Did anything happen in the news that might change the way your audience perceives a message? Is there a holiday that your post might interrupt? Are the hashtags you’ve chosen still relevant? When scheduling a series of posts, it’s easy to miss a holiday or forget about an event. Checking your feed every morning will help you catch anything that should be edited or removed before it gets published. (Get 5 tips for managing social media during a crisis.)
  30. 63% of customers expect companies to offer customer support via social media. Use a tool like Sprout Social to ensure you see every customer question, comment, and message. Treat each of these as you would a phone call to your customer service department. Failing to respond in a timely manner (within 24 hours is a must) is akin to simply not answering the phone or putting them on permanent hold. Bye-bye customer! (Read The Art of Client Service.)
  31. If you’re managing a social media profile that receives the same questions over and over (i.e. what are your hours, do you have a gluten-free menu, etc.) set up a chatbot. Not only will this provide faster responses to your customers but it will also free up your time considerably while still allowing you to step into the conversation if necessary.
  32. Now that you’ve got some followers, what will you do with them? Offering small giveaways can help to keep followers loyal. Create a simple register-to-win offer and give away something small, a gas card, for example. Online tools like Woobox make it easy to set up sweepstakes that people can enter via your social media company page. [Read: CYA: 5 Rules for Running a Social Media Sweepstakes]
  33. “LinkedIn and Twitter are for business, Facebook and Instagram are for consumers.” It’s just not that simple any more. Determine who your audience is, what information they need, and what the path to purchase looks like. Your customers might start with Twitter and move to Facebook before reaching out. That means you need to share thought leadership on Twitter to build awareness and more specific information on Facebook that will convert leads to customers.
  34. If you want to grow your social media audience, look to non-competitive companies. Partner with other local businesses to leverage their audience of like-minded consumers. You’ll build trust and grow your own audience in the process [Here’s proof].
  35. The voice of your brand on social media should match the look and feel of your company’s identity. Create a visual identity for your brand: If your page’s logo, header, graphics, and messaging have a cohesive look and voice, your audience will instantly recognize your posts in their feed.
  36. As the human attention span continues to shrink, highly visual content will increase the odds of your posts catching users’ eyes. Use animated visuals, short videos, and graphs of compelling stats to stop the scroll and earn higher click-thru rates.
  37. Stop ignoring small accounts. Seriously. Not sure which accounts and followers to follow back? We’ve heard conflicting advice on this for 10 years now. Through our own trial and error and lots of spying on accounts and influencers with the largest following, we can safely assure you that you should not base your decision on the number of followers an account has. The people with the smallest following right now oftentimes will end up being your most engaged and influential followers. The best reasons not to follow someone back are because they’re an egg (no profile photo), they have never posted or engaged (a quick check of their profile feed will tell you this), or their content or bio is not a match (meaning they are not interested in your industry and have no knowledge to pass on).
  38. Humanize your brand: No one wants to feel like they’re being sold to, so using a friendly, conversational tone in your social media presence will make followers more likely to engage (yes, you’ve heard this one, but I can’t stress it enough).
  39. Give sneak peeks: Share behind-the-scenes content that shows the inner workings of your business, as it will increase trust and make your audience feel like they’re getting a special insider benefit of being connected with you on social media.
  40. Use a social media management tool to schedule posts, compile analytics reports, and curate content from outside sources. We love Sprout Social for its intuitive interface and loads of extra perks! If you’re not sure you have the budget for it, work with a Sprout-certified agency partner; we have access to the entire suite of tools so you can get more for your budget than if you work alone.
  41. Use A/B testing to test small variations in the copy or design of different forms of content or ads to see which get the best results. Remember that in order to run a clean test, only a single element should change. For example, if you want to test two different CTA’s (Learn More vs Read Now, for example), be sure that everything else in the two versions is exactly the same.
  42. Every time you publish a new piece of content, go back to the previously published content and add links to the new piece, then share both the older content and the new across your social media profiles. You’ll get more traffic and improve your SEO ranking.
  43. The sheer amount of content on the internet makes it virtually impossible to be unique. The only way to stand apart from all the noise is to put your own spin on a thought or topic. Many times, our clients simply don’t know what they know. It takes a great interviewer to pull out unique, compelling information. Interview a subject matter expert for a unique angle or approach. [Read: 9 Interview Tips for High-Quality Content]
  44. Work to create “evergreen” content – that is, content that has a longer shelf life. This way you can share it continually and use these posts to fill in the blank spaces on your editorial calendar.
  45. Audit the content you share on social media and think about what other formats you might be able to create from your existing library. Is a particularly long blog post chock-full of stats? That’s a great recipe for a visually-appealing infographic. Is a compelling statistic the cornerstone for an article? Use it to create an animated gift that will get noticed in the social feed and drive to your website.
  46. Encourage and share user-generated content, as it’s essentially free material for you to use to promote your brand and will likely inspire others in your audience to do the same. (Read Sprout Social’s UGC Guide here.)
  47. Be strategic about when you schedule posts. Test different days of the week and times of day to see which earn the highest impressions and engagements. Keep in mind that every audience is different, what works for one audience or one platform might not work for all.
  48. Consumers trust the advice and recommendations of their friends and family over that of brands, so look for followers that are highly engaged. With advanced listening tools, you can quickly pinpoint potential brand advocates. What do you do with those advocates?
  49. Start with a reactive post. Reactive posts are custom social posts that target a specific follower or tap into a current newsworthy event. If you want to grab the attention of an influential follower, create a customized social post that mentions them. Take it a step further by creating a custom visual that incorporates their profile image or likeness.
  50. Go beyond social. The most successful marketing strategies or those that are able to blur the lines between the online and offline world. Send your most influential followers a swag bag or a branded gift as a thank you for being so engaged. You’re likely to receive high praise via social that will increase your brand’s trust factor and create more opportunities that impact your bottom line.

We’ve been crafting and testing social media strategies for 10 years now. Still, you won’t ever hear us refer to ourselves as “gurus.” What we are is passionate about social media and curious about the latest trends and insights. What works for your brand might be something tried and true, something cutting edge or a combination of the two. If you’re having trouble seeing the results or unsure how to get started, let’s chat! Conversations are free of charge!

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