Before You Publish on Social Media, Do These 7 Things

How often do you see other users on social media post content where they clearly didn’t prepare it properly? How often have you struggled with this yourself? These social media publishing best practices can help.

We all have tweets we regret and posts we edit or delete after publishing when we can. Sometimes, we just make mistakes, but that doesn’t have to be the case as often if we take the time to prepare before publishing.

Social Media Publishing Best Practices: Intro

This list post includes seven tasks you need to complete to make sure your content is accurate, effective and well-received. A summary of these items can be found at the end of the article for your convenience.

This article was originally published on April 6, 2015 and has been republished to include new edits and content.

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1) Read the article you’re sharing from someone else

I know it takes extra time to read someone’s article, but it is definitely worth it. Why share an article, knowing the risk that it could be about something completely different than what you expected? Headlines and even headings can be deceiving, and you might end up sharing something from someone who has opinions you completely disagree with.

Don’t make the mistake of sharing something that could go against what your business or brand wants to be known for. At the very minimum, scan the article for headings and text with emphasis. As a bonus, find something in that article that you can mention as a preview in your social content.


2) Research the proper posting etiquette for each platform

Are you paying attention to the ideal length for each social platform’s content? There really are lengths that work better than others. HubSpot provides a thorough guide for social and more in their article: The Handy Character Count Guide for Blog Posts, Facebook Pages, and More. If you’re having trouble keeping track of lengths, this article is your solution.

Also, it’s important you publish content that is uniquely designed and formatted for each platform. What works for Facebook doesn’t work for Google+, and what works for Twitter pretty much just works there. If you’re using a social scheduling tool, you should at least try to create custom content for each platform you’re on. Sometimes, time and resources aren’t available, but in that case, make sure the content you mass publish works as much as possible with each platform.

You also need to be paying attention to how accurate, controversial and relevant your content is. Publishing content that is inaccurate can damage your reputation because it shows you didn’t do your research and/or don’t care about checking.

Your reputation is also at risk when you send out something controversial. If you’re trying to create viral content or just want to get people’s attention, be careful. Sometimes, being controversial can lead to lots of attention, but much of the time, that attention is negative and turns out badly for the company. Ask any company that sent out insensitive tweets during a crisis. Be careful with this approach and find alternate methods when you can…

Is your content relevant to your business and its mission? I came across the Twitter account for a family member’s business recently. It’s a relatively active account, but the business is about one thing and the tweets are about something completely different. The company sells B2B products. It’s not a marketing firm, so why would all their tweets be about marketing? Keep your content relevant to your industry. Keep it focused on your business goals and social media strategy. You want to build influence in your own industry, not someone else’s.

Another key point is timing. That’s where this CoSchedule article comes into play: What 10 Studies Say About the Best Times to Post on Social Media. This is the guide to reference for social media timing.

One last point about etiquette is: it’s not just posting etiquette you have to pay attention to. Scoop.it explains more about social media etiquette in their article: The Superior Person’s Guide to Social Media Etiquette. Check out what they have to say about this subject.


3) Research your hashtags

Too often I see the hashtags I follow being used for other reasons besides what they’re meant for. I fall prey to using the wrong hashtag every now and then, and it backfires on me almost every time. Some hashtags are pretty obvious. #SocialMediaMarketing is a good example. On the other hand, how do you know what #smm is for if you don’t check first? Even when you think a hashtag is obvious, it could be too obvious. I refer to ones such as #SocialMedia and specific platform names (#Twitter, #Facebook, etc.). These are great to use when you’re talking about these topics in a marketing sense, but again, be careful.

The social media platform names are used by anybody and everybody, marketing or otherwise, when the user wants to mention them. They could be talking about Facebook marketing, but more often than not, the person is simply a casual user who could be complaining about the platform or something else. This overwhelms the feed for that hashtag, giving your tweet a higher chance of being missed or ignored.

When you want your tweet to get noticed, use an existing but relevant hashtag that your target audience is using. Don’t create tweets using hashtags that no one else is using unless you’re ready to work hard to make it a trend. I’ve seen several Twitter chats that use their own unique hashtag. That’s a great example, but again, you have to be patient and advertise heavily to build a hashtag’s influence.

Find out more about social media hashtags in this article by Agora Pulse: The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Hashtags. This article gives you more information on how to find and use the best hashtags for your needs per platform.


4) Know your audience

Before you even think of sharing anything on social, you need to have established, complete examples of who your audience is, what they care about, and how you can help them while achieving your own business goals. These are known as social buyer personas. Heidi Cohen has an article on this called Social Media Buyer Persona – 10 Questions to Ask that’s worth checking out. I also highly recommend using HubSpot’s article, The Science of Building Better Buyer Personas, to get through the creation process.

Your content is irrelevant and wasted if you don’t know who you’re talking to and what they’re looking for. You could have a brilliant blog post about something revolutionary for your industry. It could be exactly what your audience wants to see… Or it could be completely missed or ignored.

Don’t let your hard work go to waste. Do your research, create your personas, and publish the content that will bring you the results you’re looking for.

Check out this Social Media Examiner article to discover ways to find your target audience on social media: How to Research and Locate Your Audience Using Social Media. The article gives you 5 detailed tips on how to find your social media audience for more targeted activity.


5) Check your hyperlink(s)

Most users on each social platform share a hyperlink with the vast majority of their content. Twitter is a huge hyperlink-sharing platform.

I love going through my Twitter lists and checking out what my chosen Marketing Influencers are sharing. Recently, one of the leaders in my field published a tweet about something that sounded very interesting, and I wanted to learn more. I clicked on the link with the expectation that I’d be directed to the article mentioned.

Was I led to that article? No. The link led to a “Page Not Found” on the author’s website. I was quite disappointed. I took the extra step and notified the influencer of the problem, but you shouldn’t expect that to happen often. Most people will just get slightly irritated and move on. They’ll give up on your article and maybe even hesitate to click on any future links from you if a broken link happens too often.

Check your links before you share them. If you use a link shortening service, such as Bitly, it can be easy to select the wrong link. Take a second to double check.

I’ve learned that the hard way myself. My first tweet ever had the wrong link. Even though I shared the correct link quickly afterwards, some damage was done. People had clicked on my incorrect link. They were led to the wrong place. I don’t want that to happen again, and I’m sure you don’t want to go through the same thing.


6) Give credit where it’s due

When you’re sending out that tweet with an article someone else wrote, you should always use the @mention to give them credit. If the author isn’t on whatever platform you’re using, cite the hosting website. Sometimes, it may even be appropriate to write out the author’s name if you can’t link to them directly. This might not work on Twitter where there’s a rather restrictive character limit, but I recommend taking the time for it on other platforms, such as Facebook and LinkedIn. At minimum, let your audience know it is not your work in order to avoid getting in any trouble.

If you don’t tell people where you’re getting your information from, you’re essentially committing social plagiarism. While the link would lead to the author’s article, people who simply see your tweet/post will assume it’s your article.

Give the author the credit s/he deserves. If you have the space, include the website source that hosts the article. You not only give them this credit, you build a relationship with that author/host. You appear legitimate to your fans and followers. People will respect your efforts more than if you just took the mention-free approach.

I’ll say it right now that I almost never click on a link in a tweet if the user doesn’t cite or mention that it’s his or her article. I want to know what I’m clicking on, especially if it’s a shortened link through bit.ly or otherwise, so do your audience a favor and let them know who wrote the piece. It’ll help you out, too, in the long run.


7) Proofread your text

There’s a particular Facebook page I follow for news stories in my area. Their sense of spelling and grammar is deplorable. There’s no way they aren’t aware of it either. They know people want to follow the news, so they rush through every post without any proofreading involved. They don’t even take the time to fix any errors afterwards even though Facebook gives them that option.

Don’t be like that Facebook page. Proofread the meat of your post for errors of any kind. Even a tweet can have issues you ought to avoid, such as having two hashtags next to each other so that neither of them works. Also on Twitter, don’t sacrifice spelling for the sake of making more room. If you can’t fit the full text in one tweet, make more than one or cut it carefully.

Make sure your audience can understand what you’re sharing. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time because they won’t click on your link or do anything with your content that you want. This may even lead to a negative effect on your following and legitimacy.

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Summary of items mentioned:

  1. Read the article you’re sharing from someone else
  2. Research the proper posting etiquette for each platform
  3. Research your hashtags
  4. Know your audience
  5. Check your hyperlink(s)
  6. Give credit where it’s due
  7. Proofread your text

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