7 social media tips for beginners

I’ve been working with social media for seven years now so I thought I’d share my top seven tips. If you’re just starting out you might find these useful. I don’t consider myself to be an expert – there’s still so much to learn and there are always new channels and technologies popping up – but here are seven things I wish I’d known before I started:

  1. Sometimes on social media grammar and punctuation go out of the window, but the full stop has an important role on Twitter. If you start a tweet with a username, Twitter thinks it’s a reply and it won’t go to your followers’ timelines. Stick a discreet full stop in front of the username, and all your followers can see the tweet.
  2. Don’t let the trolls get you down. If you’re managing a corporate account (especially if it’s a government one) you’re bound to attract abuse. At first it upset me, then I became immune to it, now I sit down with a cup of tea and a biscuit and enjoy the entertainment. Don’t reply to abusive comments. People will soon see that if they phrase their question/comment politely they’ll get a response; if they’re rude and sweary they won’t.
  3. Posts with images and video get a better response. You’re competing with a lot of other content so yours needs to stand out.
  4. If you’re posting a link, for example on Facebook or LinkedIn, once the preview loads you can delete your link from the text – and the preview stays. This looks much tidier than including a long link in your text.
  5. Start with your objective not your channel. For example, people come to me and say ‘I want to talk to people about X and I want to set up a Facebook page’. It turns out there are several high-profile blogs about X. That’s where their content should go. They might feel comfortable with Facebook because they use it in outside work, but it may not be the best place for what they’re trying to do. Bloggers are always looking for good content and may be willing to let you write a guest post.
  6. Experiment. When it comes to digital and social media no one has all the answers. You have to keep trying different things and be prepared to fail. You might post something you think is exciting and will get a great response, only to find no one cares. You might post something you think is a bit dry and suddenly everyone’s talking about it. It’s hard to predict what content will do well and what will flop. Keep evaluating everything you do until you understand what your audiences like.
  7. Chose your username carefully – you can’t always change it. And when you’re coming up with a name for a campaign, keep it snappy, and make sure it can be easily turned into a hashtag.
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