Many businesses and individuals don’t actually have any strategy when posting online, others have a basic strategy but it is not not aligned to their goals and values. It is important to consider what you are trying to achieve by what you post and whether or not the content you post may in fact damage your brand and reputation.
Some branding experts will tell you to post content over and over (particularly in twitter) so that it gets seen often, but in our experience, it is really important to break up the content so that the same post doesn’t appear again and again in a row. As twitter has such a fast moving newsfeed, it can be really valuable to post content again, but it needs to be quality content and you need to have build up a reasonable following.
Are you involved in the development of your strategy or are you outsourcing to the lowest bidder? Generic posting schedules do little for engagement and can be a waste of money.
A good strategy will start with an analysis of your business and examination of the user profiles and behaviours, your customer avatars.
Wanting to position yourself as an thought leader? Then make sure that you provide blog posts and comments that are from YOU! It is not a credible representation of your expertise when someone else writes for you. By all means engage a writer to improve the readability if you are not good with words, but provide the meat of the article yourself.
Take care when employing someone to blog for you and check out examples of their writing, including the engagement obtained from the posts, to ensure it is well researched and that the information within is correct and doesn’t breach copyright. We have seen businesses with blog content that has been stripped from the web. This could lead to nasty lawsuits if you did not have permission to use the content and then portray it as your own.
Be aware that everything that is posted online under your brand represents your brand, and reflects the values and ethics of the businesses (or individual if you are your brand). This includes the way that your staff engage online and the way customer complaints or enquiries made online are handled.
The move to using automation and affiliate links to generate passive income has seen some businesses post content that has little value in the hopes of earning additional income or that involves the use of annoying pop ups on every page. Think about the user experience, less can be more :-). The first step before worrying about affiliate links is to make sure you understand (or you employ someone who does) your analytics. If you are not getting any traffic to your site, if there is no engagement on your social media platforms and your emails have a very low open rate, then the focus should be on improving that before worrying about affiliate links. Having too many links can also clutter a website up and distract visitors to your site away from your product or service to theirs. Would you rather get a new client, or earn $20 from a link? You have worked too hard in and on your business to let your focus be turned. If you are using affiliate links you must also let people know that they are links. You can have a generic statement on your website, but if you promote a product for which you have an affiliate, it is important that you let your prospects know.
Of course if you have used a product and really love it (because anything on your affiliate is really an endorsement of that product) and you are offered an affiliate link, that is fine, just make sure you stay focussed on your own business outcomes first.
All that said, we do not mean the automation of posting such as scheduling is not a good thing. Quite the contrary. To create a managable inhouse strategy and content plan, such tools are important.
Being honest and upfront is important in business to build trust. If you are a new business and still learning, then price yourself according to your expertise and experience, but don’t make claims which you can’t justify. Too often we see people start a new business from scratch, making claims to be the best, or the only specialist etc and they haven’t actually tested their own theories yet. We all have to start somewhere, but when it comes to social media, they should be experimenting with their own before they lay claim to yours.
We get quite distressed when we see businesses pouring out content and posting madly in various platforms or boosting facebook posts because some “guru” has told them they should do that, without having any developed a formal strategy (apart of perhaps a generic content plan) or obtained indepth knowledge of the business. Beware of only seeking free advice as you just can’t get the depth of a professional consultation over a cup of coffee. By all means have a cup of coffee as a means to see whether you are a good fit for a potential working engagement, but don’t try and put together a strategy for yourself based only on someone telling you of some amazing stat. What works for one business may not work for yours.
The other option is to do a lot of research yourself and be prepared to spend a lot of your time testing and reviewing what works. A good social media specialist is constantly learning and attending professional development to stay on top of the game. Let them spend the thousands to save you the time. We have seen some small business owners spending up to 4 or more hours of their day on social media, in attempts to follow some kind of “strategy” which in actual fact is a content plan that was perhaps was not well thought out in the beginning and not aligned to any outcomes.
Your content is the voice and tone of your business – make sure it reflects that
Avoid overposting the same content across platforms
Check any autoposting schedules you have set up and make sure you are not duplicating content into the same platform
Don’t just sell or self promote. Add value with your posts
Where possible keep your social media inhouse and invest in training for your staff. This ensures you maintain the voice and culture of your organisation.
To explore some more of the issues of ethics and integrity, you might like to read our article on reviews and testimonials
If you are interested in having a formal social media strategy and content plan prepared for your business please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Fiona Lucas is the founder of iRespectOnline. She is passionate about helping small businesses to grow, thrive and build reputation online. Fiona is an ethical marketer providing bespoke online marketing strategies to enable businesses to leverage social media for growth. Underpinning everything she does, as Australia’s first online reputation evangelist she is passionate about driving social change towards a more respectful online environment.
She was named in Mamamia’s Top 50 women to watch online 2013, Finalist Geelong Small Business Awards 2017 – Social Media Influencer and is a virtual community manager for Social Media Marketing World. Fiona presents on digital futures, cybersafety and digital marketing.
Fiona is the author of Futureproof Your Kids – a parents guide to the social media playground.