Did you know that 1/3 of all time spent online is spent on social media? From Snapchat's successful IPO to the latest Instagram Story features, social media is constantly on the news, buzzing in our smartphones, and helping your customers build relationships with brands.

You probably already know some social media basics: that you should answer all customers' questions, post educational and valuable content, and watch your channels around the clock (or as close to it as possible, depending on the size of your team). 

If you're looking to improve your social strategy even further, here are a few behaviors you can prune from your strategy for a more successful presence on every channel.

We compiled a list of 50 social media best practices in a new e-book. You’ll find tips for every aspect of social media in business, from listening and engagement to publishing and advertising.

Get a preview of the content in that e-book here in this very blog post, then download the rest.


1. Don't focus too much on the size of your audience.


Promotions and campaigns that merely aim to grow your number of followers or likes are short-sighted. When people are encouraged to follow your Instagram account only to enter a contest and then they don't win, you may end up with a mass exodus of followers.

If you create a community, reply to customers, and share valuable content, your audience will grow on its own — and sustainably. Focus more on quality than quantity.


2. Don't feel compelled to jump in every cultural conversation.


You’ve probably seen one of the many articles poking fun at brands that feel compelled to share their opinion on every celebrity faux pas, world event, or holiday. Some things are better left unsaid — and most major news events don’t warrant a response from your company.


3. Don't get defensive.


Similarly to #2, you don’t always have to respond every time someone mentions your company, even if the comment is negative. Sometimes it’s better to let individual employees, influencers, or other customers in the community interject before — or instead of — you. If you jump in at the wrong time, you might send the wrong message. So pick your conversations wisely.   On the other hand, if someone clearly had a bad experience and needs customer service help, jump in right away.  


4. Don't ignore positive feedback.


When you get positive feedback on social, tie a bow on that interaction so the customer is likely to say nice things about you again. Humans are highly influenced by others’ opinions, so when customers openly express their love of your brand, it’s valuable indeed. Thank people for their positive feedback and give incentives (like discount codes) where possible.


5. Don't get cavalier with your social media passwords.


The wrong person accessing your social media accounts can wreak a world of havoc and potentially legal trouble. Store passwords to your Twitter, Facebook, blog, and other accounts safely among only the employees who must have them. Limit the people who receive access, and when interns or employees leave the company, change the passwords.


6. Don't overlook nights and weekends.


You might work Monday through Friday from 9–5 in Eastern time, but your community is global, spanning time zones around the world and checking social networks outside of your normal work hours. Think about all of the times throughout the week when you check your Twitter feed or watch a YouTube video on nights and weekends.

Posting outside of regular office hours helps your content stand out when many other brands aren’t posting. But if you do post outside regular hours, make sure someone is on call to review customer service issues that may arise during those times. Nothing looks worse than a brand posting a tweet, a customer immediately replying with an issue, and dead silence for 48 hours.


7. Don't let social campaigns run in a silo.


Social media advertising has proven to be a juggernaut for companies who want to target customers with 1-1 offers. There may be times when you want to run social media ads separately from other marketing initiatives, and that’s fine. But most likely, your social media ads will coincide with other paid media initiatives.

To create cohesion, make sure your creative, messaging, and targeting coincides with the rest of your traditional advertising. This may seem obvious, but different departments or media-buying agencies may oversee different advertising responsibilities, so it’s important to get everyone in the same room to share plans and assets.

Need more details on what your social media planning should look like? Get the complete e-book.


8. Don't repurpose content on every channel.


Have a great idea for a video or graphic? Great! But don't post it everywhere your brand has a presence.

Each social network has different capabilities and audiences. If you publish the same thing on every channel, you give people no incentive to follow you in multiple places. Who wants to see the same thing four times?


9. Don’t just set it and forget it.


Social media messages are living, breathing communications that require responses after the fact. Scheduling five messages for the rest of the day and then not checking social won't cut it. Isn't the point of social media to be, well, social? Make sure you prioritize time to follow up with customers who take the bait and reply to your content.


10. Don't set excessive goals.


Wait, goals are good, right? True — good social media goals align with the greater goals of your organization and prove the ROI of social. But setting too many won't get you long-term growth in any one area. Some solid social media goals to measure include:

  • Increase awareness

  • Generate leads

  • Increase service speeds

  • Convert more leads to sales

  • Surprise and delight existing customers

  • Create upsell opportunities

These goals are all worthy, but it’s better to execute well on one or two goals than to dilute your efforts by trying to do too much.   


11. Don't limit your view of social to marketing.


Great social media goes beyond traditional marketing objectives and across your entire business. One area where social media provides massive improvements is in customer service. If you're responding to feedback and service issues in a timely fashion on social, this will provide measurable and valuable returns.

For most companies, resolving customer issues via social media is much cheaper than phone or email. Studies also show that customer retention increases when customers receive quick replies on social. So measure these areas, and not just how many Facebook subscribers signed up for your email list.


12. Don't stop testing.


Companies that focus on advanced targeting of their ads also use A/B testing to improve their results. The best way to determine the success of something is to have two small test groups and show them different versions of the same promoted content. The content that performs better is then used on the balance of the list. Make sure the variable is limited to one element, like the headline, image, or call to action, but not all three at once. 

Want many more social media tips to up-level your company's online presence? Download 50 Social Media Best Practices now.