Best practices are often held up as absolutely essential to success.
Follow best practice and you won’t go wrong. Adhere to the rules to be successful.
Personally, I look at best practice as a useful guide (a starter pack, if you will) so the marketer doesn’t begin on the wrong road.
It can be useful, if you’re keen not to veer from the well-worn path or you’re risk averse, but, really, following best practice to-the-letter only really removes any prospect of developing a unique social voice.
Consider a brand, adhering strictly to best practice, posting the same things at the same time with the same messaging and the same outcome as thousands-upon-thousands of other brands ‘doing social media’.
It creates a lot of white noise. If you already think it’s difficult to be seen by your audience, try doing the same thing as everyone else and expect to be noticed.
Besides, where’s the fun in that?
We all want to trust the social media marketing experts. They have the experience, they know what works, right? Well, yes and no.
“Nobody knows anything…Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what's going to work. Every time out it's a guess and, if you're lucky, an educated one.” - William Goldman
The quote above could quite easily be attributed to social media marketing.
It’s impossible to know for sure whether your efforts online will reap the desired rewards; best practice will only get you so far.
Yes, it will ensure that you don’t make silly mistakes but it will not safeguard your content against indifference.
Not even the best marketer in the world can second guess the capriciousness of human behaviour.
If you’ve ever been to a social media seminar and you’ll come across a number of sessions during which the expert will exclaim that the social media manager should post frequently, consistently, engage their audience, and so on.
Most of this ‘mystical wizardry’ is simple common sense and you almost certainly didn’t need an expert to tell you that you should ‘engage your audience’.
You’re being sold snake oil (usually the expert is there to sell something which promises to make your social media efforts more engaging, get you 300x more views, 10 million impressions a week or something equally absurd).
In my experience, there are just a handful of tools that genuinely make a difference - they help to get your content in front of the right audiences - and usually, don’t cost an entire marketing budget.
They also perform a number of highly useful functions, including content curation, analytics and, whisper it, building Twitter followers.
The only way to achieve any level of engagement (be that clicks, impressions, Likes or comments) is through your content and how you present it.
It’s all down to you.
But how do you do it differently, especially when you don't have a budget to promote your content?
There really is only one way.
Iterate, iterate, iterate.
It's simply not enough to trust in best practice to carry you over the line. You need to be on it all the time, be fluid, test and learn, be prepared to change at a moment's notice. If it doesn't work, change it.
If it does work, be ready to change it the moment it runs out of steam. If that sounds a little insane and obsessive, it is.
The way social media is going, you can't afford to stand still or you'll be lost in the crowd.
Best practice is dead (or, at least, dying). Now it's every marketer for themselves.
See you on the battlefields.