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Social Media Activism in 2022: How to Go Beyond the Hashtag

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Social media activism is no longer optional, especially for larger brands. Consumers, employees, and social followers all expect your brand to take a stand on issues that really matter.

Bonus: Read the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

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What is social media activism?

Social media activism is an online form of protest or advocacy for a cause. Because hashtags play a central role in mobilizing movements on social media, the term is often used interchangeably with hashtag activism.

Activism on social media includes promoting awareness of social justice issues and showing solidarity through the use of hashtags, posts, and campaigns.

Genuine social media activism is supported by concrete actions, donations, and measurable commitments to change.

Without genuine offline action, using a hashtag or posting a black square or rainbow flag comes across as opportunistic and lazy. Critics are often quick to call out these minimal efforts as “slacktivism” or performative allyship.

Brands should tread carefully: More than three-quarters of Americans (76%) say “social media makes people think they are making a difference when they really aren’t.”

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Along the same lines, when a company participates in social media activism that does not align with its past or present actions, it can prompt backlash and calls of virtue signaling, greenwashing, or rainbow capitalism.

We’re about to dive into 10 ways to engage in meaningful activism on social media. And, of course, we’ll provide plenty of social media activism examples where brands got things right.

But it really all boils down to this:

Words are just words, and hashtags are just hashtags. Yes, they can both be extremely powerful. But for brands, especially those with significant market share and resources, actions speak much louder. Social media activism must be accompanied by real world action.

Listen to credible voices working on the cause. Learn from those who have well-established expertise in the movement. And commit to working towards real change.

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How to use social media to authentically support a cause: 10 tips

1. Pause and review your social calendar

The first thing to do before engaging in social media activism – whether you’re responding to an immediate crisis or beginning a longer term campaign of activism and allyship – is to hit pause.

Review your social calendar. If you use a social media scheduler, you might want to unschedule upcoming posts and save them for later. Review your content calendar to see how things align with the stance you’re about to take. If you’re responding to a crisis, you’ll likely want to stay focused on the cause at hand.

Consumers do want brands to respond in times of crisis. More than 60% say “brands should acknowledge moments of crisis in their advertising and communications when they are occurring.”

In the wake of the Uvalde shooting, the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays paused their social media game coverage and instead used their social channels to share information about gun violence.

pic.twitter.com/UIlxqBtWyk

— New York Yankees (@Yankees) May 26, 2022

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They went all-in on this, not holding anything back.

Firearms were the leading cause of death for American children and teens in 2020.

— New York Yankees (@Yankees) May 26, 2022

While your regular content is on pause, take the time to learn about what’s happening beyond the headlines so you can take a meaningful stance followed up with concrete action.

That action component is critical in terms of garnering support for your activism rather than backlash.

Before returning to regular programming, consider how your campaigns and content will resonate within the larger context.

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DON’T:

  • Try to profit from your support. Social movements are not marketing opportunities, and customers will call out actions your brand takes that appear motivated by anything other than good faith.

2. Listen to your customers (and employees)

It’s normal for emotions to run high during social justice and human rights movements. But those in-the-moment spikes can lead to long-term changes in how people feel and behave – and how they expect companies to behave.

70% of members of Generation Z say they are involved in a social or political cause. And they expect brands to join them. More than half (57%) of Gen Z says brands can do more to solve societal problems than governments can, and 62% say they want to work with brands to address those issues.

But the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer found consumers don’t think brands are doing enough to address social change.

graph showing business engagement on societal issues

Source: Edelman 2022 Trust Barometer

Use social listening to better understand how your audience is feeling. Understanding the broader perspective allows you to express empathy and solidarity with negative sentiments, then rally your audience around positive sentiments with strong calls to action.

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This could include rallying followers to share messages, sign petitions, or match donations. Sometimes it’s as simple as acknowledging how people feel in the context of social upheaval, such as Aerie’s ongoing advocacy for mental wellness – in this case, literally giving followers tools for combatting anxiety and improving mental health.

DON’T:

  • Dismiss emotions or police tone. People typically have legitimate reasons to feel what they feel.

3. Be honest and transparent

Before posting anything in support of a cause, reflect on your company history and culture. That might mean looking at the diversity of your teams, re-evaluating non-environmental practices, assessing the accessibility of your marketing, and more.

While difficult, it’s important to have honest internal conversations about company values and changes you may need to make. If you’re not honest, you’re going to have problems with social media activism.

Admitting past mistakes is the first way to show that your company means what it says. Be upfront about anything that goes against your current position. Without doing this, your social activism will ring hollow—or worse, hypocritical. It could also prompt people to call you out.

Disney originally stayed silent in response to Florida’s “Dont Say Gay” bill, sending out an internal email of support for LGBTQ employees rather than making a public statement. That quickly became a problem for the company, as the hashtag #DisneyDoBetter took off and employees, creatives, and fans all shared their concerns about the weak stance as well as the company’s previous donations to supporters of the bill.

tl;dr: “We will continue to invite the LGBTQ+ community to spend their money on our sometimes-inclusive content while we support politicians working tirelessly to curtail LGBTQ+ rights.”

I’m a huge Disney fan as is well documented on this site. Even I say this statement is weak. https://t.co/vcbAdapjr1

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— (((Drew Z. Greenberg))) (@DrewZachary) March 7, 2022

Within a few days, Disney had to acknowledge its mistake and make a lengthy public statement.

Today, our CEO Bob Chapek sent an important message to Disney employees about our support for the LGBTQ+ community: https://t.co/l6jwsIgGHj pic.twitter.com/twxXNBhv2u

— Walt Disney Company (@WaltDisneyCo) March 11, 2022

Brands can either hold themselves accountable, or be held accountable. But don’t feel you need to be perfect before you can take a stand. For example, more than half of employees say CEOs should publicly speak out about racism as soon as the company has its own racial equity and diversity goals in place, with concrete plans to meet them.

DON’T:

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  • Hide internal issues and hope no one finds out about them – or hide behind internal communications. Internal emails can quickly go public when employee concerns are not addressed.
  • Be afraid to be honest. Customers appreciate honesty. But Edelman found only 18% of employees trust their company’s head of DEI to be honest about racism within the organization. If your employees can’t trust you, how can customers?

4. Be human

Humanize your communication efforts. People can and do see through inauthentic behavior.

Overused phrases and carefully calibrated language tend to make company statements look templated. (Thoughts and prayers, anyone?) Be considerate in what you want to say, but throw out the corporate jargon and canned content. Be real.

Edelman found that 81% of respondents to the 2022 Trust Barometer expect CEOs to be personally visible when talking about work their company has done to benefit society.

When then-Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier spoke out about voting rights, the company posted his comments on their social accounts.

This morning our Chairman & CEO Kenneth C. Frazier appeared on @CNBC taking a stand on Georgia’s restrictive new voting law. pic.twitter.com/P92KbhN1aL

— Merck (@Merck) March 31, 2021

Yes, this is a statement that has likely gone through lawyers and other corporate messaging professionals. But it’s clear and does not hold back. And Frazier has repeatedly proven his ability to unite business leaders in social action. He’s talked about his values and how the issues on which he chooses to take a stand align with corporate values.

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He told the Albert and Mary Lasker foundation that when he stepped down from President Trump’s Business Council after the President’s remarks about events in Charlottesville, he spoke to the Merck board about whether he should present it as a strictly personal decision or include mention of the company.

“I’m very proud to say that my board unanimously said, ‘No, we actually want you to speak to the company’s values, not just your personal values,’” he said.

DON’T:

  • Just say what everyone else is saying. It needs to come from your company.
  • Worry about keywords, irrelevant hashtags, or algorithms. Say the right thing, not the highest ranking thing.

5. Make your stance clear and consistent

When you do share a message in support of a cause, ensure that message leaves no room for ambiguity. Don’t leave people asking questions or filling in the blanks for you.

The gold standard for clear brand positioning comes from ice cream brand Ben and Jerry’s. They are consistent and vocal in their support of racial and social justice.

Consumers want your stance on important issues to be clear before they make a purchase. That means taking a stand in your social content and ads, but also on your website, so the message is consistent when someone clicks through to learn more or buy.

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DON’T:

  • Try to have it all or do it all. Speak to the causes that matter most to your brand and your employees, so you can be consistent and authentic.

People want to hear how brands are tackling issues beyond social media.

It’s one thing to post a message in support of Ukraine. But it’s action that really counts. More than 40% of consumers boycotted businesses that continued to operate in Russia after the invasion. On social, both #BoycottMcDonalds and #BoycottCocaCola were trending in early March, until the companies finally ceased Russian operations.

@CocaCola is refusing to pull out of Russia – outrageous and disgusting decision. I will NOT be adding to their profits (and I am particularly partial to Costa Coffee) and i would encourage others to boycott too. #BoycottCocaCola #Ukraine️ pic.twitter.com/tcEc6J6sR1

— Alison (@senttocoventry) March 4, 2022

Show that your company is actually taking action. Which organizations are you donating to, and how much? Will you make regular contributions? How is your brand actually doing good within communities? What steps are you taking toward a more ethical production process and supply chain? Be specific. Share receipts.

For example, when Dove launched its #KeepTheGrey campaign to draw attention to ageism and sexism in the workplace, the brand donated $100,000 to Catalyst, an organization that helps create more inclusive workplaces.

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Age is beautiful. Women should be able to do it on their own terms, without any consequences 👩🏼‍🦳👩🏾‍🦳Dove is donating $100,000 to Catalyst, a Canadian organization helping build inclusive workplaces for all women. Go grey with us, turn your profile picture greyscale and #KeepTheGrey pic.twitter.com/SW5X93r4Qj

— Dove Canada (@DoveCanada) August 21, 2022

And when the makeup brand Fluide celebrated Trans Day of Visibility, they highlighted diverse trans models while committing to donate 20% of sales during the campaign to Black Trans Femmes in the Arts.

DON’T:

  • Make empty promises. Edelman’s 2022 special report on business and racial justice found more than half of Americans think companies are not doing a good job meeting their promises to address racism. If you can’t live up to your promises, you’re better off not to make them in the first place.

7. Ensure your actions reflect your company culture

Similar to point #3, practice what you preach. If your brand promotes diversity on social media, your workplace should be diverse. If you promote environmentalism, you should use sustainable practices. Otherwise, it’s not social activism. It’s performative allyship or greenwashing. And people notice: Twitter saw a 158% increase in mentions of “greenwashing” this year.

One way to ensure your activism aligns with your culture is to choose causes that connect to your brand purpose. In fact, 55% of consumers say it’s important for a brand to take action on issues that relate to its core values and 46% say brands should speak about social issues directly related to their industry.

For example, the sexual wellness brand Maude has an ongoing campaign promoting inclusive #SexEdForAll.

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Offering real calls for action and donating a percentage of profits from their Sex Ed For All capsule collection, they work in partnership with the Sexual Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) to promote inclusive sex education.

That said, your brand purpose may not have an obvious connection to social causes. That doesn’t mean you can opt out of the conversation.

when can brands speak about social justice issues bar chart

Source: Twitter Marketing

Responsible corporate culture should be first and foremost about doing the right thing. But know that over time, it will actually improve your bottom line. Diverse companies are more profitable and make better decisions.

Plus, nearly two-thirds of consumers – and nearly three-quarters of Gen Z – buy or advocate for brands based on their values. They’re willing to pay more for brands that do good in the world.

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DON’T:

  • Take too long to follow through on commitments. Your customers are watching and waiting.

8. Plan for good and bad responses

Before your brand takes a stance on social media, prepare for feedback.

The aim of social activism is often to disrupt the status quo. Not everyone will agree with your position. Customers may applaud your brand, while others will be critical. Many will be emotional. And unfortunately, some commenters may be abusive or hateful.

Brands taking a stand in the face of the overturning of Roe v. Wade faced abusive comments on their social posts.

Benefit did all the right things on this post by stating the actions they were taking, showing how the cause related to their core values, and linking to partners who are experts in the work.

That said, they still faced comments that could be very triggering for their social team to see coming in, especially anyone impacted by their own abortion or fertility experiences.

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Expect an influx of messages and equip your social media managers with the tools they need to handle them. That includes mental health support—especially for those who are directly impacted by the movement you are supporting.

Consider the following do’s and don’ts:

DO:

  • Review your social media guidelines and update as needed.
  • Clearly define what constitutes abusive language and how to handle it.
  • Develop a response plan for frequently asked questions or common statements.
  • Be human. You can personalize responses while sticking to the script.
  • Hold relevant training sessions.
  • Apologize for past actions, when necessary.
  • Adapt your strategy for different audiences on different social media platforms.

DON’T:

  • Disappear. Remain present with your audience, even if they are upset with you.
  • Delete comments unless they are abusive or harmful. Don’t tolerate hate.
  • Be afraid to admit that you don’t have all the answers.
  • Make it the responsibility of your followers to defend their basic human rights.
  • Take too long to respond. Use tools like Mentionlytics to keep track of messages.

9. Diversify and represent

Diversity shouldn’t just be a box your brand checks during Pride month, Black History Month, or on International Women’s Day. If you support LGBTQ rights, gender equality, disability rights, and anti-racism, show that commitment throughout the year.

Make your marketing inclusive. Build representation into your social media style guide and overall content strategy. Source from inclusive stock imagery from sites like TONL, Vice’s Gender Spectrum Collection, and Elevate. Hire diverse models and creatives. Remember that just about every movement is intersectional.

Most important: Listen to people’s voices rather than simply using their faces. Shayla Oulette Stonechild is not only the first Indigenous global yoga ambassador for Lululemon, but she’s also on the company’s Vancouver-based committee for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

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Open your platform up to takeovers. Amplify unique voices. Build meaningful relationships with a broader group of influencers and creators. You’ll likely grow your audience and customer base as a result.

DON’T:

  • Stereotype. Don’t cast people in roles that perpetuate negative or biased stereotypes.
  • Let abusive comments go unchecked after spotlighting someone. Be prepared to offer support.

10. Keep doing the work

The work doesn’t stop when the hashtag stops trending.

An important point to not forget. This is not the time to divest from purpose and inclusivity in marketing, it’s actually the time to dive deeper into those commitments— and truly great marketers should be able to both show ROI AND center purpose https://t.co/8w43F57lXO

— God-is Rivera (@GodisRivera) August 3, 2022

Commit to ongoing social activism and learning. Continue educating your brand and your employees and sharing helpful information with social media users who follow your brand.

Champion the cause offline, too. Perform non-optical allyship. Look for ways to support long-term change. Become a mentor. Volunteer. Donate your time. Keep fighting for equity.

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DON’T:

  • Think of brand activism as “one and done.” One supportive post isn’t going to cut it. If you’re going to wade into the waters of digital activism, be prepared to stay there for the long term.

Schedule messages and connect with your audience on social media using Hootsuite. Post to and monitor multiple social networks from one dashboard. Try it free today.

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Do it better with Hootsuite, the all-in-one social media toolkit. Stay on top of things, grow, and beat the competition.

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How to Write a Great Social Media Call to Action

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When you work in marketing, you’re always trying to convince your audience of something. Maybe you want your followers to sign up for a free trial, download a PDF, visit your landing page, or pick up the phone and call. But getting people to take action, especially on social media, is tricky… unless you use a clear call to action.

If there’s something you want your audience to do, you can’t just hope and hint (this same advice holds true for most things in life, actually). You need a compelling call to action, or CTA, to draw people in and point them in the right direction.

In this post, we’ll teach you what a good social CTA is and share tips and examples from brands that are nailing it. By the end, you should have everything you need to write a social media call to action that gets results.

Bonus: Unlock 28 inspiring social media bio templates to create your own in seconds and stand out from the crowd.

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What is a call to action (CTA)?

A call to action (or CTA) is a text prompt that encourages your reader to take a specific action. On social media, a call to action might direct your followers to leave a comment, buy a product or subscribe to your newsletter, but there are many options.

Social media CTAs can appear on both organic posts and ads. The actual call to action will appear as text on the image, in the caption, or on a CTA button.

In ads, like this one from Loop Earplugs, you’ll often find CTAs in all three places.

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Loop earplugs ad with the CTAs highlighted in yellow: one in the post, one in the image, and one CTA button

Source: Loop on Facebook

A CTA can be as simple as a single word, like “Buy!” or “Subscribe,” but effective CTAs are usually a little longer and more specific. They tell the reader what they’re going to get by taking the desired action, and they often include a sense of urgency. The best CTAs are also highly relevant to the specific audience they’re targeting.

A great CTA will make it easy and enticing for your target audience to take the action you want them to take.

Before you can start writing, you need to know what you want your audience to do. Do you want them to make a purchase, visit your landing page, create an account, enter a contest, or like your latest selfie? (Kidding. Mostly.)

Your desired action should also fit within your overall social media marketing strategy. Think about how your CTA will serve your social media goals.

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Here are some simple tips to keep in mind while you write.

Keep it conversational

There’s no need to be formal. You and your ideal customer are already best friends*, right?

Encourage a connection by using “you” and “your” in your copy. It’s an easy way to make your message feel more personal and less like a sales pitch.

*If you are not, in fact, best friends with your ideal customer, check out our guide to creating buyer personas.

Use action words

You want to inspire your audience to take action — this is no time to play coy.

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CTAs that use powerful, clear, instructive verbs (aka command words) can help cut down on decision fatigue.

See also  18 Black Friday Marketing Strategies to Try in 2022

Try phrases like:

  • “Sign up for your free trial”
  • “Download my guide”
  • “Get your free instant quote”
  • “Shop dog hammocks”
  • “Post jobs for free”

Simple and direct is usually best, but avoid phrases like “Click here,” which can sound spammy or off-putting.

Be specific

The more specific your CTA is, the better. Instead of saying, “Sign up for our newsletter,” try, “Sign up for our weekly travel newsletter to get the latest flight deals.”

It’s also a good idea to stick to one CTA per post. Otherwise, you risk overwhelming your reader with too much information and losing them completely.

Create a sense of urgency

As any impulse shopper can tell you, nothing is more tempting than a limited-time offer. The clock is ticking!

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Lean on FOMO and use words like “now,” “today,” or “this week only” in your CTA to encourage people to take action right away.

Vessi has limited edition fall sneakers? Better snap those up now!

An Instagram Story ad for Vessi shoes with a CTA sticker that reads Shop Now

Source: Vessi on Instagram

Focus on benefits

Features are what your product or service does, but benefits are what your customer gains from those features.

For example, instead of saying, “Sign up for my 6-week course on social marketing,” you could try something more like, “Learn how to make six figures by selling on Instagram!”

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The first example tells your audience exactly what they’re signing up for, while the second tells them what they’ll gain by signing up.

Ultimately, both CTAs might drive readers to the same destination, but one is a whole lot more intriguing than the other.

Offer something valuable

Need a little extra oomph? Go beyond benefits and give your readers an unbeatable reason to take the desired action.

Free delivery is often a major motivator. In fact, almost 50% of internet users are motivated to complete an online purchase if they’re offered free shipping.

Hootsuite's Digital 2022 report showing online purchaser drivers

Source: Digital 2022

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Discounts are always compelling, especially when combined with the urgency of a limited-time offer, like Gap does here:

An Instagram story ad for Gap showing a limited time offer

Source: Gap on Instagram

You can also try offering access to exclusive content. See, we’re even doing it right here:

Bonus: Unlock 28 inspiring social media bio templates to create your own in seconds and stand out from the crowd.

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Your offer should be valuable, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Just make sure there’s something in it for your audience.

Stay true to your brand

Consistency is important on social media. Once you’ve established a brand, you want to stick with it. Believe us, your followers will notice if you slip up.

LensCrafters, for example, leans into its polished brand voice on social. This LensCrafters post uses words like “discover,” “premium,” and “high quality” in its CTA to build trust and convey their professional expertise.

But can you imagine if this post ended with “Hey Four Eyes, get your goggles here!”? An unusual CTA might earn a second-look, but it will also cause confusion.

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Choose clear over clever

You only have a few seconds to make an impact, so save the jargon and wordplay for another time. Your CTA should be brief, clear and to the point.

See also  The Perfect Social Media Style Guide for Your Brand in 2022

Hootsuite's Digital 2022 report showing average time online every day

Source: Digital Trends 2022

The average person spends almost 2.5 hours on social media platforms every day, and in that time, they’re bombarded with ads. If you manage to grab their attention, make sure they know what they’re getting and how to get it.

Keep experimenting

If your first campaign falls flat, pick yourself back up. Experimentation will serve you well.

Try switching up the words, the colors, the placement, the images, or even the font to see what drives traffic best.

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A/B testing can help you measure what works best and then tweak, polish and try again.

Even a simple change from “Start your free trial” to “Start my free trial” can make a world of difference.

Every ad you post should have a call to action, but organic social media content can also include CTAs. Here are a few places you can sneak in a CTA:

In your bio

This is a great place to include a CTA that’s relevant to all of your followers, such as “Check out our website for more info!”

The New Yorker's Instagram bio showing their CTA in their bio link

Instagram still doesn’t allow links in captions, so The New Yorker uses its bio to point followers to a landing page with links to more information on each post.

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In your posts

You can include CTAs in individual social media posts, depending on what you’re promoting.

You can place your CTA pretty much anywhere in your post:

  • At the top, if you want to grab attention right away
  • In the middle, separated by a few line breaks, if you want to mix it up
  • At the end, if you want to establish some context

For example, if you want people to visit your new blog post, you might want to share a few highlights before including an end-of-post CTA like “Check out the link to learn more!”

When Sephora starts carrying your products, it’s kind of a big deal. Beauty brand Tower 28 pointed followers to the nearest Sephora location with this Instagram post.

In your Stories

CTA stickers are a great way to encourage your audience to take action. You can use link stickers to promote things like contests, new products, or blog posts.

Link stickers can be placed anywhere on your Story. Just make sure to keep them away from the edges of your post, so they aren’t difficult to read (or tap!).

An Instagram story post from jewelry dealer Erie Basin that includes a CTA link sticker

Source: Erie Basin on Instagram

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Vintage jewelry dealer Erie Basin shares the newest additions to their shop with a simple product shot and CTA link sticker.

If you’re almost ready to get writing but still need a little inspiration, check out these examples of great social media CTAs.

1. Sign up for our newsletter

Cookbook author Dorie Greenspan is famous for her sweet treats. When she tells followers that they can get free recipes just by signing up for her free newsletter, you better believe they come stampeding.

2. Don’t miss this sale

Makeup brand Kosas knows just how to speak to their target audience. This post advertising their Friends and Family sale is specific, urgent and personal.

See also  Marketing to Gen Z: How to Get It Right in 2023

Who doesn’t want to be friends with Kosas?

3. Like, tag, and follow to win

HelloFresh Canada offers a major incentive to enter their contest that also happens to benefit the brand.

Followers have to like, tag, and follow to enter their contest, boosting HelloFresh’s reach and engagement.

4. Go minimal

/heyNetflix @discord pic.twitter.com/yPSQ3WiY3v

— Netflix (@netflix) October 27, 2022

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Netflix promotes their new Discord bot with a tweet that will likely confuse anyone who isn’t part of their target audience — and that’s the point.

The minimal slash command will be familiar to any Discord user, though.

5. Sneak peek

Poet-artist Morgan Harper Nichols offers a long preview of exclusive content from her (paid) app to encourage her followers to download.

By the time you make it to the end, you just want to keep going.

6. Register now

P99 CONF is the event for developers who care about P99 percentiles and high-performance, low-latency applications.

It is not about products but about technology, so open source solutions are preferred.

Highly technical audience only. Your boss is not invited.

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— P99CONF (@P99CONF) July 12, 2022

The CTAs on the image and headline are both simple, driving followers toward a registration link, but the body of the tweet is doing the heavy lifting here.

My boss isn’t invited? How exclusive!

7. Take the quiz

What’s your role? Tag yourself or comment with your own role and why.

Everyone’s got a critical role to play in Dungeons & Dragons. Take the quiz on our website if you need help deciding your role: https://t.co/cfW8uJHC5G pic.twitter.com/iG50mR9ZGm

— Dungeons & Dragons (@Wizards_DnD) September 27, 2022

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This is a great example of a low-cost, high-value CTA. The official Dungeons & Dragons account encourages engagement by sharing a graphic and asking followers to tag themselves.

But if you’re still deciding if you’re a Wizard or a Rogue, you can take their free quiz to find out.

8. Find a store near you

Le Labo’s Reel shows behind-the-scenes footage of their in-house perfume lab and then casually reminds followers that it’s easy to find refills.

9. Focus on values

Instead of going right for the hard sell, Aesop uses this post to focus on the principles behind its brand. This softer approach uses a “Learn more”/”Discover more” CTA that invites the reader in and builds a connection.

A post like this is a long-term investment that can really pay off. Almost 20% of online shoppers are more motivated to purchase from an eco-friendly company.

10. Shop the link in our profile

Super simple and effective, this post from home goods store Nineteen Ten does everything right.

They share the product on sale and make sure the reader knows where they can find more just like it.

Save time managing your social media presence with Hootsuite. Publish and schedule posts, find relevant conversions, engage the audience, measure results, and more — all from a single dashboard. Try it free today.

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LinkedIn Marketing Strategy: 17 Tips for 2023

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More than 59 million companies use LinkedIn Pages to connect with the platform’s 875 million members. A well-thought-out LinkedIn marketing strategy is the best way for you to stand out in that crowd.

LinkedIn is a very different beast from the other social platforms. Building an effective strategy will require some planning and perseverance. But once your LinkedIn efforts are running like clockwork, the results can benefit multiple areas of your business.

Read on to find out how to build a LinkedIn strategy that will help you build an engaged community and effectively promote your business on the platform.

Bonus: Download a free guide that shows the 11 tactics Hootsuite’s social media team used to grow their LinkedIn audience from 0 to 278,000 followers.

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What is a LinkedIn marketing strategy?

A LinkedIn marketing strategy is a plan for using LinkedIn to reach specific marketing goals. LinkedIn marketing can include everything from recruiting top talent to building your brand.

LinkedIn is a unique network. On most platforms, brands take a back seat to personal connections. But on LinkedIn, business networking is the name of the game. That means businesses of all types are expected to be more visible and engaged in the overall conversation.

LinkedIn is well known as the social network of choice for B2B marketers. But B2C brands can also find success on LinkedIn. All you need is a solid strategy based on well-planned LinkedIn goals that fit into your larger social marketing plan.

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General LinkedIn marketing tips

So, where do you start? Here are some key steps for any brand interested in building an effective LinkedIn marketing strategy.

1. Set clear goals

The first step to any marketing plan is figuring out what you want to achieve. Put some thought into how LinkedIn fits into your overall marketing strategy. What specific goals do you want to achieve on this business-forward platform?

The ways in which people use LinkedIn differ significantly from the ways in which they use other social networks:

  • Keeping up to date with news and current events: 29.2%
  • Following or researching brands and products: 26.9%
  • Posting or sharing photos or videos: 17.7%
  • Messaging friends and family: 14.6%
  • Looking for funny or entertaining content: 13.8%

And, of course, LinkedIn is also the social network most commonly used for recruiting, as well as the top platform for B2B lead generation.

This is important information to consider when planning your LinkedIn strategy goals. But it’s also important to think about how your style of organization fits into the LinkedIn ecosystem.

As mentioned, for B2B companies, LinkedIn can be a goldmine of lead development and relationship building. For B2C companies, LinkedIn might serve primarily as a recruiting platform. Only you and your team can decide what makes the most sense for you.

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Don’t know where to start? Check out our blog post on how to set goals for social media marketing.

2. Make the most of your LinkedIn Page

No matter what goals you’re working towards, make sure you have a complete LinkedIn Page that takes advantage of all relevant tabs and sections. LinkedIn data shows that complete Pages get 30% more weekly views.

Check out all the tabs on Microsoft’s LinkedIn Page. You can find as much or as little detail as you want about life at the company by exploring the different tabs.

Microsoft LinkedIn page Hybrid workplace

Source: Microsoft on LinkedIn

For larger organizations, Showcase Pages can help keep your content marketing focused on the right audience. Try setting them up for different initiatives or programs within your company.

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And don’t let your main Page content get stale: LinkedIn recommends updating your cover image at least twice a year.

3. Understand your audience

LinkedIn user demographics differ from those of the other social platforms. Users skew older and tend to have a higher income.

LinkedIn advertising audience profile

Source: Hootsuite’s Global State of Digital 2022 (October Update)

But that’s just a starting point. It’s important to understand who your specific audience is and what kind of information they’re looking for from your LinkedIn Page.

LinkedIn analytics are a good way to find the demographics specific to your audience. Hootsuite’s Audience Discovery tool for LinkedIn can provide even more insights about your LinkedIn audience and how they interact with your content.

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4. Track and refine your performance

As you start to understand your audience better, you’ll also get a better sense of the kind of content that most resonates with them. Tracking the results of your LinkedIn content gives you important insights. Apply these over time to refine your LinkedIn marketing strategy.

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Again, LinkedIn analytics provide critical strategic information. The native LinkedIn Analytics tool provides a good overview of your LInkedIn Page and post performance.

Hootsuite’s LinkedIn analytics can provide additional details. They also evaluate your LinkedIn marketing efforts in the context of your other social channels.

Hootsuite LinkedIn analytics brand awareness

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The best way to highlight the results of your LinkedIn marketing is to share your results. Regular LinkedIn marketing reports are a great vehicle. These allow you to see patterns emerge and refine your strategy over time. They also create broader opportunities for brainstorming strategic improvements.

5. Be human

LinkedIn research shows employee networks have an average of 10 times more connections than a company has followers. And content gets twice as many click-throughs when posted by an employee rather than on the company’s business page.

On the recruiting front, employees are likely to have LinkedIn connections in their areas of expertise. When they share job opportunities, they reach a much more targeted audience than your LinkedIn company page.

That’s one of the many reasons why it’s important to include personal profiles in your LinkedIn marketing strategy. That might mean training your C-suite on how to use LinkedIn effectively for thought leadership content. Or it might mean encouraging your employees to share their work life on LinkedIn.

Remember that users can choose to follow personal profiles. This way, they see content from people they want to learn from but don’t know well enough to send a connection request. That further extends the reach of everyone who works for your company, from entry-level employees to the CEO.

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Make it easy for employees to share content on their LinkedIn profiles with an employee advocacy program. Hootsuite Amplify helps you manage and share approved content. You can also use this social media advocacy and marketing tool to measure results and drive higher employee engagement in your advocacy program.

6. Focus on leads, not sales

LinkedIn is more about social selling than social commerce. As mentioned earlier, it’s the top brand for B2B lead generation. It’s a perfect platform for building relationships and connections that will lead to sales over time.

It’s less effective as a platform for spur-of-the-moment purchases. It’s just not the place people go when they’re looking for the latest trending items to buy.

So, rather than trying to sell directly on LinkedIn, focus on building relationships and credibility. Reach out when you see an opportunity, but offer expert advice rather than a hard sell. You’ll be front of mind when the time is right for a buyer to make the purchasing call.

That said, using LinkedIn to drive online sales is not impossible. If you want to take this approach, be sure to position your product or service in a business-appropriate context. It might be helpful to work with an appropriate influencer, as Days did in this LinkedIn post about their alcohol-free beer.

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7. Build your employer brand

Building your employer brand is about more than just job postings. It’s all about showcasing what it’s like to work at your company so candidates feel motivated to join your team.

A strong employer brand makes life much easier for everyone working in your recruiting department. After all, no matter how great a particular role might sound, no one wants to work at a company that gives them doubts or seems like a poor cultural fit.

One of the best ways to show off your culture is to harness the enthusiasm of your existing employees. For example, at Hootsuite, employee advocacy accounts for 94% of organic employer brand content impressions. An employee advocacy tool makes it easy for employees to share approved brand content with their networks.

And a chorus of ringing endorsements of the corporate culture from people who really work there provides exceptional social proof for potential new recruits.

See also  The Complete Guide to Twitter Marketing in 2023

Businesses can also add a Trending Employee Content galley to their LinkedIn Page. It’s based on associated hashtags, like this example from Google.

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Google LinkedIn employee content

Source: Google on LinkedIn

8. Participate in the community

LinkedIn is all about participation. Remember, you’re building a reputation that will lead to sales over time. Responding to comments and joining the conversation is an important part of building that reputation.

Look for opportunities to contribute. Congratulate your colleagues and connections on their achievements and career moves. Show support for those who may be newly looking for work.

Tamara Krawchenko Community energy transitions Globe and Mail article

Source: Tamara Krawchenko, PhD on LinkedIn

Most importantly, be sure to monitor the comments on your own LinkedIn content, and reply to let users know you hear them and appreciate them. Remember, their engagement with your content exponentially extends its reach.

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Hootsuite Inbox makes sure you never miss a chance to engage with followers. You can respond to comments directly, or assign them to an appropriate team member. You can also integrate your CRM into Hootsuite to see a full picture of your buyers at every point of contact.

Be community-minded in your content sharing too. For every piece of content you share about your organization, LinkedIn recommends sharing an update from an outside source plus four pieces of content from others. Resharing content in which you’re tagged can be a good place to start.

Use social listening streams in Hootsuite to find even more relevant content to share with your audience. The LinkedIn Content Suggestions tool is another great resource.

LinkedIn content strategy tips

9. Write long posts (sometimes)

Try repurposing long-form content as thought leadership articles to post natively on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn accounts for only 0.33% of web traffic referrals from social media. (Compare that to Facebook’s 71.64%.) Rather than focusing on driving traffic away from the site, provide value within your LInkedIn articles themselves.

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But don’t go too long too often. LinkedIn recommends articles be around 500 to 1,000 words. That said, Paul Shapiro of Search Wilderness found that articles in the range of 1,900 to 2,000 words performed best. So, you’ll need to do some testing to find out what works best for your audience.

LinkedIn is adding SEO titles, descriptions, and tags for LinkedIn articles. This will help other users find your original content. If you regularly post long-form content. Consider creating a LinkedIn Newsletter.

Note: Your regular LinkedIn updates can be much shorter, with an ideal length of just 25 words.

10. Experiment with different content types

You can use the various tabs on your LinkedIn Page to showcase just about anything happening at your company. Company news, corporate culture, and upcoming product details are just a few examples.

There are lots of different content formats to experiment with, too. Consider these important LinkedIn content statistics when planning out what to test:

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  • Images get a 2 times higher comment rate, and image collages can work even better
  • Videos get 5 times more engagement, and live video gets a whopping 24 times more engagement

Once again, though, this is all a starting point. Experimentation is the name of the game when finding out what works for your brand on LinkedIn. Implement an effective testing strategy and keep an eye on your analytics to learn which content formats work best based on your goals.

11. Include a hook above “the fold”

Remember newspapers? As in real physical newspapers that were sold at newsstands? In order to grab your attention, they put the biggest story on the top half of the front page. That half, of course, is above the fold. You see it as soon as you glance at the paper, without having to pick it up, and it intrigues you enough to buy the paper to read more.

There may not be a literal fold on your screen, but there is a metaphorical one. In this case, “above the fold” refers to the content visible without scrolling or clicking “more.” It’s the content seen without making the effort to pick the metaphorical paper up and turn it over.

Make the value proposition for your content clear in this prime real estate. Why should someone read on? What do you have to say that’s worth scrolling for?

See also  14 Fun Instagram Question Sticker Ideas for Marketers

LinkedIn posting strategy tips

12. Understand the best time to post

Hootsuite research shows the best time to post on LinkedIn is 9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. When you’re first getting started with the platform, that’s a good place to start.

But the best time to post for your particular brand depends on your particular audience. Specifically, when they’re most likely to be online and ready to engage.

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Hootsuite’s Best Time to Post feature gives you a heat map that shows when your content is most likely to make an impression. You can also find custom posting time recommendations for the best times to post on your LinkedIn Page. These are based on whether you want to build brand awareness, increase engagement, or drive traffic.

LinkedIn Page Hootsuite best time to post feature

13. Schedule your posts in advance

Of course, the best time to post for your audience might not be the best time to post for you. That’s one reason why it’s a good idea to create your posts in advance and schedule them to post automatically at the best time.

Another reason is that creating your posts in advance allows you to dedicate regular chunks of time to creating LinkedIn content. This is easier and more effective than trying to post on the fly. Especially when you’re creating longer form content, it’s a good idea to block off time on your schedule and really get your brain engaged.

Creating content in advance also allows you to get more of the team involved, from senior leaders contributing their thought leadership to editors going over your work with a fine-tooth comb.

Finally, planning and scheduling your content in advance allows you to see how your Linkedin posts fit into your larger social media calendar.

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14. Set up a regular posting schedule

LinkedIn recommends posting once or twice a day. If that seems overwhelming, consider posting at least once a week – this is enough to double the engagement with your content.

Once you’ve determined the best times to post, post consistently at those times. Your audience will come to expect fresh content from you on your schedule, and they’ll be primed to read it and respond.

LinkedIn DM strategy tips

15. Send personalized messages

Bulk direct messages may save time, but they do not get the best results. LinkedIn data shows that InMails sent individually get 15% more responses than messages sent in bulk.

For maximum effect, mention a detail in the email that shows you actually read the prospect’s profile. Did they mention a skill that’s critical to the role? Have a particularly great LinkedIn bio? Highlight something that tells them why you’re interested, and that they’re not just a potential cog in the machine.

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16. Send shorter messages

If you’re sending InMail to a potential connection, collaborator, or candidate, you might be tempted to pack the message with details about the potential opportunity. But LinkedIn research recently found that shorter InMails actually see a much higher response.

graph showing that shorter InMails get better response rates

Source: LinkedIn

Messages up to 800 characters receive an above average response, with messages under 400 characters performing best of all.

However, 90% of those recruiting on LinkedIn send messages longer than 400 characters. So sending a shorter message can really help you stand out from the crowd.

17. Don’t send on Friday or Saturday

It makes sense that weekends would be slower-response days for sending messages on LinkedIn. But, oddly enough, messages sent on Sundays significantly outperform those sent on Fridays.

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graph showing that InMails sent on Friday and Saturday get lower response rates

Source: LinkedIn

Other than avoiding Fridays and Saturdays, it doesn’t seem to matter much which day of the week you send InMails. Remember, though, that this is different from the best times to post content to your LinkedIn Page.

Easily manage your LinkedIn Page and all your other social channels using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard, you can schedule and share content (including video), reply to comments and engage your network. Try it free today.

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Easily create, analyze, promote and schedule LinkedIn posts alongside your other social networks with Hootsuite. Get more followers and save time.

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How to Create Effective Social Media Guidelines for Your Business

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No matter what industry you’re in, every modern business needs to have social media guidelines.

Social media guidelines lay out the best social practices for your employees. In some cases, these rules are required by law or for legal protection. But ultimately, the goal of these guidelines is to empower employees with the information they need to make the right choices on social media, both for themselves, and for the company.

This is true even if your company doesn’t have a social media presence yet. Whether you have an official Twitter account or Instagram profile or not, you’d better believe your employees are out there on the internet, chatting up a storm.

This article will review:

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  • The difference between a social media policy and social media guidelines
  • Real-life examples from other brands
  • How to use our free social media guidelines template to create your own set of guidelines

Bonus: Get a free, customizable social media guidelines template to quickly and easily create recommendations for your company and employees.

Social media guidelines are suggestions for how employees of a company should represent themselves and the company on their personal social media accounts.

Think of social media guidelines as an employee manual for social media best practices.

They should outline how to behave on social media in a way that’s positive and healthy for the company, employees, and customers alike. Social guidelines may include etiquette tips, helpful tools, and links to important resources.

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Importantly, we really don’t recommend prohibiting employees from using social, or restricting them from talking about your company at all. It’s not a good look to police or censor your team members’ social presence: talk about a morale killer, and say goodbye to any organic ambassador opportunities.

Social media guidelines, it should be noted, are different from your company’s social media policy. They’re also distinct from your social media style guide.

A social media policy is a comprehensive document that describes in detail how the company and its employees use social media. These policies are intended to protect a brand from legal risk, and maintain its reputation on social media. Where a social media policy lays out the rules and repercussions for breaking them, social media guidelines are more instructive.

A social media style guide, meanwhile, defines the brand voice, brand visuals, and other important marketing elements. It is often used by the content creators in an organization to ensure that their posts are “on brand”.

One more distinction: social media guidelines are also different from community guidelines, which set the rules for public engagement with your account or group.

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Want to learn more? Take Hootsuite Academy’s free course Implementing Social Media Governance Within your Organization.

Every single employee (yes, including Maurice in accounting) is a potential online brand ambassador. Sharing social media guidelines is your chance to provide the whole team with tools to help them hype you up positively, inclusively, and respectfully.

Use social media guidelines to:

  • Empower your employees to engage positively on their personal social accounts
  • Educate on social media best practices
  • Encourage employees to follow your official accounts or use official hashtags
  • Distribute your company’s social media strategy
  • Introduce employees to helpful third-party tools and resources, such as Hootsuite’s social media dashboard or Hootsuite Academy training
  • Protect your employees from social harassment
  • Safeguard your company from cybersecurity risks
  • Clarify what information is OK to share, and what is a violation of confidentiality
  • Boost your brand’s reputation on social media
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While social media guidelines are usually crafted to share with employees, anyone else you’re working with can benefit from these best practices too — think corporate partners, marketing agencies, or influencers.

If you don’t create best practices around how your company is represented or discussed on social media, things can spiral out of control fast. And on the flipside, a lack of social media guidelines also can prevent you from benefiting from employee content. An enthusiastic team member, armed with social guidelines and feeling confident about what they’re allowed to say, can become a powerful ambassador for your brand.

Here’s a rundown of core sections you should include in your social media guidelines. But of course, while these details are common, go ahead and tailor any part of this to fit your brand: after all every industry is different.

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In fact, every company is different… so before you lock in any hard and fast rules, you might want to check in with your team. Your employees might have specific questions or concerns that could be helpful to address in your master doc.

1. Official accounts

Identify your company’s official social media channels, and encourage employees to follow. This isn’t just a chance to gain a few more followers: it’s an excellent opportunity to demo to employees how your brand presents itself on social media.

You might also want to identify specific hashtags, too, if those are a core part of your social strategy.

In some cases, companies either allow or require certain employees to run brand-affiliated social accounts. If that’s something your business does, this is a good place in your social guidelines to explain how a team member can (or can’t) be authorized for their own branded account.

2. Disclosure and transparency

If your team members are proudly identifying on their social accounts that they work for your company, it’s a good idea to ask them to clarify that they’re creating social media posts on behalf of themselves, not your brand. Adding a disclosure to their social profile or bio that “All opinions expressed are my own” (or similar) helps make it clear that these are not official viewpoints.

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That being said, if they’re going to discuss company-related matters on social, it’s actually required by law that they identify themselves as an employee. This one’s a rule, not a friendly suggestion. In fact, in the United States, the Federal Trade Commission requires the identification to occur in the relevant post. Just noting it in a bio is not enough.

Mekka Okereke Google digital ecosystems opinions my own Twitter bio

An example of a Google employee’s Twitter bio

3. Privacy

It never hurts to remind your team that confidential company information is confidential off the clock, too. Whether private info about coworkers, financial disclosures, upcoming products, private communications, research and development intel, or other sensitive information, clarify that privacy and confidentiality should be respected across all social media platforms.

4. Cyber safety

Cyber hacks and threats are no joke. Even if your employees are vigilant about phishing scams and the like, it never hurts to review cyber-safety basics, especially if you collect information about customers or clients.

Cyber safety first!

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A quick refresh of cyber security 101:

  • Choose strong passwords
  • Use a different password for every social account
  • Don’t use the same passwords for your corporate accounts
  • Use two-factor (or multi-factor) authentication to login to social networks
  • Limit the personal and professional information you share
  • Use personal credentials for personal accounts
  • Make sure your Internet connection is secure
  • Do not download or click on suspicious content
  • Only activate geolocation services on apps when necessary
  • Practice safe browsing
See also  How Social Bookmarking Works [Plus 7 Tools To Help You Do It]

5. Harassment

Guidelines commonly remind staff to be kind on social media. But beyond promoting positivity, businesses should also make clear that they do not tolerate any form of social media harassment.

On the flip side of that is an opportunity to provide your employees with support should they experience harassment. Define your policy for dealing with trolls or bullies, whether it’s to report them, ignore them, or block or ban them.

Tell people how to report issues they may have seen or experienced. If support is needed, tell employees how and where they can get it.

Providing protocol and tools is going to help your team nip problems in the bud before it grows into a full-blown social media crisis.

6. Inclusivity

It’s important for every employer and brand to promote inclusivity on and off social media. Encouraging your employees to do the same is a way to show that you care about them, too.

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Inclusivity guidelines may include:

  • Use inclusive pronouns (they/them/theirs/folks)
  • Provide descriptive captions for images
  • Be thoughtful about representation
  • Don’t make assumptions about gender, race, experience, or ability
  • Avoid gender or race-specific emojis
  • Feel free to share your preferred pronouns
  • Use title case for hashtags (this makes them more legible for screen readers_
  • Use diverse imagery and icons. This includes stock imagery, emojis, and branded visuals.
  • Report and remove any comments deemed sexist, racist, ableist, ageist, homophobic, or hateful to any group or person
  • Make text accessible, using plain language and accessible to people learning English as a second language or those with learning disabilities

Find more inclusivity resources here.

7. Legal Considerations

Your social guidelines can include a reminder to employees to respect intellectual property, copyright, trademarks, and other relevant laws. When in doubt, the rule of thumb is relatively simple: if it’s not yours, and you don’t have permission, don’t post it. Easy!

8. Do’s and don’ts

Of course, while you may want to get into detail with the previous sections, making a quick-to-reference list of do’s and don’ts is a chance to spell things out super clearly.

For example…

  • DO list the company as your employer in your social media bio (if you wish to)
  • DON’T engage with competitors in an inappropriate way
  • DO share company social media posts, events, and stories
  • DON’T share company secrets or confidential information of your colleagues
  • DO express your own opinion — just make sure it’s clear you’re not speaking on behalf of the company
  • DON’T comment on legal matters pertaining to the company
  • DO report harassment you’ve experienced or noticed
  • DON’T engage with trolls, negative coverage or comments

9. Helpful resources

You may wish to include links to helpful resources throughout your guideline document, or you might want to list in a separate section. Wherever you put them, it’s a good idea to link to your social media policy, social media style guide, and community guidelines, so everyone has this info at their fingertips.

Other links you might want to include could be:

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See also  The Perfect Social Media Style Guide for Your Brand in 2022

If your company offers social media resources, what better place than your social media guidelines to make everyone aware of them? Whether its tools or training from Hootsuite, or stipends for social media classes, empower the people that work for you to put their best foot (feet?) forward on social.

For instance, may we recommend Hootsuite Amplify? It’s a great way to find vetted content to share and enhance your personal brand.

10. Contact Information and Date

Be sure to also add information where questions can be sent. That may be a specific person, a forum or Slack channel, or an email address.

You should also indicate when your guidelines were most recently updated.

Looking for real world examples of social media guidelines? We’ve assembled a few sources of inspiration.

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Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District freedom of speech be respectful and get your facts straight

The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District outlines tips for best practices clearly and concisely. “Freedom of speech must be exercised responsibly,” the page reminds readers. “These recommendations provide a roadmap for constructive, respectful, and productive use of social networking sites.”

Intel Social Media Guidelines

Intel makes every effort to assure employees that they’re not here to censor or police their online behavior. “We trust you,” the guidelines say, both explicitly and implicitly. Right off the top, Intel is clear about its wishes: Be Upfront, Focus on the Good, and Use Your Best Judgement.

Stanford University Communications Social Media Guidelines

Stanford University (yep, the same institution Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of) has social media guidelines that are quite dense, but provide lots of resources and context for users. If your social media guidelines are this thorough, it may be a good idea to review the key takeaways with your team in a workshop or seminar to make sure the details aren’t skimmed over.

Bloomberg School of Nursing University of Toronto respect and accuracy

Bloomberg School of Nursing at the University of Toronto has a very concise, bullet-point list of guidelines that are easy to digest at a glance. It’s a good reminder that how you design your guidelines can help with comprehension, whether it’s a web page, a PDF or a brochure.

Sharp News social media standards accountability

Remember that your guidelines can be as long or as a brief as you wish. Sharp News, for example, only has four guidelines for social media use.

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International Olympic Committee social and digital guidelines Beijing 2022

The Olympic Committee kept its social media guidelines to one page for the Beijing Olympics — albeit a pretty dense one. Leaning on the “do’s” and “don’ts” makes it clear at a glance what is acceptable and what is frowned upon.

Nordstrom employee guidelines social media and blogging

Because Nordstrom is a company that deals with customer service and privacy is important, its social media guidelines are heavily focused on protecting customers. Your own industry will have its own special sensitivities, so adjust your guidelines to fit your specific problem areas (or opportunities!).

We’ve distilled all these hot tips into one free downloadable template. It’s just a simple Google doc and quite easy to use.

Simply make a copy and start plugging in your recommendations to guide your team to social media greatness.

Social media guidelines free downloadable template

Save time managing your social media presence with Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can publish and schedule posts, find relevant conversions, engage the audience, measure results, and more. Try it free today.

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