Good guidelines for social media marketing.

Platforms come, platforms go, but social media – in some form – will be with us for a long time. And while it’s good for businesses to capitalize on this ability to connect with their audience, it’s also good to start with a solid plan, and have a few guidelines in place when you begin.

There are obvious places to start – the first step, of course, is identifying your audience and the platforms it is most likely to use. Defining your message, and ensuring it stays original and on-brand, also requires a great deal of consideration. Then there are issues of timing (when your target audience will most likely be online), engagement (connecting with your audience) and reciprocity (share and share alike with your connections). Entrepreneur has a great 10-step summary of social media marketing, and it’s definitely worth reviewing.

Visual content is an increasingly important part of audience engagement. And if you’re unable to gather customized, in-house video or photographic content, there are sources like Pexels to fill in the gaps. But when using visual content, always be sure that the people who are the media subject matter are okay with being the subject matter.

The recent #PlaneBae saga – and its fallout – stress the importance of respecting boundaries and not using strangers as media content. If someone has not given express consent for their image to be used, don’t use it. (Most business social media marketers already understand and respect this, but it does bear repeating.)

Sites like Pexels that offer stock photography features models who have signed releases, allowing their images to be used for certain purposes. But even these have limitations.

So remember, visuals are great, but be respectful and cautious when using images – particularly ones containing people.

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