For our 100th post to this blog, we'd like to address a bugbear... and hopefully offer some good tips on how to avoid pitfalls.
Many companies are plunging into social media armed only with a determined grin and a handful of half-composed and half-baked messages they think should be seen. They lack understanding of who they want to connect with, what image they want to project and are merely panicking because they've been told they simply MUST tweet, blog etcetera, ad infinitum.
Below are ten quick pieces of advice that we like to share with any business that looks at us with a glazed expression (or one of panic) when we bring up the subject of 'social media'...
1. CHOOSE which tools are best for the job. Is Twitter right for you or do you need to share a little more, meaning a blog might be better? Are your existing and prospective clients on Facebook? If not, where are they? Is that holding page effort you've got LinkedIn enough or does it need updating with all the fantastic stuff you're up to?
2. IDENTIFY your audience for each. Who is it that you want to connect with?
3. BE CLEAR on your message and approach. Will you chat about work and business or will you let yourself drift into commenting on the news, music you like, the football scores? Respond to comments that are nothing to do with what you do, but help you build a picture of how you do it, and how it might be to work with you.
4. COMMIT to it if you're going to do it. If you're signed up, keep it fresh. It's shocking how many businesses' social sites were last updated sometime around Christmas 2009. It looks like you signed up, lost interest and can't be bothered. Update regularly, but make sure someone does it consciously and not via some automated process. Auto-tweeting gets up most peoples' noses; it looks lazy and half-hearted.
5. BE RESPONSIVE to all interactions. There's nothing worse than seeing a business or an individual keeping a low profile if they're being challenged, criticised- or praised. Recognise that someone took the time to connect and respect that. Thank them for their comments and act appropriately. Don't get into personal spats. They get messy and ultimately, nobody wins any respect. It's customer service in a different guise.
6. SO WHAT if you gather a few connections who aren't going to make you money or buy from you? It's SOCIAL MEDIA, not the supermarket. Think about who they know, who their connections are and realise one thing: they'll soon share it if they think you're being difficult or rude. Remember- news travels damned fast on Twitter.
7. OPEN YOUR EYES to news from your workplace that you can share. Post photos of your work, your people or your premises- images get 39% more interaction on Facebook than text alone.
8. BE AN EXPERT. Stay aware of news stories relevant to your business and post links with comments. Give people a flavour of your expertise, knowledge and position. Show off a little. Be
generous with content- don't be afraid to give a little something away
for free. This will demonstrate that you're knowledgable, skilled and sociable.
9. DON'T WORRY about the odd spelling mistake, 'LOL' or dodgy punctuation. Unless you want to project an image of quality, competence and professionalism, that is. In that case*, check your content for accuracy.
10. BUILD A CREDIBLE PRESENCE. Yes, this takes time and you won't get thousands of followers, likes or friends overnight. Make the move to connect with others and they'll often reciprocate. Ignore anyone who offers to get you followers for money- these are too often worthless and make you look desperate.
There are thouands of 'social media experts' out there who will promise you the moon and stars (as well as Twitter followers on a Lady Gaga scale) but we find following the above is a good start- and free.
See? Generosity in content. We hope you found it valuable.