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April 24, 2015

Social Media Tips, Tricks and Best Practices from the Pros

Image courtesy of (jscreationzs)/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I was recently asked to head up and participate in an event to help business owners learn how to more effectively run their businesses.  I gathered a list of more than two dozen questions for the event as a way of preparing myself and the other panelists. If you’re looking to understand many of the important issues in social media, then this article is for you. It will provide 24 questions that social media professionals are asked every day. So let’s get started.

1. Why is the use of social networks important for my business?

  • Social network connections, posts, shares, comments and page viewsare all used as ways that search enginesrank your company’s website for organic search.
  • Social Medianetworks are an ideal way to connect and engage your following/audience. It is bi-directional, works 24/7, and allows you to provide positive messages.
  • It is the perfect place for your loyal customers to sing your praises and provide highly visible testimonials.
  • It is a live and viral form of word-of-mouth marketingthat knows few borders or language barriers. It can give you global scope.
  • It is a great place and way to build your brand (social branding).

2. How can I best grow a following?

  • The best way to grow a following/audience is provide your audience with what they want and invite as many to following as is allowed by the different social networks.
  • Consistent inviting is a must-do on a daily basis.
  • Providing quality contenton a daily basis is just as important as inviting.
Courtesy of socialstrand.com

Courtesy of socialstrand.com

3. What kind of content should I be post?

  • There are two types of content: Curated and Authoritative content. Curated pertains to content created by others that you share. Authoritative content is content that you create and publish.
  • Your content must be of high quality that is focused loosely on your industry. It must be useful, informative, and/or entertaining in the eyes of your following.
  • Minimize any kind of sales pitch. Coupons can work if they’re provided in a meaningful way, as in a contest or a rewards program. These are best shared by your customers versus your posts.

4. Which content receives the most interactions?

  • Quality content that is visual in nature is the strongest. Videos are the top draw, followed by pictures, then audio, and lastly text.

5. How often should I post to my social media accounts?

  • This often determined by four factors. First, how many followers do you have? The more followers you have, the shorter the time span your post will sit above the fold on your page.
  • Second, how much quality content you have? Authoritative content is considered much better that curated in this matter and is more highly valued.
  • Third, if you have a nice sized following and If you have high-quality content, few will begrudge your post, even if you’re posting often (even 10 times a day).
  • The rules and policies of the particular network also come into play here.  Some groups and networks have specific rules for how often you can post. Also keep in mind that all four of these rules work in conjunction together.

6. How can I discover what kind of content my clients like?

  • Test to see what they like.
  • Check out what leaders in your industry are posting.
  • Ask them to find out what they like.
  • Do a search and find out what the hot topics are in your industry.

7. How much time does it take to manage a social media account?

Courtesy of www.slideshare.net

Courtesy of www.slideshare.net

  • You will spend about an hour a day if you’re very disciplined and you’re using aggregation software such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, or Buffer, that allows you to create automated and scheduled content post.
  • If you’re creating authoritative content (i.e., blogging), this will take about two to four hours a week for creating, publishing and distributing your content.

8. How do I know if I should follow a person back?

  • First, you should do some vetting of anyone you follow back. You need to check them out
  • Do they have a complete profile and are they connected to many of your friends and colleagues?
  • Ask a friend who they are and what they’re like.
  • Look at what they’re posting, their pictures, their likes and dislikes. If you’re on Facebook you can’t see this information until after you connect with them. If you don’t like what you see then, disconnect!
  • If you can’t fully vet them, you have to make a decision as to how safe they are. For example, If I don’t know you and can’t see your profile, I won’t follow you.

9. How quickly should you follow someone once they have followed you?

  • Once I have vetted them, I try to follow back people and companies as soon as possible. I work at it every day.

10. Where can I find good content to post to my social accounts?

  • Good content can be easily found by doing a search on the subject of interest.
  • Use pharses such as: “articles on …” “blogs on …” “images on …” “latest news on… ” “what’s trending on …
  • It’s a good idea to create a Google Alert on the subjects you’re interested in and have the emails sent to a specific folder for future use.
  • You will stumble onto useful content daily when reading any online magazine or newsfeed.

11. How do you handle negative comments or posts on your social nets?

  • You need to handle negative comments immediately.
  • Address the commenter in a positive way and try to take the conversation offline as soon as possible.
  • Try to resolve the commenter’s issues as quickly as possible. Failing to resolve their issues will lead to more costs and more negative stains on your reputation that cannot be easily removed in any way!

12. Can you make too many daily social posts?

Yes, it is possible to post too often, especially if it’s one these types of posts:

  • TMI – Too much information about personal stuff, religion, politics, sexist remarks, cursing, racist remarks, etc.  Most subscribers don’t want lots of controversy or TMI on your personal life and no one likes rude behavior.
  • Be nice, be liked and follow the rules your grandmother taught you about getting along with others. Don’t hog the site.
  • Sales pitches – Commercials, the latest and greatest announcement of your great product or service etc. Remember, no one ever joined a social network to be sold to!

13. Is reposting something you’ve already posted a good idea?

  • It’s OK to repost/recycle any high-quality content.
  • The more evergreen the content the better.
  • Changing your curated comments also help.
  • Changing the time of days helps as well.

14. What is the best way to test and measure your results in social media?

  • Testing and measuring should be integral to your social media marketing. Don’t rely on your beliefs, rely on the facts as they show up.
  • The least expensive way is to use the built-in analytic tools that come in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, YouTube and your blog.
  • Third, you can use Google Analytics to measure social traffic. You have to take the time to do this right. I recommend using a Google-certified pro, or if you have an Adwords account, get a Google rep to help you.
  • Fourth, there are many third party products that can help. These range anywhere from nearly free to high-end, consolidated agency tools designed to track all your social transactions.

15. Is having the exact same post go out to all of your social nets a good idea?

  • Yes, although it is not ideal. This is especially true if none of your social nets are sharing posts with your other social nets.
  • Also, if you have multiple accounts on the same network, make sure you are following yourself.
  • Ideally, each post should be formatted for each particular social network. Each social platform has different rules, and restrictions on how long a post can be, so you must stay within the most common denominator of characters, pics, URLs, etc., which you’re allowed to post.
  • If all your posts are formatted for Twitter, you give up the advantage that Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn provides for you. You’re restricting yourself to only 140 characters, whereas other social networks allow you many more characters.

16. Should I engage in pay-per- click advertising in social media?

  • You need to test to see if pay per click is cost-effective for your business. First, determine a test budget, create several ad copy messages, then run the ads and see what happens.
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Courtesy of www.socialmediaelearning.co.uk

  • Your success will be determined by your skill at producing compelling ad copy, selecting the right target audience, finding the right bid rate to get your message out at the right time, and have your bid provide you with the right number of viewers to create an impact.
  • We use social media as a test bed for keywords and ad message before testing in pay per click in search, because it’s generally less expensive. However, your results could be totally different from platform to platform and costs will vary greatly as well.

17. Should keywords be used in my social post?

  • Yes, whenever possible. However, your post needs to use natural language and not come across as artificial in any way. It’s more important to have good content then to insert artificially selected keywords.

18. Which keywords do I choose for my social post?

  • The keywords will be related to your subject matter, your industry and your audience.
  • Never force keywords into a post if they’re not directly related to your subject.
  • Never try and trick people into clicking on something that it is not!

19. What are the best social networks to join?

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  • This depends on several factors. We like being in the top five (largest) social networks: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. We also like using Blogger because it is owned by Google and it can also create its own audience.
  • If you sell a physical product, being in a visual social network can also be important. These include Instagram, Pinterest, Picasa and YouTube, where posting pictures and videos work best.

20. What are Groups? Should I join them?

  • Groups are forum-like communities that are part of many of the social networks. Essentially, they’re groups of like-minded individuals and business that have signed up to participate in sharing content of various types (ideas, articles, podcast, videos, questions, etc.).
  • Each group has its own rules and moderators based on the goals of the group’s founders.  In most cases, you can share content and questions in a group you’re a member of, as long as you follow the group’s rules.
  • The benefit of a group is you can share content and ideas with these people and businesses without directly being connected to them (except as part of the group),that is, you’re not directly following alll the individuals within the group. This gives you access to thousands of connections without having built thousands of followers.

21. How do I sell on social media?

  • Three ways to sell on social media. The best way is to have your happy customers sing your praises by posting their testimonials for you in the news feed. These posts can be recycled in other social networks as well.
  • Second, you can use pay per click in most social networks. It can be used to drive traffic to websites, landing pages, or even to Fan pages that eCommerce built into them.
  • You can have contests, use coupons, and also create a loyalty program that allows visitors to take advantage of these social elements. Again, it’s always best if your customers are sharing these contests and coupons for you instead of you pushing them out.

22. Is it hard to run a contest on social media?

  • Running a contest on social media depends on the network you’re using. Facebook has
Courtesy of Tub King's Blog

Courtesy of Tub King’s Blog

  • A contest can be as simple as using Facebook’s approved verbiage, posting a picture and then asking people to post a caption for the picture. Then create a random drawing for the winner and announce it on Facebook.
  • It could also be more sophisticated; for example, using an approved Facebook app that allows mobile scratch-off games with lots of prizes, odds and controlled entry methods. These contests allow you to easily capture participants’ contact information and then have share their participation on their time like.

23. How much does it cost to have an outsourced company manage a single social network?

  • The prices I have seen are as low as $100 a month for a single network from a stay-at- home business, to $1,000 a month from a big name agency.
  • It’s important to note there are vast differences between what each vendor provides as a social media management program. Ask if they include setup, provide guaranteed organic growth, user engagement, how many daily posts are provided, is research provided, is curating provided, etc. In other words, is it turnkey or do you have to provide approved content?  Lastly, ask how much content and engagement is included.

24. What tools should I use when managing my social media?

  • The most common product used today is HootSuite. It is an aggregator application that
  • There are literally hundreds of these applications. Do a search for social media management tools and you will find lots of them. They will range from free to thousands of dollars a month, and will allow you to manage from one to hundreds of social accounts and team members.

25. Should every company have a social media policy in place?

  • Any company with more than one employee should have a social media policy.  It needs to address a lot of issues, like when can they be used, how they can be used, what can be said about the company and its employees. Also whether or not employees can promote the company without authorization, can social media be used personally and several dozen other important items. Most small companies (under 50 employees) don’t have (but need) a social media policy.

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Hector Cisneros is the president and COO for W Squared Media Group LLC. A digital Marketing Agency in the N.E. Florida Area. He is also the co-host of the BlogTalkRadio Show Working The Web To Win. W Squared Media also does Business as Working The Web To Win online and in Florida.

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