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Social Media Beginner’s Guide

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In a world so consumed by digital media, there are thousands of platforms through which the public can access their favourite content. Whether business-related, education-related, employment-related or simply just for fun, there is something out there to satisfy every user demand. For those of you already acquainted with the world of social media, it will come as no surprise when we tell you just how many channels there are. Though, given the title of this guide, we feel the majority of our audience will benefit from a quick run-down.

In This Post

Types of Social Media Channels

Instagram / Facebook:

Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, each designed to enhance connectivity in today’s ever-growing virtual world, can be characterized as social media platforms. Allowing their users to send direct messages to one and other, regardless of their locations, these apps have become essential elements of everyday life. So much so that, almost exclusively, the world relies on them to check the news, buy gifts, engage with employees, and communicate with their friends. Since being incepted, these platforms have continued to expand, constantly incorporating novel trends, technological developments, and, perhaps most importantly, consumer demands.

TikTok

Without a doubt, the biggest social media channels are those affiliated with the social entertainment industry. One of the most notable of which is TikTok. This short video platform, which allows its users to share short clips with the public, has grown exponentially since its inception, gathering over 689 million users in just 5 years. Suitable for all ages, TikTok delivers content relating to comedy, dancing, singing, drawing, and pretty much anything in between. The platform uses algorithms to track user behaviour, automatically noting what each person engages with most heavily, carefully analysing their watch times, and likes to deliver a bespoke blend of videos to suit their preferences. It may come as no surprise, therefore, that TikTok is one of the most celebrated actors in the online entertainment industry. However, there are others who are notorious in the amusement sector.

Pinterest

For the art lovers among our audience, Pinterest is something worth considering. Acting as an online pinboard, the app exclusively showcases visual content. This can be shared online, among users, or with the public at large. Whichever suits you best, you are guaranteed a social media experience like no other with this creative phenomenon.

LinkedIn

Finally, and perhaps more conservatively, we have employment-related channels. Similar to Facebook, these platforms allow their users to share content via a public feed, the drastic difference, however, relates to the type of content being posted. Designed to connect those seeking employment with those offering it, these apps essential take the job-seeking process and place it online. Perhaps the most notable of which is LinkedIn. The largest professional network on the internet, this application boasts over 740 million global users. Pretty impressive.

 

 

As confusing as they may sound, these platforms truly are fantastic. Given the sheer volume of choice out there, we would be surprised if you failed to find something for you. I mean come on, there has to be a reason these channels are so famous.

Types of content

Since its inception, the internet has been home to a diverse portfolio of online content. From videos to blogs, pictures to films, and pretty much anything in between, there is something out there that is guaranteed to satisfy your virtual needs. To help you find the perfect content, we will break down each type, explain what it can do for your brand, and deliver instructions on how to implement it. Given the sheer volume of content that is out there, this may get a little confusing, perhaps even daunting. We urge you not to worry. After reading these tips, you will be equipped with all the tools you need to begin the journey to becoming a social media professional.

 

Generally, social media content can be divided into 3 groups. The first of which is written communications. Whether it’s a post, blog, article, or guide, it is important that you use clear language to engage with your audience. Without it, the internet would be a very silent place. Think about it. With ordinary media outlets, like a newspaper, advertisements, even where pictured, rely on the accompanying text to sell the product effectively. The same goes for the internet. Without over-facing other users, you want to deliver them enough information that they are able to form an opinion on your brand. Even if it is not positive, you will still benefit indirectly, helping to filter out individuals who do not connect with your company. Since there are so many users online, this provides a great opportunity to refine your target audience not just for commercial benefit, but further in terms of the time, you will save manually locating your optimal consumer base.

The second type of content, videos, is perhaps the most heavily consumed of today’s list when considered in the context of online media. Far more engaging than plain text, posts published in this visual format are guaranteed to perform well. That is if you do them correctly. To succeed, a video must be presented in a way that appeals to its audience. Breaking this down, you want to be sharing content you know will be understood by the individuals most likely to view it. Pages dedicated to selling children’s toys, for example, should rely heavily on animated features, while those who appeal to mature audiences should instead invest their energy into projects with slightly more advanced features. A question-and-answer video perhaps. Many creators have already begun to recognize and accommodate these trends, adapting their visual content to better suit their follower’s demands. Since all social media posts are usually accompanied by comment sections, you will be able to view other user’s opinions directly, in real-time, and, where necessary, respond to concerns. Besides offering a more effective way in which business owners can track the performance of their page, this provides an opportunity for community building. Through the provision of visual content targeted at improving consumer relationships, whether in the form of a Q & A session, in which you answer questions previously provided by your followers or within the comments section that forms beneath it, you will not only increase the loyalty provided by existing customers but further increase the chances that you acquire new ones. For such a simple task, there are extensive benefits on offer.

Like the content above, our last category belongs to the visual world. Capable of being consumed in a second, images are a simple, yet highly effective, way to boost your presence across social media platforms. Similar to videos, any image you post will be accompanied by a comment section, where users have the opportunity to voice their opinions on the content. The real selling point here, however, centres on the instantaneous nature of a photograph. Users can learn a lot about your brand with an image. Whether plain or extravagant. It really depends, once again, on the type of individual you wish to target. However, this should not be a cause for concern. Given the versatility offered by this format, there is really not much that could go wrong. Those appealing to audiences concerned with the performing arts industry, for example, can use their social media page to advertise a flyer. One which, often, will have been created electronically anyway. All you would need to do is locate the file within your computer and share it on your feed. No extra effort, no extra cost.

Now you have become a little more familiar with the types of content available in the online space, we should move on to creating your own.

 

Selecting a Platform

Before delving into the depths of the world of social media marketing, it is vital that you first select the channel in which you would like to operate. Given the extensive amount of choice on the market, there will certainly be something that catches your eye. To prevent you from having to spend hours locating the right platform, we have thrown together a few tips.

First, you must ensure that the channel you choose is appropriate for the content you intend to pose. Beyond the extremities, social media provides a home for all creative minds, so you want to make sure that your audience is refined as it can be. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, though unique, can be characterized as communicative, rather than necessarily informative, in nature.

Facebook is great for most businesses and has a huge audience to draw from. Facebook will allow you to post stories, various types of content from blogs, images, jobs, videos, etc. 

Instagram is very visual and moving more toward video. If you know you don’t have a lot of photos or videos to share, you should opt out of this medium.

Twitter, while more political and news related than ever, required a lot of time and effort. One tweet every so often will not do the trick, nor provide much value to your business. 

LinkedIn is strictly for employment. Unless this is something with which you are concerned, there is no need to consider this option. Though it might be handy to set up an account if you feel that opening up employment is something your business will soon consider.

Finally, there are the visual-only platforms. Perhaps the most notable of which is Pinterest. Since the platform will only allow a post to be created where visual imagery is involved, this is one for those in our audience seeking to target the more creative minds.

Create Unique Page Information / Optimizing bio

The next step which requires prior consideration is the information you wish to share in your social media bio. To get the best results from these features, since most require minimum character counts, you want to deliver a message that, while precise, perfectly captures the essence of your brand. Only mention the most important things, the ones you believe a potential customer would want to hear. This way you target the correct audience and filter out the ones who are unnecessary to your commercial development. Besides your bio, you should upload a profile picture that will boost your presence. You want this to match any theme you have going on the page, whether relating to font, colour, logotype, or image type.

The final, and perhaps most important, prerequisite for creating your own social media page is securing your website URL. This should be copied and pasted directly into your bio. Only then will potential customers turn into actual sales. The link will direct those who click it to your company site, taking them away from the platform you used for advertisement directly to the location that matters.

Besides driving sales, this provides an excellent opportunity to access free marketing. The more work your social media page does, the less that is needed on the website front. It is worth noting, however, that for those of you who require several links, most applications are not yet equipped to provide their users with the resources to promote several external pages at once. Though, all hope is not lost. Tools like Bio.Links have been created to remedy this issue, allowing creators to post as many links as they need all in one place.

Tip: Before choosing a company name, although it may not be possible try searching to make sure your brand name/username is available. 

You can do this by simply searching:

instagram.com/username and
facebook.com/username

Another option is using a tool such as: 

 

Share the Right Amount of Content

Once you are active, it is time to begin posting. Your first thought at this stage may be that the more content you share, the higher the chances are of it succeeding. The reality of the situation, however, is slightly different. While, historically, creators who focused on quantity were the most successful, those who push their efforts toward delivering quality content have begun to prevail.

A part of this quality relates directly to the audience with which you are dealing. The schedule you create should align with the times your followers are most likely to engage with your content. Those of you who intend to appeal to businesses, for example, should consider evening hours for posting to have the most amount of reach. The same applies to all industries. Failing to accommodate your followers in this way may result in a reduction in the performance of your page moving forward.

Besides sharing the right amount of content, you need to share the right type of content. As a business you should split up your content for a month to get the right amount and mix of both educational, questions, polls, videos and more.

The right mix is on average about 14-18 posts per month. Mix in stories, posts, polls, questions and videos within this amount of content and it will be ideal for most businesses. Include at least 2 sales posts or call to action items within the month. Don’t offer do it with sales posts. You need to be engaging your audience not just selling. 

The educational sphere is one proven to improve social media performance. When businesses provide their users with the information they can learn from, they not only increase their chances of developing a better understanding of your brand and its values but further increase the possibility and duration of engagement by creating opportunities for discussion in the comments. You will tell them more than they know about your competitors and, beyond anything else, this is something you really must appreciate.

User-Generated Content

User-generated content, or UGC, is content created by users. When used correctly, this can boost community engagement rapidly, and often leads to the creation of new relationships. Businesses who post images, videos, and written submissions created by their users not only demonstrate their commitment to developing a better client experience but further reinforce their respect for the value of their input. For a great example, take a look at the Starbucks Christmas Campaign. Each year, the company shares images of its fans holding the famous seasonal cup. Though to the individual being posted, this seems like a clear recognition of their loyalty, and while it probably is, this is a strategy not just concerned with likeability. The company will reach many new users, not yet accustomed to the trend, without having to spend any of their hard-earned cash. Simply perfect if you ask us. 

Where desired, creators can also implement humour, sarcasm, and even politics into their social media posts. It goes without saying that this should always be outside of the extremities, and all efforts should be given to avoid offensive or inappropriate content. Remember to consider the age of your target audience, and the nature of your post before committing and if you are still unsure, check the platform’s community guidelines.

 

Humor / Politics

There are two topics or subjects you should tread lightly on when it comes to your social media. Politics and humor. Politics should be fairly obvious, but just in case we will remind you that not all of your clients will share the same political views as you do.

 If you start getting too political they will likely leave you and go to a competitor that has a similar view point as them. Although there are memes that do get spread around like the recent Bernie Sanders meme of him sitting, we would advise all businesses not to post anything political. Your business is not there to be taking a stand either side.

Humor might not seem as obvious as avoiding politics. But it has the same issues. What you might think of as funny could offend or trigger your clients. And if you do, it is hard to gain their trust back and to keep them as your customers. As such we recommend that you avoid these two topics as much as possible in your social media content. 

Hashtags

Last, and by no means least, we come to hashtags. Written with a # symbol, these are used to index keywords, making them a great way for businesses to refine their audience. They work by directing the content you post to the pages of the hashtags which accompanied it. For example, if you post a picture of a dog with a caption that reads #cute, it will then appear on the platforms page for that specific phrase. People are able to follow these hashtags meaning, so, even if they do not follow your page, they will see all of your content that pertains to that specific subject or phrase. This relates directly to the message we have been pushing this entire guide. Refinement. Only when you target those with an interest in your product or service will you obtain the best results, and what better way to do that than to reach those who, like you, have a passion for a certain hashtag title.

We hope that, after reading this guide, you feel more familiar with the somewhat daunting world that is social media, and we wish you the best of luck in all of your future virtual ventures. 

Let us know in the comments below if you have any more suggestions or questions. 

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