Regardless of the platform and your trade, you want to be “relentlessly helpful,” as Tim Grahl says. You also need to keep your business goals in mind. If you own and operate a computer repair store, your goals are going to be very different from those of a mixed media artist. Ask yourself how you can best leverage social media for your business. A computer repair store should share tips on Facebook for identifying whether a PC has a virus or just needs some upgrades, while a mixed media artist should post pictures on Instagram sharing a new paint she is trying.
However, you also need to keep in mind who you’re trying to attract into your community. Authors who blog about writing tips may find that they’re building a community of other authors rather than readers. Knowing your audience will enable you to determine how best to leverage your social media presence.
Now more than ever, a video is king. Users love watching clips of cute cats or “quick and dirty” tips. Videos on Facebook generate 135% more organic reach than photos do; live videos garner three times more attention than videos that have already broadcast.
This doesn’t just apply to Facebook; videos perform well on Instagram, and almost five billion videos are watched on YouTube every day. If you go the video route, though, you absolutely have to make sure your finished product is professional. Gone are the days when unedited blogs easily captured viewers. People watching videos expect them to be clear and well edited, with great sound quality.
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to optimize your social media for 2017 is to refine your hashtag skills. Hashtags are essentially the modern SEO; they help users on Twitter, Instagram, and now even Facebook find exactly the kind of content they’re looking for. While it doesn’t pay to create your own hashtags, you can study hashtags in your industry to best determine which ones you should be using. Keep in mind that each platform has its own set of hashtags, and they are often exclusive to that platform. For example, #tbt is widely used on almost every social media site, but #writersofinstagram and the like are restricted solely to Instagram, while #MondayBlogs is much more popular on Twitter than it is on Facebook.
The easiest way to research hashtags is to go directly to the social media platform. Using their search form, try to type in a hashtag. On Instagram, you can see in real time how many posts are using a certain hashtag. Choose hashtags that have a high number of posts using them, but not so many that yours will get lost in the noise. A good rule of thumb on Instagram is any hashtag with under 1,000,000 and over 2,000 posts connected to it. If a hashtag has more than 1,000,000 posts connected, you can drill down to get more specific. For example, rather than using #books on Instagram, use a genre-appropriate hashtag, such as #newadult.
If nothing else, make sure you are replying to every tweet or comment—and thanking people for sharing. You don’t have to be logged in all the time; you can set aside a specific day of the week to catch up on comments and whatnot. Leave no engagement ignored, though, or your audience will think you are talking at—rather than to—them.
Implementing these best practices for 2017 will ensure that your brand will be better positioned than ever before.