Four Social Media Basics to Take Into 2021

It’s easy to get into the weeds when crafting an effective social media approach. But before you get in too deep, make sure you’re getting the basics right. Here are four to follow.

If you wanted to, you could spend weeks researching social media trends in great depth. But after a tough 2020, that level of detail might be a little much.

So to start off 2021, we’d like to take a back-to-basics approach to social media. If you’re following these general approaches, you’re probably on the right track. Nail these—then focus on the more complex stuff.

LinkedIn: A Tool for Lead Generation

As a network targeting businesses, the Microsoft-owned LinkedIn has a more focused approach than some other social networks (and its dedicated paid premium version reflects this framework).

For that reason, beyond its traditional use as a “living resume,” LinkedIn may be best thought of as a way to help build new leads and conversions. The company even added a new feature to its Pages platform recently that adds a call-to-action (CTA) that can be used to generate signups, downloads, or other goals.

“You can add links to take visitors from your company’s LinkedIn Page to an off-LinkedIn CTA site right now,” Rishi Jobanputra, LinkedIn’s senior director of product management for Pages, recently told PC Magazine. “But we felt it important to add a directly accessible and customizable CTA capability to Product Pages because our data tells us users see a very steep attrition rate when they move visitors to another site.”

That’s not the only strategy for lead generation, either. Marketing expert Neil Patel has an array of other suggestions that associations can leverage on LinkedIn.

Twitter: Good Timing, Strong Visuals

The past few years have proven that Twitter, traditionally a second fiddle to Facebook, still has a place in the social media landscape.

A big part of that is Twitter users’ ability to draw attention by jumping into the conversation. A consistent record of replies goes a long way, and a willingness to leap on a viral thread or trending topic with a well-timed comment or reply can be an effective way to stand out.

“It seems like Twitter sees a new viral topic every other day. Your brand can capitalize on this by participating in trending conversations and topics relevant to your industry or your company,” wrote Jacqueline Zote on the SproutSocial blog. “This helps you gain visibility with people who have yet to [follow] you on Twitter, which then paves the way for more engagement.” (Of course, the flip side of a real-time, high-engagement platform is that you can more easily fall into a gaffe on Twitter than on some other social networks.)

Another strong element of Twitter success comes down to having effective visuals that encourage storytelling. Twitter recently added a feature called Fleets, which are akin to Instagram Stories, offering a new way to stand out.

Facebook: Groups vs. Pages

If you were trying to reach an audience on Facebook half a decade ago, you might have found yourself reliant on curating an effective page with daily content that your readers could interact with.

In the past few years, however, the pendulum has swung back in favor of groups—one of Facebook’s earliest features but increasingly one of its most important. After years of letting the feature sort of fade out, the company has started to put more focus on it than pages, even creating tools for advertising through Groups. Groups allow marketers to nurture a narrower community than a more broad-based page might.

While Groups can naturally create competition with existing association offerings, such as private communities, they can also come in handy for helping to curate a niche or to help strengthen a community that didn’t previously have a solid platform. In some cases, Facebook groups have even become the starting points for nonprofit groups, with one notable example being Women of Email.

But even if pages no longer have the level of reach they once did, they remain an important element of any social strategy—though you may need to change your approach to something less about clicking on a link and more about teaching your audience.

Instagram: Sell the Story

A well-curated Instagram page can go a long way for associations, especially when it tells a story that goes beyond the surface level.

In a blog post for Hootsuite, writer Christina Newberry recommends taking a variety of approaches to help hit your audience, including behind-the-scenes posts, videos, and quote-driven images.

“Instagram is a visual medium, so your posts have simply got to look great,” she wrote. “You don’t need professional photography equipment, but your photos and videos do need to be sharp, well-lit, well-composed, and in focus, at a minimum.”

Newberry also recommends building an aesthetic around your account, so people know what to expect from your messages. That kind of consistency—both from photo posts and stories—can help draw others in.

Get this stuff right, and you might just be on the way to social media success.

(ipeggas/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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