As well-informed marketers, we constantly study best practices and best-in-class campaigns and websites to learn from their success. However, when nearly everyone in the advertising industry is collectively following the same guidelines and benchmarks, things can get a little stale.
That’s when it is important to ask yourself: how you do expect to differentiate your client and their products or services when your social media or digital campaigns are merely parroting those of your competitors? While understanding why certain techniques or concepts were successful is obviously important, if your vertical is one big echo chamber, you’ll never develop the kind of ultra-successful, award-winning and memorable project that nearly everyone hopes to achieve during their careers.
For instance, following typical “best practices,” such as sending your emails at exactly 7:03 a.m. on a Tuesday or including a video in every Facebook post may feel “safe” and make your clients happy, these might not be the most effective tactics for everyone.
Of course, actively choosing to disregard techniques currently considered best practices (although that’s a pretty nebulous classification) requires an educated client and a certain willingness to gamble. That said, given the nimbleness and agility inherent in digital marketing, it is also fairly simple to make changes; there are many ways to experiment in online marketing and social media without making long-term investments.
Understanding the “why” behind the best practices is key to relating published statistics and data to your clients’ goals. For instance, tweeting about the latest news makes sense if it is relevant to the brand, but congratulating the Duchess and Prince William on their new son is not relevant to a CPG company and just adds to the digital “noise.”
Moreover, to quote Made Eyewear’s Kevin Hundert, the most authentic posts can have the greatest impact.
“I’ve found that we get a better reaction from posting a picture taken in a hallway than a million-dollar photo shoot,” said Hundert. “Everyone can recognize an expensive ad.”
The key takeaway from this quote is that following best practices can easily and quickly begin to feel contrived. Going with your instincts or posting quick images or updates that capture something real about a brand is not only more effective in terms of generating clicks and engagement, but is often more budget friendly too.
In addition, despite what many social media experts will recommend, outsourcing or blindly automating updates and social messaging typically shows that there is no real human behind the brand’s online presence, which doesn’t necessarily endear consumers. Despite the common suggestion or “best practice” that a brand should post at least once a day or hire a service or intern to handle social media, it might be better for a company to post less often, but make a greater impact with more compelling content.
Most published best practices or best-in-class case studies are, indeed, valuable for marketing professionals — even if only as a learning opportunity or inspiration. However, they should be used as a jumping-off point, not gospel or a blueprint for your next pitch.
So, with all of this said, what standard best practices do you ignore?