Hands up if your business has social media accounts! Now keep your hands up if you’ve updated these profiles in the last 24 hours! The sound of descending cufflinks and wristwatches can probably be heard echoing through marketing departments across the country.
Maintaining and optimising business social media accounts is rarely seen as a top priority, compared to more sales-focused tasks like advertising campaigns or direct mailshots. However, social media is the first port of call among many current and prospective customers. They’re interested in a brand’s ethos and activities, how it handles complaints or problems, and even whether it’s still a going concern.
Clearly, keeping on top of timelines and preparing regular posts offers real value.
These are some of the techniques recommended for optimising business social media accounts:
Close irrelevant or obsolete profiles
This might seem like a strange place to start, but your limited resources have to be invested in popular or worthwhile social media platforms. That Twitter page you created two years ago for a product launch is worthless now, and nobody will remember you on Snapchat if you haven’t been active since Easter. Investigate why accounts became dormant, and consider closing them if they are no longer of any value. Sometimes the service itself is to blame – Google+ never really caught on in the UK, and there’s little point persisting with a MySpace profile in the age of Facebook.
Review what’s been done historically
Now that you’ve whittled your business social media accounts down to deserving outlets, look at your timelines and interactions. Perhaps you’ve inherited this role from an ex-colleague, or maybe the social functions have been split between a team. That can be troublesome, since any company needs a cohesive tone of voice across every platform. Equally, there’s no excuse for being prolific on LinkedIn but never updating a Facebook for Business page. Whether you like certain social networks more than others is immaterial – it’s your audience’s perceptions that really matter.
Standardise your appearance
Ensure your company name, logo and contact details are displayed consistently across every platform. This creates a cohesive narrative, building your brand wherever people encounter it. Use keyword tools to identify relevant words/phrases relating to your industry or niche, before incorporating them into profile descriptions and headers. Fill in every data field or bio line to wring every last drop of SEO out of your presence, such as location or opening hours, and build links between different media to encourage cross-promotion of content.
Build networks and try to woo key influencers
Every platform and industry has its champions – over-achievers and headline-makers whom the audience respects and your brand craves. Getting noticed by these industry leaders can have positive repercussions, particularly if they start following you or commenting on your activity. While the obvious tactic of direct approaches and friend requests might work, producing authoritative and informative content of your own is a better way to curry favour. These people understand the value of their patronage, so they’ll be sparing with praise.
Generate regular content
This expands on the last point. There’s no reason for key influencers or anyone else to admire/respect/follow your business if it’s not regularly active on social media. Generate daily or weekly posts that summarise your activities without giving away too much, such as the names of clients who competitors may then try to poach. Wry observations on trivial events infer a company with a sense of humour, and commenting on topical events is a great way to gain traction. LinkedIn is ideal for this, with regular email newsletters summarising recent blogs and posts.
Use photos wisely
From cover photos to timeline uploads, images should be sharp enough to display clearly, yet small enough to load quickly. It’s easy to find lists of header, profile and banner image specifications for the major social media platforms. Timeline photos benefit from being compressed to a few hundred KB in size, accompanied by explanatory captions. Untag yourself from anything inappropriate, and do the same for comments or text-based updates.
Tear off the tags
Twitter pioneered the hashtag phenomenon, which has now spread to other social media sites. Tags are handy for finding and participating in topical discussions, but they also bookmark comments or posts that’ll crop up whenever people search for these hashtags in future. Every post needs one or two tags somewhere within its contents. There are plenty of software packages and websites for investigating optimal keywords, such as Keyhole and RiteTag.
There’s enough internet negativity around without your company adding to the din. Avoid diatribes or whinges in favour of positive suggestions – “Six ways existing legislation could be improved”, for instance. Never express personal opinions in a professional forum, and avoid comments that may come back to haunt you. Examples might include belittling a larger rival who may take over your firm, or moaning about a political party three months before it’s elected with a landslide majority. Indeed, it’s best to avoid politics and religion entirely.
Investigate competitor analysis on active platforms
Study the ways competitor brands manage their business social media accounts. It’s easy to blunder along producing content that isn’t gaining traction, doing little more than keeping your profiles active. You can always learn lessons from successful rival accounts about audience engagement and timeline management. Perhaps they’ve given a specific person responsibility for replying to comments, which makes responses seem personal and friendly. Or maybe they only promote significant events, which will be more attention-grabbing than constantly publishing trivial updates.
Use automation tools to pre-schedule posts
Tools like Buffer enable companies to pre-load a week’s worth of social media updates, automatically distributing them at specific times. Keep a close eye on the news if you’re pre-scheduling social media updates, though – the most innocent of posts may seem flippant or insensitive if the headlines are suddenly filled with tales of tragedy. Lunchtime and early evening represent peak times for audiences, so schedule posts to appear at these hours for maximum views and engagement.