Social Media is widely used in some form by most everyone. One of the most popular social media platforms is Facebook where many people in different demographics gather with their friends, former classmates and family to share photos and other happenings in their lives.  Facebook is widely used by young and old alike. As social media grew in popularity, marketers began to see its potential and start using it.  Facebook was the first used by a wide demographic. Trailing behind it, were other platforms, each used for different purposes.  There is Twitter, which is most often used for breaking news at chat; Instagram, an image-centric platform, Tumblr which is soft of a hybrid between a blog and social media, and many other platforms. Each has its audiences, strengths and weakness.

One mistake marketers make is to treat each medium the same way, using the same content. I am seasoned in social media and know better. But time restraints do not allow me enough time to fully customize the message for each social media platform. But the most effective marketing does come from customizing the message, images and other content for each platform. Each has its needs. For example:Twitter only allows 140 characters. While it now includes photos, the message is still largely carried out with only a few letters. If you format you image to 1024 x 512 it will display the whole image in the preview without having to click into it. When posting images, one should always customize the sizes to fit the platform. Instagram requires square images and are discoverable by judicious use of hashtags. Instagram seems to be a platform least dependend on followers and instead carries out it’s distribution via hashtags.This where form definitely folllows function.  How else would a person have found an image if it weren’t tagged? It is a great medium for marketing things that have an aesthetic appeal provided it is used wisely. Twitter is almost the polar opposite in that message amplifications relies on the quality of your followers. I have found it is extremely effective when waging social justice campaigns.

Twitter only allows 140 characters. While it now includes photos, the message is still largely carried out with only a few letters. When posting images, one should customize the size of it, so that the preview shows the image in the best light, without having to click through. With Instagram, everything must be square and the use of the right tags is vital to your message being seen. Instagram is unlike Twitter in that your followers are not as important as your tags. The tags allow people who aren’t following you find your image. It is a great medium for marketing things that have an aesthetic appeal when used wisely. Twitter is almost the opposite in that because who follows you and how many people follow you really help to amplify your message.  It is extremely effective when waging social justice campaigns.

One of the largest mistakes marketers do is what I call “drive by” posting. They will post something and disappear. Perhaps they will even answer a comment if someone responds. But for the most part, it’s clear to everyone that the marketer really isn’t present on the social media platform except for marketing his/her own product. Presence on social media is not something you can fake or do half way. Social media is an extremely time-consuming task, if done right.  Doing it right means being social. That means being present to engage, like and comment on other people’s content, to show an interest in those you follow, and possibly in those who follow you. Without that component, you’ree simply exploiting social media platforms to advertise your product or services.

As someone who posts social media for a company, (on the side with limited time), I make a point to spend a few minutes each day liking other people’s content, looking for content that I can repost, and culling content of interest that is not simply promoting the business, but just of interest to my followers.  I know I could do a better job of it if I had more time, but I do what I can with the time I have.

I try to limit who I follow in terms of content that is of interest of me. Gaining followers artificially by following everyone who likes or comments on something is an artificial means to boost one’s own following and in my opinion, does not enhance your brand or social media capital. In fact, if your follow/follower ratio is really out of proportion, it is almost an advertisement to the public that you aren’t selective about who you are following, which in turns means you are not likely to be following anyone which is not social. Remember, it’s all about being social. How can one possibly keep up while following 1,000s? The answer, is one cannot follow more than a few hundred effectively.

Some social media platforms have mechanisms that can control that. I know one person as a courtesy that follows everyone who engages her in a conversation. In order to keep her timeline in order, she keeps a private lists on Twitter so she can filter just the content she wants to see. That is a great strategy to manage social media effectively without offending others.. This strategy is harder to do on other platforms like Instagram and Tumblr.

My strategy is to periodically go through my lists and purge inactive accounts and those who aren’t following me back. With the latter, I revisit their content and if I am still interested in their content, I continue to follow them. When it comes to followers, I always check out their content when they first start following me and make the decision at that moment whether I want to follow them back.

I have several accounts, including two Twitter accounts. Each account has its own focus and therefore, even if your content is interesting, I may not follow it. More and more, I find that it is important to keep my timeline clutter free so that I can really engage people on my account. When I am following too many people, it gets cluttered and I can’t find anything of interest. I have these accounts mostly to experiment with the medium of social media and gain a deep understanding on how to use them for business. As such, these accounts sometimes get neglected when real life gets in the way. When that happens, I notice my follow/follower ratio or my other internet mojo drops. I have concluded that people can sense when you are present, and when you aren’t. It really is all about the social.  So when people say, “social media doesn’t work”, I say back, “you aren’t using it right.” Those who neglect it, will get very little out of it. Those who use it properly, will gain dividends.

How do you manage your social media?