With all of the professionals, gurus and ninjas out there pontificating about social media and how to best utilize all of the different channels, it’s a daunting task to have to generate a social media strategy for your company. Not only are there a million people claiming to be social media “experts,” but you could choke a horse with all the conflicting information floating around. For example, Social Media Today published an article in October 2012 that claimed that, “Wednesdays are worst,” for posting on Facebook, but an article published in May 2012 by Mashable claims that Wednesday at 3pm is the best time during the week to post on Facebook.
I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve been on Facebook since 2004 and I’ve tweeted over 4,700 times on my personal Twitter account. From Pinterest to Myspace, you name a social network and at the very least I’ve played around on it, if not spent an inordinate amount of time clicking away, discovering the abilities of each channel. Professionally, I’ve been employed in social media roles since graduating college in 2009 and I’ve worked with major B2B corporations, non-profits and local mom-and-pop shops.
Even though my clients and jobs have shifted and social media continues to evolve, there has been one lesson I’ve learned about social media marketing that has always remained true: Get to know your audience and their behavior. Maybe Wednesday is the best day for your company to post on Facebook. Maybe your fans like your company’s status updates but doesn’t interact much when you share links to your company’s blog. Maybe your followers are prone to responding to tweets in the early evening rather than midday.
Going forward, I recommend taking all of the information you read about social media with a grain of salt because the best practices for your company’s social networks come from monitoring your target audience’s behaviors. Keep in mind that social media is just that – social. Just like in a non-digital setting, a virtual social experience should be fun and engaging. Also, just like in the offline world, all social groups are different. The crowd who follows, likes and interacts with your business on social networks is going to differ from those who connect with another company in an entirely different industry.
My advice is to observe your social channels, experiment with different content types and posting times, and generate your social media strategy based on your key metrics. Remember – a social media strategy is a living, breathing document that needs to evolve as your audiences’ preferences change, so make sure you’re keeping your finger on the pulse to yield the best results.