The social media marketing world is about as complicated or as simple as you want it to be—no really, it is. You can spend your days analyzing the exact share ratios of each and every post, trying to reduce the variables down to one clear indicator, then piece those indicators together to make “perfect” posts in the future—or you could just express your thoughts sincerely and try to connect with others.
This may sound like I’m downplaying the importance of serious analysis in social media; I assure you I’m not. Analysis and painstaking approaches to content creation are beneficial, even important, but they’re useless unless you have the fundamentals down. At its core, social media marketing is a simple idea, but too many people neglect the fundamentals and wind up with ineffective campaigns no matter how much effort they put in otherwise. These are some of the most commonly neglected fundamentals I’ve seen:
Completing your profile should be the first thing you do on any social media platform. Why? Because that’s where users go to learn about you. It’s where they go to see your mission, your values, and practical information like your hours and location. Plus, third party review and directory sites often crawl social media platforms to find this information—if it’s missing here, it will be missing there. Besides, it’s fast, easy, and it’s literally only one step—you do it once, and you usually don’t have to do it again, ever. So why do I see so many company and organization pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other platforms with missing information? Don’t become one of these people.
“Regular” here refers to both frequency and consistency. You don’t have to post on a constant basis, but you do have to feed your users enough material to keep them interested, especially if you want them to stick around with you for the long term. Think about it—would you subscribe to a newspaper that only came out with one issue a month (ignore magazines here)? What about a newspaper that only showed up at your house half the time you expected it to? Be consistent in your posting, and be sure to fill your newsfeed with fresh material.
If you have multiple people running the campaign, this can be difficult, but try to align all your team members under a single, comprehensive vision. Otherwise, your account will come off as schizophrenic and difficult to follow. Furthermore, your unique voice should be crafted along industry lines—what do your target demographics want to see and hear in a brand? What are your competitors doing? Don’t copy your competitors or alter your voice to the point that it seems contrived, but think carefully about your tone and vocabulary.
Consistency is important, but don’t go overboard. If people see too many versions of what’s essentially the same thing on your newsfeed, they’re going to leave you. For example, if you only post an update when you publish a new article, eventually your newsfeed is going to look repetitive, on the brink of mechanical. Post articles, images, videos, quizzes, and share content that others have posted. Keep your timeline fresh and varied.
Yes, social media is a tool to help you earn more customers and more sales, but don’t use it like an advertising megaphone. People don’t use Facebook and Twitter because they wanted to be advertised to, and if they see an endless run of ads and sales-y messages on your newsfeed, they’re going to leave you in favor of a brand that posts more intrinsically valuable content. You can post sales and promotions occasionally, but as a general rule, less self-promotion is better.
It’s easy to lose sight of your audience, especially when you have hundreds to thousands of followers. It’s tempting to view your “audience” as one lump sum, an aggregate of people, rather than the individuals they are. Resist this conception, instead prioritizing your engagement with individuals directly. There are many ways to do this, including sharing or commenting on content your users have posted, or getting involved in a group discussion on another page or user profile.
The “social” piece of social media should be a dead giveaway—social media marketing is all about conversation, and conversations are two-way. When a user reaches out to you, with a comment, criticism, question, or response, it’s your job to respond to them. Even a passive acknowledgment, like a “like” or a retweet, will suffice. Without these regular responses and interactions, your followers will lose interest outright.
The social world doesn’t stand still for long, so why should you? There are always new trends, new platforms, and new strategies to try out and accordingly, old strategies tend to die off in rotation. You owe it to your followers and to your brand to stay up-to-date with the latest best practices and keep your brand moving forward. You don’t have to go crazy, but you can’t be afraid to experiment—and you certainly can’t be afraid to change.
These are the fundamentals of social media marketing that you can’t neglect—at least not if you want your campaign to be successful. The rest—the type of audience you target, the type of content you choose, the platforms you leverage—are important considerations, but are still secondary to capturing the essence of an effective social marketing campaign. Remember the “social” element, and keep your followers at the heart of everything you do.