Last night I led a full house class called “Advanced Social Media Strategies” at General Assembly. This class is fun to teach, and we had a very large group with tons of great feedback, questions, and anecdotes to share. There were three questions in particular that we spent some extra time on.
- Should “going viral” be a goal of your social media strategy? No. I could leave it at that, but some explanation is due here. Of course, it’s all great and fun when you post an image or a blog post or a video that generates hundreds of thousands or even millions of views and shares and engagement; however, “going viral” is not a goal. If that is, or becomes, your goal, then you will undoubtedly get caught up in link baits and tricks and gimmicks to try to entice people to engage. That is not the point of social media marketing. Yes, you want to create shareable content, but all your content – every social post you publish – is a reflection of your brand.
- Does Facebook penalize you for scheduling posts through Hootsuite or other post scheduling software? I had not heard of this issue before, so I did some research and discovered that it is possible that Facebook might ding your organic reach if you schedule your posts using a third party software like Hootsuite. IAG.me has a very informative write up from this past May that includes this issue and one other that does occur when you use social schedulers. There are two issues here. First, if you bulk schedule (upload posts in a .csv file and schedule dozens of posts in advance) from Hootsuite, your posts will not include images. That’s just an issue that Hootsuite has not yet addressed, but not a “penalty.” Second, and this may or may not be a “penalty”, your Facebook EdgeRank score may be affected negatively when you schedule through a third party app. IAG.me’s article doesn’t really give confirmation on this issue, other than to note that “most people in the industry don’t see it as a problem any more” and that Facebook now has it’s own scheduling system. That may mean that Facebook will indeed expressly penalize posts that don’t use their scheduling system.
- Should you post to all social media all the time using the same tool same image and same text? Again, no. Each social channel – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, etc. – has it’s own parameters for great looking images as well as text limits, links, etc. So, while you might be able to auto-share one image without across all those channels using one automated tool, the image will look somewhat differently on each channel, and you won’t have any text. Taking the time and paying attention to the details to optimize your posts for each channel is what will get you the most engagement on that channel. Also, your audience is not on every channel, and you do not have to be everywhere. Find out where your audience is, and use that channel primarily, while testing other channels for possible fit.
It’s good to remember that social media marketing is – or should be – a part of your content marketing strategy, because everything you push out on social media is your content, and should reflect your brand. Most brands are not about “going crazy viral”, and thus should not set that as the goal. If it happens, great, but what will win over the long haul is sharing beautiful, shareable content that is optimized for each channel where your target audience is most active.