Advice /ad-vyce/ n. Recommendations that anyone is entitled to give, and no experience necessary! Qualifications: an opinion and usually a loud voice.
Social media is a changing game, with new rules, new courtesies and new best practices coming out weekly, it seems. Gurus, prophets and master jedis arise every day as self-proclaimed masters, clouding the atmosphere with questionable advice. Some of it’s just downright wrong. We’re here to help you weed out the bad and embrace the good!
Bad social media advice you need to ignore
Be active on every platform
Weidert Group actively participates on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, and we have a presence on Foursquare and Pinterest, though we don’t engage as often there. Six platforms is a lot, but as a marketing agency, we need to show familiarity with the most popular platforms and understand the value of each. Most companies, though, should limit the platforms they’re part of to those where their prospects are likely to be.
Say you’re an insurance company, as an example. Not only is it not practical to be on more than a few platforms, it’s pointless – an insurance company’s prospects won’t be looking for the company on Foursquare, for instance, nor do we suspect prospective policyholders would look for insurance products and services on Pinterest. Concentrating your efforts through at least the Big Three (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) gives most companies the opportunity to connect with their targets.
Only showcase happy customers
Somewhere along the line, you’ll miss a ship date, say the wrong thing to a tough-to-satisfy customer, mess up an estimate or send the wrong item. Chances are one of the customers who had a less-than-perfect experience will share it on social media. Unless it’s in some way inappropriate, don’t delete the post!
Responding to customers who cause a stir gives your social media manager a time to shine on behalf of your company. It’s easy to respond to positive comments, but really shows what you’re made of when you tackle a negative one with sincerity and integrity. You’ll probably get your chance, if you believe this article, which encourages customers to use social media to complain and in order to get the customer service they deserve.
Dive in head first
There’s no reason to rush into social media – even less so if you’ve got no clear goals outlined. Jumping into social media marketing without a strategy leads you into a vast, pointless place where you have no traceable ROI or measures of success. Creating a social media maintenance plan requires just 30 minutes a day and will help keep your activity focused and on-track, and help you conduct meaningful conversations with customers and prospects.
Automate your tweets and DMs on Twitter
No one wants to follow a robo-poster. Too often we see both individuals and corporations only posting – not actually interacting or even, we suspect, seeing tweets or posts. Social media should be a two-way conversation. After all, everyone appreciates being acknowledged in a genuine way. Automated tweets are the form letters of the social media world and come off as exactly what they are: fake and disingenuous. It’s okay to schedule posts across all platforms, however, as long as you’re checking up on feedback and responding.
Squat on a hashtag without relevance
Now that the Big Three have hashtags across all platforms, it’s important to remember to do hashtag research before using one yourself. How? Come up with word combinations and ideas you’re trying to group under one hashtag, and search for them on all platforms to find if they’ve already been used. Hopping on trending hashtags to promote your ideas is cheating, in a way – no one wants to read about things that don’t relate on a hashtag. In fact, you can even find yourself making a huge faux pas as Kenneth Cole did when he hijacked the #Cairo hashtag. (As an aside, the worst hashtag selection of 2012 can probably be awarded to Susan Boyle’s album release. When the hashtag #susanalbumparty is without CamelCase – capitalizing specific letters so the words read appropriately – someone looks really, really foolish.)
Blocking social media at work is better for productivity
…but it sucks for workplace culture. Your employees are the best extension of your brand online. They align with your values (or should) and, with the right training, can be your best advocates. When devising a social media policy for a workplace, take into consideration that blocking social media sites will just make colleagues turn to their devices. Working in a social media-friendly environment can foster growth around your brand.
Likes are a critical metric
Sure, you can focus a lot of effort on finding followers – you can even run contests to help increase your page Likes or the number of followers – but while a big fan base is nice, it’s not everything. Most social media contests boost the number of fans falsely – if people Like you just for the chance to win something, they’re not really fans. We call these types of fans Trick-or-Treaters – they’re just there for the free stuff, not to hang out at your house.
Social Media Examiner brings up a very good point about the “why” of any contest or fan-gathering tactic: A social media contest should be designed to enhance a follower’s experience with your company and product. Don’t give away an iPad or weekend getaway unless you’re Apple or the owner of a resort. Tie the contest prize to your company (if you’re a watch company, give away a watch!) so that fans are getting exposed to your product and are likely to become true fans who talk about you positively on social media.
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