Why is there no official social media how-to guide?

You know the question – anyone working in an agency that specialises in social media has heard it before. Do you have a quick social media guide I can send through the company? Or Is there a one-sheet with all of the image sizes for each platform? You understand why the question is being asked. Some of your client’s employees are completely new to social media, and don’t know how to even retweet a company post or share something on LinkedIn. They want to know what words to avoid, what hashtags are the killer tickets to mass viewership, whether to use images or video to achieve success. A one-pager would help massively, right? 

What’s the problem?

Sure, you can send them a quickly typed up page with some common practices. Upload a carousel to LinkedIn by combining images as a PDF. You can alter whether you are sharing from your company page or your personal page on LinkedIn with the drop-down menu. Tweets are 280 words – they used to be 140, so make use of that extra character space, but don’t fill it with extra words for no reason!

But if we’re being honest, all of these tips and tricks could be obsolete by next week. There is no official social media how-to guide because social media isn’t officially done. Jump onto a social media news site today and you’ll see that Facebook is removing restrictions on text content in Facebook ad images, and LinkedIn has launched a new look while making Stories available to all users. Both of those stories were published in the last week, and both change the entire landscape.

Let’s take a closer look at the news

Facebook’s text restrictions on ads is something agencies have had to contend with for years, as it limits how much information an ad can convey on its own. There was a careful balancing act to strike, and it often actually lead to innovative solutions, where visual storytelling became more important than the text that told the story. Show don’t tell, and all that. Now, with that restriction gone, an entire page from a social media how-to guide has been ripped out and replaced with one talking about the dangers of overloading your ads with too much copy, backed up with limited data as this is all still new.

These news stories also often hide a host of other updates within them. LinkedIn making Stories available to all users is fantastic on its own and finalises the slow global rollout that’s been occurring over the last few months, but it’s a little bit of text at the bottom of the article that is more interesting for us at the moment: along with the roll-out of Stories, LinkedIn’s also revamped its search process to incorporate more of its functions into your search matches. Imagine writing a social media guide that has a section on the LinkedIn search bar, talking about how you can find people or jobs. You’ll have to completely overhaul the section to talk about the new functionalities, mentioning how the searches are more personalised, what keyword filters are and why a single search is now coming up with groups, courses, content and more. And we haven’t even touched on the very bottom of the article, discussing new functionality around launching a video meeting via a LinkedIn message, with integrations for Microsoft Teams, Bluejeans and Zoom.

So, I do nothing?

So, what’s the big takeaway? The two articles I discussed are from one week, and it’s a slow week. Every month brings sweeping changes that require people that are already knowledgeable about social to have their eyes glued to the news sites to keep up. Just one update can make a campaign’s objective entirely change – perhaps engagement just doesn’t work anymore, it’s all about web traffic now. Who knows?

And that’s the biggest thing: who knows? We do. We are supposed to and are meant to keep up to ensure our client is getting the right advice, at the right time. The reason we can’t make a social media guide is because that advice will be wrong within days. We can say it will be wrong, and the client can say they understand, but it will still be used, will still be circulated throughout the company, will still cause frustration, and it’ll make us look stupid. So, no social media guides. Yes advice. Lots of advice. The right advice, at the right time.

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