There is no shortage of articles and blog posts offering advice and tips on how to use social media. After a while, you start to notice many of these articles contradict each other:
Post in the morning. Most people check Facebook first thing in the morning.
Post in the evenings. More people are on Facebook in the evenings than any other time of day.
Photos get more visibility and engagement.
Text updates get more visibility and engagement.
It's not that these experts are deliberately misleading you or that they don't know what they're talking about. The challenge with social media is there is no hard and fast rule on how to succeed. What works for one agency might not work in part or at all for your agency. While there are some social media tips you definitely should try out for yourself, there are some that shouldn't be followed blindly. Here are four social media tips I think you should ignore.
1. Do not schedule your posts. There is a popular saying among social media experts. "Automating social media is like sending a robot to a cocktail hour." The thought is that by relying on automation, you take the social out of social media. It becomes about broadcasting content instead of what it should be… engaging and having conversations. While there is some definite things to avoid with automation (allowing posts to publish as scheduled during a tragedy, automatic direct messages, tweeting every post in a RSS feed automatically), using technology to schedule your posts allows you to spend your social media time listening and responding instead of trying to come up with something to post.
2. Post every day. This tip heavily depends on the channel, your followers and what expectations you've set. For an agency whose audience is other businesses, publishing one insightful Facebook post per week might get more traffic than a daily post that is only half-way thought out. Try alternating several posts in a week with posting once a week for several weeks. Find which publishing schedule best works for you – in terms of what you can handle as well as your engagement – and then stick to it.
3. Post at a certain time. You can find all sorts of statistics for what time of day is the best time to post. Allow me to repeat myself: There is no hard and fast rule on how to succeed in social media. The only way to know the best time to post for your agency and audience is to try different times. You can look at your Facebook Insights to see when your fans are online to get you started. Keep in mind though that you might have the most fans active on Facebook at 10 a.m. but you might get better engagement at 2 p.m. The key is to test and find what time of day works best for you.
4. Always include a call to action. Unless you're running a contest on social media or promoting a piece of content like a white paper, does every social media post need a call to action? I don't think so. Every brand nowadays is asking for likes and comments. Consumers eventually get fatigued from every post having a call to action, and engagement can drop. You don't need to tell your audience to like a post. If they like it, they'll do it. If it's really good, they'll share it without you asking them. What social media tip do you think should be ignored?
About the author: Laird Rixford, vice president of product development at Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), currently consults agencies nationwide on their online marketing initiatives. Laird and the Insurance Website Builder team have launched more than 2,000 insurance agency websites nationwide. In addition to Insurance Website Builder, Laird has designed the AgencyBuzz drip email marketing and lead management solution exclusively for the insurance industry. To learn more about ITC and its products and services for insurance agents, visit www.GetITC.com.