Doing This on Social Media? Stop now.

For some of us, social media is like a foreign land. We understand some of the customs and know that there are rules by which we should abide. But at the end of the day, we don’t speak the language. And that makes it difficult for us to comfortably navigate the scene. That’s a reasonable enough analogy because the truth is that each social media platform has its own landscape and native language…a way of saying and doing things so to speak. And if you don’t speak that language the content you create and post there will go largely ignored.

So how can you fit in with the natives a bit more and create content that gets the right attention rather than standing out for all the wrong reasons?

Adjusting to social media, and the constant changes, takes time but you can start by not committing the following infractions.

1. Inactivity: If you’re going to be on social media, be on social media. Yes, constantly creating content can be a chore. And yes, you have to post it. Yep, you do need to respond to comments. It’s definitely a lot. But the worst part is that inactivity cripples your reach and makes it difficult to regain any momentum you may have had. While it’s true that algorithms are designed to limit your organic reach and push you to paid ads, good, consistent content and engagement can be the antidote. If the thought of being consistent with social media is overwhelming, consider choosing one platform on which to focus rather than trying to focus on three or four. Use scheduling apps to schedule posts and set times that you’ll show up “live” to respond to comments and/or engage with others.

2. Copying & Pasting Across Platforms: You create one really great post for Facebook. It’s so great in fact that you copy and paste it to LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. That sounds like a good idea, right? It’s actually a horrible idea. Here’s why: each social media platform is a bit different. What comes across well on Facebook could fall really flat on LinkedIn because neither the audience nor the interactions are the same. To be effective on any given platform, you have to learn and respect the content expectations. Users of each platform expect to receive their content in a particular way. You have to learn what that particular way is and create content that meets the standard. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to start from scratch and create new content for each platform. It does mean that you need to tweak your content so that it fits the platform parameters.

3. Excessive Promotion: If you’re in business, it’s obvious to your audience that you have a product or service to sell. It’s also obvious to them that’s the only thing you ever post about. Social media, above anything else, is about connecting. The more connections you make, the easier it will be to sell. So how do you make connections? The short answer is that you build connections on social media the same way you do in real life, through engagement. The long answer is that you create content that offers something to your audience at no cost. That could be advice, tips, how-to, or highlights. Then you ask for feedback or pose questions. Most importantly, you should post sincere responses to comments. When you do promote, consider the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of your content should provide value and 20% can be promotional.

4. Ignoring Comments: This one always stuns us. Part of the tradeoff for social media being easily accessible and mostly free is that you’ll be expected to engage with your audience. Though you might not like it, customers and potential customers often take their grievances and questions to the comment section. The only reasonable thing you can do about it is respond to each and every one. You can’t post on social, ask for support, expect people to purchase your products and services, then ignore their questions and comments. If you don’t have time to respond with reasonable promptness after you post, then you should probably wait until you do. After all, it’s not called “social” media for nothing.

Social media is a great tool for building and growing a brand. But as the name implies there are expectations across each of the platforms that you must adhere to if you hope to receive the greatest payoff. Need to learn just a bit more about how to navigate each of the four major platforms, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter? Start with our Writing for Social Media e-book. It breaks down each of the platforms and includes information on the types of businesses for which each is best suited; the types of content to post; and how often you should post.

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