As someone who has worked in the world of marketing and social media for the last 8 years, I’m always learning more and more about social media. In that journey, I’ve realized that not many people know social media the way that business professionals working in this field day in and day out do. 

I want to share some things that you might not know about social media. These things will help you if you’re a small business owner who needs to know more about the secrets big businesses know or if you’re an average user interacting with brands on social media. 

Businesses can hide comments on Facebook and Instagram

I’ve worked in the world of community management for a little over a year now and I’m still surprised that people think the best way to get the word out about mistreatment from a company is through a comment on Facebook or Instagram. 

Businesses can and do hide comments all the time. Hiding a comment means that to you and all your Facebook friends, it won’t look like anything has changed. However, no one else will see your comment. You might think you’re getting the word out but it’s essentially the same as posting that comment as your private status. It might even be worse since comments you make on brand posts aren’t shown to your entire friend list (neither are posts but they get at least more traction.) 

If you want to talk about a company doing something wrong, leave a review. Reviews are much harder for companies to remove and they can’t hide them. 

Instagram hasn’t always allowed for hiding comments but recently introduced this option. For companies using third-party platforms like Sprout Social, it’s an easy thing to do. 

If you’re a business owner, you should know about this tool as well. Use it sparingly and ethically, but we all know the instances where you might need to handle a situation privately or hide an unfair assessment of your company. 

Who’s really responding

When you get a major brand responding to you on Twitter or liking your comment on Facebook, be realistic about who that person is. A lot of times, I see people assuming that a response from a brand is like hearing from the CEO themselves. 

In all likelihood, you’re talking to an intern or someone who works at a marketing firm with 30 other brands that they’re managing. You’re not always getting the direct line to a company that you’d hope for. Your complaint that you’ll never shop at a major chain ever again, doesn’t do much for their bottom line and for someone who may not even work at the company, they won’t care too much. Also, asking in-depth questions about products might be better done through an email to the customer service team. 

The line between customer service and social media does get blurred a bit but usually, the customer service team is trained to help solve your problem while the social media team is trained to encourage engagement. Keep that in mind when you reach out. 

Facebook and YouTube are at war

These two platforms are huge and they are constantly competing against each other. Sure, YouTube may make some changes to compete with a site like TikTok and Facebook may take some inspiration from Snapchat, but most of the time, the two are working against each other. 

What does that mean for you? Have you ever noticed that if you share a link from YouTube on Facebook, you can’t watch the video directly on Facebook? You get a preview photo but you have to click onto YouTube to actually watch the video. 

Social media post preview

This wasn’t always the case but Facebook knows that videos perform really well on their platform and wanted to make sure they owned the videos instead of directing people to YouTube. If you want a video to do well on Facebook, upload it directly instead of using a YouTube link. 

Keep in mind too that these two platforms will take inspiration from each other and introduce features meant to drown out the competition. The reason a live video does so well in Facebook’s algorithm is because they’re happy you’re not using YouTube’s live video. 

Facebook owns Instagram

This is a big one for businesses to understand. Facebook owns Instagram. That means if you’re going to have an Instagram for your business, you should have a Facebook too and make sure they’re connected. Why? If you want to advertise on Instagram or schedule Instagram posts for free (although there are other options), you need a Facebook business account. There has been some talk about new Instagram accounts being able to run ads without Facebook business but the system on Facebook is more robust with data and tools.

One minor note though, if you’re planning to set up an Instagram shopping account, do that before you connect your account to Facebook. The system is a bit finicky and will make you disconnect from Facebook to set up the shopping account. You can reconnect once you’re done. 

Trends are for watching, not instantly following

When a new platform takes off, businesses often freak out thinking they need to be on this new platform (looking at you TikTok). Marketing firms usually profit off this too. These firms want you to work on a brand new campaign and give them more money to do it. That works fine for big businesses but it’s not always right for smaller companies.

Before you jump on the chance to be part of a new trend, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is my audience on this platform?
  • Do you have the time, energy, or money to take on something new?
  • Do you think this new platform will help you make sales?

If you can’t answer “yes” to the above, you might want to reconsider. Focus your time and energy on the platforms that make the most difference in your company. For most small businesses that I’ve worked with, that will usually be Facebook and Instagram.

Scheduling content makes a huge difference

If you haven’t already started making monthly editorial calendars for your social media, you’re missing out! It’s what all the big brands do (although sometimes it’s longer or shorter than monthly). No business should be getting to 4:00 on a Friday realizing they haven’t posted anything all week. 

Another problem that I see with some small businesses is only posting when they need something from their audience. Maybe there’s a new product or class they want to offer, but if their social media has only ever been one-sided, most people won’t find that appealing.

Schedule out your content and include plenty of helpful posts. I live by the 80-20 rule. 80% of what you post should be helpful, informational, or fun and 20% should be sales. 

What to do with this social media knowledge

Now that you know a few secrets of social media, use this knowledge to become better. Whether that means as a small business using social media or as a person interacting with brands, knowing more about the behind-the-scenes of social media will help you get your message across in the way you want. If you need any help, feel free to reach out