guide for social media management

You’d be hard-pressed to find a brand that’s not on social media these days. However, not all of them are doing it well. There are a lot of moving parts to social media management, and platforms are constantly evolving. Staying at the forefront of social media management takes determination, focus, and consistency.

The thing is – there’s no magic formula for your brand’s social media success. In other words, social media management is no “set it, and forget it” endeavor. What worked last year or last month won’t necessarily translate to clicks or views today.

The purpose of this guide to social media management is to help you reassess your approach. After all, social media management shouldn’t feel chaotic. Nor should your brand always feel like you’re behind the curve. Destressing and organizing your processes will parlay into thoughtful and timely messaging that hits your targets with precision.

To get you rethinking your brand’s social media management, we’ll touch on the following topics and platform-specific approaches:

  • Best social media practices
  • How to attract followers
  • How to engage with your followers
  • Create thought-provoking social media posts
  • The importance of planning
  • Getting the best out of Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok

Before we get rolling, here are a few stats uncovered in Hootsuite’s Global State of Digital 2021 to get your social media management gears turning:

  • 8% of internet users worldwide searched social media for brand information in 2020.
  • Instagram saw 43% growth in traffic last year and boasts 1.2 billion monthly users, of which only 30% are above the age of 35 years old.
  • The number of global social media users has increased by one billion over the past three years. The total number of social media users worldwide now stands at 4.2 billion, of which 13% were added last year alone.

With that, let’s jump in and take a look at some best practices.

Best Social Media Management Practices

Let’s face it – social media platforms are sources of content overload by design. Without a cohesive plan to execute your brand vision, it’s easy to find yourself carried away by the torrent of distractions vying for your attention.

If your approach to social media management feels like it’s driving you, then it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate your methods.

Set overarching goals for your social media approach that are both measurable and attainable. Perform a social media audit on your brand, so you have current social media brand health benchmarks established that illuminate where you are right now.

And that’s important because if your overall net sentiment is 19% like this brand, you need to know where your negative mentions are hemorrhaging. Otherwise, all the lovely posts in the world might not reach the audience with the problem.

Major alternative meat brand struggling with negative mentions this month.

Major alternative meat brand struggling with negative mentions this month.

Of course, you should measure the platform-specific metrics across each social media site where your brand has a presence. However, using social listening tools to aggregate your mentions, net sentiment, etc., into a bird’s eye view offers you a holistic view of your brand’s share of voice online.

Measuring these values over time is a powerful method in understanding the areas that should be a priority to your brand. It helps to augment your brand’s social media management focus since you are keenly aware of your pain points and where you’re crushing it.

Additionally, depending on the resources available to your brand, without adequate time, staff and funding, it can be enormously challenging to do every social media platform well. If your brand’s social media management feels like it’s coming apart at the seams, it’s okay to dial back on the number of platforms that your brand engages in.

Pick the top platforms that are absolute must-haves and focus on them until your messaging and engagement are watertight. That way, you’re doing your brand and your consumers the most justice. You don’t have to jump into every platform just because they exist. Get good at two or three, and then add another. Wash, rinse, and repeat.

That’s because each social media platform is different and takes time to get to know what will work best with your consumers. The content you put out on TikTok might be met with crickets chirping on Facebook. That said, vary your content to suit each of your audiences across various platforms.

It indicates that your brand has a good grasp of what audiences are looking for and that you’re not lazily posting the same picture on six platforms. Variety is the spice of life, and ideally, you’d like a social media user to follow you across multiple platforms. You must give them a reason to do so, though. Mix up your content, so you’re always offering something fresh.

With your brand’s social media presence, it’s far better to do a few platforms well than to do all of them poorly. Align your brand messaging with the strengths of the platforms your brand inhabits, and don’t be afraid to mix it up.

Get playful on TikTok, form a branded community with Facebook Groups, and offer tips and giveaways through your Instagram stories. Showcase your brand’s human side while getting out your messaging, and consumers will flock to your brand for a breath of fresh air.

That said, let’s talk about followers in further detail.

How to Attract Social Media Followers

Attracting new followers to your brand’s social feeds should be at the core of your social media management strategy. It’s a logical desire for any brand online but one that still trips up many brands. Why is that?

Well, if we’re honest, many brands’ social feeds are just abysmally dull. They suffer from the same old recycled content and “look at me” messaging. They forget the “social” in social media.

There must be variety in your social media content to keep users interested in the first place. Secondly, you must get your consumers involved in the narrative that you create. Once you’ve created an engaging and thought-provoking social feed, then you’ll have the perfect climate to grow your follower count.

And using social listening to find where users are already talking about your brand is a great way to discover and address consumers’ concerns with your brand. Here, for example, is where social users are talking about Instant Pot over the past month. Obviously, Reddit is a goldmine for audience discussions that could be used to create targeted messaging.

5/24/21-6/24/21. Top domains where social users are discussing Instant Pot.

5/24/21-6/24/21. Top domains where social users are discussing Instant Pot.

But that’s not all it takes, however. Consistency is king when you buckle down and decide to make growing your followers a top priority. You might have the best messaging in the world, but if you’re not consistent, then your new follows will slow to a trickle.

Realistically, brands that have mediocre content can outperform less consistent brands with better content. It’s a balancing act between creativity and consistency in your posting schedule that will ramp up your brand follows.

Spend time dialing on post frequency that most resonates with your followers. Too much or too little in the frequency department, and you’ll induce apathy. Use your social listening tools to measure your traction and adjust your post count until you find your sweet spot.

After all, word of mouth or shares is what you’re after. People trust other’s opinions far more than they do a brand, so essentially your followers are validating your content. That’s what you’re after.

Therefore, it’s better to put out a daily post of quality content that engages your followers than it is to post ten times a day where no one is paying attention.

And to really ramp up traction and engagement, focus on giving back. Give four times and ask once. Use your social listening and data analytics tools to uncover relevant insights and information and share that in your posts. Become a source of new and exciting intel, and your followers will reward your brand for providing value.

The thing is, your brand is probably already using social listening and market research to uncover emerging trends. As such, your brand is sitting on a goldmine of data waiting to share with your audience. Consumers love data and statistics, so use the intel you uncover to create content that leaves your followers feeling better informed.

How to Engage with Your Social Media Followers

Consumers have an array of brands to choose from and if you want to stand out, make sure your brand is showing its human side. That’s what social is all about. And you can do this by partnering brand storytelling with social listening to find new stories to share with your followers.

Additionally, sharing the stories of your consumers and generating UGC is a great practice to incorporate in your social feeds as well.

That’s because story is an innate part of being human. It’s built into who we are and what drives our curiosity and interest. Highlight your brand history, where you came from, and where you’re going.

There’s so much more that brands can do with their social media messaging than saying “buy our stuff.” Story drives engagement and keeps users’ interest. Talk about your investments in areas that tie into social narratives and emerging trends. Create conversations around influential people working within your brand and how they’re contributing to the industry’s growth at large.

It’s easy for brands to appear like robotic product pushers and ignore the stories that are surrounding them. Generate human interest posts or themes from your social listening research and from your followers too. Find the subjects that get them talking and collect that information to feature.

And don’t forget to engage with your users in the comments. So many brands neglect this, and it’s such low-hanging fruit. Your users will notice and appreciate the fact you take the time to engage with them on a personal level.

That’s just the thing – social media is relational, meaning it’s give and take. Users don’t want to feel like they’re being sold to every time they interact with your brand. Of course, they understand that your product or service is the common denominator in the relationship, but providing added value through human interest stories can take your brand’s social feeds to a whole new level.

Create Thought-Provoking Social Media Posts

There’s a lot of yawn-inducing social media content coming from brands these days, and that doesn’t have to be the case. If that’s due to being spread thin across too many social media platforms, we’ve discussed how to address this.

It’s a tough job running a brand, no matter how small it is. And what seems to be the case most often is that the corporate messaging becomes a one-way mirror. But that doesn’t leave social media users much to look forward to. After all, if you’ve seen one dull product feed, you’ve seen them all.

Therefore, brands have to work to see things from the audience’s perspective. That’s why social media listening exists. Use it.

Brands on the edge of innovation aren’t getting their messaging ideas from a search engine. They’re actively retooling their thought processes in consideration of shifting consumer perception.

You should be doing that with your products and with your social media presence as well. That’s where an understanding of consumer behavior in tandem with an up-to-date awareness of emerging trends will serve you well in producing social media content that stands out above the drone of business as usual.

Again, there’s no magic formula for the relationship between human behavior and emerging consumer trends. But awareness of both allows you to dance between the two while being both unique and relevant.

For example, certain things like video, photos, and visualized data will always resonate with audiences more than a wall of text. That’s because human beings developed image processing as a safety measure long before we learned how to read and write.

However, emerging trends are a new way of looking at the world around us. New ideas are born and adopted. These, of course, make their way into the world of business as brands produce new technologies and reflect shifts in consumer opinion.

All that to say, you want your social media posts to show you are paying attention to emerging trends that matter to your audience. And you can do that with video segments or a series of posts that raise awareness of your brand and the areas of interest within your industry that intersect with emerging trends.

Again, your brand should already be using social listening and data analytics tools to understand your brand positioning. As such, leverage the data you’ve uncovered to help your audience better understand the world they live in.

For example, supply chain issues are an extreme pain point the world over right now. Showcase how that’s impacting your industry and what your brand is doing about it. Craft a four-part video series and roll it out over a week.

Use your other social channels to speak to your intentions and become a conversation starter known for raising awareness. You’re already digging up all this information – use it in your content. It’s interesting!

The Importance of Planning

You don’t have to have your social media posts lined up six months out, but your social media management strategy should include a plan for every point throughout the year. And that looks different for every brand.

Planning a strategic approach to the year allows you to approach each quarter knowing your objectives and the key dates and themes you’d like to hit along the way. You’re probably already lining up posts beforehand to publish at certain times, and that’s great.

Having a plan in place, especially as you hit strategic points throughout the year, will give you the room to craft posts that are thoughtful and relevant to the social climate. And having your posts lined up in advance will also leave you a lot more room for flexibility for when newsworthy events pop out of nowhere.

That way, you can craft a post that speaks to the event without a hitch. So, if you’re in the middle of a marketing campaign or giveaway, you’re not on the hook for two posts or kicking your campaign down the road.

Zooming out and looking at your year and the relevant dates your brand will encounter throughout will aid in breaking up your quarters into manageable chunks. Key things to consider as you progress through your yearly layout include:

  • Major holidays and sales days
  • Social awareness (Black History Month, Pride Month, etc.)
  • Seasonal shifts
  • Back to school
  • Product launches
  • Tentative campaigns

Using your social media monitoring tools to capture your metrics as you progress through the year will also put you in an excellent position next year. That way, you know precisely what your numbers were for last year and can adjust your approach and measure to see where you’re showing improvement.

Getting the Best Out of Reddit 

Reddit is littered with accounts of brands that have tried and given up. At first glance, Reddit looks like a forum, but it is every bit a social media platform. However, it’s quite a bit different than most.

Of course, you can run ads on Reddit as elsewhere, which is one way to approach the platform from a brand perspective. However, engaging with users takes a little getting used to and a measured approach, so you don’t spook this skeptical user base.

The platform is divided into subreddits which are user-created categories that cover anything and everything. There are often many industry-related subreddits where users will cover topics relevant to your brand.

Your best bet is to create a branded username and get involved in the conversation. Trust is king on Reddit, so you’ll need to establish the fact that you’re not actively promoting your brand right out of the gate.

Users can upvote or downvote comments in a discussion which leads to the accumulation of “karma.” While it’s not a gold standard, a user account is generally regarded more favorably with more karma.

Reddit is community-driven and expects brands to keep that in mind. Many brands have found Reddit to be a natural extension of their customer service arm since so many consumers use the platform seeking information on brands, products, and services.

Use your social listening tools to find where the conversational hotspots are happening on Reddit. Spend some time acclimating to the style of the platform, and you’ll save your brand a lot of downvotes by understanding what’s expected and what kind of content is frowned upon. Users on Reddit are talking about your brand, so your brand must be paying attention to the discussions.

subreddits

It’s worth the time investment, too, as Reddit has over 430 million monthly active users spanning more than 100,000 subreddits. It’s a wealth of consumer and competitive intelligence wrapped in an innocuous social platform that many brands miss out on.

To learn more about engaging on Reddit, check out a couple more of our recent posts where we cover the platform in greater detail:

Facebook

Facebook has over 2.74 billion monthly users of which, 1.82 billion use it every day. Gender demographics break down to 56% male and 44% female. And believe it or not, 53% of Gen Z social users visit Facebook every day. For millennials, that number tops 67%.

If your brand wants to create a vibrant community full of user-generated content, Facebook groups are a great option. Facebook has the broadest reach of any social media platform, and chances are your target audience demographics are using the platform. 66% of users visit a business page on Facebook at least once a week.

Brands can use Facebook groups to create vibrant communities around their users. Many of them have grown pretty significant. For example, check out Instant Pot’s three-million-member community. Not too shabby!

instant-pot

Click here to learn more about creating a branded community on Facebook and expanding your brand’s social media engagement.

Also, make sure to check out our post featuring the 20 Best Facebook Analytics Tools for Marketing.

Instagram

Instagram boasts over 1.2 billion monthly users, and ads on the platform reach 20% of social media users worldwide over the age of 13. Gender demographics are more evenly split than Facebook, with 50.8% female and 49.2% male.

81% of Instagram users utilize the platform to research products and services. And 200 million users visit a brand profile daily.

Here are a few links to check out to make sure you’re getting the most out of your brand’s Instagram page:

Twitter

Twitter has 353 million users, of which 192 million are categorized as daily active users. Gender skews heavily male at 68.5% and 31.5% female. The largest age bracket of Twitter users is 25-34 years old, comprising 28.9% of the user base.

Nearly everyone is familiar with Twitter which makes people think that the platform is far larger than it is. Nonetheless, Twitter users take the platform seriously, and 59% of users use the site as a news source. Conversely, countless news sources use Twitter threads as a temperature check on popular opinion. Additionally, Twitter is one of the most highly visible sources of key opinion leader conversations.

For more information on getting the most out of Twitter for your brand, check out the following links:

TikTok

TikTok has seen astronomical growth over the last several years. The platform featured the most downloaded app of 2020 and now boasts over 689 million users. Gender demographics on TikTok are balanced similar to Instagram, with 49% female and 51% male.

20% of adults in the U.S. use TikTok, and 29% of American teens prefer TikTok over any other social media platform. The site generates viral content by the truckload and is a perfect platform to stretch your influencer marketing ROI like McDonald’s is doing with their current BTS campaign.

@mcdonaldswait for it #BTSMeal♬ original sound – McDonald’s

For more information on growing your audience and brand engagement on the platform, be sure to visit TikTok for business.

Also, don’t forget to check out our post on 5 Branded Promotions on TikTok That Took Off.

In closing, social media management shouldn’t feel chaotic. Starting with a comprehensive action plan to cover all your brand’s social media presence ensures your online activity works towards a common goal.

Outlining key themes you want to target throughout the year keeps your focus on the present since you’ve already figured out what’s coming next. Breaking down your social media calendar into manageable chunks ensures that your team doesn’t get overwhelmed and allows you to get posts ready in advance.

Staying ahead of the curve in this manner also gives your brand the freedom to create spontaneous posts as current events warrant. That way, you still stay on track while boosting your brand’s relevancy at the same time.

Focusing hard on your most important social media platforms first lets you run them efficiently when it’s time to add new ones to the fold. And when you do, taking the time to familiarize how consumers interact will ensure that your brand isn’t stepping on toes as you expand your social media empire.

Finally, social media listening is a critical resource for understanding the nuance of consumer behavior online. It is also invaluable in measuring your social media performance over time. It’s the ace up your sleeve for social media management.

Be sure to reach out for a demo, and we’ll give your brand a test drive of top-tier social listening tools powered by next-generation artificial intelligence.

2021 state of social report

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