5 Social Media Tips to Ignore

JonThomas
Jon Thomas Sr. Digital Strategist, TracyLocke, Presentation Advisors

Posted on June 21st 2013

5 Social Media Tips to Ignore

social media best practicesDo a quick Google search or scour the front pages of your favorite social media blogs and you’ll find a seemingly endless array of articles providing you with tips and advice on social media (this blog included). But if you read enough of them, which I do, eventually you’ll see those tips and bits of advice contradict each other.

Don’t post on Facebook more than once a day, or your fans will un-Like you.

Post more than once a day on Facebook to keep your People Talking About This score high.

Photos are the most shareable content on Facebook.

Videos are the most shareable content on Facebook.

Post on weekends because other brands don’t and you’ll stand out.

Don’t post on weekends, because nobody is listening then.

It can become dizzying. It’s not that your favorite social media pundit is lying to you or flat-out wrong. Truthfully, not everyone can be right; but there are certainly areas of gray, and depending on your brand and audience, advice can differ. 

But I have heard a few tips that are just flat-out wrong or at least shouldn’t be followed as if they were gospel. Here are five social media tips you may want to ignore, but you didn’t hear that from me.

1. Post content every single day

Or don’t. The validity of this bit of advice is tied to the channel you’re talking about, your audience and the expectations you’ve set. At Post-Advertising we post once a week, but we’re active on Twitter every weekday. We have actually found that one longer, more insightful post a week was driving more traffic than a shorter post every day. So don’t worry if you aren’t blogging every day or even posting on your brand’s Facebook page every day. Simply set a publishing schedule and stick to it.

2. Ignore paid media… It’s dead

Where’d you hear that? Here? It’s not that traditional advertising is dead; it’s that no amount of money will make your brand relevant to a consumer if it doesn’t create something of value. Buy the best billboard in Times Square. Buy a YouTube homepage takeover. None of it will encourage someone to buy your product. Paid media won’t build a brand; but it can certainly build awareness of something about a brand, which is why paid media on Facebook and Twitter can be so successful.

3. Automation is a social media sin

You may have heard the saying “Automating social media is like sending a robot to a cocktail hour.” I get it, but to ensure quality and a commitment to an editorial calendar, being able to schedule content is important. This is a bit of a gray area, though, so watch out. “Worst practices” in social media automation include sending automatic direct messages (usually when someone follows you) and automatically tweeting every post on an RSS feed (what if one of them is something you don’t agree with?). Use the technologies available to you to maintain an approved publishing schedule so you can spend your time listening and actively responding to your audience.

4. Always include a call to action

Head over to Facebook, click on your Pages Feed, and tell me what you see. Most of the posts will ask their audience to Like or Share or read or buy… You get the point. There’s nothing wrong with this in small doses, but remember that every other brand is asking for the same thing, and eventually audiences can become fatigued. Not every bit of content, whether it is a Facebook post, a tweet, an Instagram photo or a blog article, must ask your audience to take a specific action. Of course you hope they’ll share it with their audiences or even head to your online store and buy a product, but you don’t have to order them to do it. 

5. Post at a specific time

This is one of the most mind-boggling aspects of social media. I’m good friends with Dan Zarrella, the one and only Social Media Scientist at HubSpot, and I read almost all his content. He has provided audiences with mountains of data about when to post to get the most engagement, and it’s valuable information. But none of it is gospel. It can’t be. The only way to know the best time to post for your brand and your audience is to test. Use all the data available to you to make informed decisions about when to test, but ultimately every brand and audience is different. We send our Post-Advertising newsletter early in the morning because after testing, our data showed that more people opened the email if it was in their in-box when they arrived at work. If the data showed use that we should send on Saturday nights at 11pm because most marketers are reading their email then (what?), then that’s when we’d send!

So take my advice, or don’t. I like to think that I have my finger on the pulse of social media trends and best practices, but the best practice is the one that works best for your brand and, more important, your audience.

Are there any social media best practices you’ve found success by ignoring? Let us know in the comments. (Hey, look, a call to action!)

Photo Credit: brookenovak via Compfight cc

JonThomas

Jon Thomas

Sr. Digital Strategist, TracyLocke, Presentation Advisors

Jon Thomas is a digital storyteller and presentation designer with a passion for helping organizations and brands effectively tell their stories, engage audiences, and build deep relationships. Jon is a Sr. Digital Strategist at TracyLocke, an Omnicom agency, and founder of Presentation Advisors, a presentation design and training firm. Jon also founded Tap Cancer Out, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu 501(c)(3) nonprofit raising awareness and funds for cancer-fighting organizations. 

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Comments

Good points, Jon.  There are so many so-called social media experts out there providing their tips and advice that a lot of it contradicts itself.  So it's hard to know who to trust.  I think every business and vertical is different, so what is best for one type of business may not be for another.  And I'm glad you mentioned the "best time to Tweet or post" thing.  Everytime someone says that the best time to Tweet is at __ o'clock, it is bound to soon become the worst time to Tweet.  --David @ Touch Point

Love that last point David!

Do these tips every take different time zones into account? I wonder. ;)

Interesting points Jon. I am also not a big fan of marketing automation. Maybe scheduled posts, yes. Nothing beats personalized message and engagement.

Thanks Amber. I think (hope) that we've gotten to a point where it's widely understood that automating engagement is not true to the social media spirit. But there's a difference between publishing and engagement. 

 

I love this article. At the end of the day every audience is different and once we get to know our audience we can engage them at the correct times with content that's relevant to them.

Thanks Mario. I think you've summed it up quite accurately. 

Great work Jon! You article is awesome to read and the tips are fantastic.

Thanks Ajay!

Hi Jon, 

Many valid points - I especially agree with post automation. It can become a sin (if your business is like talking to a wall), but if you're engaging with your audience and just automating as necessary I see no issues.

We've definitely heard our fair share of social media disasters for business, and I'm sure there will be no shortage in the future. But we also get to hear about the big wins in social media as well. You know, thousands of new fans overnight, thousands of shares on a photo post, etc.

My colleague Nick compiled info from one of Social Media Examiner's recent studies, which shows how over 3,000 marketers are fairing in social media this year. Feel free to let me know what you think: The Top Benefits Achieved in Social Media in 2013 by Leading Marketers [Infographic]

Cheers, 

Cara

Many companies are guilty of forcing their products and services upon the social media audience, so I like the mention of interspersing these sales posts with more general content on the industry and other business happenings.

I think I might listen to some of this advice.

Or maybe I won't. ;)

One of the problems with automated posts is that if after it's been scheduled, there is some breaking news at just that time. (This happened during the recent Boston Massacre.) And your post about your product or service can appear to be very insensitive. So if you do have automated posts, keep track of when you have scheduled them and do your best to remove them if necessary.

I do agree, Larry. You have to be aware of what's happening and react accordingly. Scheduling posts, while convenient, does have a small bit of risk. 

Basically don't be a boring, predictable robot about your strategy. Change it up, test (preferably A/B test), listen in on what people are saying.

Nice article and some of these are often taken verbatim.

All the ideas and work that goes into these rules is worth following. But PLEASE don't think they are rules. As Jon says, they are suggestions at best. 

These kinds of discussions are what led Deb Micek and I to scream NO RULES and make those the first two words of "Twitter Revolution: How Social Media and Mobile Marketing are Changing the Way We Do Business" back in 2008

My agency utilizes automated posts for content ONLY. We never use automated replies as replies need to be natural and real. We do, however, send each new Twitter follower a "Thanks for following us" tweet (from an actual human) only if his/her bio reveals something that we can latch on to for further engagement. For instance, one of our brands received a new follower today and her bio it indicated she was a beer lover. So we tweeted her "Thanks for following us! We see you like beer. We do too! Favorite?" This started a natural conversation that ended up being eight tweents long. By doing this, we are engaging with the follower through something he/she has an interest in. We have found that we will get a mention response 90 percent of the time by implementing this strategy. The follower many times favorites the tweet and retweets it, also. If you can tap into a follower's/consumer's interests and passions, the conversation will naturally form. 

Also, a good point was brought up about automated posts populating during times of tragedy. Our agency has a protocol in place for all social media channels we manage that if and when a tragedy of magnitude takes place (i.e. the Boston Marathon bombings), all scheduled posts are terminated and a message is posted saying "To show our deepest sympathy for the tragedy in Boston today, (BRAND) will go silent on all of our social media channels for the next 24 hours." These posts always get TONS of engagement of followers and fans thanking and congratulating us for being sensitive and humane. 

Great article that I will share with my marketing staff. 

Your best advice that we can relate to is

"...we post once a week, but we’re active on Twitter every weekday. We have actually found that one longer, more insightful post a week was driving more traffic than a shorter post every day."

For small firms like ours, we like to see confirmation of our observations that one high quality post beats five short 'thin' content posts.



Short, long...daily, weekly...It's all about testing and learning. 

Love this article!! Thanks!

Thanks Sue!

I take the advice to post a variety--photos, links, text--with a grain of salt because text alone gets the strongest reponse and FB promotes it further. I still post a variety--I post what I need to post--but I question that advice that's so widely publicized. I enjoyed your article. 

Great article and agree with the points. The one thing I do think is important as related to point #1 - I definitely don't think it's important to be active every day, but I do think it's important to be consistent.