Posted in Social | 12-min read
The Hidden Curse of Social Media Management Tools
Social media tools that allow you to post to every platform simultaneously are a blessing...and a curse. We’ll be the first to admit that they allow for near-effortless posting by consolidating the platforms. Still, they’re also notorious for making companies and organizations immensely lazy when it comes to posting. This functionality has led to a lackadaisical copy+paste+posting of the same message across every platform as though social media is a segmented press release service. While this seems like the easy way out, it ignores a truth that avid social media users understand: not every social media platform is the same. Social media is not a segmented PR service.
“But what’s the difference? It’s all social media, isn’t it?”
(Buzzer sound) Wrong. Each social media platform has its own user/fanbase, each with their own reasons why they prefer one platform over another. Even within the walls of Brookside Studios, we have our own preferences. One of our designers is a huge fan of Facebook. Our content specialist won’t touch Facebook with a ten-foot pole but loves Twitter. Another designer is mad about Instagram, while a sales specialist has been known to pepper TikTok with lip sync videos (cough, James Pigman, cough).
Each of our teammates has their preferred social media platform that speaks to them. This means that each platform, in a way, has its own language. Because this is the case, if you want to engage with all of these users across your organization’s social media platforms in a way that truly resonates with them, you must learn the language of each platform. No need to worry, though — we’re here to help! To get you started, let’s cover the top four social media platforms as of the date of this article — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Facebook: The Local Gazette of the Internet
By far the crowd favorite with over 2 billion active users, Facebook has grown from a social media platform exclusive only to those with a “.edu” email address to virtually every type of person. This universality is so much the case that the typical reaction to hearing that someone doesn’t have a Facebook profile may make others assume they’re in the Witness Protection Program.
Despite its near-universal appeal, avid Facebook users are still a niche group. Because the platform is largely used to connect with family, friends, and like-minded individuals, regular users favor community-based content. They use Facebook to find out about what’s happening in their area, to join groups relevant to their interests or locality, or to simply to see what family members, friends, and even acquaintances are posting.
How to best utilize Facebook:
- Lean into local. Facebook lends itself to location-based activities and groups, so using the platform to stir local dialogue is best.
- Pass on the hashtags. Though Facebook offers the ability to use hashtags, most social media experts don’t recommend using them unless you’re trying to perpetuate an existing trending hashtag. The reason why they’re not recommended on Facebook is (1) they’re been abused in the past and (2) they’re actually been shown to result in decreased engagement. One theory is that hashtags make posts look more desperate and less aesthetically appealing.
- "Engage!" - Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek Next Generation. To be successful on Facebook, audience engagement is critical. Asking your audience questions and following up with their responses is a must.
- Make posts pop. Sharing videos, images, and links with lively previews are a great way to get users to slow down when scrolling past your post on their timelines.
- Have fun. Feel free to unleash your brand's personality in fun ways.
Instagram: The Lifestyle Magazine of the Internet
The second most universal social media platform on our list is Instagram. Bought by Facebook in 2012, the image-posting behemoth leans into its limitations. Because the content of posts is limited to images, short videos, and text, many users enjoy Instagram for its ability to inspire. Around a billion users follow the lives of everyone from family and friends to celebrities, artists, and anyone capable of delivering a visually appealing experience.
Many Instagram users describe the platform as “the good part of Facebook” — less drama, negativity, and sales-speak. Make no mistake, Instagram advertisements and sponsored posts are still raking in the money but do so in a less intrusive way. Since each user is only allowed to share one link at a time nestled in their profile's biography, follower engagement is dependent on serving up high-quality visual content on a very regular basis versus bombarding them with links.
How to best utilize Instagram for marketing:
- Smile for the camera. Instagram is the place to let images shine. Finding ways to tell your story visually is a must. Thinking outside of the box to do so is highly encouraged.
- No links in posts! The platform does not support links in posts, so don’t even try. Trying to slip a link into the post description will only result in an unclickable URL that will be more frustrating than helpful to your audience. If you have a specific link you'd like to share for a specific push, change the link in your biography to that link and then mention that the link is in the bio. It's probably best that you return to remove this verbiage once you change the link again.
- Use hashtags, but sparingly. The perusing habits of Instagram users do include the use of hashtags, so make sure to use relevant hashtags. You will want to make sure to do so sparingly so as not to muddy the aesthetics of the post and seem desperate. Do a little bit of research as to what related hashtags are trending and use a handful. Don’t use too many, as this can make your post look spammy or desperate.
- Feel free to go crazy with "Stories." To take your Instagram engagement to the next level, feel free to use the platforms “Stories” feature on a regular basis. These short video or image-based episodes can help give your brand an immensely approachable persona.
Twitter: the National Newspaper of the Internet
If Facebook the local gazette and Instagram the lifestyle magazine, Twitter is the nationally syndicated newspaper. Though it’s character post limit was extended to 280 in 2017, its original 140-character restriction already set the tone. While this limit on post length can be seen as overly restrictive for those sharing content, fans of the platform enjoy this constraint-induced creativity. They can quickly scroll from post to post, suddenly deciding to engage further or keep on moving. No more rambling as users pack more into every character and choose their words carefully — bringing new meaning to the phrase, “Less is more.”
Another appeal of Twitter is how it allows instant access to virtually anyone on the platform. Basement hobby bloggers can have their existence acknowledged by Hollywood A-listers, political leaders, and beyond. Twitter was one of the first social media platforms of its kind to give a voice to virtually anyone. The ability to reach out through the various echelons and sidestep communication gatekeepers has made the platform especially useful among writers and investigative journalists. This accessibility has allowed businesses to share their stories across a large swath of the planet and connect with potential customers in their neighborhood.
How to best utilize Twitter for marketing:
- A place for ideas. Because Twitter best serves the written word, where it shines is in sharing articles, press releases, ideas, and igniting conversations with users all over the world.
- Get your site ready. Though Facebook and Instagram’s ultimate desire is to keep you on the platform, Twitter is quite comfortable with allowing you to leave. This is evident in the minimal post functionality. Because this is so, it pays to have a well-designed place to tell your stories — such as a blog or portfolio.
- Say more with less. It may go without saying, but keep your Twitter posts short and to the point. Despite this instruction, you will likely need to spend more time phrasing your posts to maximize their impact. Be selective with your speech. To quote Balise Pascal, “I'm sorry I wrote you such a long letter; I didn't have time to write a short one."
- Choose your hashtags carefully. Hashtags are permitted on Twitter, but keep in mind that they do subtract from your already limited character count. With this being said, do your best to keep them immensely relevant. Too many hashtags and the post will appear spammy.
LinkedIn: the Business Section of the Internet
“Sorry, I haven’t been on LinkedIn in a while — I actually like my job.” Though the professional networking social media platform is known to be crawling with recruiters and workers who hate their jobs, LinkedIn is far more than a virtual career fair. It is a place where work/life balance is defined and only work-related conversation makes the cut...for the most part.
As the name states, LinkedIn is more about developing a professional network than anything else. While its B2C capabilities are relatively limited, where it shines is in its ability to help you foster business partnerships. In this regard, LinkedIn’s B2B potential is immense.
How to best utilize LinkedIn for marketing:
- Lean into business news. As we’ve covered, Facebook is the local gazette, Instagram is the lifestyle magazine, Twitter is the nationally syndicated newspaper. As this the case, as far as content sharing is concerned, LinkedIn is almost exclusively the Business section of that newspaper. It is the place to share the most exciting new ventures of your business in a way that other entities will take note.
- Networking with influencer marketing. LinkedIn is one of the very best sources online for growing business networks. However, unlike Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, business profiles, and personal profiles on LinkedIn do not mix well in groups or for content generation. For this reason, putting a face to your company in the form of a trusted personal LinkedIn profile is the best way to get your foot in the door of your company’s target market. Utilizing this account is best executed by a practice known as "influencer marketing." This style of marketing is the reason people may follow Elon Musk over Tesla, Tim Cook over Apple, or Richard Branson over Virgin. When a representative of a company shows their authority on certain subjects as well as their personality through published content and follower metrics, this can drastically increase trust in the brand on LinkedIn.
- Suit-and-tie Facebook. When it comes to sharing posts on LinkedIn, think of them as Facebook posts, but "on the clock." Before you post to LinkedIn, remember why people visit the platform — for business insight and connections. While posts can be fun, they need to be relevant to perpetuating one’s career or business endeavors.
Universal Social Media Tactics
Before you post or schedule a post on any platform, take some time to manage its appearance.
- No visible URLs on link posts. If you can help it, your link posts should contain no visible URLs. These URLs can make posts look clunky and unprofessional. You can eliminate visible URLs by removing them once a link preview appears in the posting process. This rule doesn’t apply if you’re posting an image and including a link in the description on Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin. Still, if you’re only planning on posting a link without an image, all that should be posted is the link preview and a short description.
- Cool it with the hashtags. Hashtag usage is just fine when every hashtag is genuinely relevant to the post. However, more than a handful of hashtags diminishes the aesthetic appeal of the post, making it look spammy or desperate for discovery.
Engage, Engage, Engage
Another curse of social media management tools is the level of detachment many of them create among those posting to social media platforms. If you’re not actively engaging with comments and responses on your social media platforms, this leads to a one-sided conversation. When you don’t respond, engage, celebrate, and answer questions, this causes your audience to question the authenticity of your motivation for posting. Do you actually want to engage with your audience genuinely, or are you just using social media as a segmented press release service? If the latter is true, you may consider rethinking your entire social media strategy.
How Much Should I Engage?
If you’re wondering how much you should engage, err on the side of engaging too much. Some brands make a point to respond to every single comment. If this sounds like a bit much, put yourself in your audience’s shoes. How would you feel if a company responded to your comment? Pretty awesome, right?
Whew, we covered a lot today! For a quick review, remember:
- Facebook is the local gazette
- Instagram is the lifestyle magazine
- Twitter is nationally syndicated newspaper
- LinkedIn is the business section
- Don’t treat social media like a segmented press release service — ENGAGE!
Customizing the tone of your posts to complement each of the userbases of these platforms isn’t immensely difficult and will pay off.
Until next time, happy engaging!