No matter the social media platforms your brand is on, you can pull from these best practices to optimize your social media plan. These work for any social media strategy too: gaining followers, increasing conversions, boosting brand engagement, raising outreach and advocates.

1. 100% Complete Social Media Profile

For any given social media platform, you should make sure your profile is always 100% complete. Once you set up a profile, however, changes may be made that you’ll need to act on. For one of my clients, they had a complete profile until the website decided that reviews were a part of the profile. In order to have a 100% complete profile, each user needed at least 3 customer reviews. This meant we had to request reviews in order to complete the profile. In addition, you may have made changes to telephone numbers or locations, and should always make sure your social media profiles are completely up to date. When your profile is complete and up to date, other users will be more likely to interact with you and trust the information you are posting.

2. Always include a pic

As you scroll through Facebook or Twitter, do you ever notice that you will take the time to read a post if it includes a picture? Images grab a person’s attention, and for some social media websites like Pinterest, an image is always required to share a post. Don’t waste your time tweeting and posting text only. If you don’t include an image, it most likely won’t be read and will blend into the user’s newsfeed. Sendible Insights has an article on thePower of Images in Social Media with some great stats on including images in posts.

3. Put links, mentions and hashtags last

Posts can be comprised of a number of bits of information: a summary of what you want to say, a call to action, a link, a mention and hashtags are the most common. The order you put them in matters for social media users. This is the optimum way to organize a post and ensure it both grabs attention and causes people to take action. The reason I put links, mentions and hashtags last is simple: people who are mentioned or are searching for such hashtags will find your post. However, for those who see your post in their news feed, it needs to stand out with a short summary and call to action.

Formula for Attention Grabbing Post

4. Post at peak times

Media Bistro recently had an infographic all about when the best times to post on social media are. One thing to consider is the time zone you are in versus where your audience is. As a rule of thumb, post very early in the day and after lunch time. People tend to check their news feeds while getting ready in the morning and also after lunch. I like to test out when the most action is taken for each client of mine and post during those times though.

5. Stay consistently active

Don’t forget that you are a part of a social community. You shouldn’t be just posting content, it is important to interact with people too. For my clients, I try to keep track of keyword mentions in different social media networks. This lets me get involved in conversations and help answer questions in real time. When I have time, I just scroll through the feed and pick out the people I want to respond to.

6. Use automation to schedule posts

There are numerous online services that allow you to schedule posts on various social media websites. I do use this, but still search for news and articles about relevant topics every day for clients. There is nothing like sharing breaking news and getting a great response instead of just relying on scheduled content that may not be relevant by the time it is posted.

7. Don’t rely on automation for notifications

One of my co-workers was working with an automation service and she found out that it had stopped notifying her of mentions and messages across all her clients and all her social networks. This really made me feel that automation for these important interactions may not be best. If you do use automation, and have a quiet day, it may pay off to log in and double check that no one is trying to get ahold of you.

8. Gather benchmark data

Any time I start with a new brand, I always gather benchmark data. These include the number of posts, followers, reach, etc for each of the social media networks. I do this so I can see where the brand started at. Once you have your benchmarks set up, it is important to check your metrics and track them over time. There are services like SumAllthat will do this for you too. By comparing your data, you should be able to make sure you aren’t losing followers, are gaining popularity and making progress.

9. Use a URL Shortening Service

Tracking conversions is important for people working in social media. One way marketers can help to track click-thoughs is by using a URL shortening service like Hootsuite orGoogle. There are many different platforms out there that essentially do the same thing, but you’ll want to make sure there is any easy way for you to see if people are clicking on your content and what your most popular links shared are. This information can then be used to further optimize your social media efforts.

10. Thank people who follow you and re-post content

This point goes back to being a good member of a community. As a brand on a social media website, it is important to thank people who interact with you and show an interest in what you are doing. They are giving you free PR and the least you can do is say thanks.

There you have it! All top 10 social media best practices. What do you think? Are there other really important best practices missing from the top 10?