This article was published on December 7, 2018, on Social Media Week, written by Allison Lips.

Before posting new content to your brand’s social media platforms, how much time do you spend thinking about the implications of a post? And how many times have you blasted a random thought to the world, only to regret it five minutes later?

While we do live in a world where anything you post will offend someone, there are a few questions you should ask yourself while sharing on social, so that you don’t post content that is irrelevant to your target audience, or unwittingly end up with a public relations crisis on your hands.

1. Will this come back to haunt me?

While there is no guarantee that a post won’t be used against you, there are general guidelines you can follow to avoid most major headaches. Some are obvious, which include avoiding commenting on politics in most cases, and refrain from posting photos of your employees breaking the law or doing something generally thought of as offensive.

Others are less so. For example, an innocuous cat photo can spark a flame war with the wrong caption.

2. Will this offend my audience?

This is related to the first question, but slightly different. Your brand may be in a niche where general public opinion doesn’t matter. Those controversial topics may be how your company survives, especially if your brand is built around a topic that is considered political. In that case, you’re bound to offend someone.

But after all, you are the one to decide on whether the benefits of posting whatever you want outweigh the costs of losing business. You may also find that the potential customers you lose aren’t people you’d want as your customers anyway. That’s your prerogative.

3. Does this feel authentic?

Everything you post must align with your brand in some way. Some examples are posts about a cross-promotion with another related business in town, or advice on how to choose the best product/service for you. Things that don’t make sense: wading into a controversy you know very little about because you want to appear “woke,” or posting pictures irrelevant to your brand. If you run a bakery, you probably shouldn’t be posting pictures of sports cars without context. It’s impressive to post a customized cake in the shape of a client’s vintage Mustang and show a look alike car next to it. But it’s confusing if a photo of a car is posted just because you thought it was cool.

4. Are you providing value?

Every post must connect with your audience. You can buy into the 80/20 rule, which states that 80 percent of your content must be informative, and the remaining 20 percent can either be sales or segments that make followers want to buy your product.

It doesn’t matter how you approach content creation. Just make sure that you are positively engaging with your followers and doing something more than simply stirring up controversy for attention.

5. Are you posting too many contests/giveaways or other content that seems spammy?

Everyone loves a contest or a giveaway. However, there are too many pages that only offer free stuff. An occasional giveaway is a great way to get people interested in your brand, but it can backfire.

Contests are not a valid substitute for content. They can spark people’s interest in your brand, but it’s the rest of your content that can keep people interested, which should be relevant, useful, and informative.

At most, you should do a giveaway once a month and post a few reminders for followers to enter. This is important because not everyone who follows your page pays attention to every new move.

If you don’t ask yourself these questions before you click post, you may not get the results you were expecting, and you won’t see the returns on your content that you were aiming for.

Is it time to get some social media help? Let’s talk!

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