Believe it or not, this is our last post of the Fifty Fundamentals of Marketing series. If you missed a post you can check out the whole series! To finish things up, we’re going to talk about five fundamentals for social media – specifically, five fundamentals for social media if you are using social media for business purposes. As is the case with blogging, there are many ways people can use social media, but when you are using this powerful tool for professional reasons, there are certain things you always want to keep in the back of your mind. Without further delay, here are our five biggest tips for using social media for your business.
1. Have goals and a way to measure your progress
Just like we recommend setting up an editorial calendar before you write a single blog post, we also suggest that you establish a plan before you send out your first tweet, YouTube video, or Facebook update. What are you hoping to accomplish? How are you going to measure your progress towards those goals? These objectives will not only help you choose the best platform for your needs but they will also help you remain on point and focused once you begin using social media. Few things are more difficult, for example, than offering free content to your audience only to realize you need to start charging hefty fees for it later. Having a plan can help stave off some of those complexities. Everyone in your company should be on board with these plans. Even if they are not using the platforms, your company could be impacted by what happens in the online world.
2. Establish your online persona
Especially if multiple people in a company are using social media from the same account, it can be difficult to create a consistent tone across all social media interactions. How do you want to present your company in the wide open online world? Do you want to appear authoritative and formal or do you want to seem more casual and relaxed? Do you want to use humor regularly or do you want to keep your content pretty close to the vest? Your answers to these questions will again help determine on which platforms you should spend the most time. A Facebook page is harder to keep active if you are approaching it as an authoritarian voice. A blog, on the other hand, may not be viewed as professionally credible if you always resort to humor. It can take awhile to “try on” different things, but once you do settle on your online persona, make sure everyone in the company is on board with that tonality.
3. Include your business name in all of your online “about” statements
When you peruse peoples’ bio statements on Twitter, which only allow for about 160 characters, you often see things like, “Father of 5 kids and 3 puppies, love football and basketball.” While this information is great for making you seem more approachable (social media practitioners call this being more “human”) it’s not going to let people know where you work. That means that even if you do a great job of networking, people may not think of you when they need the types of services you offer. Incorporating what you do into your “about” statements is a subtle, non-promotional way to let people know that you are using social media to help promote your business.
4. Promote other peoples’ content more than your own
Many corporate accounts I encounter in the online world simply tweet out links to their own blog posts or even to press releases they have posted on their website. While promoting your own information is certainly important, you do not want to appear as if you’re a bot that is just tweeting things relevant to your company. Like with blogging, a successful social media account will offer information that is helpful. Whether you share articles from industry publications, content from your customers, or interesting blog posts relating to what your company does, you want to try to make sure that you are doing something on a regular basis apart from promoting your own material. A helpful ratio to keep in mind is one Chris Brogan (New York Times best seller author of Trust Agents) came up with a few years ago – for every one item of your own you want to promote, share six other things first.
5. Have a plan for reacting to negative feedback
It’s very difficult to use social media on a daily basis without encountering negative feedback of some kind. Maybe a person thinks your post is stupid or maybe a customer had a bad experience with your product. The price we pay for the ability to publish our content for free is that people can also respond to our content for free, and we may not always like what they have to say. A good adage to keep in mind when you start to use Twitter or Facebook is “Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.” Have a plan ready so that if you do receive negative criticism, you know exactly how to respond. Often companies who receive negative feedback online respond in a disrespectful manner or delete all negative comments. This creates more negative buzz around the company. Knowing how to stop the snowball effect in the face of negativity is essential.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, of course. Planning a social media marketing effort can seem intimidating, and indeed there is a lot to consider. However, we feel that isolating these five tips first will help you get things off on the right foot. If you are considering the use of social media for your company and would like some assistance, feel free to email us or leave a comment below.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/intersectionconsulting/4044928113/ via Creative Commons