Understand Your Audience Before You Start Posting on Social Media

Though some users seem to not realize this basic fact, social media is a highly public space. In many ways, what you say and do on social media is more visible than anything you do in the real world. That makes standing out on social media a double-edged sword. You want to make an impact, but it’s got to be the right kind of impact for your efforts to be worthwhile. Knowing your audience—and yourself, for that matter—is step one in the process of crafting social media posts that get attention for the right reasons.


Keep it Real: Don’t Use a Voice That’s Not Yours


It can be tempting to use all the latest slang buzzwords that are flying around in posts from younger users on social media, but if you don’t understand what these words mean, don’t use them. It’s the classic “if you have to ask, it’s not for you” approach to social decision-making, and it works quite well as a basic social media strategy.


One basic reason it’s a good idea to avoid using an inauthentic voice is that it can easily get you mocked out of all proportion to the original post itself. Another reason is that your audience can actually feel alienated by your use of this kind of language, even if you’re doing it right. If your product isn’t explicitly aimed at a younger audience, why should you try to target that specific subset of social media users?


Know Your Limits: What do Your Users Really Want to See?


The content of your posts should also speak to the people you’re trying to reach in a useful way. That’s not to say that your social posts all have to address pain points and offer solutions, but you should focus on the things your followers want from you in the first place. Social commentary and other posts that relate to current events or politics may drive some of your followers away.


However, it does pay to be careful in this area and take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. Some brands have gained traction in the past by entering the political fray on social media, and it can cause follower count boosts. However, this is a fine line to walk, and it can backfire easily. If you choose to post something potentially controversial, make sure it’s something you want your brand to be saying, not something that you think as an individual. Risks can pay off, but playing it safe can also be an effective strategy if you’re not certain that your audience will like what you have to say.


The Bottom Line: Have a Plan


Specifics like voice, audience and content strategy should all be determined well in advance of each post you write. A comprehensive social media strategy can keep you on track and help you determine whether it’s a good idea to listen to that voice inside your head that wants you to try something new. When you stay the course and stick to the plan, you can avoid falling victims to passing trends that may not actually be the right fit for your brand.

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