Working in digital marketing, I take it for granted that business owners are familiar with and understand the different social networks and how to use them effectively.

Yet time and time again I come across social media profile pages companies have set up and then abandoned, either because they weren’t achieving the desired results, or simply because there was a lack of knowledge as to what exactly to even do with them. So here is a basic overview of how you can get social media working for you.

Where

You’ve heard it before, but it still rings true; you need to think about who you’re targeting in order to decide which channels are more fitting. Is your target demographic mainly on Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? Too many businesses take a scattergun approach without thinking about which platforms are the most relevant, and therefore waste valuable resources in financing and managing non-profitable channels.

Go back to the start of your business’s marketing plan where the target audience is identified and profiled, and start your social media strategy from there.

What

Earlier this month Katie wrote about Facebook, asking whether businesses should bother with the platform now that they are making it more challenging for businesses to be ‘heard’ without paying for advertising. She concluded that ‘it is now more important than ever before to post interesting content that people will want to log in for and engage with’. I wholeheartedly agree with her on this point, and it’s something that not only applies to Facebook, but across all social platforms, no matter which one(s) you choose for your company.

A quick hit list of categories for posting:

  • Informative / educational / thought-led industry posts
  • Funny, quirky or amusing posts
  • Handy tips
  • Questions (designed to encourage engagement)
  • Internal company News
  • Special offers

The Facebook page for Quooker, a boiling-water tap company, is a great example.

It’s best to use a mixture of different types of posts to keep it interesting and engaging for readers. However, you don’t want to start acting like a persistent cold caller, which is why it’s also important when posting to consider…

When

You’ve heard of the saying ‘you can never have too much of a good thing’, right? Well even if you are posting top notch content there’s a fine balance between being informative and annoying. Ok, so the best quality content might earn you a bit of leeway in terms of frequent posting, but even the most fanatical follower is likely get bored of constant social media posts.

There is no special rule – it will differ between industry, business size, brand equity, and audience – but generally less is more. Maybe a few tweets a day, depending on whether there is anything news-worthy happening, one Facebook post a day or one every few days, and slightly fewer updates for LinkedIn… But this is speculation based on my own experience with consumer facing businesses, and might not be relevant to everyone.

The best approach here is one of trial and error. Keep trying different frequencies and times, and measure to see what your audience engages with the most.

The example below comes from Social Media Frontiers and is a great place to start.

best time to post on social media (3)(Source: Click here)

How

Finally, if you use only one social media channel then the management of it is fairly straightforward. But what if you use two, or more? There’s an abundance of tools out there to help you manage social media accounts – perhaps the most well known being HootSuite, which enables you to manage all accounts from one central application. This makes it much easier to manage and keep an eye on how your different channels are working individually, and as a unit.

There are also many tools you can use to gain deeper insight into your social media performance then the channels themselves provide. For example, Twitter Counter tracks changes in your follower count and predicts future growth over time, Mention which monitors your brand’s presence across the web, from social networks to forums to blogs, and Quintly is a powerful tool for in-depth social media analytics. And that is to name but a few out of hundreds, if not thousands.

For more check out, 61 Social Media Tools for Small Business.