Social Media

The development of social media opened up a wealth of new challenges for industry professionals, ranging from getting fans and followers to social-friendly content to social profile and app design…and a whole lot more. Commercial social media varies dramatically depending on the type of business, services and products, and how naturally interested customers are to begin with. It’s ultimately a delicate balancing act between customer service and your own promotion; your products and services will often dictate whether people worship the ground you walk on or spend all day ranting…but a little authority can go a long way.

Questions to Ask

Before you start, the first question you should ask yourself is ‘Why do I want a Facebook page/Twitter profile?’ If your answer is ‘Because everyone else has one’, then social media is not (yet) a good idea for your business. Whether it’s engagement, promoting your brand/website or even direct selling, you need to have purposes and goals for social media or it becomes a pointless field of experimentation which is likely to die a slow death.

Your second question should be ‘How much time do I have for social media?’ Avoiding automated updates, creating effective content and building up your follower base can take a big chunk out of your time, especially if you’re dealing with different networks. Planning in advance removes a lot of the pressure, but if you know you don’t have enough time, either don’t get involved with social media, or find someone to manually run it for you.

Engagement

Three steps to engaged fans: 1. Be useful 2. Be proactive. 3. Be patient.

Unless you have a big brand, getting fans and followers is likely to be the hardest step…and buying them is false economy. Purchasing fans and followers is like buying some mannequins for your home to pose as friends. You can smugly count them and fool people walking past into thinking you’re sociable, but ultimately you’re still going to be lonely and talking to yourself. It’s a big giveaway if you have a thousand fans and few likes or comments on your statuses. Ask yourself why people would like or follow you, and correlate your aims with your content and interaction. Focus on the replies, shares, retweets and other comments rather than the number of followers you have.

Be friendly, be human, be approachable.

To excel at social media, you need to be transparent and interesting. Becoming known in your niche by providing/linking to useful resources will help you develop an engaged follower base who are happy to interact. Take the time to get feedback and suggestions for your products and services – people love being listened to, and that’s what social media is all about. Be prepared to initiate discussions though, don’t just leave it to your fans to get the conversation started.

Influencing Discussion

Aim to know how your followers and fans will respond before you even ask the question, and follow up with responses rather than letting the conversation die out. Know who they are, what they do and what motivates them. Direct positive discussions through careful phrasing, e.g. ‘What’s your favourite thing about product X?’ rather than ‘What do you think of product X?’ (feedback will still work its way in as a secondary element).

Good social media is creative, passionate and looks ahead.

If someone takes the time to recommend you, take the time to thank them. They will often respond with more details of what they like about your products and services, which is a great opening for developing a relationship as well as creating convincing reasons for their friends and followers to join you.

Some more tips…

Don’t mistake what you’re interested in with what your fans are interested in. They won’t care if you’re about to reach 10,000 followers unless there are freebies or discounts involved, and offering something special to the 100,000th user is going to annoy the other 99,999 – you wouldn’t have a hundred thousand without them either. Reducing fans and followers to numbers is extremely easy to do and a huge minefield; it’s a common mistake even for brands experienced in social media.

Unless you’re working with brands of several hundred thousand fans or more, or you have extremely distinct products, don’t be tempted to create multiple accounts/channels on each social network. You’ll divide your user base, not multiply it, and often dilute opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling.

  • Know who your biggest fans are and reward them accordingly. A personal recommendation goes a long way, and influential followers may gain you more customers than your sales team – it happens!

    I’ve worked in social media in a professional capacity since June 2010 with a couple of different brands. I’m happy to talk about social media, so if you want any specific tips, get in touch!

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