By now, social media is not a novel tool. Most of us use various social media platforms for personal use on a daily basis. Heck, even most of our mothers are regular Facebook users by now. My mom wins extra cool points for being on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat too – go Mom!
But having personal accounts does not a social media master make. To be fair, some of the same principles apply. For instance, you check your own account to interact with your friends, see what they’re up to and get their feedback. The same principle applies to social media for business. You’re not there to shout at everyone about your company, but rather to listen, discuss and engage.
Personal social media usage is also regularly integrated into your day – not an extra side task or an afterthought. That’s how it should be in marketing too. It should be a given natural part of your engagement plan. That doesn’t mean you have to be on every platform – in fact you shouldn’t be. While the main principles of social media remain the same, the execution for business should be quite different from the way you use your personal account.
Here are some of the big dos and don’ts:
DON’T: Give TMI. If your newsfeeds look anything like mine, you probably see a lot of photos of lunches, errand lists and maybe even way too much detail about a fight someone’s having with their significant other. It’s merely annoying in your personal life, but it’s a downright no-no for businesses.
DO: Give behind the scenes sneak peeks. Are you visiting a valued client, having a brainstorming lunch at your favorite local pub or participating in a community event? Behind the scenes posts help personalize your business. Give us a VIP look into what it’s like to be a part of your team.
DON’T: Post sporadically. We all have followed people or companies that seem to disappear for months at a time on social media. Or just as bad: those who post every five minutes. I have unfollowed many a person or business due to no activity or too much of it. Once someone hits that unfollow button, you’ve forever lost your chance to get their attention.
DO: Find balance in consistency. How often you post will depend on the platform and your audience. For instance, B2C users may find they need to post more frequently to maintain a conversation with their audience. Three to five posts sent out in one day on Twitter is standard but would cross over to annoying on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram. Whatever your perfect balance is, decide on it and stick with it to maintain your audience.
DON’T: Talk at us with endless self-promotion. I have seen countless businesses whose timelines are cluttered day after day with their latest promotion (generally followed by an alarming number of exclamation points). All marketing requires some self-promotion, but none of it should consist of shouting information at your audience. Marketing should be a conversation and social media is one tool that makes it very easy to tune out if you’re sick of hearing the same boring, loud message.
DO: Engage with us. Sure, getting your name out there is great but social media gives you an instant method of connecting with your target audience. Use it! It’s a great tool for customer service, relationship building, finding out what your audience is talking about and getting in on (or better yet, leading) the conversation. Whether you’re B2B or B2C, become a reliable source of interesting, helpful and shareable content relative to your industry.
DON’T: Shoot off at the…fingers. Instant connection is a big plus of social media, but it’s also part of the risk. There is no master erase button for the Internet and brands have faced plenty of trouble for insensitive or inaccurate posts (Beware the screenshot!).
DO: Have a social media plan. A little planning up front can go a long way. An editorial calendar can be anything from a basic outline of topics that compliment your current business strategy to fully drafted, ready-to-go posts for the entire month.
Either way you spin it, using social media without a clear strategy or goals will eat up your valuable time and is equivalent to shooting in the dark and just hoping for results. Creating a social media plan will allow you to achieve efficiency and avoid the big mistakes businesses often make.