When it comes to having a successful social media marketing plan, it's tough not to do a Google search for 'Best Practices' for this platform of 'Best Practices' for that platform. The problem with so-called best practices, is that they're NOT best practices for your brand.

What works for Disney, Nike or Wendy's may not, and most likely, will not work for your brand. They most likely have a different audience, larger following, or are on a different platform all together. So those "Best Practices" you see and read about highlighting those types of brands. Well, just aren't what they appear to be for your brand.

We all have different goals, different objectives, varied audiences we're trying to reach. While learning from industry experts can be extremely helpful, it can also lead you to falling into rabbit holes or wild goose chases, where you end up hitching your wagon to some shiny new platform or process that could end up seeing your waste days, weeks or even months of your time.

The key to success with consuming third-party information to develop your strategies, plans and tactics is that you must first focus on your own goals and objectives. You need to know your audience and how you're looking to position yourself in a unique way in order to stand out from the noise.

It’s not about being first on a social network that your target market and ideal customer is not on. And here are two great examples of why best practices and relying SOLELEY on other brand's data can get you into trouble when it comes to your social media marketing plan.

Both of these websites were sharing data about the best time to post on Instagram to get the greatest engagement for your brand. But here's the thing. They both point to completely different times to do so.

The first website is sharing data that states the best time to post on Instagram for top engagement is 7:00PM in the evening. The second website is sharing data that states the best time to post on Instagram for top engagement is 11:00AM in the late morning.

So here we are back at our initial dilemma of how and what to believe when it comes when in fact IS the "Best" time to post on Instagram for top engagement. And the answer is actually quite simple. You have to dive into your OWN analytics. No other brand's data is going to tell you when YOUR audience is online engaging with your content.

The ONLY way you're going to know that is to look into your analytics to see when that actually is. You'll often here many in the social media marketing space tell you to "listen to your audience". This is one of the many ways your brand can do that. The data supplied by social media channels is directly tied to how, when, and where your audience engages with your brand's content.

So STOP listening to 'Best Practices'. Dive into your own brand's analytics and start to build your own best practices.