Before I was a web and UI designer at Blue Fish, I helped a small non-profit called Art Feeds get off the ground. I worked with the founder on branding, social media and communication strategy. At the time Myspace was hot,  Facebook was mostly for students and I’m not sure I knew what Twitter was. These days my focus is usually on usability, client positioning and making sure all the pixels are where they go. During that time I committed myself to learn about social media and how to do it in a way that is both effective and not obnoxious. I’m going to give you, dear reader, a high level overview of what that looks like. 

Saturation vs. Information

The first and best thing I was ever taught about social media was the most dead simple thing possible: Have a plan. My first step in this plan is always the same: identify your voice. Are you going to be sarcastic but approachable? Witty and informational? Whimsical and engaging? What is a conversation with you like? Is it more like talking to Andrew Dice Clay or George Clooney? Once you know HOW you sound, you can start thinking about what it is you say and how often you say it.  The key here is to push out valuable content without overkill.  Based on some research done by TrackMaven and others here’s a helpful guide to when to post your content and how often.

Twitter (10-15 posts per weekday, half that on weekends): 
Most “brands” post during the workday, during the work week. Peak times are Thursdays during the lunch hour. Studies show, though that Sundays and at night from 10-11pm produces the most RT’s. 

Facebook(1-2 times per per day): 
Weekends! Post to Facebook on weekends! If you’re adverse to Loverboy lyrics, Facebook posts After 9pm generally have the most interactions. 

Instagram(1-5 per day): 
If you’re posting to Instagram for business, you need to be much more intentional about it. It’s a visual medium and as such if it’s not high quality, it’s not going to be as visible. That said, Instagram has very little to offer in the “best times” department. Based on the studies the only real “peak” time was on  Mondays and even then it was barely above the baseline for interactions. If you’re posting to Instagram, just go for it as long as you’re holding a high quality standard and not posting every 10 minutes.

LinkedIn (1-2 times per weekday):
Everyone’s professional networking site is pretty well clocked in with all the other suits. Tuesday and Thursday mornings are best from 7am-9am. Which, I’ll be honest, seems pretty early, but the numbers don’t lie.(entrepreneur.com) 

Google+ (2-3 times per weekday): 
This one is tough, everyone know’s it’s out there but no one really knows how to get it right. Hubspot’s numbers show that Wednesday mornings around 9ish make for good interactions, something to keep in mind though: G+ demographics are rapidly growing in the 45+ age range. Keep those posts friendly for that demographic and you should be golden. 

Obviously these ar just hard and fast guidelines based on qualitative data, so your mileage may vary. The best way to see what works is to start here and tweak it until it’s right for you. Once you have a basic idea of what and when to post you’re gonna need to figure out how to pull ~30 pieces of content out of thin air per week. 

Now Accepting Applications

So now you need to get the content figured out and get it out the door right? Well, you have a few options here. One option would be to hire or allocate someone to run social media and content creation for you. Depending on your business, this is often a pretty good idea. Regardless, there needs to be a plan for how to get it out there. The old standby has always been Hootsuite. They have a great free plan for up to 3 social networks and allow you to schedule things for those three networks. Last week I learned that Klout - the sort of annoying but intriguing website that scores your social media interaction - recently (like last February) added the ability for users to sift through social media stories based on categories and schedule posts & reposts. It’s free and after messing around with it for a while last week, the Blue Fish team is pretty interested in using it and even recommending it to clients. Another option is Buffer, a social media sharing application that does pretty much the same thing as Klout and Hootsuite, but shows off a different UI and price point (~$100 a year). The long and short here is that someone needs to get content out there, it might be a good idea to hire someone or allocate a person (maybe you!) To monitor and share content. The next step is perhaps the hardest: Testing. 

Testing, Testing, 1…2…3…

All of the above options offer some sort of metrics. The key is to use those metrics to make sense of what you’re doing. There are several different ways of doing this, one that’s super helpful is using a service like bit.ly. Bitly is a service that shortens links, gives you analytics on those links and if you have your own custom short url, you can use it to share things and see those metrics. This gives you a 2 step metric if you’re using something like hootesuite or Klout with it, which is awesome because more information is better. What do you do with that information once you have it?

Reconfigurationing

Once the information is in front of you, everything gets a lot more real. There’s not a lot that’s up for debate, because as we all know - numbers don’t lie. We often sit down with clients and go through a simplified version of all this information, usually to the same response: “I can’t believe I’ve been ignoring this.” The takeaway from our side is always that these aren’t mistakes or issues, these are opportunities for growth. 

There’s a massive opportunity out there for businesses of any size. Are you interested in engaging customers and future customers on social media, in blogs and through email marketing? Blue Fish offers consulting on both social media and internet marketing that is easy to follow and super measurable. We wade through the information and report back to you on what the wins were and where we need to make some adjustments. Just drop us a line if you want to supercharge your Social Media Strategy!

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