Even since its inception in the mid to late 2000s, social media has been a powerful tool for connecting solopreneurs and their online businesses with highly targeted audiences of potential customers.
If you’re trying to figure out how to promote affiliate marketing products or how to market a website, social media — both paid and organic — is a great place to start.
If you’re gearing up to start social media marketing for your business or have struggled to make your social accounts work for you, the following top 10 dos and don’ts will help you get on the right track.
How to Use Social Media for Business
Before you start a social media campaign, it is important to understand that posting to social media as a business is different than what you would do personally.
1. Personal and business beliefs: Keep ’em separated
You want to connect with your target audience, but too much personal information crosses the line into unprofessional territory.
While controversy can get you a lot of attention, you don’t want to become so controversial that you scare away a segment of your target market. Quite a few social media failure stories revolve around unwise forays into controversial subjects and issues.
If you feel strongly about something on a personal level but it has nothing to do with your business or industry, post it to your personal accounts and find something on topic for your business accounts.
2. Do your research.
Create a mental sketch of your ideal customer and target all of your posts to that person. Utilize analytical research to determine when your target customers are more likely to be active on social media, and then release your posts during that time so they are more likely to see your posts.
Pay attention to what type of posts receive the best and worst response, and then select your posts wisely. Social research should always be at the top of your to-do list and adjust over time if you see some factors change.
3. Respond promptly to comments.
This is your opportunity to open dialogue with your audience, and that dialogue can lead to opt-ins for your newsletter, sales for your products or visits to your website. If you fail to respond, you could gradually lose your audience.
4. Encourage your employees, relatives and offline friends to show support by liking or following your profile.
Some of them may even get discussions going by posting questions or comments when they are genuinely interested in what you have to say. You don’t want to like or follow your own posts, but there’s nothing wrong with getting your supporters to do so.
5. Brush up on your grammar skills.
Simple grammatical mistakes can change the meaning of your posts. The same goes for spelling errors which can make it difficult for readers to understand your message. It can also just make you look uneducated.
6. Adopt a unique voice that has a realistic personality.
You want your readers to respect your business, but you also want them to connect with you and/or your employees as real people who understand their struggles and their needs. It can take time to create the perfect voice to represent your business, but when you do, make sure it remains consistent across all of your social media accounts, your website copy, and your blogging endeavors.
7. Reach out to some related businesses.
Rather than avoiding them because they might be a form of competition, you should treat them like partners that may help you extend your market reach. You also want to keep an eye on them so that you know what they are up to and can learn from their strategies. You may be able to mutually help each other.
8. Post images and videos in addition to standard text posts.
This type of post is more likely to get shared and passed around, and viral content is what drives tons of traffic back to your website or other social accounts. You can also experiment with things like Twitter’s Periscope live streaming.
9. Use contests, giveaways and other interactive events.
This is a creative way to introduce people to your products. In fact, there’s no better way to get customers to try your new product than to give away samples or let one lucky winner own it for free. You can even require contest entrants to leave video or textual feedback about your products as an entry fee. This gives you customer testimonials to use in your marketing efforts, and that alone is probably worth more than the cost of the prize.
10. Make sure you know how to use each social media site.
For instance, many beginners don’t realize that Tweets beginning with a username will only be seen by that username’s account.
For instance, you may tweet “@WidgetsNow’s new product is amazing.” Only WidgetsNow and his followers will see that tweet rather than it being seen by all of your followers.
This type of mistake is easy to make, and there are different examples specific to most social media sites. Take time to learn the in-and-outs of whatever platforms you choose to use.
Social Media Mistakes to Avoid
Here are a few of the most common mistakes that people make when using social media for business, and how to avoid them.
1. Don’t post too often.
You want to post on a regular basis, but if you flood newsfeeds and notification lists, many viewers will unlike or unfollow you. If you only post high-value, entertaining posts that are directly related to your business or industry, you should maintain reasonable control over your posting frequency.
How much you should post depends on your audience, the type of posts you’re making and what is deemed appropriate for your niche. That can take some research to find the right approach for each social media platform and your specific niche audience. There is no “right number” across all niches and platforms.
2. Don’t sign up for every single social media site.
Some sites are more popular with specific demographics than others. You will want to develop a strong presence on those that are used heavily by your target market. Fewer accounts allow you to devote more attention to those that matter most to your business and best utilize your time and efforts. Do the research upfront to find that is best for your business.
3. Don’t follow every account that likes or follows you.
Following and liking your fans back is a great way to get them more interested in your business, but there are some cases when doing so may negatively impact your own reputation. It’s important to know what your business stands for and where your boundaries are, and then you must make sure all connections to your business fit within those guidelines.
4. Don’t share your social media passwords.
Yes, you may need some help maintaining your social media sites, but you don’t want too many people gaining access to those accounts. If something goes wrong with your professional or personal relationship, you don’t want them to have the power to post anything they like in revenge or anger. It’s best to outsource help in writing and editing, but you may want to limit the ability to log in and do the posting to a very small group of individuals.
5. Don’t hide or delete negative comments.
Embrace those comments as opportunities to display your customer service skills and publicly make a customer happy. If the comment results from a misunderstanding, you can give the correct information and potentially avoid other people from misunderstanding as well. (This is meant to apply to genuine feedback, not so much to fake reviews, which can be an issue for some businesses.)
6. Don’t rely entirely on automated services.
Yes, it’s very beneficial to use programs which allow you to schedule your posts so that they automatically go up, but make sure you’re personally writing those posts. You want to maintain one voice, and you must always know every word that is presented on behalf of your business. You need to also take time to really interact with others as well.
7. Don’t ignore the analytics.
You need to analyze what is and isn’t working in order to develop successful social media campaigns in the future. You need to adjust it over time. If something isn’t working, you are wasting your time by continuing.
8. Don’t engage spammers.
You may encounter spammers interested in making vicious comments, posting just to get a link to their site, or leaving derogatory comments on your page. Rather than reacting in anger, simply block them from your business pages. Negative interactions reflect badly on your business.
9. Don’t throw out old content from your blog, website or social media accounts.
You can always repurpose content to create excellent social media posts. Since content creation takes a lot of time, repurposing is a great way to save time and effort.
10. Don’t give up if you don’t receive the social media attention you want right away.
It takes time to build up a presence, find loyal followers and connect with other people interested in reposting or retweeting your posts. When one strategy doesn’t work, it simply means you need to try something new or adjust your strategy to find a way to make it a success and use it to reach your goals of personal freedom. It will be worth it!