Social media is evolving to?accommodate?a range of personalities. While Twitter appeals to casual conversationalists, LinkedIn attracts professional network-builders. Meanwhile, marketers think of Facebook as content-driven?with brand pages intersecting with friendships and close communities. Then there are blogs that hover between the personal and professional: they're content-driven too. And now there's Google+ Pages, which has recently joined the scene and promises to merge SEO and social media strategies.
Across industries, a well-planned?social media strategy is essential for success. For every brand, business, and marketer, an important step involves evaluating prospective channels as conversation platforms.
This process can be confusing, sometimes frustrating. How do you accommodate the different "personalities" of each social media network? Consider, for example, this humorous take on posting across different social media sites and the "stereotypes" associated with each network.
Proposed Social Media Flowchart: A humorous take on posting strategy across social networks.
All kidding aside, this process will inspire some key questions:
How should a brand's tone vary between a Facebook page and LinkedIn discussion group?
What's the best way to condense a lengthy blog post into a short-form tweet?
Should a Facebook status and tweet have the same goals for generating conversation?
What is the ideal tone for a blog post?
What should I post on different sites?
While the answers to these questions vary between campaigns and companies, some best practices can help clarify ambiguities:
Unlike other types of social communities, blogs are unique in that companies own the content. As a result, blogs are effective platforms for visitor recruitment, audience engagement, trust-building, and customer education. To keep audiences interested, writers should post at least several times per week and if possible, every day.
A blog extends beyond a basic hello, providing an opportunity for people to get to know a conversation or brand. Concerning tone, a blog is like a conversational lecture with room for questions.
Blog posts should be straightforward, to-the-point, polished, and casual, providing an opportunity for businesses to build a platform for healthy community mentorship.?Beyond writing a post, authors should maintain an active presence by monitoring and answering reader comments.
As for length, there is no cookie-cutter word count requirement. Still, a post should be long enough to communicate a message and short enough to keep audiences interested. Typically, 250 to 1,000 words will provide an ideal window. Short paragraphs will help deliver maximum impact.
Like a blog post, Facebook status updates should be conversational, but they should also be response-oriented. Typically polls and open-ended questions will help facilitate engagement and interaction. A link to a landing page or blog post will help bring people to a company site.
Frequent updates are also important, with the ideal number ranging between three and five spaced throughout the day. With too few updates, brands will lose audiences, and with too many updates, brands will drive people away. For brands across industries, it is appropriate to ask fans to share and like content.?When users post questions and comments, it is important to be responsive.
Length-wise, Facebook status updates should be one to three sentences in length. Audiences will likely see this content through their newsfeeds, so status updates should be short, attention-grabbing, action-motivating, and compelling.
Similarly, brands should maintain a balancing act with sales-driven pitches. Ideally, only one out of every five posts should be a direct marketing pitch.
With Twitter, the main challenge is condensing messages to 140 characters. Keeping this challenge in mind, marketers should be careful to deliver maximum impact with each and every post, which should include descriptive and action-oriented words. To make an impression, tweets should convey complete thoughts rather than fragmented messages.
Furthermore, brands should leverage Twitter as a hub for conversations. Hashtag (#) symbols can help categorize tweets for users who are using the search tool to research topics of interest. Brands can also join conversations by monitoring trending hashtag categories. Of course, brand moderators are welcome to establish direct connections with people using the @ symbol by replying to others' tweets and questions.
Beyond a place for sharing stream of consciousness thoughts, Twitter content should be sharp, substantive, and informative. All the while, tweeters should maintain a conversational tone.
For B2B networking, LinkedIn is a powerful social media tool. Beyond a resource for networking, LinkedIn provides a platform for professionals to share knowledge. Through discussion groups, users are able to ask questions, answer questions, and exchange information. Brands can engage in this dynamic by sharing blog content and expertise.
In LinkedIn discussion groups, brand representatives should promote substantive and knowledge-driven content. They should not be sales-driven or self-serving.
Furthermore, LinkedIn provides a platform for employee recruitment and can also help companies build a reputation among job-seekers. One way to accomplish this goal is to create a group.
For marketing on LinkedIn, the tone should be professional and knowledge-oriented. If necessary, sales pitches should remain limited to private messages only.
Although still growing and developing, Google's contribution to the social media space has already proven itself. Stylish, user-friendly and cutting edge, Google+ profiles and pages are popping up everywhere.
But how does a social media manager accomodate this new channel?
Well the key elements here include merging your social media efforts with your search engine marketing strategy. The Google+ network is integrated with Google's powerful search engine. That means posts should not only be topical, but keyword rich as well. It isn't enough to craft an engaging post that targets your users, but it is important that those posts be optimized for search.
Direct connect?is the first benefit Google+?can offer as a social network powered by a search engine. Run a Google search for a company with a "+" before the name, and you will automatically add that company to your circles. It's a faster way for savvy users to connect with your brand.
The Bottom Line
Each social network comes with its own strengths. By understanding best-practices, brands can better adapt to each platform's unique needs, tone, and atmosphere.
Try this short quiz to find out where you should be posting your content: