5 Fail-Proof Social Media Best Practices

Matt Hensler
by Matt Hensler 08 Jul, 2015

The majority of businesses are leveraging social media to engage their existing and potential customer base but many are still - even in 2015 - doing so with blinders on. They are either not measuring their return on investment from the various networks or are not creating engaging social media calendars, not responding to customers or making other social mistakes that will cost a brand engagement and conversion in both the short and long term. 

For those who need a refresher course on social media best practices, check out the top five below:

1. Post a variety of content. Social media posts should include a mix of content and photos, such as industry-specific posts, company news, media hits and community events. Starbucks, for example, includes information about new store openings, company contests, current events, recipes and more.

This helps customers understand what the brand is doing and where it is going as a business. Do not just spam. Converse with them, answer their questions and ask them exactly what they are looking for. Be human and socialize with them. It is OK to interact with customers online the same way as a person would interact in a face-to-face meeting, just keep it professional. 

2. Respond to ALL comments. People like to be heard and find great delight in the ability to communicate with brands and know their opinion is valued. A response can be as simple as a like to a comment or favorite to a tweet. While this is a social media best practice, 33 percent of consumers who contact brands with a customer service question on social media never get a response, so responding to all comments (good or bad), will set an enterprise apart from the competition. 

3. Stay in real-time, building relationships. Social media focuses on instantaneous communication. Responses should be replied to within 48 hours (preferably 24 hours) and through natural conversational flow. Responding in a quick, timely manner will help alleviate any frustrations and build brand advocates. 

DiGiorno Pizza's Twitter handle is a must-follow as it responds to conversations in real-time across the Twitterverse, when appropriate.

4. Move negative comments off public forum. Companies may come across negative or disparaging posts about their brand, or see third parties trying to spark negative conversations. Avoid the temptation to react, as social media marketers are too close to the business. Instead, use a general response to move the conversation away from a public forum. UPS customer support on Twitter provides good examples of doing just that.

Sample Message: Hi , we apologize you didn't enjoy your experience. Customer service and food quality is of the utmost importance to us. Please send an email to , so that we can address your concerns.

5. Have fun. Social media is a marketing platform that offers a chance to connect with customers directly, so take advantage of the opportunity and have fun with posts. Consumers want to engage with fun, light-hearted content. This is especially true on Twitter, where users are looking for funny, witty or interesting conversations they can join. (Although banking, health care and other regulated industries will want to follow a slightly different rule set but can still enjoy some fun commentary, like in the example below). 

When in doubt, make social media fun! Social media is the only marketing tool that allows you to connect directly to your customer to have a conversation. Social media marketing is a powerful tool, so engage with your fans and provide them with special offers for being a loyal brand advocate.

Matt Hensler is a digital marketing educator and award-winning digital marketer. With both in-house and agency experience, he works with small businesses, startups and Fortune 500 brands, including notable clients like DISH Network, Hailo, USA Today, Wells Fargo, Marriott and Chick-fil-A.