Questioning All Advice, Rules And Best Practices For Social Media Success

Questioning Social Media best practices I often get questions about how to do things to get better results in social media.

Some of those questions go a little like this: What’s the proper length for a video? Is a 2,000-word blog post too long? Should I use third-party apps to post to my Facebook Page? Should I have a Twitter Feed on my sidebar?

Sure, best practices say a video will keep more viewers engaged if it’s under two minutes. Usually posts over 1,500 words are a bit heavy. According to Facebook, there is no difference between posting directly or from an external source. Twitter feeds on your sidebar are not always a good idea.

But those are the wrong questions.

If things like these are determining how you operate in social media, you are putting your focus in the wrong places. Hear me out, I’ll give you 3 reasons:

Your actual work

The reason people will consume your work, services or whatever it is you put out there in the social universe is simply because your work is remarkable, not because your video is under two minutes.

When your focus is in adding value on people’s lives, the format and the medium are irrelevant.

Your real prospect

Erika Napoletano said it perfectly: “Quit acting like you’re Walmart.” Trying to please everybody is a huge mistake. People that don’t watch your entire 14-minute video or don’t read your 2,321-word post are most likely not your ideal prospect.

Put your time and energy on the ones that do and can’t get enough of you. Those are the ones that will keep coming back for more and eventually buy your products or services. In a way, you are filtering prospects.

Your marketing

Marketing is a testing game. If you limit yourself to following “best practices”, you will not find out what works best in your particular case. You might be taking advice from a blogger that recommends things in a certain way because that has work for her, maybe it will be different for you, maybe that blogger already tested several options.

Test a 5 minute video, go for 10 or 15 minutes and see how it goes. Test different days to post content, even the weekend. Test everything you do in social media. What works for others will not necessarily work for you.

In other words, your true fans will consume your message and your work, whether you post it on YouTube or on Vimeo, your content is 400 or 3,000 words. And they will find you whether you are or Twitter, Google+ or Instagram, because you produce amazing work.

Proof?

I have 2 examples for you…

Example #1: Marie Forleo

You probably know Marie Forleo, if you don’t you should. She has turned her business into a huge digital empire and as a personal brand, she is a powerhouse on her own. Even tough it’s clear that I don’t qualify as her target market, I follow her and periodically visit her site just to watch her mad skills for producing consistent awesome sauce.

Marie Forleo on Facebook

What got my attention the other day while visiting the Marie Forleo Facebook Page, was that I could easily spot a few points where she clearly fails to follow conventional wisdom on how to manage a Facebook Page:

  • She uses Hootsuite to post and manage the page content, a third-party app. Best practice: Don’t use third-party apps to manage your Page
  • Some of her posts are not very visual, they don’t contain images. Best practice: People engage more with images. The Timeline was built for brands to be more visual
  • Sometimes she posts what appears to be a Tweet and even an RT. Best practice: Never post tweets on Facebook, people don’t like that
  • I even saw a few Hashtags. Best practice: Facebook doesn’t have Hashtags

For some of us those things are a social sins. So how does Marie get massive engagement on every single post? a simple status, a link, and even a quote? It’s like none of those things really matter.

Here is the reason why

Marie is focused on one thing, she has developed a brand, a message, a program, a platform and a user experience that makes people fall madly in love with her in a split second. As simple as that. She has built a world-class brand and a community of hardcore fans that are exactly the target prospect she aims to.

It doesn’t matter if she uses a third-party app, if she’s on Facebook or Google+ or how long her videos are. People are looking forward to whatever she puts out there next.

Example #2: My daughter

Yes, my daughter. A Visual Arts student at Cal State Fullerton where she also holds a part-time gig and very skilled at everything hand-crafted. She started doing crotchet for fun, which quickly translated into friends and family asking her for stuff but, at some point she decided she could use some extra cash.

You’d think that if she wanted to make a few sales on the Internet, she’d come to me for a quick tip or to her mom, the queen of business development. But no, she went right ahead to take a couple of pictures to post on Instagram. What? No strategy? no plan? no e-commerce? I mean this kid doesn’t even own a Paypal account! This has #epicfail written all over, right?

She made five sales with one picture.

Frances on Instagram

No experience, no best practices, no etiquette, no platform, no e-commerce or technology of any kind other than her iPhone and clearly, no planning. From concept to production to marketing in one afternoon, without leaving her freakin’ room.

The takeaway: This kid is definitely ready to start paying rent!

Here is the reason why

When we start putting all these things in our heads, we create obstacles. We limit ourselves. We fail to focus on producing remarkable work.

What she did here was simply follow her intuition, she used Instagram because she likes it, she behaved as she does in real life and never questioned the format, the medium or the best practices simply because she never read a social media post before.

She smiles because she made 5 sales and she doesn’t know that out there, thousands of us are trying to figure out this complicated puzzle of how to do business online, debating best practices and worrying about how to measure ROI.

What do you think?

Photo credit: schtumple

  • Great post! Many times those of us that call ourselves marketers and social media professionals do get way too caught up in what the traditional business world deems as necessary, trying to follow all the rules and adhere to what are supposed to be set guideline. But sometimes it’s necessary to break out of the box and go against the rules, and just start DOING stuff. Well written article. Thanks!

  • Fab advice, and great proof points too. Seems to me that the advice applies generally too – trust your instinct, believe in yourself and you will find the right way and the right means to achieve success? Thanks for the reminder,

  • Theresa

    Great read…especially the part about “paying rent”:) So many marketers want to ‘do it right’ when in retrospect, they should just do it whatever way works. Be willing to experiment and make mistakes. Thanks for a great read. I’m off to buy my teenager some crotchet needles!

  • Juan Ibarra

    Thanks for the advice Francisco!  Best business practice advice I’ve read this year.

  • Excellent post! I think it’s important to mention, though, that even though your daughter made 5 sales ASAP (congrats to her, by the way!), what will she do now? How will she continue to make sales? Yes, she’s already gained an audience and those people will give word-of-mouth because of the awesome product that she produces. However, what then? 

    There’s no right or wrong to social media, in fact, all those “rules” that we like to repetitively talk about over and over, aren’t rules, they’re just best practices based on what the majority of people do and do not like. 

    I LOVE Marie, but at the same time, I really dislike that she tweets on her FB and uses Hootsuite. I don’t engage with her FB statuses. I look at them, but don’t engage, because I can tell it’s impersonal. Yes, she has quite a devoted following. But if you look at her engagement compared to the people who ‘like’ her page, it’s a bit off. 

    However, it’s definitely important to think and act outside of the box and don’t follow the “rules” all the time. The main point is to just have FUN! 🙂

    In conclusion, I definitely agree with you, we shouldn’t always do what the “rules” tell us to. Great thought-provoking post. 🙂

  • Great stuff man.. you have to focus on the message you want to share and the way you will share it with the world.  The apps and buttons and etc are all bells and whistles that are not important to your message.

    Like when I see a beat up 10 year old car with $4,000 wheels on it.. It makes no damn sense lol

    Congrats on the smart kid.. following daddies footsteps pretty nicely 🙂

  • Christian Plewacki

    This is great advice and I can definitely see its application for small businesses (especially B2C) and entrepreneurs…BUT, I do B2B social marketing for a big organization, with at least one big competitor in the social space, and the game is simply different in big business. Any thoughts?

  • sylviaunlimited

    Thanks for reminding us that what really matters is the message and content.  Whatever the deliver platform, social, websites, youtube, engaging and offering solutions is what people really want at the end of the day!

  • Great info and advice as always! The beauty of Social Media is the fact that the Media is indeed Social. All societies move and flex and morph into various strains of themselves and constantly evolve; so do Media Societies.
    There is no right way to do it, because there is no wrong way. 
    Love the post! and look forward to more in my inbox…

  • #EpicFail would be not letting this post soak into the subconscious of everything you do Online… 

    Special props for having an awesome Kid…

    And again I could agree more with the entire theme of this post.

    Thanks dude… 

    Ryan H.

  • A timely reminder that in social media there are no rules, there are guidelines and examples, but it all comes down to finding out what works best for each client or project. Experimenting is key.

  • I agree with Sarah. This is truly a refreshing article from you, Francisco. Great reminder that not all suggested tactics and rules work for everyone/all brands. I do, come across a lot of blogging advises of ‘keeping the post length to minimum (as little as possible), stop doing list-posts, blog that doesn’t post at least 5-7 posts a week is doomed to fail etc etc..’ I sort of breaking all of those rules, come to think of it. 🙂 I do hope to be more prolific if I manage though, but if I’m not able to cope with the limited time online, then I need to make sure the ‘quality’ factor out-rules the quantity. Readers deserve to get the best content from us – that’s the QC I hope to maintain, for THEIR benefits. Same thing goes with social media as you already explained clearly in your brilliant article.

  • Susan

    Why is it we tend to over think and over analyse? It keeps us from the most important task… DO. Thanks for this awesome post.

  • whenpigsfly

    Terrific post, Francisco! I totally agree on all points. I’ve tried following best practices all the time and it didn’t really get me anywhere. I’ve finally stopped worrying about doing everything right all the time and instead have focused on doing things that highlight my voice. This isn’t to say that I’ve thrown all caution to the wind but I’ve relaxed my approach. Plus, I’ve finally figured out how to focus my efforts better. Instead of trying to do too many things on my website, I’ve gone back to focusing on the social commentary and humor end of things. I’m still passionate about social media but I write something about it for another website once a week to fill that need.

    Have I been more successful getting people to key into my message? Maybe not, but at least I’m not trying to please too many people all the time. It’s lots of trial and error to find out what works. In the end, it’s about being true to oneself. That’s what resonates.

  • Nick

    Great advice – don’t let anyone put you off. If you really believe in what you are doing you will find a way. All the advice in the world won’t get you where you want to go if you are not genuine and authentic in what you are doing.

  • “simply because your work is remarkable, not because your video is under two minutes.” – absolutely true.  It’s almost TOO easy for anyone to launch crappy info products these days, what with the million-dollar+ launches people get.  If you’re really adding value and you put yourself out there, the money will come.

  • Excellent advice here. Congrats to your daughter! Her stuff is adorable.

  • Totally
    agree
    with
    you
    here  @wchingya:disqus .
     Not
    all
    rules
    and
    tips works for everyone. We have different target market and niche. It might not work for you but might work for me. 

    Brilliant
    article
    Francisco. So true.
     Focus on producing
     remarkable
     work instead
    of just trying out
     every single tactics you read over the net.
      

  • When your focus is in adding value on people’s lives, the format and the medium are irrelevant.

  • Great post as usual! Nobody every gained authority, fame, or riches by following all the rules…especially rules set by their competitors.

  • Yes, yes, yes! Love this, Franscisco. I think sometimes we get caught up with analysis paralysis. Sometimes, you just have to get out there and test, try, tweak and even fail. What works for one business isn’t necessarily going to work for yours.

    Yes, we can look at best practices, but it’s important to come up with your own formula for success. I hate how some people get so caught up in what others do, whether it’s a so-called “A-Lister” or another business. I liken this to running – you have to run your own race, not someone else’s. And, at the heart of it all, is coming up with winning content or an incredible service that shines. Do that and there will be no stopping you!

  • davergallant

    Definitely agree with you on this Francisco.  We get so caught up in the best practices that we think trial and error is a sin. This post hits home.

  • If things like these are determining how you operate in social media,
    you are putting your focus in the wrong places. Hear me out, I’ll give
    you 3 reasons:

  • “web presence” into a profit powerhouse using techniques on social
    media, content and email marketing to generate traffic and convert to
    leads and sales.

  • It doesn’t matter if she uses a third-party app, if she’s on Facebook
    or Google+ or how long her videos are. People are looking forward to
    whatever she puts out there next.
     

  • KarlRoche

    Just brilliant

  • Excellent Post 
    Franscisco !! SO true !!
    Just from your first paragraph made me realize how much we over analyze stuff. Just get the quality content out there and focus on what your reader / subscriber really wants and not on how long your post should be? I used to do that in some of my online niches ask my self how long should this article be ? keyword research ? keyword research ? what keywords are getting the most traffic ? yet I was forgetting the most important point my subscriber. When I started doing that LIFE CHANGED!! 

  • Thinkitmedia

    Great article! Good points too!

  • Is a 2,000-word blog post too long? Should I use third-party apps
    to post to my Facebook Page? Should I have a Twitter Feed on my sidebar?

  • If things like these are determining how you operate in social media,
    you are putting your focus in the wrong places. Hear me out, I’ll give
    you 3 reasons:

  • When your focus is in adding value on people’s lives, the format and the medium are irrelevant.

  • Keep up the good work and I will make sure to bookmark you for when I have more free time away from the books.

  • If things like these are determining how
    you operate in social media, you are putting your focus in the wrong
    places. Hear me out, I’ll give you 3 reasons:
     

  • According to Facebook, there is no difference between posting directly or from an external source.

  • Hear me out, I’ll give you 3 reasons:

  • Gucci Reyes

    If things like these are determining how
    you operate in social media, you are putting your focus in the wrong
    places. Hear me out, I’ll give you 3 reasons:

    http://www.doitgreencarpetcleaning.com/

  • Great article Francisco, agree with Sarah & Ching ya with a strong belief in yourself and your ability to share your passion you will attract those to your brand that truly care. As for the best practices loved your point on testing what works for you. We see many tips online on crafting the perfect plan but in reality the perfect plan is the one you create for yourself not others.