Social Media Guide for Beginners

As someone who has worked with social media for several years, both unpaid and professionally, I definitely have some experience under my belt when it comes to marketing with it.  Due to some requests made upon me, I decided to make this sizeable post to discuss some social media basics.  None of these will go into to much depth, but for a beginner, it should give a good overview of everything that should be done and considered with social media.

You can check out more of my posts on marketing here.

1) Do not go in expecting viral success.

Social media marketing is about the grind, not overnight success. Just because you try new tactics on social media does not mean you’re suddenly going to go from 0 views to 1 million. This sort of marketing is slow and painful, but still very, very important. You have to stick with it and analyze things based on the bigger picture, not whether something worked within the span of a week (or even in a month in some cases). I have seen many people give up on social media marketing because their efforts were not immediately awarded, and if you go in with that mindset, social media won’t work for you.

2) Try to be on as many social media platforms as possible…

Marketing is half about brand awareness. The more places you are, the better chance you have at making new people aware that you exist. So this can include Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, etc.  Wherever you can be, be there.

3) …BUT focus on platforms that garner you the most response.

The above being said, don’t waste too much effort if you aren’t getting engagement on a certain platform. You should still try to be on that platform, but you don’t need to post as frequently. For example, if more people are responding to you on Facebook than on Instagram, post three times a week on Facebook and post once a week on Instagram. This way you’re not making the grind worse by posting on platforms that are unlikely to increase your success.

4) Find your audience’s platform.

Unfortunately, there is no one answer for this point. Some people do better on Twitter, some people do better on Instagram, some people on Facebook, and so forth. The point is to find where your audience is. In general, what you would want to do here is a test. Spend a month posting equally on all platforms and then at the end of the month, find which platform did the overall best in terms of engagement and, if you’re into more advanced analytics, conversion (which I will touch more on that later).

Once you find your platform, though, you will know where you should actually focus your efforts for point 3.

5) Pictures are worth 1000 words.

Always, always, always include a picture. Almost every study shows images have a better conversion rate than plain text. However, try and make sure the image is working towards whatever the aim of the post is. Having a plain image with just a cat is a lot different than having that same image with the text “ADOPT your new friend TODAY!” on it. Also, keep in mind each platform has different ideal sizes, so while you can research that yourself, remember that too large of a picture can hamper your efforts.

6) Always have calls to action…

The entire purpose of any kind of marketing is to get the user to do something. Maybe it’s to buy a book, pledge to a Kickstarter, check out a new update, whatever. You want the user to do something. When that’s the case, you directly need to tell them what you want them to do. This is why you always hear YouTuber’s telling you to, “Subscribe to my channel!” You’d think it’d be obvious to do so if you liked the channel, yet just that simple phrase has such a huge impact on actually getting people to subscribe.

Social media works the exact same. Want someone to read an update? Make sure you say, “Check out my latest update!”

7) …BUT don’t be generic.

While you always want to have calls to action, don’t be generic about it. Users want to know where they’re clicking to and not just that they should be clicking. You need to balance your call with some specific information that will catch attention. While there’s no one “right” way to do this, focus on what is special about the thing you’re trying to share. For example, if promoting a comic update, mention something specifically that’s on the page (without spoiling, of course).

8) Post frequently, but not too frequently.

People on the internet forget things very, very quickly. So you need to constantly bash them over the head with your “product.” This means, ideally, you’d post everyday. Now for some people, that is not feasible. In those cases, you just want to make sure you post as many times of the week as you can.

Now there are two caveats to this. First, what do you do if you only really have one thing a week to share? Post tangentially related things. For example, in addition to your main product, maybe you have a Pateron or a Ko-fi or a store or something else. Post about that then. Post whatever you think your audience will like that helps you to get them do the things you want.

The second caveat is that there is a thing as posting too much. If you’re posting marketing more than a few times a day, you’re gonna have a bad time. It’s more likely people will mute/unfollow/or similar to stop seeing your posts.

9) Make a schedule.

Likewise with the above, it’s good to make a schedule of what and when you’ll be posting to social media. This allows you to easily keep track not just of where you posted something, but also properly track how you’re rotating the things you’re sharing.

However, bear in mind this only works if you can self-discipline yourself to follow the schedule. So do whatever it takes to make it a habit. Set alarms on your phone if you have to. Do whatever you can to remind yourself to post.

10) Engage every reply you can.

It’s not called media, it’s called social media, and there is a reason for that. People on these platforms want to be engaged. This is why it is very, very important to reply to almost every comment/reply you get. The more you engage, the more people will participate in return.

That being said, you want to make sure it’s the right kind of engagement. For one, DO NOT engage in public disputes. It doesn’t matter if you’re right, it just makes you look bad. Block or mute someone if you have to, but NEVER fight someone on the internet. You won’t win, and other people will just wonder why you’re doing it.

Second, almost all social media platforms prefer posts with more comments. So when engaging, your goal should always be to get the person to reply back again. As such, it can be very helpful to ask the person a question, as people like to answer questions. Of course, if you can’t think of a question, a simple, “Thank you!” is still better than no reply at all.

11) Watch your analytics.

This is where we get into the more technical side of social media. When it comes to marketing of any kind, you need to watch your analytics, see what posts are doing badly, make sure there is a general trend of growth, etc. This is gonna vary depending on platform and your goal.  However, I will show you the general way I would go about doing this using Comic Tea Party‘s Twitter which I have been running for a little over two years.

From last month (October), my top four tweets were as follows:

twitterstuff

From this, I can conclude that my “Motivational Monday” Tweets and my Thursday “Commenting Tips” did the best.

Let’s compare this to the previous month’s Top Tweets:

twitterstuff2

I can see that “Motivational Monday” tweets did well as usual, but that it seems in October the “Commenting Tips” did better than September. Knowing this, I can take a deeper look at these tweets and try to figure out what I did differently that led to that particular uptick. Is it just that the topics were more interesting to people? Is it that I made the Tweets more consistent with the “Commenting Tip:” aspect at the front?

While there isn’t one for sure this is the one answer, this sort of information does help me decide what is working and what isn’t working. From there, I can make more informed decisions about how to move forward.

The same can be done with the various charts that most analytics offer you. For example, from the last seven days of Tweets for Comic Tea Party, I can see that I had a huge uptick on Tuesday:

graphsevenedays

This allows me to investigate if this is usual for Tuesdays, if I perhaps did something differently, or so forth. Again, there could be a lot of answers for the uptick, but the point is these sorts of analytics let you observe and investigate based on data.  As such, you’re allowed to focus on what is and isn’t working more quickly.

12) Never stop testing.

In conjunction with the above, never, ever stop performing tests. Keep what’s clearly working for you on social media, but always try new things to fix what’s broken. This will involve the analytics above, but you always want to be trying out new things to get more people. What those new things are will vastly depend on audience and content. Maybe it’s a new hashtag, maybe it’s better branding, maybe it’s changing the language of your posts. Possibilities are endless, but test constantly, because even a few more people is a few more people than you would’ve had before.

14) Consider conversions.

At last, I’m to the point where I’m going to talk about conversions. When it comes to social media, as mentioned before, you should always have a goal. However, once you achieve that goal, what’s next?

For a business, generally the ultimate goal is to get you to buy their product. Social media is what gets them to the site, but once on the site, the goal is the product. No matter what you’re pushing, you should be considering this as well.

Do you want people to comment, subscribe to an RSS feed, support you on Patreon, buy something, etc.? Once you know that goal, if possible, find some analytics that will keep track of how many people are visiting versus how many people are converting. Just because people click links on social media doesn’t mean your ultimate goal is achieved. This is a tricky rate to track, but one that is important to consider as to whether or not your efforts are being awarded in the way you need.

15) Make your social media easy to find.

Last for this guide, always make your social media accounts are easy to find. If it takes longer than 3 seconds to find a link to it, that’s bad, because people can be lazy and generally won’t look longer than that. Link everywhere you can and make it super obvious. You never know which social media will lead people to your goal, so it’s always best to make sure your entire online presence is well-connected through a web of links.

 

Hopefully you’re able to get some use out of these social media tips.  Again, these are for beginners, especially those who look at social media and mostly see some impenetrable monster moving at light-speed.  There is a science behind marketing, even if it’s not an exact science, and you can use social media to your advantage.

Though none of these are that in-depth, I’m happy to expand upon any one subject, so let me know if that’s something you’d want to see.