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When using social media, the best way to get a return on investment for your efforts is to focus on engagement. Don’t simply post information and messages about your organization, be sure to post content, resources, and information that your target audience will find useful and interesting.Engagement

Think about ways that you can help your audience solve problems and obstacles they face on a day-to-day basis, and that are relevant to the product or service you are offering. Posts that give your target audience inside information that helps them solve problems will keep users coming back for more.

In general, here are my five favorite social media best practices. If you focus on these you can’t go wrong!

  1. Be authentic. Connection is the primary reason people join and use social networks, so be your authentic self in order to encourage connection. When people spend time on social networks they release the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin because these platforms facilitate a sense of trust. How can you create trust on social media? To learn more about the research around oxytocin and social media read this interesting article from Fast Company.
  2. Have clear goals. Write down your goals for your organization’s social media presence in an intentional strategy. Make sure these goals complement and overlap with your overall organizational goals. You will be able to measure return on investment based upon these goals. Here’s a great resource I created to help you develop a simple strategy.
  3. Have policies and guidelines that include a crisis plan. An organization without an internal policy and external guidelines for users is like a ship without a life boat. A social media policy and/or guidelines are important for legal reasons as well as to orient both staff and users’ expectations for how they will be able to use social media within your organization. For more information on how to write a good social media policy, I recommend this Mashable article.Solve Problems
  4. Listen – and respond within 24 hours. Take what people say about you on social media seriously! Don’t see negative comments as an inconvenience, build them into your quality control or continuous quality improvement efforts. When people ask questions, post comments or engage with your organization in any way on social media be sure to respond within 24-48 hours to either problem solve, thank them, or answer a question. This will let your audience know that you care, and that you’re paying attention.
  5. Learn, learn, and learn some more. Social media is a constantly changing environment and you can’t assume that you know it all. I have found that the best way to stay on top of the changes and trends within social media is to use social media in your personal life. Another good idea is to befriend a young person who can tell you what the coolest app or platform is at any give moment (I’ll be your friend!). Another wonderful tool is Google. I learned everything that I know about social media by doing Google searches. Whenever you need to troubleshoot something or you don’t know what to do, try a quick Google search. And if you encounter something that Google can’t answer, get in touch with me, I offer a complementary initial consultation.

To get more specific best practices such as what day of the week, or time of day to post, how long posts should be, etc. view the best practice guide below.

If you have any questions submit them in the comments section.