The Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media

Jenny Force Jenny Force, VP of Marketing

There’s no question whether businesses should participate in social media. The question is no longer whether or not to do social media marketing, its which social media sites to focus on and which tools to use. Let’s look at some of the most important do’s and don’ts of social media marketing.

The Do’s

Be active on sites where your audience spends time. Facebook and Twitter cover almost every demographic. Other sites, however, are more specific. LinkedIn is for B2B marketing. Pinterest is imaged-based and appeals mainly to women. Instagram and Snapchat are very popular among younger users. Keep these and other facts in mind when deciding where to spend your time and money. There are more social media platforms than ever before. This will only increase over time. You can’t target every single site, so you need to develop a viable strategy that lets you get the most from your efforts.

Optimize your profiles. Social media profiles offer the opportunity to describe yourself and your business. Many businesses waste this chance, however, by only including a brief description and leaving out important information. Your profile is one place where you can blatantly talk about what you offer. On many sites, you can create a long and detailed description as well as a link to your website. Having a photograph helps to make your profile more compelling.

Target influencers and their followers. By connecting with influential people with large followings, you can increase your own reach. This is an especially powerful strategy on Twitter, where you have the ability to follow anyone you want. There’s no guarantee, of course, that influencers will follow you back. However, you can increase the chances of this by providing value to them. You can also follow the followers of influencers. This helps you develop connections in your niche or industry.

Add value. One of the most important rules of social media is to publish content that your audience appreciates. This means either informative or educational. The more compelling your content, the more people will go out of their way to read and share your posts.

Encourage interaction. The whole point of social media is to engage in conversations. Make sure you engage your audience and take steps to encourage participation. This includes asking questions, answering posts and creating interactive features such as polls, surveys and contests.

Define a social media strategy. This should go beyond getting a certain number of followers or likes. Decide what your main objectives should be. This could be sending traffic to a sales page, getting opt-ins to your mailing list or getting your content shared. You may also want to use certain social media pages for customer service. Your objectives may change over time, but you should always have a strategy in mind.

Track your results. If you don’t track your metrics, there’s no way to know if you are successful or not. This goes hand-in-hand with having a social media strategy. Once you define your goals, you should use the appropriate social media tools to track your results.

Share content in a variety of formats. Today’s social media users tend to love images and video. Different people have different tastes, so the best approach is to mix it up. Text posts, videos, images, infographics and slideshows all convey your message in their own way. Of course, you should also keep your particular audience in mind and test which formats they prefer.

The Don’ts

Now let’s look at some of the things that can harm your results when using social media.

Don’t over-promote. While your goals probably include building your brand and making more sales, social media should be seen as an indirect way to accomplish these things. You can do some promoting, but make sure you also provide value. If you’re too promotional, people will stop following you.

Don’t spread yourself too thin. It’s easy, with the growing number of social media sites, to try to establish a presence everywhere. It’s far more efficient to study social media demographics and identify which sites are most appropriate for your needs. It’s fine to test lots of different sites, but only continue using the ones that prove themselves worth the effort.

Don’t forget about your pages. Things move very quickly in the world of social media. If you forget to look at your Facebook page or Twitter account for even a few days, you risk missing something important. For one thing, you have to watch for spamming and trolling. You should also be present to promptly answer any questions or comments.

Don’t get into a war of words with your followers. Maintaining your reputation is crucial on social media. If people are attacking you for no reason, you should simply delete their posts and block them. On the other hand, if someone has a complaint about your company, you should address this in a polite and rational manner. Never get into arguments or flame wars on your social media pages. This will only harm your reputation.

Don’t be too demanding. You naturally want to get as many likes, followers and shares as possible. To ask for these outright, however, can be annoying. Focus on providing content that people will naturally like and want to share.

Don’t be too repetitive. If you share the same content every day, people will quickly tire of it. It’s okay to repeat a tweet a few times because a single tweet can easily be overlooked. On Facebook and most other platforms, however, too much repetition will stand out and annoy readers. If you have an especially important message, you can share it periodically but leave some time in between shares.

Image credit: David Goehring

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