I’ve talked before about how a good social media presence is like a pair of jeans—casual and versatile. Successful social media represents you/your company/your product in a serious way without taking itself too seriously. When establishing and maintaining a social media brand, there is a gradient where you can play in the space you’ve created. It’s not uncommon for an account to speak candidly about the content of its book in one post and cash in on a timely meme in the next. You don’t want to be stuffy (a pair of nicely-folded beige slacks), nor do you want to be too laid back (a ratty pair of old sweatpants). Your social media presence should be like a pair of jeans: whether you dress your posts up or down, they maintain some consistency and remain just the right fit.

Just like you may have different jeans for different occasions, those maintaining a social media brand should use different jeans when posting across different platforms. For example, using Facebook is like a nice pair of dad jeans: comfortable and a little baggy, but still here for business. Facebook tends to attract an older demographic, so while you can still write laid-back posts, you should leave the goofiness for other platforms. Instead, focus on a calmer, slightly-more-refined tone. Don’t forget that Facebook lends itself to the longest-form writing of any social media site, so you have more room to play in the space.

Meanwhile, Instagram is more like a tight, hip pair of skinny jeans. This platform focuses on artistry, so you’re really seeking to find the perfect blend of photography, written copy, and hashtags. Your target audience here is younger (teens and twenties) so you want to speak their language. Emojis are not only encouraged but in many instances, expected. Use as many hashtags as possible (but not more than thirty, which is Instagram’s limit). This is perhaps the most relaxed you can be on any platform, though I would still recommend that professional brands use more formal language and leave the extra casual stuff to bookstagrammers.

Twitter is my favorite platform, so to me, Twitter is like the best-fitting, nicest pair of jeans I own. It is the most versatile, and because it is the shortest platform, is the most important to keep as clean and tight as possible. While you now have 280 characters to express yourself, most people will scroll past a wall of text, so keep it closer to 140. Despite this short form, I believe you have the most potential here to inject your personality without getting out of hand. Use a hashtag or two, but know that if you use too many in a casual post, it will look like you’re unfamiliar with the platform. Always mention the @handles of people you are speaking about if you want them to see your post. Most times, your target audience on Twitter is going to be other professionals in your industry, which takes a lot of the pressure off. With Twitter’s short form, you can let yourself breathe, but you should always try to be as sharp as possible (accordingly, this is a very popular platform for editors).

There are, of course, some things that all platforms have in common. Your content should always be:

  • Timely: Post consistently at consistent times. Post during business hours; set the expectation that you’ll always respond within reasonable hours for a waking human. (If you struggle with this, you may want to try scheduling software.) Responses should always be as immediate as possible, and any trends should be reacted to swiftly. The more consistently you post and engage with others, the stronger your brand will be.
  • Accessible: Create relatable content that is appropriate for your brand and target audience. For example, if you are a book publisher, it wouldn’t make sense to talk about sports regularly (or at all) on your social media account. However, if regionality is an important aspect of your brand, it may be appropriate to talk about local sports accomplishments.
  • Spreadable: Post easy to share, relatable content. Use content words, phrases, and hashtags that clearly convey your message.
  • Pizzazzable: The less boring, the better. Use images, rich media, or GIFs if applicable. Make your post memorable, be it through language or imagery.

And that’s about it! If you follow these guidelines for best use in general and across platforms, you’re on your way to starting a solid social media presence.

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