Image via Jeff Sheldon under CC0 1.0

Start 2016 Off Right With These 7 Social Media Tips

This post was originally published on January 5, 2015. It has been updated with new info for 2016. 

Did you fall short of achieving your social media goals for 2015? Maybe you only made modest gains in followers and engagement, or even lost some followers on certain accounts. Maybe your boss wasn’t all that convinced the time you spent on Facebook helped the business at all.

Whatever your motivations, a new year means a fresh start on social media. Now is the time to reevaluate, adjust, and start posting. A good first few weeks or months will make the rest of the year on social media much easier.

Take a look at these seven social media tips to help you start 2016 off on the right foot:

1. Take a hard look at your social accounts, ditch the dead weight

It’s not yet spring, but the beginning of the year is the best time to do some cleaning up on social media. Look at all the accounts you’re managing and ask yourself these questions:

  • Have you invested tons of time and effort into an account that just isn’t working?
  • Have you been neglecting an account for months?
  • Are you maintaining accounts on any social networks that don’t make sense for your business?

Congrats, you’ve just identified the dead weight in your social media strategy. Now take a deep breath and let it go.

That’s right, we’re suggesting that you shutter your accounts. Why? Well, because the only thing worse than not having a Facebook or Google+ page is having one that you never update. People will find your page or profile, follow you, and then never receive any updates. Then they’ll move on to a more active competitor’s page.

Your first step should be to think of new approaches and strategies to revitalize these stagnant accounts. But if you don’t have the ideas, resources, or desire to make things work, you’re better off closing these accounts and focusing your time on the ones that benefit you the most.

2. Set better social media goals

Part of not letting your social accounts fall by the wayside means setting better, more appropriate goals. Many businesses don’t even set social media goals, and just update their accounts where they see fit. Others set goals that are unrealistic, or inappropriate for the network in question. If your social media goal is to drive 100 enterprise sales leads a week through Instagram, you probably need to take a step back.

To start off 2016, set goals that you can actually achieve. These goals should contribute to, or be aligned with, your broader business goals, but they should still be very much catered to the individual social networks in question. On Instagram, a more reasonable goal might be to create a branded hashtag and attract at least 10 user-generated photos per week using that hashtag. This goal is achievable. It can also contribute to broader goals, like increasing engagement around your brand or increasing the flow of user-generated content.

By investing time and effort into setting better goals this year, you’re not only increasing your chances of success, you’re also setting realistic expectations for your team, your executives, and anyone else you’re accountable to.

3. Make a social media plan

So you’ve set some social media goals, now what? Once you’ve set some achievable (and measurable) goals, it’s time think about you plan for reaching them. A good social media plan serves a roadmap that will help your business get where you want it to go on social.

Not sure how to create a social media marketing plan? Check out our how to blog post and make sure you include a content calendar of some variety. Creating a content calendar (as part of your overall marketing strategy) can make it much easier to schedule social content ahead, saving you time. Get tips on scheduling Tweets and Instagram posts, among your other social messaging, on our blog.

4. Budget, budget, budget

When it comes to social media management, there’s a lot of budgeting involved: you need to budget your time, resources, ad spend, and more to ensure you’re getting the best return on investment (ROI).

Not advertising on social yet? If you aren’t already, the time to start advertising on social media is now. With tons of options—ranging from more traditional ad posts to boosted or promoted posts and beyond—available on nearly every social platform, your business needs to start leveraging the power of social advertising. Social ads can help ensure that your brand’s message doesn’t simply get lost in the noise of an increasingly loud social media sphere.

Not convinced? We made a long list of social media advertising stats that are sure to change your mind, and took a closer look at the benefits of Facebook advertising.

On board yet? You can move straight into our beginner’s guide to social media advertising for tips that work on multiple platforms or, if Twitter’s your thing, dive right in by learning how to launch your first Twitter ad campaign.  

However you choose to use it, ad spend should be an important part of your budget moving into 2016.

5. Build a Twitter list and actually follow it

Did you feel a little behind the trends in 2015? Did you get an Ello account when everyone already left it behind? Or did your Facebook reach suffer because you missed out on the newest algorithm changes? Maybe you just missed some major industry news and your competitors jumped on it.

Social media is seen as a valuable publishing tool while its powerful listening capabilities are so often underutilized. You’re missing news and information while you’re busy to some of the most timely information networks ever.

To do a better job of staying on top of news and trends this year, make a point of building out a new Twitter list. Research some of the biggest experts in your field—the people that break the news, not the ones that repost it an hour later—and add them to your list. Find social media experts and news websites and drop them in a list, so that you’re on top of new networks and techniques as they arrive on the scene. And add a little calendar reminder to check your lists regularly. My lists are the first thing I see when I sign into Hootsuite. Think about whether this approach would help you.

6. Update your profiles

How many times have you updated your social media profiles, ever? Once? Twice? I’m not talking about a new profile picture, I mean going through every bit of information within your profile, from your contact information to your interests. Is your email up-to-date? Your phone number? Your interests?

Profiles are so easily neglected. We rarely go back and update the dozens and dozens of fields that make up a profile. Set aside time and do that, today. You might be surprised at all the fields that are out-of-date or just blank.

If you think it might be time for an update, find out how to improve your social media profiles in one hour (or less).

7. Commit to social media education

You’re managing social media for a business and you’ve already attracted a decent following. You’re posting regularly to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. You’re engaging with users and you’re directing them back to your online store. That’s a great start, but it’s only that: a start.

There are so many social media opportunities that most of us simply aren’t aware of. Little tricks and techniques that aren’t yet widespread but can have a big impact on your social media success.

The reason we don’t know “all there is to know” is twofold. First of all, social media is constantly evolving, so it’s almost impossible to be aware of everything there is to know. That’s not the goal anyways; you want to know only the tactics and information that will be beneficial to you and your business. But perhaps more importantly, we miss a lot of this information because most of us are self-taught. Social media is only slowly creeping into formalized education, and most of us simply learned by doing.

Social media education is more important than ever. If you work in social media, it can mean the difference between getting some views to your blog and driving substantial revenue to your business. Committing to social media education is a smart move even for experienced social media managers. These resources can bring to light even simple tactics that you might not be using, in addition to the broader strategies that industry leaders are employing.

Hootsuite offers a variety of options for social media education through our education platform Hootsuite Academy, which includes several certification programs.