I wrote the next paragraph as a reply to a Reddit user wanted to know the basics of Social Media because he volunteered himself to run a political campaign for a friend of his. Maybe someone else will find it useful. Here it is:
First. My social media team uses Sprout for Social Media management. I use Buffer for my personal accounts.
Second. Facebook is the most solid and best developed platform. Analytics are useful, users use it the most and is the backbone of a good integral SM strategy. Twitter is very good for realtime coverages and news sharing (Think of it as a “social” news ticker from CNN), it sucks for interaction but can sometimes give you a good awareness boost (depending of the size of your follower base). Instagram is the most promising of them all, as long as you stick to the content that the users expect (pretty pictures), on the downside there are no Analytics whatsoever.
Third. In Social Media you’re playing in the users’ turf. Your competition are not other candidates, your competition are my nieces’ birthday pictures and that popular list or meme from Buzzfeed or Huffington Post. You need to say things that people want want to hear and share, not the things you want to say or that are important to you, they don’t care about that, it has to be translated to terms that are important to THEM. I use social media for me, to stay close to friends, family and news, I don’t use social media to have yet another outlet for ads and propaganda. I urge you to watch this video from Facebook to understand how your posts get to your users. Make people feel part of something, of a community with likeminded users that have same goals and objectives. That’s why they are called “Fan Pages”. You’re basically rounding up virtual groupies.
Fourth. Measure Everything. Use Facebook’s very powerful analytics tool to understand your post performance. Post more of what people like and less of what they don’t like. You are looking for interaction here, since that’s the main variable Facebook’s algorithm determines if users like certain post, and Facebook rewards that with extra reach, which in turns generates more interactions. (That’s “virality”)
Fifth. Video. Right now both Facebook and Twitter are trying to compete against YouTube for video attention, so Videos get boosted a lot, for free. They cheat on the metrics they report back to you (Facebook counts a “view” as a 3 second play, videos play automatically so… it’s not a sure way to know if your video was really looked at. YouTube counts a view when a user views to half of the video) but that’s not all bad, since a view counts as a interaction, Videos tend to have extremely high engagement rates (people that saw the post / people that interacted with it) which still plays under Facebook’s rules for post success. Just make sure your videos are mobile friendly (mobile users need text or subtitles, since not everyone is able to see a video in a noise free environment) are short (15–20 seconds seems to be the ideal average) and very shareable (the logic behind a share is ego-driven, people like to feel important among their social circles, and share content that feel that someone else might appreciate, or makes a statement about themselves for everyone else to see. It’s a very cool social phenomenon).
So, yeah… that’s a summary of all I know. Of course there are a lot of things to learn and master, but every page and community is different and require different approach. Define the type of user you want to cater to and focus on that, don’t please everybody, don’t do generic stuff, don’t copy other brands and always remember that you have to translate what your client wants to say to what users want to hear.
That’s your role, keeping the user as the center of the conversation, you’re just a conversation topic.
Don’t spend money on dudes ripping you off trying to teach you about social. Do your research, and read the blogs of the platforms themselves, they have a lot of tips (for free) to help your content succeed.
Oh, and you’re going to need money. Nothing works unless you give it a paid boost every now and then. That’s fundamental. On the upside, Social is open to any budget, even 10 bucks a week can do a lot for small pages.