3.3 Tips, Tricks and Best Practices
Sharing Your Story On Social Media
Being active on social media goes beyond just putting up posts, it’s about telling compelling and interesting content about your role in industry. Social media is the most popular way for people to discover interesting ideas and content about businesses and industries and share them with friends, family, customers, colleagues and the general public online.
The previous modules introduced you to various social media platforms, and how to create posts. You have the opportunity to do more with your posts, leveraging imagery, video, graphics and additional features such as Facebook or Instagram Stories, Facebook Live, image carousels, collages and more.
The challenge most social media users face is discovering ways to create and share content that will garner a high level of engagement and interaction. With so much content available online, your challenge will be to encourage people to stop scrolling through their feed and pay attention to the story you want to tell.
Elements of a Good Social Media Post
If understanding what to share online seems challenging to you, here are some basic elements that you should consider incorporating in your social media posts that will help you gain more engagement and interest.
People want to connect with other people, not with businesses.
You have a unique opportunity to share who you are and what values you care about with your audience.
You can share:
- A behind the scenes look at your business/farm
- What you’re working on – “a day in the life” perspective
- Interviews with key people involved in your business or farm
- Images of the people who dedicate their lives to the industry
Whatever you choose to share, be careful not to share too many personal details. You need to be comfortable with what you want made public. Also be mindful that people have varying knowledge of how farms function, so you may need to explain or describe certain concepts using helpful, straightforward language. “Graphic” farm scenes may not be received well by some people or groups, so be mindful of what you’re sharing. Remember to consult brand guidelines documents or connect with another member of the industry for feedback if you’re ever in doubt.
Sharing your personal story helps build trust and credibility for you and can make your content more relevant to the audience.
Write the captions on your social media posts that tell a simple story – be descriptive and connect the post to something real and tangible for your business. Below are some examples from Canadian producers that vary in tone and feel.
Set The Scene
As you introduce your post, help set the scene for the content you’re going to share. What kind of background information does your audience need to know? Is the purpose of your post to inform, entertain, help?
A good rule to follow is the 80/20 rule. It states that 80% of your social media posts should inform, education and entertain your audience, while only 20% should promote your business, if you intend to use your page to promote your individual farm or business. Remember, we should aim to share content for our audience that offers value for them.
Here are some examples of content that informs, educates and entertains:
- Seasonal content that shares what is happening now
- Videos or photos of what makes your ranch/farm unique
- Recipes and advice on how to prepare beef
- Educational content on facts about our industry
- Behind-the-scenes of your business
Use Imagery or Video
When you consider that 90% of the information that comes to the brain is visual, it makes sense that you would want to use visual content in social media whenever possible. When you use images or video that are high quality and contextually relevant with your text posts on social media, you are more likely to capture the attention of your audience. Using visuals can be a very effective way to help your posts stand out and help your messages be more engaging.
Imagery Do’s and Don’ts
Consider the following best practices as you take or select images for your social media posts:
Do show mixed breeds as well as purebreds (whenever possible)
Producers should portray healthy living and lifestyle
Do show photos of families working together
Do emphasize pristine natural environments
Do show cattle and a good use of pasture land with good habitat nearby
Do portray riparian areas in good condition
Photography Dont’s (for consumer-focused publications)
Do not show skinny, diseased or dirty cattle
Do no show endangered species (burrowing owls, etc.) in areas occupied by cattle
Do no show coyotes or wolves in areas occupied by cattle
Do not show cattle standing in water or congregating around a natural water supply
Do not show close-ups of barbed wire fences
Do not show ear tags
Do not show tools used for branding, castration, dehorning
Do not show brands or branding, specifically brands emitting smoke
Do not show live cattle when referring to to meat products
Do not show bulls being led by use of nose rings
Do not show children near unfettered cattle
Avoid showing butchered carcasses or details of beef production plants to the general public.
Just like your favourite book or movie, building strong characters on your platform will help make it more relatable and tell a “human” story. We often see this with popular influencers, who let you get a glimpse into their lives. When you share the personal side of your business, it can help build trust and make you more relatable. Every good story has characters that the audience gets to know. Share a little about their personalities, interests, and what role they play in your operation.
You only have mere seconds on social media to capture someone’s attention. Make sure your captions are precise and detailed, but be relatable. You can also leverage popular hashtags from your industry to make your posts easier to find across social media.
About Facebook and Instagram Stories
Both Facebook and Instagram have a feature called “Story” that allow you to create a photo or video that last only 24 hours and disappear after that time. The Instagram Stories feature appears at the top of the Instagram and Facebook feeds. These stories provide a very engaging way to share timely content with your followers. Instagram describes Stories as something that lets you “share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you want to keep on your profile”. The feature enables you to share multiple photos and videos, and they appear together in a “slideshow format”, which basically means a reel of photos and videos. You can leverage text, photos, video and graphics in your stories.
Stories are particularly useful in the following scenarios:
- You want to share a step-by-step process
- You want to share a “play-by-play” of an event or day in the life
- You have more information than can be articulated in a post or two
- You want the flexibility to build a story as you go in real-time
- You want to stay top of mind with your followers by staying visible in their feeds
A good resource with more information on how to use the “Story” feature can be found below. This article will walk you through the steps on how to post an Instagram story and provides some inspirational ideas from brands who are using Instagram stories successfully: https://blog.hootsuite.com/how-to-use-instagram-stories/
If you would like to watch a video that explains how Instagram stories were started and how to use them, Steve Dotto does a great job of providing a solid overview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=734ktejCOdo
Sharing Your Story On Social Media
Canadian Beef Brand Guidelines on Social Media
No doubt you are familiar with what branding is on the farm, but did you know that this is an important marketing concept too? For social media, the consumer can easily be overwhelmed with so much content. As an industry, we have an opportunity to establish a united front and share key messages that will help educate our audiences on our belief that Canada is “The World’s Perfect Place for Raising Beef”. By working together and sharing consistent messages that are factual and informative, we are creating a unified brand of what our industry stands for and our promise to the consumer.
Are you familiar with the resources available to help you with key messages and information/facts about our industry? Here are links to free resources you will find informative and helpful for creating and sharing social media content:
Industry Statistics, Research, Facts about Animal Care, Nutrition and Standards: http://www.cattle.ca/cca-resources/
Canada Beef Media Kit: A guide to Canada Beef – its history, the Canadian Bfef Centre of Excellence and more: https://canadabeef.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/3140-CANBEEF-media-kit-2016.10.04-web.pdf
Customer Focused Recipes and informative fact sheets: www.thinkbeef.ca
Consider incorporating content from these sites into your social media content calendar. This will provide you with quality content to share with your target audience that is industry consistent and will reinforce our branding messaging.
Canadian Beef Brand Guidelines on Social Media
Analytics and Success Metrics
It is important to take the time to evaluate how your social media efforts are working towards accomplishing your business goals and objectives.
In our second module, part of writing your social media strategy was to identify the goals and objectives you want to achieve. These goals should be realistic and follow the S.M.A.R.T goal setting methodology:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
R – Relevant
T – Timebound
Here is an example of a social media goal that use the S.M.A.R.T methodology:
To increase the number of visits from social media to your website each month by 10%.
To increase the level of positive engagement on your posts by 5% in the next 90 days.
If you wanted to know how successful you were in achieving this goal, you would review your website analytics to determine the overall traffic sources and look at the “Channels” to see the impact social media has had on your website traffic.
To see these metrics, if you use Google Analytics (a free analytic program), go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels.
Using this view your can see all of the traffic sources at a high level.
You can see SOCIAL as a category – and then you can even get more specific with how much traffic you get from each social media platform you are active on.
If you are unfamiliar with your website analytics, it is a good idea to take time to learn more on your own time. You do not need to become a measurement expert, you simply need to know enough about how things are performing for you. The good news is that analytic programs like Google Analytics are very straightforward to learn, are user friendly, and there are many free resources available to help you increase your knowledge about them.
Measurement is a great way to demonstrate how your efforts on social media fit into your business.
Here are some resources available to help you learn more about how to use Google Analytics:
A beginners guide to using Google Analytics for Social Media Success
Without effective measurement practices, it is difficult to qualify how the time and energy that you are investing in social media is performing for you.
Understanding Social Media Metrics
If you are curious about some of the most common social media metrics, here is an overview for you to understand more:
Impressions and Reach
Impressions are the number of times your post has been seen. Every time your post is displayed on a social media channel, it counts as an impression.
Reach is defined by the number of people that your content could potentially be seen. For example, if your post was shown to the same person twice, it has two impressions but only one reach.
Here is an infographic that may help further illustrate this concept:
If your social media goal was to have your content seen by as many people as possible, then reach would be the correct metric to use to determine success.
No matter what your goals are for social media, using the analytic tools from each social media platform is a good best practice for your business.
Here are resources to help you better understand the analytic tools for:
Facebook offers a powerful, free analytic tool for your business page called “Insights”. This tool allows you to see more detailed information on who likes your page, what posts you share are most popular, and much more.
No matter what your goals are on Facebook— building brand awareness, communicating with customers, or getting followers to take an action, Facebook Insights will help you understand who your most engaged audiences and how they’re interacting with your page.
To get started, go to your business page and click “Insights”.
With so much data available to you, it is a good idea to spend time exploring all of the information available to you through Facebook analytics. Check your Insights often to see the results of your efforts and how your content is performing.
For more information on how to use Facebook Insights: https://www.facebook.com/business/a/page/page-insights
To use Instagram Insights, you must first have a business profile. If you’re already using a personal account, you can switch to a business profile with a few steps. Also, make sure your Instagram profile is public. Public profiles cannot be used as business ones.
Go to your profile and tap the gear shift wheel icon to visit your settings.
Tap “Switch to Business Profile.”
When prompted, select the Facebook Page you want to be associated with your Instagram profile. In order to have a Business Account, you must also have a Facebook Page for your brand — Instagram will give you the option to create a new one during this process if you don’t already have one.
Review and change any contact information on the “Set Up Your Business Profile page,” then tap “Done.”
To view your insights, you must be on your profile page and then click the icon of a bar chart which will take you to your analytics.
Similar to the data you can get from Facebook insights, you can see information about the people that are engaging with your profile, posts and much more.
For more information on how to use Instagram Insights: https://help.instagram.com/1533933820244654?helpref=search&sr=2&query=instagram%20insights
Twitter Analytics can provide you with an overview of your activity on your timeline. This covers mentions, follows and unfollows. There is also data on your content including clicks, retweets, favourites and replies.
For more information on how to use Twitter Analytics: https://analytics.twitter.com/
Analytics and Success Metrics
Social Media Tools
Social media can be overwhelming. Finding the time to share content, engage with your followers and measure your results can seem impossible. Fortunately, there are many tools available that can help save you time and energy, and help you be more effective online.
It is a good identify WHY you want to use a tool and WHAT you hope to gain out of it before you start trying any out. This will ensure that you are using your time as effectively as possible with the best possible results.
Here are 4 tools you should consider trying to see if they help you:
Hootsuite: is a simple but powerful tool that you can use to schedule posts in advance on different social media platforms, use it to monitor your accounts for comments, and measure analytics to understand how your accounts are performing.
Lots of social media accounts supported
Low cost (and a free basic account option)
Auto scheduling for posts
Free account is limited with functions
It is a very robust tool and can be overwhelming to some
Bit.ly: if you want to include a link in your social media post to a website, you can shorten the website link using Bit.ly You can take a long web address and turn it into a much shorter link. Once of the big advantages was its use on Twitter which has a limited number of characters you can use, however it can be used on all platforms. This does more than just shorten the link, you can also use it to track how many people click on the link and measure your efforts.
Ability to customize short link
Easy integration with social media
Analytics are only available for a limited time (30 days)
Cannot delete link once it is created
Cannot change/edit the weblink
Canva: If you want to create impressive images and visual content for your social media posts, Canva is a design tool that makes designing easy. You can also create and optimize the size for whatever social media you are designing for to ensure the best quality. Canva has plenty of design tools and templates to help you achieve great results very quickly.
Easy to use
Good selection of templates to save time
Helps create graphics very quickly
Ability to design correct sizing for each social media channel
You have to pay for upgraded features
Can be difficult to filter media and templates
Later: If Instagram is in your social media mix, you may want help with a tool that can help you schedule posts that get shared to your channel. Later can schedule, auto post content, and let you discover content with a search tool.
They have a free plan available
You can use the tool on your computer, not just on your smartphone
You can crop the photos directly in the app
Can help you stay organized with your planned content
Analytics are basic
The app on your smartphone can sometimes be difficult to use
Social Media Tools
How to Handle Issues on Social Media
It can be expected that at some point you are going to experience some backlash or negative comments on social media. Here are some suggestions on how to successfully manage a social media issue:
Acknowledge the issue. You should respond that you are aware of the issue. The key is to be proactive. Once you become aware of an issue, look to industry for statements that you can share that provide key messaging.
Act. Immediately offer a solution to the problem. If it is an issue you can fix, do it. If it is not fixable, express empathy and do the best you can to resolve what you are able to.
Understand who the trolls are. A “troll” is someone who makes comments that are not constructive and can be offensive. It is important to realize not to enter a debate or argument with a “troll” because it has high potential to become a fight you will never win.
Understand that trolls want your attention. They want to make you uncomfortable and angry. No matter how difficult it might be, your best approach is to ignore them and they are likely to go away.
If someone left a comment on your Facebook account that was vulgar or profane, you can use the function to delete or hide the message. It is easy to do, simply hover over the comment and you can click and select to either Hide or Delete the comment. If you hide the comment, the person who posts it will still be able to see it, but no one else can.
Know when to escalate an issue. If you believe there is an issue evident on social media that could affect the industry more broadly, be sure to connect with your provincial association or the Stakeholder Engagement team to talk about the challenge and how to address it.
The following is an issues management decision tree for social media challenges. You can leverage this tool to know who to contact next if you see or are involved with a challenging industry situation online.
Answering the Tough Questions
Many people have questions about the beef industry, and social media can be a great way to engage with consumers and producers, have a conversation and answer their questions. Occasionally, challenging topics and question can arise on social that can be challenging to answer.
We’ve outlined some best practices below for how to deal with challenging social media moments.
How do I know when to respond to a negative social media post?
It is important not to take a negative comment personally. Look at the comment and determine:
Is it offensive? Remove it immediately. You can either hide or delete the comment on Facebook.
If the negative post is inaccurate you can respond with the correct information. Again, be mindful of the tone and determine if the person is looking for information or is simply a ‘troll’.
What if the comment a customer service issue or complaint about my business?
Respond to the customer directly and ask them to contact you either via private message or a phone call. It is best to handle to issue in a direct way. Give the customer an opportunity to share what they are upset about – be a strong listener, and then provide information or a resolution that is helpful and authentic. It is best to manage these situations offline, either by phone or by email.
If I see something on social media that might escalate to a larger issue, who what should I do next?
We recommend getting in touch with the appropriate people if you feel an issue may escalate. You will have seen this in a previous section, but included below for your reference is the Issues Management Decision tree.
What are some of the watch outs I should be aware of when I’m speaking on behalf of the industry?
Whether you’re speaking with a consumer, with a member of the media, or posting on social media, it’s important to remember that you’re serving as a spokesperson on behalf of the industry, whether you you intend to or not. While you may have personal anecdotes or experiences to share, it’s important to keep personal opinions to yourself.
What are some other tips / pointers I should consider when I’m speaking on behalf of the industry on social media?
You can apply many of the same principles that are covered off in basic media training. Most importantly, like any situation when you’re conversing with an important stakeholder, it’s important to never lose your temper when you’re communicating on social media.
This brings our third social media course to a close. One of the best ways to become more proficient at social media is to go out and try it! Trying different types of posts with different audiences will allow you to see what works, and what doesn’t. Be sure to follow your colleagues in the industry so that you can share best practices, engage with each other’s posts and build the industry’s presence across a variety of social media platforms. To re-cap some of the learnings across the three modules, a general social media best practice list is shared for you below.
Social Media Best Practices
Create and stick to brand guidelines that are specific to the industry and your brand. This will become your “playbook” for creating content and should be used consistently.
Ensure your platform profiles are complete with accurate information, appropriate imagery, logos and links to websites.
Be active and build a social media strategy – make your content meaningful.
Leverage imagery and video when you can to create visually compelling content.
Use an active, helping voice to share your information. Make it relatable.
Be part of conversations in the industry and provide helpful information.
Create a content calendar to guide your activities.
Connect, follow and engage with other accounts from your industry.
Take time to stay current on changes to social media and new features to share your content.
Analyze your posts and listen to your audiences to help shape your brand and work.
Be helpful, interesting and collaborative.
Always check your posts for proper spelling and grammar.
Choose the best social media platforms for you and stick with it!
How to Handle Issues on Social Media