Social media: it can be a giant pain in the ass on a personal level, especially if you’re dealing with complicated relationships, racist aunts, or trying to dodge friend requests from that random you met at your friend’s loft-warming party.
But, when it comes to your business, it can also be one of the most powerful marketing tools you have at your disposal.
If you use it correctly, that is.
It’s actually super easy to misuse social media professionally. And I’m not just talking about the obvious social faux pas that will get you negative headlines. There are myriad more subtle missteps that you can take that will cut down on your impact or reduce your potential reach. In fact, you can actually undermine your brand’s social media efforts before you even create your account.
<cue the scary music here>
Thankfully, many of the most common social media mistakes can be avoided by investing a bit of time in research and planning.
1. Know where your audience lives.
I’m not just talking about their geographic locations, although obviously that is helpful knowledge for your general marketing strategy. When choosing which social media platform to adopt, it’s important to know where your ideal customers hang out online. Are you most likely to reach them on Pinterest or Instagram, or is Snapchat a better option?
Many businesses make the mistake of signing up for every social media platform in order to cover all their bases. This is fine if you have a sizeable marketing team that can post content consistently across all platforms, but if you’re a solopreneur or small business, it’s better to settle on a couple of platforms and monitor them actively than it is to sign up for many and wind up abandoning most of them after a couple of months. If your brand can be found on a platform, make sure the account remains active and monitored.
2. Develop a voice.
This is actually one of my favourite aspects of writing for a brand. The voice of a brand should ideally be consistent throughout its marketing materials and copy. Is your brand playful? Maybe a little irreverent? Is it hip, or a little more formal? Is it more Gen X, Millennial, or Gen Z?
Your brand voice should be designed to appeal to your ideal customer and to reflect the ‘personality’ of your brand—you want to be relatable and trustworthy. Your business’s social media posts should be drawn from the same branding well as the rest of your copy.
3. Plan for consistency.
If you’re not the one writing all of your marketing copy and social media posts, congratulations! You have achieved Outsourcing Awesomeness!
But this comes with its own potential pitfalls. In order to ensure consistency throughout all of your brand writing, invest some time in writing up your brand’s style or reference guide.
This is a document that contains guidelines for your brand’s customer-facing communications. Do you use Canadian or American spelling? Is slang acceptable? What is the ‘official’ shortform of your brand name? Your guide can also contain examples of suitable answers to common customer questions or concerns, allowing your writer to select or modify pre-written responses.