I have worked in social media before, but only as part of a wider role and only really to help out other people here and there. 

I’m therefore little more than a beginner myself, so I thought it would be good to put together a list of things I wish I’d known about the various platforms when I first started using social. 

Plus it’s just nice to have everything in one place. 

Disclaimer: I’m writing this assuming you understand the basic technical ins and outs of these sites, such as writing a tweet or uploading a photo to Instagram. 

I’ll be covering the following social networks (in this order):

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Tumblr
  • Vine
  • Snapchat

Twitter

Tweet daily. If you’re not consistently posting content your followers will lose interest. 

Republish old content. There’s no reason not to shout about good stuff you’ve done in the past, especially if you have evergreen content

Use hashtags to get your posts noticed. But whatever #you #do don’t stuff #your #tweets with them. It’s annoying. 

Schedule tweets for evenings and weekends so you don’t miss out on traffic.

Include imagery in your tweets where possible. People are much more likely to share this kind of content.

You can gain relevant fans if you follow other people in your industry

Find influencers and ask them to share your content. But make sure you always approach influencers in the right way. 

Share other people’s content. Just keep it relevant and interesting, obviously. 

When sharing an article, include an interesting quote or stat from the piece rather than just tweeting the title. 

Don’t ignore people who give you positive feedback. Take the time to reply. 

Equally, don’t ignore the negative feedback. But never reply in an argumentative or defensive way. Keep it polite and professional. 

Share ‘personal’ updates about the business, i.e. when you get a new starter or have a charity cake sale or whatever happens in offices these days. It makes you seem more human and people respond to that.  

Facebook

Don’t hard sell. This is very important. People aren’t generally looking to buy stuff on Facebook. Show them something genuinely interesting. 

Encourage conversation by asking people questions.

Keep it brief. Save the long copy for your blog page.

Post photos and videos to your timeline. Research suggests these are the most shared types of content. 

Timing is everything. Test different times of day to find out when your fans are most active. 

Monitor and respond to comments. Mostly to keep the conversation flowing, but partly to make sure nobody is being abusive to other commenters. 

Post directly to Facebook rather than using a social media management platform like Hootsuite. Facebook’s algorithms favours content published this way. 

Instagram

Don’t be afraid of detailed descriptions. Instagram may be all about imagery, but an interesting description can really put a picture or video into context. 

Use your profile text to post relevant links. Then mention the link in the photo description. Jamie Oliver often makes good use of this in his recipe images. 

Jamie Oliver Instagram

Post original video content as well as images. People will love you for it.

Create your own hashtags and build a community of posters around them. 

Alternatively, 'hijack' existing hashtags to promote your own cause. Wateraid did this brilliantly with the popular #WHPfromwhereiwalk hashtag.

But do bear in mind that some hashtags should never be hijacked, like when Kenneth Cole used the #Cairo hastag during the 2011 Arab Spring to try and promote his new clothing collection. Stop it, Kenneth.

Kenneth Cole Arab Spring hashtag

Try to post original content where possible. People will appreciate seeing something new. 

Your business may do nothing but produce plain beige envelopes, but your brand can still be beautiful. No seriously, look what those boring old techies at IBM did with this THINK campaign.

IBM THINK on Instagram

IBM THINK on Instagram

Use filters at will. They’re extremely intuitive so you don’t have to be a photography expert to turn a relatively bland picture into a visually pleasing masterpiece (or at least improve it slightly). 

Show ‘behind the scenes’ images of your business. Some actors literally do this with popular TV shows and it always gets a massive reaction.

Create a series of related images or videos and share them with your followers. This keeps engagement levels high as people want to know what happens next.

Pinterest

Create boards on specific topics related to your product range, like in the example below from Amazon.

Amazon Pinterest

Always add links to your Pin descriptions. It’s a great way to drive traffic through to your ecommerce site or content pages. 

Don’t just stick to your own links, though. Add some third party content into the mix. This will usually be more interesting than exclusively posting pictures of your own products. 

Be creative when naming your pinterest boards. ASOS, for example, uses ‘ASOS <3s Hair’ over something generic like ‘Hair products’.

Promote your blog content using relevant, eye-catching images. 

Include plenty of seasonal boards that relate to your industry. If you are a clothing or food brand, for example, you could have a board related to festivals in the summer. 

Engage with others’ pins that are relevant to your business to encourage them to follow you in return. 

Everyone loves an inspirational quote. They are perhaps overused, but they still get lots of love on Pinterest. Just try to make them at least slightly relevant to your industry.

House of Fraser inspirational quotes

LinkedIn

Be active in relevant groups. Become part of the community by asking questions and replying to questions from others. 

Use groups to promote content. But make sure it’s actually helpful to the group’s members and not just sales spam.

Post some of your best blog content in the LinkedIn publishing platform. If people read and enjoy your content they are likely to follow you. The LinkedIn blog is also a great place to find influencers in your industry. 

LinkedIn blog content

Interact with influencers by commenting on and sharing their updates or posts. 

Tag connections in posts if it is related to them or you think they are likely to share it with their followers. 

Optimise your LinkedIn company page for search by including three or four of your main target keywords in the main description section. 

Tumblr

Use photos, images, GIFs, memes or anything that has a striking image to get the best levels of engagement. 

Use this platform to target a predominantly young audience. 

Share third party content related to your industry as a way to build your own brand identity. 

Take advantage of the customisation features to create a more on-brand page than on other social networks. 

As with Instagram, show ‘behind the scenes’ photos of your team or fun stuff happening in or around your office. 

Vine

Show your products in action. Maybe go one step further and show your product being used in a slightly different or unexpected way.

Make use of the infinite loop feature for something a little different, like the example from Nuffield Health below.

Tell stories using time lapse. Telling a story in six seconds is always going to be challenging, but a time lapse video is one of the best ways to achieve this. 

Stay down to Earth. All the best Vines have is a sense that they can be made by anyone, no matter what budget or skill level.

Ask top Viners to make content for you. It’s a great cross-promotional strategy that gives the user a new audience and brands can take advantage of the Viner’s probably much larger fan base.

Don’t film Vanilla Ice dancing around your shop. Just don’t. 

Snapchat

Flash sales: Snap users an exclusive coupon code for a limited-time offer. 

Take people behind the scenes. Snap users a new product ‘sneak peak’ or a backstage photo at an event. 

Run competitions. You could provide a hashtag that only Snapchat users can see and ask them to share something on Twitter in order to enter. 

Be human. This is not the platform on which to talk about ‘innovative, market-leading product drives’. Talk like a Snapchat user. 

Have fun. Snapchat is a very informal platform where emojis, drawings and jokes are all welcome. Use them at will. 

Please note: the above image is not actually from the My Little Pony Snapchat account. But you get the point.

What have I missed? 

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully someone just starting out on any of these social media platforms will find something here to help them get going. 

Please do let me know in the comments below if you have any helpful social media tips for beginners I haven’t mentioned. 

Jack Simpson

Published 16 July, 2015 by Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (3)

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Sue Rand,

Insightful and useful tips, Jack. Thanks, gives me something interesting to think about while stuck in boring M6 traffic later today!
Sue Rand

almost 2 years ago

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Mathew Belden, Marketing manager at Activ Net Marketing

these beginner tips helps me lot.

almost 2 years ago

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melina cameran, Online Marketer at DezineForce

Great Article. These tips are very useful Thanks Jack

9 months ago

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