By Caleb Carden, Fall 2017 Intern

In 2017, social media is practically inescapable. Children under the age of 10 have never known a world without it, and even our grandparents are joining Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family. Ideas for new platforms are emerging every day and the leading platforms are only growing and evolving. In order for any business to stay current and successful, it is crucial to maintain an online presence and stay connected to the world around you.

Whether the primary purpose is to sell your product or just to keep your customers informed, social media is an excellent tool to engage with your audience. Every business has their own brand identity and voice, but it’s important to always keep in mind best practices for managing your social media accounts. While some of those best practices may seem obvious, a lot of businesses are guilty of making these common social media mistakes:

1. Not Knowing Your Audience

The biggest crime any business can commit is not understanding their audience. If your target market is women age 30-55, you’re not going to use the same marketing strategy as someone would to target teenage boys. It is crucial that you first know whom it is you are trying to reach. Once you know exactly who are you communicating with, you can drive the conversation by tailoring your content for that audience and get the best reach possible.

2. Posting Too Much Too Often

The quickest way to get your followers to hit that “unfollow” button is by posting too much too often. Unless you’re Beyoncé, you probably can’t get away with posting multiple times within and hour or so. If your content is flooding someone’s timeline, they’re going to grow tired of seeing it and immediately opt out of seeing any further posts from you. It is best to keep at least two hours between each post, especially on platforms like Facebook and Instagram where posts are not necessarily in chronological order on your feed. Keep in mind the type of content you are posting and who is going to be viewing their timelines at the time you are posting in order to reach the best possible audience.

3. Boring/Annoying Your Audience

A lot of businesses are guilty of “recycling” content, and this can be incredibly dangerous. Your followers will begin to catch on if you are posting the same content multiple times and will become bored or annoyed. One of the most important things I’ve learned is to always keep your content fresh. It’s very easy to re-promote a message by changing up the imagery and text that goes along with it. By having multiple images on hand and editing your copy, you can get away with posting the same message several times without annoying your followers.

4. Not Creating Value for Your Followers

It is important that you create value for your audience with each post. Why should someone invest in your business? Why should they follow or subscribe to your content? Keep these questions in mind when creating content so that each post is purposeful and valuable to the customer. Sometimes businesses forget their purpose and will post content that isn’t really helping the customer in any way, which can lead to customer confusion or dissatisfaction.

5. The 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 Rule is a social media marketing strategy that says 80 percent of your content should be informational and educational while only 20 percent should be direct promotion of your business. Most businesses don’t follow this rule exactly, and it’s not detrimental if you don’t. Some businesses find a ratio that works best for them, and that’s great! The 80/20 Rule is just a guide for what to strive for in order to keep your audience informed and entertained without hard selling in every single post.

Keep these common mistakes in mind when managing your social media in order to maintain your following and create a successful online brand. By learning best social media practices and applying them to your accounts, you can make the most out of every platform and grow your following - and ultimately, your business.