Following on from our recent series of blog posts on how to craft an effective social media update, we’ve turned our findings on what works (and what doesn’t) into a useful checklist for anyone getting started in social media. It’ll give you guidance before, during and after your posts. You can print it out as a handy one-pager so you can make sure you’re literally ticking all the right boxes.

PLANNING YOUR POSTS

No matter if it’s Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn or Instagram, you have to have a plan. Before you start getting tap-happy on your keyboard, think about…

What are our business/marketing goals for this platform? Are we trying to sell directly? Boost clickthroughs to our website? Get our name out there? Or do we want to encourage customer engagement by posting useful articles or fun pictures? It might be one, or all of these. But it’s important to know what you’re trying to achieve before you jump in all tweets blazing.

Who are we trying to reach? Think about the people you’re trying to engage with, and where they’re likely to live socially. Why might they want to interact or follow you? What added value can you and your company bring?

When should we post – and how often? Our posts point to just some of the vast data out there about when you should and shouldn’t post. But realistically the best way is to try and see what works best for your brand, that particular platform and (most importantly!) your users. Experimenting like this may give you some quick wins and help you prioritise platforms.

How will we know it’s working? Think about your ideal outcomes. For example: greater sales, more recommendations, more awareness of your business. Then turn that into achievable and available measurements, eg customer recommendations = retweets and likes. Or greater awareness = shares and clickthroughs.

What’s our tone of voice? If you don’t have tonal guidelines, find a piece of previous content you all liked and use that as a shorthand reference.

What do we have to share or say that’s interesting? At first it may feel as if you don’t have a lot, but all businesses have useful insight. And whatever you say, keep it positive. Positivity encourages engagement and sharing. It also helps to inspire or excite your users.

Does it fit in with our overall content strategy? Social media shouldn’t be seen as separate to content strategy but as an integrated part of it. Content is posted on social media, you see which works best and then adapt your future content to suit this.

STARTING TO WRITE

Check:
☑ Is this the right platform for this post? And this audience?
☑ Does my post have a clear purpose?
☑ Do I know what I want people to think, feel or do after reading my post?
☑ Is this the right time and day to post?
☑ Have I decided what success will look like for this post?

BEFORE YOU PUBLISH

Check:
☑ Does my post contain a link or call to action?
☑ Can I include an image or video to boost engagement?
☑ Is my post concise and specific? Does it include keywords so people know what it’s about?
☑ Can I add an appropriate hashtag(s)? (NB use up to 2 for Twitter and Facebook, up to 5 for Instagram)
☑ Have I stayed positive? And will it reflect positively on my business?
☑ Will our customers get something useful, interesting or fun out of the post?
☑ Have I done a spelling and grammar check?

AFTER YOU’VE POSTED

Check:
☑ Have I checked how my post is doing? Am I recording engagement so I can track performance?
☑ Is there anything I would do differently next time? 
☑ Can I follow any new people?
☑ Have I responded to any questions?
☑ Have I thought about my next post? What will I say and when will I do it by?
☑ Where can I repurpose or repost this content? Will my Facebook post also work on Twitter? Can this blog I’m linking to also work as an Instagram caption? Or can I even post it again with a different image or headline and get better results?
 

Download your print-friendly checklist