It was 12 years ago when I started using social media. First Facebook. Then Twitter. Then LinkedIn. Then Instagram. And in between a million other platforms that no longer exist.
Just a year after that, I started using social media in a supervisory role. I learned a lot moving from coordinator to manager to director. And ever since, I've shared a lot of what I've learned in the form of columns like this one.
But like anything else, things change.
We went from 140 characters to 280. Horizontal photos and videos were the greatest until they weren't and vertical took over. My rule of tweeting no more than four times an hour was declared outdated when we elected a president who tweets 50 times in 24 hours.
I'm happy to say that one thing that hasn't changed and never will is your voice — more specifically, how important your unique voice is to your unique brand of social media. How you come across and sound online can make or break your ability to spread your message and win.
So before you jump online and tweet 50 times in 24 hours (please don't do it, even if you are elected president someday), start with this. Whether you are going for consistency, compliance or camaraderie, here are five key points to consider.
Know your audience. I'll never stop repeating this, because it's that important. People who tell you to cross-post your tweets on LinkedIn and Instagram are wrong. The platforms are all different, and saving time is not an excuse for violating that cardinal rule.
Say what you mean — and say what you want. What you don't want to do is share a link with no context. That's called broadcasting, and it's the opposite of engaging. Know what it is you want to say and combine that with the audience tip above for maximum effect.
Let's get visual. Too much text is boring. Photos and/or videos can spice up a post by breaking up the monotony and increasing engagement.
Check yourself and edit yourself, but don't overdo it. There's no excuse for misspelled words or poor grammar in your social media posts, but you don't want to sound robotic. So how do you accomplish both? Write down your thoughts and write the way you talk, but check your work.
There's no such thing as a totally random hashtag. There are people who love to add a hashtag to a post just because they can. But while #ILoveSocialMedia is cute and entertaining, it's not going to move any engagement needles. Tools such as hashtagify.me, even though they cost money, let you research what's trending and popular. But even a free trial will show you all the possibilities.
If you have a social media question or an idea for a column topic, please let me know. Tweet them to me with the hashtag #onsocialmedia or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.