Notebook of social media tipsAs public relations practitioners, we are often asked about tips and best practices for managing an organization’s social media channels. Many businesses are still trying to learn the best formula to incorporate social media into their communications and marketing strategies. The tendency is to set up the accounts and assign someone on staff to fit social media posting into their current work responsibilities. Yet many times business owners find it isn’t working for them, and they assume social media just isn’t a good fit for their business. This is unfortunate, because it isn’t the tool that’s not working; they’re just lacking the user manual. Effective management is key. In part 1, we highlight a few key things that many novice social media administrators sometimes forget to do: have a personality, respond and be visual.

Brand Personality – Develop one consistent brand “persona” for your social media communications and ensure all channel administrators know it. For example, is it appropriate for your brand to use slang, comment on fashion or the latest episode of Scandal? Is your brand primarily talking to moms? Other professionals? Consumers? Each brand will be unique in how it chooses its approach.

But have a persona; avoid limiting posts to stark facts and sales ads. The entire point of social media is to be social, so have conversations with your audience.

Respond – Both to positive and negative posts. If you don’t know the answer, notify the commenter you are working on it and will get back to them. Then follow up as soon as possible and definitely within 24 hours. Follow your organization’s social media policy guidelines. Remember, it’s two-way communication; you should strive to respond to all posts, comments and questions in a timely manner.

You will occasionally run into posts or comments that are inappropriate or harassing. Develop clear guidelines for deleting posts or comments, something more than “it’s negative for my brand.” Typically, don’t delete a post unless it is vulgar or harassing. Having guidelines also saves you in the event a violator has questions or claims you or your organization were being unfair.

Be Visual – Use of visual content in social media has become increasingly important over the last few years, and the trend for 2015 will be a focus on social video. Many resources have shown that images increase social media post views by up to 94 percent (and approximately 65 percent of us learn visually).

Many of you will have noticed this trend already. Almost every post you ‘like’ on Facebook or “favorite” on Twitter includes a picture or graphic. There is a reason Instagram had over 300 million users in 2014 and is valued at over $35 billion.

Find ways to incorporate a photo, video or infographic to help your audience connect visually to the story you are sharing. Do not underestimate the use of a visual element; not including one will make your content appear outdated, or worse, uninteresting.

In part 2, we’ll highlight a few more key social media tips: measurement, planning and treating each platform as unique.