Looking to get a job in digital marketing? Alongside SEO and content creation, all budding marketeers should know about social media. And no, your common-or-garden Facebook habit doesn’t qualify you to manage a company’s online image.
Here are five need-to-knows to help you on your way.
The length of your posts is vitally important to their uptake. Studies suggest the following optimum lengths for blogs, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn:
Headline: 8–12 words/under 70 characters.
Blog Post: 1,600 words.
Title Tag: 70 characters max
Meta Description: 155 characters max
Status update: 40 characters.
Video: 30–45 seconds.
Tweet: 100 characters without a link; 120 characters with a link.
Hashtag: Fewer than 11 characters.
Image Caption: Cuts off in users’ feeds after three lines, so under that.
Ever put out a photo on Facebook hoping for likes, only to receive far fewer than expected? Your chosen timeslot may be the issue. Optimising the timings of your updates is crucial to achieving the results you want on social media.
On Facebook, studies show that the best times for posting are 9 AM, 1 PM for shares and 3 for clicks, with engagement slumping between Mondays and Wednesdays. So post between 12 and 1 on weekends, between 1 and 4 Thursday-Friday and at 3 pm Wednesdays.
Followerwonk is a useful tool for determining your Twitter followers’ most active periods. If you’re working with LinkedIn, your optimum times are Tuesday-Thursday at non-work hours – that is, 7.30-8.30 AM, 12 PM and 5-6 PM.
Pay attention to your Facebook and Twitter analytics pages. What’s true for others may not be so for you. Identify your peak traffic periods and watch the likes roll in.
3. Hashtags and mentions
Hashtags and mentions are essential for placing your Twitter and Facebook accounts within a wider context of discussion and interaction. Use one or two hashtags per tweet – not too many. You can find good ideas for tags using the sidebar on the Twitter homepage or a site like Hashtagify.me. Aides like Keyhole are great for finding related keywords for a particular hashtag.
Be sure to tag/mention any users related to your content. Not only does it maximise your audience but it’s common courtesy. And please use capitals in your hashtags! ‘HowToTweet’ is so much easier to read than ‘howtotweet’.
4. Get visual
No matter what your mama tells you, appearance is important. Strong branding across your channels can help to build trust with your audience – some great examples can be found on the Nike facebook page, or on the Oink Money website. Posts that include photos statistically get more likes, shares and retweets. So lob an image onto your post next time you get social media-happy.
On Facebook, a quality photo of 1200×1200 pixels is recommended, but you can realistically get away with most images. That is, so long as they’re copyright-free – never post an image that doesn’t come from a copyright-free provider such as Pixabay.
Finally, remember to remove links from Facebook updates before posting. Facebook generates previews of all links below the post, which users can click on appropriately. Including the URL itself in the body of the post looks ugly, unnecessary and unprofessional.
5. Automate… with caveats
At first glance, post automation using a specialised platform such as Hootsuite seems like a dream come true. You can put together post streams hours-days-weeks into the future, as well as manage multiple media platforms all from one easy-to-use interface. However, there are dangers to this method. Pre-scheduled posts are easy to forget about, and if the relevant circumstances change – as they did in this awful example – then the post can quickly become a source of embarrassment.
Only ever schedule harmless info that would continue in case of disaster.
Hootsuite has some great guidelines on scheduling best practices. Schedule posts with decent gaps between, and remember to make them sound human – you are, after all, not a machine, even if you’re using one.
Finally, don’t forget to analyse your automated messages after they’re posted. There’s no point drawing numbers from one type of post but not another; you should be seeking to optimise your auto-scheduled activity just as much as your real-time updates.
Social media marketing is a complex maze to navigate, full of traps and pitfalls where you least expect them. Stay on top of these common wisdoms and you’ll be fine.