5 ways to handle social media better in 2015

If you have resolved to avoid social media mistakes in the year to come, here are some things to keep in mind.

As the new year approaches, it’s time to celebrate accomplishments and successes.

It’s also a time to take a hard look at ways to improve for the year to come.

As the year winds down, it pays to take stock of where one stands, personally and professionally. It’s natural to want to be better at everything one does, including social media.

Here are five ways to do just that:

1. Be smarter with your posting. 2014 offered its fair share of examples of social media mistakes. There were the “gotcha moments” (such as this one involving actor James Franco) and the times brand managers hit the send button without looking closely at the message (for example, when U.S. Airways accidentally tweeted a lewd photo). Don’t rush to update your Facebook page or your Instagram simply for the sake of beating another brand to the punch. Think your posts through. You’ll be better off in the long run.

2. Don’t cross-post from Facebook to Twitter. Or vice versa, for that matter. No matter how many times I or one of my colleagues says that Facebook and Twitter are different social channels, there’s always a brand that decides it’s too lazy to come up with separate posts. Cross-posting from Twitter to Facebook shows you don’t really care about your audience, your message, or, frankly, your brand. People notice and they’ll eventually stop listening.

3. Don’t be so “salesy.” By now, you’ve probably seen that Facebook is going to get tough on businesses, big and small, that post items heavy with sales speak. While some businesses are worried, they shouldn’t be. A smart business strategy on Facebook should involve posts that speak to fans, not sell to them. People who follow brands on Facebook or Twitter probably already like the product. Brand managers must speak to customers as people, not numbers.

4. Take the time to understand your audience. This should really be a no-brainer, but, sadly, it isn’t. There are still plenty of brand managers that would rather treat their followers and fans as a “like” count instead of an important part of their business. Social media isn’t just a platform to get your messages out, it’s also a chance to connect with your audience and make them champions for you. Don’t look at followers as numbers. View every one as a prospect.

5. Plan ahead. Remember the old saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” This is absolutely true when it comes to social media. A posting plan is something that brand managers must have.

When I say plan ahead, it doesn’t mean that if you schedule posts, you are in the clear. If you are a social media manager, it’s important that you keep your eyes and ears on the news and what is going on around you. Scheduled posts can come back and bite you if they don’t fit the tone of the day (here’s a pretty good example of that involving an iPhone 6 promo posted to Joan Rivers’ account after her death). The bottom line? Have a posting plan, but be ready to change at a moment’s notice.

Social media is still growing, and it’s important to understand that we can all be better at posting to the ever-growing networks people use. Make 2015 a year to be better, more strategic, and more focused. Here’s to your social success.

Jason Mollica is a PR and social media marketing consultant. A version of this article originally appeared on his blog.

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