Businesses and professionals who haven’t recently re-evaluated their social media policies may want to pause before hitting “enter” on that next tweet.
While social media remain a strong platform to get out the word on business news and ideas, the ever-increasing number of business social media users and social media websites means getting one message heard amid a sea of posts is a growing challenge.
Savvy social-media professionals keep track of what’s working and what’s not so they can continually hone their online efforts to attract the greatest audience, find the right audience and at the right time. They also said to respect your time and your audience’s time by not flooding your sites with posts and, depending on the medium, to limit purely business-related posts.
“The key skill is to be able to evaluate what is working,” said Andrew Stanten, president of Altitude Marketing in Emmaus. “What do things that have a lot of likes have in common?”
Stanten said one lesson learned with the evolution of social media marketing is that sometimes less is more.
In the earlier days of social media marketing, many businesses and professionals had a policy of posting on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as frequently as possible to keep their name or brand on the top of everyone’s feeds.
But that can come off more like spamming someone’s newsfeed than an effort to maintain contact.
“The worst practice I see from companies is when they feel the need to post 15 times a day because someone told them to do that 10 years ago,” Stanten said.
Joe Iacovella, director of account services for Lehigh Mining & Navigation in Bethlehem, said with so many channels of communication available and so many opportunities to connect, a social media strategy needs to be more focused.
“What you need is a content strategy that aligns with your customer’s goals,” Iacovella said.
Stanten said the person handling a company’s social media should make sure any content is relevant to the audience the company is trying to reach.
Also, it shouldn’t be too commercial. He said the 80/20 rule still applies, which means 80 percent of posts should be social and only 20 percent dealing with a promotion or that is directly about the business.
“If a company is pushing their product or pushing how great they are, that gets stale really quickly,” Stanten said.
Iacovella said adding pictures or video of things a potential customer might find amusing is one good way to get attention for a brand.
“Social media is almost all about engagement,” Iacovella said.
Stanten gave an example of how one firm used the death of boxing legend Muhammad Ali to – tastefully – promote its software by using it to create a chart tracking Ali’s fighting career.
He said the firm was able to show what it could do while posting a tribute to the sports hero that people wanted to view and share.
Jenna Tucker, business and public relations manager for boutique home goods manufacturer Eric & Christopher LLC in Perkasie, said tapping into public sentiment is a good way to gain traction online.
She said she was inspired by a popular internet video to create and promote a product for her firm to sell. She also tied in the promotion with a donation to charity to give people more reason to like and share her posts – and maybe even buy her company’s products.
She said the timing of the posts was as important as the content.
“When you’re dealing with social media people, you have just a few seconds to get their attention,” Tucker said.
If she had waited too long, the viral nature of her promotion would have faded and she wouldn’t have gotten as strong a response, she said.
News and information relevant to a given industry also are good for gaining social media attention, Stanten said.
“You’re showing thought leadership,” he said.
That material can be either blogs or articles written in-house or reposted from other news and information websites.
Iacovella said social media strategy also has to have a firm grasp not just of what is posted but where.
“Our time is limited,” he said. “There’s only so many channels you can read at any given time.”
He said a major mistake he sees companies make is feeling they have to engage in every new social media technology that comes out.
“They say, ‘Oh, Periscope is out there now. We have to do that,’ ” Iacovella said. “But in the rush to keep up, is anyone thinking about ‘what we’re communicating.’ ”
Stanten said with so many social media sites, social media managers should research to find out which sites are most compatible with which industries.
For example, Pinterest – a content sharing service that allows members to “pin” images, videos and other objects to their pinboard – might not be the best site to promote a business to business oriented company.
“People like to go to Pinterest to get new ideas,” Stanten said.
So a consumer-oriented business, particularly in fields such as interior decorating or floral design, would find a strong audience there.
Stanten said sites such as LinkedIn are good for promoting business ideas and networking.
Sites such as Facebook, Iacovella said, are almost completely about enjoyment, but it’s a good place to build social connections for a business or professional.
Tucker said Twitter is a good way to spread a message to a wider audience.
Marking a tweet with hashtagged keywords gets people interested in that subject to your post, whether or not they know you.
“I use hashtags to get people to help share my story,” she said.
Caution needs to be used when trying to drum up social media supporters.
Stanten noted that if a promotion isn’t targeted at the right geographic – social or economic – a page might get followers not interested in or accessible to the business.
Those followers would not be actively engaged on sites such as Facebook, which tracks the views a post gets.
That, it turn, might mean a company’s posts are pushed out to fewer users because it appears there is no interest.