An A-Z Guide to Social Media Basics for Brands and Businesses

Jack DeYoungSocial, Community Management, Digital Marketing, Strategy

Social Media Basics For Brands

Is there anything more insufferable than a self-proclaimed "social media expert" posting some ridiculous quote like "Be the hashtag you want to see in the world?" I submit that there is not. If you're like me, then you hate reading social media how-to guides because they all fundamentally say the same thing in a voice that suggests the writer has been a social media savant since they were a toddler. It's always self-serving and does very little to actually provide help to those who need it. Every digital marketing agency worth their salt will tell you that marketing brands and businesses on social media is different for each client and that while there’s no magic bullet for success, there are broader social media strategies and methodology to tip the scales in your favor.

It's with that in mind that I offer you an A-Z guide to the basics of social media for brands and businesses. A little hypocritical given the previous self-righteous (and frankly a little pretentious) paragraph? Sure. However, in a world where social media platforms change almost daily, these tips should be more useful than wasting your time reading some self-aggrandizing, idiom-riddled blog that’s more difficult to read than a James Joyce novel translated into Sanskrit.

Analytics Should Influence Content

The best asset at your disposal when managing social media for brands or businesses is data. Not only can data tell you what’s working and what isn’t, you can also use it to ascertain how future posts will perform and whether your audience will be more inclined to convert to customers. At Nuera, we like taking risks on social media for our clients, but they’re not really risks because all of the social media content decisions have been informed by analytics.

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Branding Should Be Consistent

While there will be ample opportunities to experiment with different content on social media, you should make sure that there’s a consistency in that content that complements and adheres to your company’s visual brand guidelines.

Calls to Action

If your goal is to use social media to get customers for your brand or business then you need to give them an opportunity to convert beyond your post copy. It's important to include a call-to-action at the end of the post and it’s equally important they land on a page that services as a strong, reliable conversion point.

Diversify Your Content

Don't always post the same things to the same platform. What works on Instagram may not work on Twitter so mix it up as often as you can. It can be a challenge creating compelling content for each platform on a daily basis, but we’ve found success at Nuera by posting different content to each platform based on what the data tells us is most resonant.

Engage Everyone

It may not seem like much effort for someone to comment on a post, reply to a tweet, or send you a message. However, responding to *everyone* rewards even an ostensibly small effort by showing both existing and potential customers that you have your finger on the pulse. A positive exchange with someone in a comment section can mean the difference between someone who’s just appreciative and someone who’s both appreciative AND is now more likely to become a new customer.

Find the Best Times to Post

It should be obvious that posting at 2am on Facebook won’t result in the same volume of engagements as a post at 1pm. However, there are certain times a day when your audience is most active on each platform, so experiment with different times on different days or subscribe to social media management software to determine optimal posting times by day and platform. We use a whole suite of software for social media management, but prefer to use RivalIQ to help us determine the best times to post as the service is able to glean and crystalize data from an entire competitive landscape vs. just your social account(s).

Grow Your Audience

If someone likes your post but doesn’t like your page, invite them to like it. Also, make it a point to join in conversations on Twitter and Instagram that include topics pertinent to your business to help organically grow your followers and page likes. At Nuera, we put a heavy focus on growing our clients’ audiences on social media and that has resulted in marked increases in both post engagements and new customers/business.

Hashtags are Helpful
(...Most of the Time)

Hashtags are especially helpful on both Instagram and Twitter because they allow potential customers to discover your page when they search for topics pertinent to your business. Instagram allows for 30 hashtags a post and it’s typically wise to include a maximum of two hashtags for Twitter. Unless it’s a very broad topic (#MondayMotivation), try to avoid using hashtags on Facebook.

Ignore the Urge To Tell People What You Really Think

Look, it’s going to happen. Someone will leave a review or comment that is either demonstrably untrue or so asinine that you’ll want to point them to the nearest lake for which they can kindly jump. They may be stupid but that doesn’t mean you have to be as well because a measured, thoughtful response will be viewed by other members of your audience as indicative of a commitment to quality customer service in the face of seemingly limitless idiocy. There are also measures you can take to have the reviews removed which we wrote about here.

Joke Around When You Can

People are bombarded with marketing messages all day so feel free to take risks and try to affect a less serious tone with your post copy. It’s tough to make a joke land on social media but when it does, it often results in a significant increase in engagements. With all due respect to David Mamet, you don’t need to Always Be Closing when managing social media for brands and businesses, you just need to sound like a human being.

Keep Up with Your Competitors

At Nuera, we monitor the top-five competitors for every one of our social clients. Keeping your friends close, but your enemies closer allows you to see what’s working for them, identify trends, and establish benchmarks within your industry.

Listen to Your Audience

You may know your business like the back of your hand but ultimately your customers dictate whether or not you’re successful. By monitoring the sentiments they share on social media, you’re able to have the dexterity to evolve your brand not just on social media, but offline as well because you’ve turned your audience into an impromptu focus group.

Measure Results

All social media platforms offer analytics to review and there’s no better way to know what works than to actually, you know, check the numbers. At Nuera, we use a product called Sprout Social that allows us to view a variety of analytics and metrics from all social media platforms.

Never Assume Your Audience Knows Everything About You

It may seem repetitive and obvious, but working your core value proposition into posts about specific products or services is a great way to both remind your existing audience of what you do, and also to enlighten new members of your audience who might not know otherwise.

Optimize for Each Platform

Every social media platform is different so figure out what works for each one and cater your social strategy for that platform based on what’s proven to be successful.

Profiles Should be Updated Constantly

Like social media platforms, your business changes constantly. Make sure that these changes, from hours of operation to basic info, are updated on social media as they are implemented at your business.

Question Your Audience

We mentioned earlier that social media allows you to turn your audience into a focus group, so occasionally ask open-ended questions in your posts to encourage your audience to comment with information that will prove invaluable to help you market and position your business.

Reviews Should Always be Turned On

Don’t ever turn reviews off unless it’s for a short period of time because prospective customers often read these to determine whether to patronize your business. We already wrote about how to respond to negative reviews, but it’s also important to respond to every review to show that you’re listening to and acknowledging everyone who takes the time to write one.

Spend Money on Social Ads

Your competitors are almost certainly advertising on social media and while you don’t need to break the bank, you do need to spend money on social advertising to remain competitive. The nuances and details of this process merit an entirely new blog, but advertising on social media allows your content to break through the endless supply of photos from high school classmates you wouldn’t remember if Facebook didn’t exist.

Targeting Correctly Makes All The Difference

Getting your brand's message in front of the right people is almost as important as the post itself. You could write the greatest social media post in the world but if the people seeing it aren't the most inclined to actually convert to customers, does your post really make a sound?

Ubiquity Can be a Bad Thing

Don’t post 14 times a day. Just don’t. One post a day per platform is typically the sweet spot but over-posting is the fastest way to start hemorrhaging page likes and followers. If someone really wants to use social media to find your brand or business, they will--you don’t need to jam it down their throat every hour.

Visual Components are Absolutely Necessary

Unless you’re a company that writes haikus (we can’t imagine that’s a booming business but more power to you), always include a photo, video, or link in your post. Well-designed imagery and videos that adhere to your brand standards are also a hallmark of successful social media for brands and businesses so avoid blurry iPhone photos at all costs.

Write in a Consistent Brand Voice

Your audience is not stupid (ideally) and can identify fraudulent and insincere messaging very quickly. Figure out what you want to say and how you want to say it, and then use the voice and tone that seems most resonant as you move forward. This guide we wrote will help you with cultivating the most resonant brand voice for your brand or business.

X-Ray Vision

Nobody has it. Sometimes your posts are going to bomb and that’s just a fact of life. Just make sure to learn from it and follow the previous tips to make sure it doesn’t become a recurring theme.

Your Brand or Business Does Not Have to be on Every Social Media Platform

It seems like there’s a new social media platform du jour every other week and it’s usually your 13 year old niece that tells you about it first. While it may seem like a good idea to establish your business on that platform, it’s not always necessary. You know your business best and if you run a fast food chain then you probably don’t need to be on a social media platform that promotes B2B connections (see: LinkedIn). Pick and choose the platforms that best fit your business.

Zoom Out

It can be tough to see the forest from the trees when you’re posting content to an account on a daily basis. Take some time each month to review the data to see what works, solicit advice and opinions from people you know and trust, and ensure your social media strategies align with and strengthen your overall brand direction.

While these tips should prove helpful as you manage social media for brands and businesses, they are by no means exhaustive. Every social media platform comes with its own set of nuances, rules, and idiosyncrasies that take years to master. At Nuera, we’re constantly altering and evolving our strategy to account for the changes to each social media platform that occur every single day. It’s a lot of work, but following the basic tenets of social media strategy listed above allow us to be positioned to be successful and evolve along with the social media platforms.

P.S. If anyone tells you to be the hashtag you want to see in the world then feel free to laugh in their face and then run as fast as you can in the opposite direction.

About the Author

Jack DeYoung

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As head of social and digital marketing, Jack is responsible for directing and executing engaging social and digital marketing campaigns. With experience at two successful startups and in the advertising industry, Jack’s background makes him uniquely qualified to tell our clients’ stories.