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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Day

Social Media Tips and Tools

Social media can be a nightmare, but it can also be exciting. Reaching people you would not otherwise connect with in real life, advertising for a pretty reasonable rate (it can be free), or having a post go viral can be a small business owner’s dream come true. 


But you do have to be careful. And aware of your social presence. I have compiled a short list of my do’s and don’ts with social media. I would tell a new client or someone looking for some advice. Take what you want, but do remember, social media never dies. And neither do your posts. 


Here are my top 7 social media tips for using and capturing the right exposure. 


Woman at her laptop sitting at a desk with a bowl of cereal.

Start one channel at a time

This does not mean to open a Facebook account, then Twitter and Pinterest within the same hour. This means opening an account, learning it, using it, gaining your audience, and fully understanding the channel. This will take some time. Be patient. Six or nine months later, open the second account. Learn it, use it, and gain your audience. The biggest mistake on social media is being quiet or absent. It’s the death of your business. If you open too many channels at once, chances are high that you won’t have enough content to share. Then, one lapses, and it becomes easier to ignore. Social media is content-driven. To stay alive, content needs to be relevant and frequent. 


Post regularly

When a channel is first opened, you must post often and regularly. There are infographics, and research has been done to help you best determine the days and times to post. But you know your product. You know your audience. Testing is a good idea. You can test different days, times, content, and images. Play around with your posts and see when and what gets the most interaction. Of course, like most things, it will change. But for the most part, you will figure out when your target is online. 


Each channel should have different content

This is a major pet peeve of mine. Just because Instagram allows you to share the same post on Facebook doesn’t mean you should. Your audience will become bored and soon stop following one or more of your channels. It’s hard and time-consuming, and some posts actually DO belong on more than one channel. Just don’t post on the same day. Take a few days off in between. Or share a different angle of the photo. Indeed, do NOT post the exact verbiage. Write it differently for each channel - add details or a link to your website or another channel. Be more descriptive on Pinterest and shorter on Twitter. If the photo or video is the same, at least give your audience a different take on what you are so excited about that you had to post more than once. 


Hashtags

Hashtags started on Twitter. They expanded to Instagram. It’s a searchable tool for people to find things of interest. They do not belong on Facebook unless very infrequently. And I mean very infrequent. If you have a campaign, trying to gain exposure and adding to it once a week or month, then using a hashtag is fine. #TBT #WearItWednesday (I’m still unsure why this exists). But please, don’t clutter your Facebook posts with unwanted and unnecessary hashtags. It just pisses people off. Discover new hashtags by searching on Instagram or using popular sites like best-hashtags.com. Check out your competition or favorite business to see what they are using. 


Be responsive & be human

Social media is just that - it’s meant to be social. Interact with your audience and reply to their comments. Admit your mistakes. Be genuine. Don’t be defensive. Say, thank you. The hardest part is to explain your mistake without being defensive. If you find yourself in this situation, stop. Don’t respond. Sometimes, it’s best to let the negative comments or recommendations get buried. If you have a good product, you’ll receive many more positive comments than not. And if you are noticing more negative comments, it may be time to reevaluate your business. Engagement is key.


Share your story

People want to know the person behind the doors - the fabulous boutique or restaurant owners. Share your pictures and stories of who you are and your family. What are you up to on your day off? Where did you just have a really good cup of coffee? Share your dog on National Pet Day. Monthly mood boards are a fun way to show your audience who you are and what you’re personally looking forward to in the next 28-31 days. 


Spell Check

Grammar. Please remember what you learned in grade school. I understand the times don’t dictate that you use formal English or even the right punctuation. But try. Or at least know your weaknesses and get the right tools in place. One that I highly recommend is Grammarly. Use it directly from their website or download it to your desktop or phone. You automatically receive notifications if something is amiss, and the neat little app explains how to correct it. Sometimes, spell check can get a little clunky. That’s why it’s necessary to read and re-read and even have someone else check your work before posting. Some audiences are more forgiving than others. But if you are promoting a business that deals with the written word or communicating in any way, it’s better to keep mistakes to a minimum. And if you honestly don’t know the difference between your and yours, keep a post-it note handy to reference. Please. 


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