Social media is a part of everyday life. According to a comScore study (October 2011), 82.4% of the world’s online population engages with social media at least once a month. Social media platforms have become an excellent place for companies to boost their brand and gain awareness. Below are a few quick tips on social media best practices for marketers.
1. Don’t just do it because it’s new.
Seems like there is a new social media site popping up each week. I have seen several companies jump at the chance to add another social media icon to their business card. While it can be effective for some, it won’t be for most. You will probably spread yourself too thin. Having the time and resources to keep up with all the various outlets while carrying out an effective campaign is nearly impossible—so what ends up happening is that a handful of your accounts go inactive. This will have a negative effect on your brand. Make sure you are engaging in the social media platforms that suit your brand.
Is your content optimized? It should be. If you can search it, it can be optimized. Just like your website or blog, make your social media sites and content searchable.
3. What’s in a name?
When signing up for multiple social media sites, use the same name for each one if possible. Doing so will make it easier for consumers and fans to find you on multiple platforms. For instance, we use Facebook.com/DanaComm and Twitter.com/DanaComm. Always begin with the end in mind. Using the same name will also help you promote your social media presence. Instead of showing different URLs for each site on your ad, you can simply use social media icons with /yourname. This saves valuable space and makes it easy for consumers to remember.
Just like traditional advertising, there is a science to social media. Before you jump in, plan. What content to post, when to post it, how to respond to comments, when to duplicate content among multiple platforms—all of these are important questions. If you go in with a plan, you can come out a winner.
5. Is it working?
Set realistic and obtainable goals to measure the effectiveness of a social campaign. Most plans are built with an end goal in mind, so why not do the same with social? Maybe you want to maximize exposure or have a certain percentage of interaction with your brand. Whatever the case, learn from your findings and alter the plan moving forward.
6. Listen, learn, interact.
Observe your audience. Social media outlets are a great way to be a fly on the e-wall, listening to what your consumers have to say about you. In this way, you will hear the truth about your brand firsthand. The key is not interrupting or changing consumers’ opinions, but rather engaging them. Join in the conversation, offer insights from the brand perspective, and answer any questions they may have. It is essential to find a good balance between self-promotion and intriguing content.
7. Offer information, don’t sell.
Findings from a 2009 ExactTarget study show that 70% of Facebook users who “Like” a page do not feel they’ve given permission to be marketed to. People do not want to be sold on social media sites. They are looking for information, reviews and interaction with other consumers and the brand.
8. No take-backs!
When you say something on the Internet, you might as well be writing it in stone. You can’t take back something you’ve posted, tweeted or associated with. Once it’s out there, someone has seen it. And if it is offensive, negative or insulting, it will spread like wildfire.
9. Do unto others.
This classic theme holds wieght on the social media scene. Treat your followers and fans with respect. Just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean they’re not there. Be smart about deleting posts or comments—because you could lose credibility. Look at a negative comment as an opportunity to learn and grow.
10. Don’t stop there.
Take the relationship to the next step. Don’t just acquire followers. Constantly seek new ways to keep them engaged and coming back to your page. By doing so, you can extend your brand loyalty.
The most important thing to remember: stay current, stay relevant and have fun. Most people on social media sites are there because it is entertaining. So be professional, but be personal.