Are “Best Practices” Really the Best for Your Organization?

Someone, somewhere, once originated the social media tactic you are thinking of following. But is your goal to follow or to innovate?

These days there are no shortage of free resources offering “best practices for social media,” each seemingly with study data to back up their claims. For example, adding a third hashtag to a tweet will see a 17% drop in engagement, or Tweets that include links are 86% more likely to be retweeted.

Most social media managers are now using these “best practices” to guide social content development under the belief that following those simple rules will lead to optimal engagement.

But if everyone follows the same rules, how do you make your organization standout?

In some instances, the answer may be to ignore best practices and create a customized social presence unique to your organization.  Although it may sound risky to go against conventional wisdom that has worked for established organizations and brands, what worked for one organization may not hold true for you and your organization. To get your message out in today’s competitive landscape you may need to completely ignore conventional wisdom and find out what works best for your social presence.

One overly broad best practice that may be worth revisiting encourages posting content on the weekends because Twitter engagement for brands is 17% higher on weekends.  Not all organizations are consumer- or brand-focused. If you are a business-oriented trade association or a B2B company, for example, most of your influencers and followers probably aren’t glued to their phones on the weekend. Rather than dedicating valuable resources to creating weekend copy, scheduling tweets and/or hiring a weekend community manager, consider taking a look at your own metrics. Over the last month are any trends emerging? Synchronizing your posts with your optimal time could be a better use of your organization’s time and money.

More and more, companies are realizing that “one-size-fits-all” is not the best way to run social media. One organization that has adopted its own strategy is Hewlett Packard. For their online enterprise magazine, dubbed HPmatter, HP decided to go against the common practice of releasing content each day over a week- or month-long period. Instead, HP chose to release all content at the same time and allowed their customers the option to consume information all at once instead of piece-by-piece. The enterprise and C-level target demographic said they preferred being able to read content on their time rather than wait for daily or weekly posts.

Following cookie-cutter social media best practices are increasingly insufficient for developing a winning organizational digital strategy. Truly resonating with your audience and ensuring that your message is heard sometimes requires you to blaze your own social media path.

–Jadd Adams

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