The perennial question is, Which social media should I use? The answer, like so many issues in editing is, It depends.
The Big Social Media Players
The biggest social media platforms are Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, then some that have never made the news and some mostly popular behind China’s firewall, then Twitter, Reddit, and Pinterest. LinkedIn is way down at number 12. Snapchat didn’t even make the top 15. SlideShare didn’t either, but it’s part of LinkedIn now. Meetup is #15. (This ranking is according to stats from DreamGrow.)
Picking Your Platform
But you don’t necessarily want to use a platform just because it’s popular. Sure, it probably makes sense to have some presence of Facebook (a personal listing, business page, or closed group for clients) and video content (on YouTube) seems to grab more attention than any other content, but there are hundreds of social media platforms. One that is more targeted to your niche (not just popular) will net you more return for your time.
If you’re working with self-published fiction authors and want to do manuscript critiques, you might find better engagement (and more potential customers who are ready to buy) on a platform like Wattpad or Reddit. If business clients are your niche, you’re more likely to find potential clients on LinkedIn—post your resources/content in the LinkedIn publishing platform and on SlideShare. If your goal is working on craft books, mommy blogs, or cookbooks, Pinterest might be the place to hang out.
There are literally hundreds of social media platforms on the internet, as this infographic shows (click to enlarge it):
How to “Social Media”
The second perennial question is, How do I do social media? The minute I tell you specifics of when and how to post, the platforms will change. They are extremely responsive to users—adding features all the time. (For instance, Twitter now aggregates terms preceded by $, not just #.) What you want to share are bits of your expertise, and reshare bits from others; point the audience back to your website or related blog post as often as you can.
The When? of sharing also depends on your target audience. You’ll find lots of information online about what time of day each platform sees the most traffic. Contrary to what you might think, that might be exactly when you don’t want to post content, lest you get lost in the flood of updates. It matters most when your audience is engaging. When I was managing social media for a local makerspace (a tool/workspace sharing tech club movement), our posts got the best engagement (by far) at 3 am!
Remember, It’s Social Media
The most important thing about social media is that it’s social. You have to engage with people, not just shout a marketing message at them. In fact, it works best if overt marketing messages are 1/10 of what you post. People who talk about themselves relentlessly and never engage with the audience get unfollowed. Engaging means commenting on others’ posts, re-posting others’ content if the platform is made for that (each one has its own features and culture), and responding to comments received. For everyone espousing “how to do social media,” there is someone out there being wildly successful doing the exact opposite.
The one thing all platforms seem to have in common is that they are less formal. The tone of voice is more familiar and colloquial. Grammar is often non-standard—especially on platforms that have length restrictions (like Twitter). Lightheartedness prevails.
Share as often as you wish, up to 5 times a day. One day on social media is like one dog year. Meaning, material gets pushed out of the news feed quickly; old news is no news. But posting more than 3–5 times a day will frustrate your audience as posts from you completely dominate their feed. I unfollow people who post too much, or who post the same things over and over. It’s not supposed to feel like the intrusiveness of TV commercials.
How to Start
Sign up for a few platforms you think your clients will be on. Use your business name for the ID, or something similar. Your own name is fine too. Then look around, “follow” people, see what the tone is and how people are interacting. Once you’ve got a feel for the place, join in. Look for opportunities to answer questions. And make sure your profile is complete with a short bio and links to your website or ways to contact you.