24 Golden Rules for Social Media Marketers and Bloggers

Last updated on 03 March 2017

What kind of marketing rules work across all the major social networks, despite the different ecosystems and all the changes they undergo every year?

Good question.

This guide tries to answer it with a list of the most important social marketing rules you can use in your strategy (and there are 24 of them), plus a list of helpful tools you can use to make the job easier for you and your team.

As a rule of thumb, remember that social media marketing is all about engaging with people, so the human factor is still number one.

Keep it always in sight.

The platforms considered for this guide are:

  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Snapchat

But I believe you can easily extend these rules to any other social network, from Ello to DeviantART.

Good luck! :)

Essential Rules: What Works In Social Media Marketing?

There are marketing ‘rules’ that work for all social media, and by extension, even for other channels you may be using, like forums, chats, and mailing lists.

Some other rules are platform-specific and they can’t (or it would be quite difficult to) apply to all media you may be using for your marketing efforts.

The 24 ‘rules’ in this guide attempt to collect strategies and mindsets that work across all major social networks, but not every rule will fit perfectly, so you will find a line after every rule stating what networks the rule applies to.

Rule #1. Having A Plan (Duh!)

This is the very basics of any social media strategy: know your niche, know your audience, know what you’re going to use the social network for to reach which goal – then register an account.

It might sound obvious, but often it isn’t. This is the starting point for your social media marketing plan, that you can only structure after you’ve had clear in mind what you want to do and who you want to talk to.

Study your target audience

Who are they? What do they need that isn’t already available elsewhere? How can you improve their life, job or a hobby and make things easier for them? Understand your audience.

So, in a nutshell, the things you need to be clear about before you create a social account are:

  • Your niche
  • Your target audience
  • Your scope
  • Your goals (including expected ROI)

And this is true for all social networks, from the more professional LinkedIn to the fresh and ephemeral SnapChat.

However, given the nature of the SnapChat ecosystem, it’s better to create short-term plans based on events happening in a given week, and then focus on engagement (see #7 in this guide).

Use social media as a gold mine, not a dumping ground for backlinks and free promotion. These platforms exist for dialogue, so don’t just focus on your own voice, but listen, too, to the voices of your followers and other experts using the networks.

Find threads and posts where users are talking about your brand: that’s a good place to start.

Applies to:

Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, SnapChat, Twitter

Rule #2. Building Connections

Relationships are the core of any social media marketing effort and you have to spend time talking to people to build a positive presence.

When you nurture connections, you eventually build a network around your name and business.

This works for every social platform and it sums up to:

  • Focusing on building relationships with users in the same niche before trying to generate traffic via promotion
  • Engaging with others on their content before sharing yours
  • Using your expertise to help wherever you see a need or a question

Collaborations are the driving force that helps your network grow. Reach out and get talking with influencers who have the following and interests you are looking for: if you sell make-up, find bloggers and Youtubers who are interested in sponsoring your products or interview you.

But don’t just focus on hitting big influencers in your niche – nurture relationships with small names who carry value and expertise, as well as human qualities, and who are willing to get in touch and collaborate.

Engagement is key on any social platform — the more you engage with your audience and build positive relationships, the more they will be willing to share your content (and not only on one social network).

Applies to:

Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, SnapChat, Twitter

Rule #3. Private Messages/Chats

Before you promote your content or send out invitations to your new contacts, use the integrated chat and messaging system the social platform provides and build a personal rapport with your connections (see #1 in this article).

The best approach is to introduce yourself, and then ask about them, not about what you can do for them. The latter might sound like a pitch for services, when you just want to connect at human level and get to know more about your interlocutors.

Show a genuine interest, ask questions.

Earn their trust.

For example, you can share your thoughts about something interesting in their profile or ask what they’ve been working on.

Once the other person develops an interest in you, and starts asking questions on what you do, you can tell them more about your business and spark their interest. Even if they’re not directly interested in your services, they might tell others about you (word of mouth) and grow into fans.

How-to

On LinkedIn, you can use InMail to get in touch with people outside of your network, but be extremely selective of the profile you target for your pitch to avoid your message be mistaken as spam (and be a waste of your time).

On Google+, you can use Hangouts to join chats and webinars, and create your own, too. Get your name out and participate. That can also be more effective than spending considerable time and efforts to create your own webinars.

Twitter provides private messages (Direct Messages, or DMs) for one-on-one or group conversations, that are no longer subject to the 140 characters limits like tweets – Twitter introduced the change in 2016 and it’s big news for marketing, as you can hold richer conversations (you can add images, GIFs and emojis to your messages) and activate push notifications.

Applies to:

LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ (Hangouts), Pinterest

Rule #4. Visual Content

It’s a need of our century, much more than the last – visual content (statistics, infographics, inspirational quotes, etc.) primes over text-only, more abstract material.

Our brain only takes 150 milliseconds to process a symbol and 100 milliseconds more to attach meaning to it (source).

Social media give you an opportunity to add plenty of visual storytelling –  for example, branded Instagram images can potentially go viral and attract a lot of engagement, and on a simple network like Google+, visuals can even double your click-through rate and engagement.

Instagram, Pinterest and SnapChat are definitely the most visually oriented platforms, but don’t underestimate the power of visuals on all the other major social networks. Twitter, for example, lets you use big images and infographics to lure your followers into clicking on the content link in the tweet where they can read more about the topic (better if you use the same image in the post, too, so it builds continuity).

And it’s not just about content: make your profile photo friendly and professional (to make an impact and create trust, since this is the first thing users will see on your profile) and your page logo should be visually attractive for your target audience (e.g. cats if you are targeting cat owners).

Also, for Pinterest, make your blog posts ‘pinnable’ – use Canva or other image editing programs to create image headers for your blog posts that meet Pinterest’s image size criteria.

Pinterest is also the best place to publish your infographics (which Pinterest is a very natural setting for) and visual index cards about topics relevant to your niche.

Pinterest board named “Infographics” managed by Mashable (source).

Index cards can also be used effectively on Instagram and Facebook, and they are helpful to host image-based Q&A, introduce ideas and ask followers for feedback, announce a new product or service.

If the social network allows you to upload files – like LinkedIn under each work experience, and LinkedIn’s virtual professional feature – do add graphs, infographics and any images you feel are relevant.

Finally, don’t forget to use the same leading image for the same post across all social networks, to make it easily recognizable, and make sure the images and videos you add to your posts be heavily branded to be effective. This is especially true of Instagram, where you can’t use live links in posts, so adding URLs, brand names and CTAs to graphics (infographics style) is essential.

Also, take advantage of your other social channels to share and repost your Instagram images and videos. You’re going to be able to add live links on your other channels, thus boosting your visibility and getting more conversions for your special content.

More on visual content in #11, where I talk about integrating videos into your social media marketing plan.

 Applies to:

Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, SnapChat, Twitter

Rule #5. Attention-Grabbing Headline or Bio

You want to catch the right attention from the right people and give a definite image of yourself, what you do and what drives you to do it; even more so since, like your profile photo, your headline and/or bio are the first things users will see on your profile, and as you know, first impressions count.

At the same time, you want to avoid any kind of click-bait formula and get straight to the point – what is your business about? What do you offer?

Make it about what you do, not about you: people click because something’s in for them on your page, and they will be curious to learn about what you can do for them.

On platforms like Twitter and Instagram, where every character counts, make sure your bio contains your mission statement (what’s your niche? Who do you want to help? How?).

Real life example: Bill Slwaski Twitter profile – concise sentences and good use of hashtags (source).
Real life example: Michael Kors Instagram profile – Good use of CTA (source).

This is the first step to positioning yourself as a thought leader in your niche or industry on social media – you want to be the go-to person for when things get tough.

 Applies to:

Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter

Rule #6. Social Profile

This is where you want to get at least somewhat personal, because the person reading it will want to know your voice and mindset.

Use the first-person and a conversational style: you will sound more human and you will give readers the impression to be listening to a real person introducing themselves in a friendly way.

How-to

On Facebook, your personal profile is an important asset, because it will work as your door to find people to engage with and market to, as well as getting access to niche groups (admins will often check your profile to see who you are and what you do).

For Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, given the short availability of characters in the bio and no profile, a couple of keywords about your personality and vision will do the job.

Just remember this is a selling tool and not an autobiography. Your goal is to impress and inspire enough to get a genuine following that will engage, love and buy.

On Twitter, you can also achieve this by accompanying a Pinned Tweet with your bio.

Real life example: Erik Emanuelli Twitter profile – instant impression with concise bio and cover photo (source).

Last but not least, if a social network profile comes with several fields to fill, do fill as many as you can (within your own terms as it comes to protecting privacy).

 Applies to:

Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter

Rule #7. Engagement (Comments, Replies, Events)

Leading social networks worldwide as of January 2017, ranked by number of active users (in millions) (source).

All social platforms allow commenting, and there’s no better way than comments to build a community around your content or get yourself known to other users by sharing your thoughts on their content.

That’s how you grow an audience and generate quality traffic.

Ask questions in your posts to encourage users to post a comment, and actively go out and comment on other users’ content. Make that thoughtful comments, not “Nice post! :-)” short (and meaningless) ones.

Did you know that Google+ hides low quality comments by default? You don’t want to risk it. Besides, users who appreciate your insight will more likely follow you right away.

Engagement is so much more vital on a platform like SnapChat, where content’s lifespan is so short to make it impossible to plan ahead like on the other social media, so the priority is to stay available for interaction and respond swiftly to users’ changing interests – in other words, go reactive instead of proactive, and entertain your audience.

How-to

Schedule at least 20 minutes every day to read and answer your audience’s most pressing questions and feedback. Even though social media were not designed to act like support ticketing systems, you can use them as such, especially Twitter, that makes it easy to handle tweets as questions and answers and you can easily redirect users to resources available on your website.

Make sure your followers know they can get support on your social channels in times of emergency or when you have no access to email.

On Facebook and Google+ you can create an Event around anything new in your business you wish to involve your fans and friends with. You can create one in your group, page or from your profile, but page and group events will get the most reach, especially if numbers (fans, members) reach the thousands.

Share the event on your business page and promote it on your blog, too, for further reach.

Also, respond to notifications as soon as you can when you get online, but don’t stress to be on all the time. Your fans, contacts and group members will still get a notice when you answer their feedback, so don’t fret and stick to your social media schedule.

P.S. Don’t buy followers. Ever. It will mine users’ trust, and that’s a tough one to recover. Targeted outreach is your safe alternative.

 Applies to:

Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, SnapChat, Twitter

Rule #8. Generosity

Generosity can take on many forms.

On LinkedIn, you can be generous to a fellow professional who you know to be proficient in a certain area with a recommendation or an endorsement.

On Facebook, it could be sharing and tagging your friends with that powerful post your favorite nonprofit’s page just shared.

On SnapChat, it’s sharing authentic stories (around your brand’s core values) that bring positive change to and inspire the platform’s young users.

Similar actions are also possible on the other major social platforms.

As a business owner, a marketer and a blogger, you can help make a difference, and making a difference means to create a positive image of yourself and your brand in people’s minds.

All it takes is being genuinely human.

 Applies to:

Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, SnapChat, Twitter

Rule #9. Publishing Great Content

That translates into valuable content, an adjective that might mean different things to different audiences.

You know your audience best. You know what your readers, users, customers need. Your mission is to use your business or blog to help them reach their goals.

Your social posts should reflect this mission, and no matter how many characters you are allowed to convey your message, do it at the best of your possibilities.

SnapChat makes the publishing of “great content” tricky due to the platform’s ecosystem: messages are ephemeral, they’re completely gone after 24 hours and there’s no history you can access after that.

You can counter this obstacle by publishing genuine messages instead of carefully constructed ones, and you can take advantage of cross-promotion opportunities between all your social channels. Also, your CTAs should convey such a sense of urgency that users will feel compelled to act right now, or they will lose the opportunity.

In other words, since content is only temporary on Snapchat, you only get a minute or less to be memorable and trigger the user’s action, so your posts must be something users absolutely cannot afford to lose – short, interesting, no-fluff.

However, social posts are not all about social media marketing – platforms LinkedIn and Twitter also offer two great opportunities for publishing your content:

  • LinkedIn’s own publishing platform (Pulse)
  • Twitter’s Medium platform

Publishing (or syndicating) your posts on these two platforms can help you build authority if you put out content that your network wants (and needs) to see.

But you can’t afford to be shabby if you want to use the platforms for content marketing: the posts you publish need to be top quality, much like what you do on your blog, and address your target audience’s pain points.

How-to

Spend some time to choose the perfect image and write the perfect headline for your piece. You want your Pulse and Medium posts to be as outstanding as your blog posts, helpful to your industry or niche, and shareable – just shorter.

That’s how you gain exposure and authority, especially on LinkedIn. In fact, if you publish on a regular basis, you’ll engage your network and their extended networks, who will see their updates. That means more profile views, connections and engagement in comments.

Just keep in mind that your Pulse posts must exist to promote your blog’s content, not just to share industry knowledge with the LinkedIn community. Ultimately, you want to boost engagement on both your profile and your blog, not just one of the two.

Across all the platforms, try to not disdain controversial content (unless you have good reasons to avoid it). Any niche comes with angels and demons, and they are both necessary to keep things alive, so be part of the debate and kindly express your stance, discussing it thoroughly, even if your followers will initially get all heated up – they will eventually cool down and everyone involved will walk away with an increased knowledge of the topic.

Themed days (e.g. International Day of Peace on Facebook) are also great to take part in, as your posts are guaranteed to trigger at least some engagement from your followers.

In the end, your content should create interaction, and spark insightful discussion.

 Applies to:

Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn (Pulse), Pinterest, Twitter (Medium)

Rule #10. Offering Great Incentives

On Instagram, Pinterest and SnapChat, you can easily introduce a new product or service to your followers, and then publish a launch date. On Twitter, if you are using a product or service to entice newsletter signups, tweet it out regularly (e.g. monthly).

Also, it’s a good idea to provide exclusive access and content for your followers on a specific social channel – that is, users can only get Facebook-only and Instagram-only freebies through your Facebook page and Instagram account, not elsewhere.

This strategy also helps in distributing your followers over the various social channels you manage, and boost your numbers and engagement per channel. NameCheap’s annual Twitter trivia seem to work for the registrar, who gives out domains, services or even money or special coupons to trivia winners.

Remember to make your incentives audience-specific: for example, since SnapChat’s users fall within the 18-24 age range, it makes sense to offer college freebies, and not retirement plans!

As a rule of thumb, remember that the best way to convince users to care for your content is to put a limit to it – create scarcity to trigger interest and convince “fans” to join your community.

 Applies to:

Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, SnapChat, Twitter

Rule #11. Integrating Videos

When it comes to content, don’t stop to blog posts and written media – videos are a great marketing asset, too.

90% users say that product videos are helpful in the decision process (source).

Instagram allows you to record and share 60-second videoclips, so you can show followers small ‘tastes’ of what you do.

Facebook has a video upload feature for profile and pages, and you can livestream for your followers. SnapChat also provides a livestreaming option.

A good strategy for SnapChat and Facebook is to use livestreaming to develop brand trust.

On SnapChat, you could livestream a day’s work at your company, so viewers know how things get done and they connect at a more personal level with your brand and the people of your team, also improving trust.

Google+ is also integrated with YouTube and Hangouts for livestreaming and webinars, and you can promote YouTube, Vine and Vimeo videos using Twitter, because users can play a video directly from the tweet, instead of having to click the link to view it in a new window.

 Applies to:

Facebook (Live), Google+ (Webinars/Hangouts), Instagram (videoclips), SnapChat (livestreaming), Twitter

Rule #12. Business Page

That’s us on Facebook – visit and like us!

Business pages are not less important than your profile – in fact, they are a great free tool to get your fans and people in your niche or industry involved in the specific updates concerning your blog, not just yourself.

You can register a Page for your business on Facebook and Google+, and a company page on LinkedIn.

A business page allows you to:

  • engage with your followers in conversations around your content
  • be the go-to valuable resource for your followers
  • promote your products and services to a loyal following
  • share any collaboration or job openings at your company
  • provide links back to your website that generate social traffic

Keep in mind that, however, a business page will only bring you results if you update it regularly and consistently, and that the content you share on your page must be conversion-focused to generate traffic to your website.

Page promotion is also important – use Facebook’s Post Boost system and advertising, while LinkedIn offers you a Targeting option to reach a specific audience based on demographics and other filters.

More about advertising in rule #24.

 Applies to:

Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn

Rule #13. Affiliate Links (But Handle With Care)

As of May 2016, Pinterest allows affiliate links again – after it had announced a ban on aff IDs in February 2015 to fight spam and abuse –  so you can go ahead and share your links again as Pins.

Also, Facebook is totally clear with affiliate links (but don’t let it catch you posting spam in the Newsfeed, deceptive links and ‘encouragement’ for likes and reshares, or they will act against it), just like Instagram (where links are not live, but they still display as text that interested users can copy/paste into their browsers).

However, keep in mind that social media, much like search engines, fight their own war to spam in different ways, so if you want to play it safe in case rules might change in the future, do add a layer of content between the social network and your affiliate link; that is, write a review post, add visuals and testimonials to it, and promote that post instead.

And if you still plan to share affiliate links directly on your social channels (if the social network allows them), at least make them sparse and effective.

Remember to focus on building a strong community around your brand first: your followers will be more sympathetic to your aff links if they know your value first – and they’ll be more keen to help you with affiliate purchases.

As a last note (of caution) always, always disclose your affiliate links. FTC rules apply to affiliate links like to any other form of paid link.

 Applies to:

Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter

Rule #14. Connecting Or Linking To Your Blog And Other Social Channels

Use your social media channels to generate awareness and interest in another channel of yours with less promotional tools available. For example, you can use Facebook and Instagram to massively promote your SnapChat offers, since SnapChat deletes all content after 24 hours from reception.

Cross-promotion works like a charm like that. Some platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, also allow app connection between networks (using OAuth or another protocol), or other types of integration to automatically cross-post content, so by all means take advantage of the opportunity.

Concerning the link back to your website or blog, Instagram only gives you one live link in the bio, and you’ll want to combine it with a strong CTA to encourage Instagrammers to click it. That means that you should place the CTA next to the link (in the bio), and that a generic link to your homepage is not a good idea — one of your posts is a better pick, especially if you track the post from your analytics suite (or a free service like bit.ly).

It’s a good idea to mention the link in posts, too, even though it will not be live as per Instagram settings.

Other social networks make it easy to link to your website or blog from your profile and posts, and you can experiment a bit to see what works best for your brand.

 Applies to:

Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, SnapChat, Twitter

Rule #15. Communities And Groups

Join groups and communities – with at least 500+ active members, but preferably 1k+ – and respond to as many existing threads as possible.

Specifically, look out for groups that can drive targeted traffic to your profile and blog – that is, groups that are related to your niche or industry. You get higher chances to put your name in front of the right people, be it influencers or potential buyers.

Mastermind groups are also great to share and get daily insight on how to improve your blog and business practices. Also, join industry-related Q&A sessions where you can share your expertise and build powerful connections.

Devote at least 10 minutes every day to engaging with your communities, giving advice and support when needed. It’s better to invest more into engagement when you’re getting started – 1 hour to 30 minutes a day – then you can gradually reduce the engagement time until you become a name the community likes and appreciates.

A note of caution: avoid self-promotion until you’ve made a name for yourself, and when you start sharing your own content (according to the group rules), do so sparingly and always share content that is valuable to the group members and not directly selling your services.

As an alternative, join promotional groups, specifically created for all members to promote each other’s work, join contests, and collaborate in a number of ways to increase blog traffic. For example, Instagram Posse is one of the biggest (9K+ members) and most active Instagram promotion communities on Facebook, created for users to help each other grow in engagement and follower count through Comment Pods, 30-day challenges and account critiques.

However, be careful with the requirements and rules every community comes with: for example, Instagram Posse has rules against self-promotion, ‘follow me’ requests and business solicitations, where other communities will allow some self-promotion, but you will still have to follow the admins’ rules.

 Applies to:

Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn

Rule #16. Guest Content Boards and Groups For Your Audience

In addition to joining others’ groups, and when you grow a network in the hundred or thousands, you can create your own communities, too.

Guest boards on Pinterest, open groups on Facebook — you name it. Allow your audience to express their thoughts, ideas, suggestions – as you get them involved, they will ask questions and engage with your posts.

It’s vital that you engage actively with members joining your group(s), and that you answer their questions by providing helpful, valuable information – even better if it’s unique advice and expertise coming directly from your experience, so that they can’t find it elsewhere.

You can also use groups and communities to cross-promote your posts, but make sure to not do it so often that it obscures your group members’ posts and change the perception of the group into that of a spam wall.

 Applies to:

Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn

Rule #17. Your Social Contacts

When a social network gives you an option for grouping your contacts into custom categories, labels or lists, by all means make sure you take great advantage of this possibility.

How-to

You can create Circles on Google+ to maximize your audience targeting efforts and be sure you won’t send your content marketing guide to those knitting contacts of yours.

On Twitter, you can organize your followed and follower contacts in Lists and send targeted tweets to only members of a list and not another.

Facebook allows you to add your Friends to custom lists – an example is below, where I show you how I added WHSR’s Lori Soard to my Work list:

 Applies to:

Facebook, Google+, Twitter

Rule #18. #Hashtags and Keywords

Sometimes hashtags and keywords overlap, in the sense that you can hashtag your most important keywords in the body of the text. Use them strategically – trending and high traffic hashtags – and avoid overuse.

How-to

Twitter provides a creative way to use hashtags – Twitter chats – that you can use to interact with active Twitter users in your same niche, generate quality content for your blogs and survey people about a certain industry trend. WHSR has one at #WHSRnetChat and it has been a success so far.

You can also start a hashtag meme or join a currently active one in your niche or industry. What’s important is that you get your community involved. If you run a Facebook group, or actively participate in one that allows hashtag memes, make sure you spread the word about your custom meme. The same applies to Pinterest boards, even though hashtags won’t be clickable on board descriptions.

Hashtags definitely make for easy-to-join on-platform communities and plenty exist for bloggers: #mondayblogs, #bloggerslife, #problogging, #businessbloggers, #bloggingbootcamp and so on.

But hashtags also play a central role on Instagram: you can add up to 30 in your posts to maximize exposure, and Instagram search is entirely hashtag-based, too (that’s how you find influencers in your niche on Instagram), so now you know for sure that there’s no Instagram marketing without hashtags.

A tip: interact with other Instagrammers using a hashtag before you publish your post using it – it will work better to get found and make connections.

Also, try to avoid generic hashtags (#travel, #food, #cats, etc.), unrelated hashtags (who cares if they are popular if they aren’t about your brand?) and especially crowded hashtags, just like you would avoid high competition keywords for SEO – it’s unlikely that you will get noticed in the crowd. Simply enter a hashtag in Instagram’s search field and the platform will show you how many posts exist for that hashtag/keyword. Pick hashtags with no less than 1,000 posts, but also not more than 10K, and make sure you know what people are posting under that, so that your posts can also fit in.

As a general rule of thumb, try business-relevant popular hashtags before creating your own – reserve that for when your following has grown in number and engagement, or at least include yours with other hashtags that will help it reach exposure.

 Applies to:

Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter

Rule #19. @Mentions

Almost all the major social networks allow @mentions in comments, tweets and posts, and they will get your network notified and involved in your content for almost no effort.

What @mentions do is pretty much “call” users to your post and invite them to participate.

How-to

On Facebook and LinkedIn you can “call” both profiles and company pages in comments, updates and threads, but not in Pulse posts (which you can work around with a comment on your Pulse post where you mention the sources you quoted in the piece).

On Google+, remember to tag your Circles and check the “Email your Circles” option when you share content – it will “call” them to join the discussion.

On Twitter, you can start a new tweet with an @username and broadcast it to the entire network, which helps to build a thread that involves more than just your interlocutor. However, @mention replies are still only shown to those who were involved in the conversation, so you have to pay attention to starting a new tweet and not hit ‘reply’ under the other person’s tweet.

 Applies to:

Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter

Rule #20. Sharing Already Popular Content

Repin popular images, share Facebook posts with hundreds or thousands of comments and likes, retweet memorable tweets, share great, popular content to your LinkedIn Updates stream.

In other words, join the discussion, and make it relevant.

Search social networks for keywords related to your niche and pick the most interesting and highly engaged content.

Example of popular post by Neil Patel, with 31K views, 1.1K reactions and 221 shares.

Also, add a commentary to the content you share: it will give your contacts a reason for why you did pick this specific piece of content and why you think it’s worth sharing with them.

Last but not least, a ‘bragging’ tip: make good use of Twitter’s option to retweet your own tweets. Since 2016, Twitter made it easier to remarket old but still good content and giving it new life with ‘ego-retweets’ — and since you can add comments to them, you can use an extra CTA to drive engagement and signups.

 Applies to:

Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter

Rule #21. Being Friendly And Helpful, Not Salesy

Cold calling doesn’t work on social media, because that’s not what users are there for. If you get salesy, you will lose trust and opportunities.

On the contrary, genuine, friendly content, that is also helpful and inspiring in addition to entertaining, is a win.

Put giving your users what they need and want to see first, and self-promotion as second. Focus on creating relevant conversations in your niche and involve the community, touching upon topics and angles that connect with the core of your blog or business message and content.

Also, don’t be afraid to ‘branch out’ a bit with your content: if your site or your brand is about preschool educational toys, you can definitely share content about environment-friendly art & craft materials, because this is still relevant for your target audience and it fits your brand’s philosophy as well.

You can promote your services, of course, but do so sparingly. What I wrote about affiliate links applies here, too.

 Applies to:

Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, SnapChat, Twitter

Rule #22. Social Media Analytics

Twitter analytics for WHSR Twitter account (follow us).

I wrote an in-depth article in Nov 2016 on how to analyze your social efforts, but keep in mind that you can do a good job with the analytics tools social networks themselves provide you for free.

  • Facebook Insights – included with your Facebook page (i.e. https://www.facebook.com/PAGENAME/insights/), it gives you access to all traffic and engagement data for your posts and extract statistics that can help you improve your shared content and campaigns
  • LinkedIn Company Page analytics – included with the company page and you can see the statistics as a page administrator
  • Pinterest analytics – you can keep track of follower growth, impressions, your most pinned content, and how your channel is faring on Pinterest, overall
  • Twitter analytics – to measure your profile’s performance and impact on Twitter. It’s available at https://analytics.twitter.com/user/USERNAME/home

Also, the good ol’ Google Analytics is always your friend.

The easiest way to measure your Instagram success is to signup for a free account on WEBSTA, a complete Instagram analytics suite to help you understand your community and find new people to engage with; as an alternative, you can use SimplyMeasured to get an at-glance report of your Instagram (and other social media, including Google+) account performance.

For SnapChat, while you can’t collect data on the platform, you can do so on your website: assign an ID or code to each Snapchat campaign for your analytics suite to track and return as data that you can use, like the number of clicks and their distribution over times of the day.

If you see your follower count and engagement rates not growing after 3-6 months since you started working on your social media strategy, don’t give up – chances are you may still be working on developing your own voice and to publish more consistently, so continue to engage with your audience, participate in chats and webinars, and find ‘tribes’ you’re willing to contribute to (or create your own).

On SnapChat, in particular, follower count is a valuable marketing data to take into consideration when evaluating brand performance on the platform. That’s because users need a QR code or a username to follow a brand, so every follower is, in fact, intentional and not someone who decided to follow casually. Telling great stories helps in earning new followers on SnapChat.

 Applies to:

Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, SnapChat, Twitter

Rule #23. Social Media Buttons

Social networks, as well as a number of plugins for WordPress and other CMS suites, provide button and badge codes for users to add to their own websites, that visitors can use to follow them or like/promote their content with an on-site click.

The little handy buttons definitely help promote your content without effort!

However, be careful when you ask for promotions and likes, especially on Facebook – in fact, the network implemented stricter rules in 2014 to fight spam (and scams), and it might penalize your profile or page if it catches you openly asking for Likes, whether you do it directly on the platform or on your website.

The safest way to go about this (with Facebook and with every network) is to gently remind your users that you don’t mind a gesture of appreciation.

 Applies to:

Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter

Rule #24. Advertising And Promotion

If you can’t allocate too much time and resources to inbound marketing, or you want to reach users outside of your circles and communities, you can always choose advertising.

This is even truer of SnapChat, a platform that requires more time and resources to use as a marketing asset, so advertising is a much simpler solution to generate sales and traffic.

Using geofilters on SnapChat ad campaigns is definitely a good idea, especially if you want to join in local events or social causes in a given week, that help develop brand recognition and product intrigue. Compared to sponsoring an event, geofilters are inexpensive, and they brought Alex Kehr over 200k targeted views with just $15.33.

On Pinterest you can go with Promoted Pins (targeted by ad group), and LinkedIn offers you ads based on interests, demographics, and job categories.

Start with a narrow advertising audience and then increase your reach as you test the success of your ads – this is a good way to handle your budget, since advertising never comes cheap. Also, boosting the traffic power of your already strong posts is a better idea than to try to build engagement on brand new posts, that come with the risk of a low or zero ROI.

On Facebook and LinkedIn, you can also purchase sponsored posts, and boost your already engaged Facebook posts to get more traction and higher click-through rates. Facebook’s Ad Relevancy Score will help you measure how effective an ad is in terms of user engagement (likes, comments, views, etc.), so that you can effectively budget time and money spent on campaigns.

Take advantage of the opportunity to share your Facebook page posts to your profile to give them an extra free boost – you will increase reach and feedback, because your profile posts are shown more often in your friends’ and followers’ Newsfeed compared to business pages (and you can tag your friends, too).

Another form of promotion is LinkedIn’s recommendations: these are essentially reviews of your professionality and performance that will help put you in a good light with both prospects and fellow professionals. However, recommendations only work if they’re genuine (yes, someone might actually go and check if what is being said is true).

On Instagram, before you decide to spend money on standard advertising, go out and find Instagram accounts to advertise on to boost your traffic and up your branding efforts. You’ll want to get in touch with influencers and smaller accounts with a loyal and active following, so that you are certain to get a ROI (targeted outreach).

 Applies to:

Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, SnapChat, Twitter

Social Media Toolbox

You don’t have to do it all manually! Here are a few tools you will find handy in social media marketing.

Buzzsumo

It helps you find topics for Facebook marketing on the basis of what works for your niche on the network. To use it, simply enter keywords and see what content performed better in the past months or year.

Hootsuite, Buffer, Klout

Easily schedule your posts and get a glimpse of your social statistics, so you know when it’s a good time of the day to publish new content, and to which slice of your audience.

Pixabay

Finding the right public domain image for your social posts can get tricky… so here’s a pretty website that provides only CC0 images.

Conclusions

Social media marketing is a game of constant effort to catch up with social media changes, much like SEOs have to catch up with search engine algorithm updates and changing best practices.

Building relationships, engaging with your audience and producing fresh, entertaining, friendly content are always your big winners everywhere, at all times – they are aspects of the web that never changed over the years. And always, always add value to the conversation.

I wrote an article on boosting your blog traffic with Facebook groups and the like, too, if you want to check it out. However, here’s a recommendation from the bottom of my heart: never rely on single social networks for your traffic, like you wouldn’t on Google – it’s too easy to fall apart when rules changes, features die and get replaced, and business models grow into something else (like the old MySpace and Friendster).

Remember that social media are a toolkit: your best assets are your own media – your mailing list, your blog and (if you have one) your self-hosted community.