Everyone is on the same page: strategies are no fun. They're time-consuming, they're demanding and they're a whole lot of hard work. But they're also necessary.
Particularly when it comes to the whirlpool that is social media, having a clear strategy in place is essential. Without one, you'll flounder. And even worse, due to social media's unrestricted nature, everyone will be able to see you floundering.
You can't hide a lack of social strategy. If you're winging it, here's the top 3 signs that give you away.
1. You don't cater to your platforms
LinkedIn isn't Facebook. Facebook isn't Twitter. Twitter isn't Google+. You get the idea here. Social media platforms may offer connectivity, but in essence, each channel is an island.
LinkedIn users are educated, relatively mature and professional. They're also hungry for quality content. They want professional news and views, industry insights, career opportunities, key business information and of course, great editorial articles. They don't want spam or constant dry sales updates.
Facebook is the polar opposite. Users aren't logging in to read lengthy articles or to network professionally. They're logging in to chat, to engage and, more often than not, to be entertained.
If LinkedIn is for professional use and Facebook is for personal use, Twitter sits somewhere in the middle. Twitter users want news. But they also want socialisation. They want to be informed. But they also want to be inspired and entertained. They want to learn, to share, communicate, engage, respond, and access people both within their circle and outside of it. In a word, this audience wants connectedness.
The point is: know your platform. Whether you're using Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube or Tumblr, you have to know what your audience wants and give it to them. Your Facebook audience doesn't want white papers, and your LinkedIn audience doesn't want heavily hashtagged motivational quotes.
If you're using the wrong channel for the wrong types of content, it's fairly evident that a) you don't really understand social media and b), you don't really have a strategy in place. Cater to your channels, guys.
2. You duplicate your content
This ties in with the first sign. Every social media channel is different, and therefore every channel needs to be updated with different content. That status update that you wrote for Facebook can't just be copied and pasted into all your other social accounts. Not unless you want to reveal a lack of strategy, that is.
Now, that's not to say that you can't repurpose social content: you can and you should. It's blatant mass duplication that you have to avoid.
So, let's say you've recently written a blog post. You quite naturally want to share it as far and wide as possible, across every medium at your disposal. Share the same blog, by all means, but frame it differently on each channel. Here's what that might look like:
Uh-oh, Google is rocking the boat again! Looks like its latest move could be a game-changer - just wait 'til you read about the drones... [Blog link]
Here's how Google's #Alphabet overhaul could change the world. (Anyone fancy a #stemcell burger?) [Blog link]
The ground is shaking from Google's latest announcement. Here's what the Alphabet restructure really means, and what the far-reaching implications will be on the business landscape.
You see the difference. Although you're sharing the same article, you're not simply pressing Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V into all your different social accounts. You're taking the time to appeal to your different audiences, and you're avoiding sounding like a parrot in the process.
3. You don't know your volumes
Again, this goes back to the first point. If you're going to post on social media, you have to know when as well as who and what.
Posting 5 times a day on LinkedIn? Bad idea. Updating Twitter once a day? Not good. How about 3 daily Facebook posts? Sorry, wrong again.
Not knowing optimum post volumes means not having a systematic social media strategy. As a quick guide, here's how often you should be posting to the major channels:
- Facebook - 1-2 times per day
- Twitter - 4-8 times per day
- LinkedIn - 1 time per day
- Google+ - 1-3 times per day
- Pinterest - 2-5 times per day
- Instagram - 1-3 times per day
- YouTube - 1-4 times per month
With these figures in mind, it becomes even clearer as to why different channels require different types of content and different approaches. Knowing your volumes is part and parcel of having a robust strategy in place. Messing them up, however, is a dead giveaway that you're not too sure what you're doing.
In the words of Cory Torrella: "A brand is worthless if it doesn't connect with the right audiences in a relevant way." Even if you don't have a full social strategy drawn up yet, avoiding these 3 clangers will help you reach out to the right people in the right way.
You owe it to your business. In 2015, you just can't risk looking like a social media amateur. Time to make the change.