Social Media Posting Guidelines
When you and your team are actively engaging in social media, it is important that everyone is clear on what your posting guidelines are. This outline is meant to provide you with a template that you can adjust so that it best reflects the guidelines of your particular organization. For example an adventure company may have very specific guidelines on how safety is discussed on social media with regards to boating guidelines or best wildlife viewing practices. The social media plan for your company should be in line with the overall business approach of awareness & education first, sales second. Social media is not just about broadcasting, it is about sharing. Here are few thoughts to keep in mind when using social media.
- Focus on your product or service and the uniqueness of what you do first. Then talk about the North Island Region and the various products available to the visitor once they have arrived. Your primary focus is to introduce what you do best and let people know that you exist and why. However, the public does not necessarily think of the North Island as a vacation destination. For most travellers, a trip up north will be multi day event and sharing or talking about other things to do while visiting the region is a great way to encourage a multi-day stay.Generally, you will want to post primarily about what you do with a secondary focus on the region. You might provide cultural events and travel information, local adventures, and product locations to entice potential visitors to find out more. Collaborate with complimentary organizations in your area and cross promote each other. Message about the benefits of buying local to encourage southern Vancouver Island visitors and showcase the untouched natural beauty for those further afield.
- Engage. Try not to always be the conversation starter, rather respond to other people’s conversations. Listen for your keywords and comment, support, share and encourage those people that are interested in the same things you are.
- Start conversations. Post ideas with a specific question. Ask specific people a question or post on their Facebook wall. You want to show that you are also listening. A great idea for travel and tourism is to encourage your followers to share their travel story with you. This might be enroute via Instagram (#hashtags are great on Instagram #gonorthisland) or via a blog.
- Share original content but always keep in mind what your key messages are. It can be tough to always be creating content. If you don’t have time to get it done sometimes, try posting an inspirational quote or a historical photo. These can often be done quickly and are typically well received.
- Thank and acknowledge those who help us spread your message. Share their stories.
- Remember the company voice with EVERY posting.
- Schedule most posts and ensure that they not too closely timed to previously scheduled posts. This will ensure that multiple people posting for one organization are able to collaborate as scheduled posts will be easily identified.
- Post specifically for the social media network you are sharing on (especially in terms of length). For example a Facebook post should always have an image and may be several sentences long. Twitter may also have an image but doesn’t have to and will not support more than 140 characters. If your Facebook account is set up to automatically Tweet your posts, you may find that your posts are too long. Note: having your Facebook posts automatically tweeted is not considered best practice. You disconnect this feature through your Twitter account.
- Use hashtags strategically. #ExploreBC is a good example. This promotes the province. #VisitPortHardy is obviously more specific. #GoNorthIsland is our region. Two to three maximum per post is a good starting guideline. Vary your hashtags as different audiences will be listening for different keywords. #Vacation #EpicFishing. You can create your own hashtags for events as well. Notice the capital letters for multiple words.
- Share and engage only brand relevant content – try not to become distracted by ‘what’s trending’ unless it is relevant to you. This is also important when it comes to time management. Stay on task so you complete your posting in the time allotted.
- Use Hootsuite (or another social media management tool such as Sprout Social) to post to multiple accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+. Use the shrink function for links (so you can track them). If you are posting directly in Facebook Bitly is another great tool to shorten links that will allow you to track engagement. Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Bitly
- Look at the stats weekly but only analyze them monthly. Refer to your social media plan to see if you are on track with the goals you identified there. Are you having more conversations? Are more people sharing your posts? Did you have a really successful post or tweet? What was it about? Can you do more of that type? You can find Facebook stats under Insights in the Admin panel, use your website analytics to determine if your social media traffic sources have increased or use the reporting features in Hootsuite or Sprout Social. If your goal is increase engagement, watch your shares, retweets etc. If you goal is to drive business growth then keep your eyes on website traffic and your conversion funnels.
A few things to avoid doing:
- Don’t speak in absolutes – You cannot make claims yourself unless you are a cited expert, but you can share other people’s claims.
- Don’t be libelous – don’t make claims about other companies, people or disparage them in any way.
- Don’t share personal information.
- Don’t post content, contest or product links without an enticing tease, lead or engaging question.
- Don’t ignore negative posts or tweets – respond with the intention to solve their problem. It is often best if a senior person in the organization does this as it is seen to be taken more seriously if it is the owner or manager responding to a negative comment. As with everything, you can’t make everyone happy however if comments are not at least responded to, it can be perceived that the organization doesn’t care. If the conversation looks like it may escalate, have the individual contact you (the manager) directly offline and away from the social media forum.
- Don’t engage hateful, slanderous, bigoted, racist or otherwise offensive post or tweets – report them instead.
- Don’t forget to really read (and spell check) each post before posting — especially if you are responding.