A good community manager is like a savvy dinner party host. He alone didn’t furbish all the goodies, but his actions will make or break how well his guests interact with one another. The happier they are, the more participatory they will be. Social media management means being tactful and active, because if you’re not, then that creeping awkward feeling will start to chase your guests away. Only, on the internet, people don’t need to invent excuses to leave—they just do.
What are ‘best practices’ in social media?
On the surface, when we talk about managing social media, we’re talking about the practical stuff. How often should you post new content? To which networks should you post and what kinds of posts belong where? How should you treat internet language? What can you do for outreach and growth?
Below the surface, we’re talking about conduct. Your conduct, to be specific. A community manager’s best practices in this respect refer to how you go about writing the posts, what’s acceptable, how you’re supposed to interact with followers, to what degree you do so, what are the underlying rules of social media involvement, etc.
Together, these considerations will help you forge the very best social media practices. The returns will be well worth the time you take to read this.
The Practical Stuff
Planning your posts
Social media managers have great power to alter the course of their company’s public image. With this comes the responsibility to think critically about each post before it goes live. A quick Twitter update of less than 140 characters seems simple, but small mistakes can alienate followers. Make your post memorable, appropriate and above all useful to someone reading it.
Choosing the appropriate social network
To observe best practices, a community manager should probably not be posting quick Twitter snippets on their company’s Facebook page. There’s a time and a place for everything, and posts that are optimized for Google+ may not be adaptable to Pinterest.
Frequency and timeliness of posting to social media
As soon as you post something, it will show up on your followers’ feeds. Depending on how many other channels populate these individuals’ feeds, your post might disappear beneath an onslaught of others all competing for the space. Try to understand your followers. Learn when they’re online by using analytics. Post during these times, and then not too often. Depending on the network, you will want to post a limited number of times per day so as not to scare people off.
Do good grammar, okay?
It’s tempting to pack so much information into a post that you have to bend grammar. Unless your company’s cultivated image involves such language, avoid this at all costs. Followers will appreciate good grammar, and they’ll shy away if you start using too much “internet speak” like ‘gr8’, ‘lol’, ‘rofl’.
Likewise, don’t abuse tools like hashtags. Nobody likes to read something like this:“Fraem Corps throwing #party for #Christmas on #Sunday in central #Melbourne. Will b gr8!”
Finally, try not to post when you’re under the influence—we all know that alcohol and grammar don’t get along. Hell, alcohol doesn’t get along with the decision process in general.
Non-spamming community outreach
One of the most important tasks in the management of social media is being social. If you’re a shy CEO, give the job to someone who’s more outgoing, and willing to make those vital virtual connections.
Make sure they understand, as you should, that your company’s social media accounts are extensions of your website and brand. This means you’re going to want to be picky about which entities or individuals you follow. Don’t follow or ‘like’ other pages just because you expect the same in return—your connections will be public, so think them through.
Can you manage?
Community managers are dedicated employees who handle your social media accounts. You might want to think about delegating this responsibility to someone on your team if you haven’t already, because managing social media can be a time-consuming endeavor.
Being a Good Conductor
Create your image and stay in character
Your social media accounts represent your brand. From the very beginning, you should treat these tools with respect by being honest, transparent and engaging. Your conduct will attract the kinds of people you want to interact with. One you’ve established how your social media community manager will curate and moderate these spaces, make it consistent. Be especially aware of how changing community managers might affect your audience!
Please your guests: Relevance, voice and language use
Crafting your image and staying in character means deciding beforehand what voice you will use, the language you’ll employ and the themes you will address. If you’re a watersports shop, then you should use the lexicon and jargon fit to your customer base. If you’re an NGO working to alleviate world hunger, the same speak might not go over so well with your followers.
Post local, think global
This brings us to another consideration for best practices and good conduct in social media management. Your posts might be aimed at a narrow audience, but they are public. Keep this in mind not only for yourself, but for your community.
Interact with the community
The cream of the crop, the butter for the bread—interaction! As a community manager, best practices mean maintaining community. Be proactive, respond to all comments, don’t lie, don’t fill spaces with fluff, and definitely don’t delete comments (unless they’re just nasty filth, which happens).
The dinner party host hiding away in the kitchen is not engaging, and the community will suffer for it. Feed the community, nourish them with thought-provoking content, and you’ll see how popular your space will become!