We have gone a bit social media crazy – both personally and in business. As a marketer, I am bombarded daily with contrasting information about social media. One minute I’m told it will drive business through the roof, the next I’m warned about its darker side.
Based on everything I have read, listened to and discussed, I have come to my own conclusion. Much like everything else in life, I have adopted an ‘in moderation’ approach to social media.
The quality of being moderate; restraint, avoidance of extremes or excesses; temperance
So far, I have found my common-sense approach to social media has served me well. There have been no embarrassing blunders; I haven’t offended anyone; I’ve galvanised interest; and it hasn’t consumed my entire existence. If something feels wrong about what I’m going to tweet, I retract it.
I try to make sure that the mindset and strategic business approach I apply to other areas of my job I apply to social media management as well: Am I maintaining the company’s tone of voice? Is my tweet on brand, representative and relevant? As an outsider, would I be interested in what I’m about to say/share?
But don’t mistake moderation for being boring. Innovation in social media is king. Better to have a few, more interesting pieces of content than lots of pointless waffle. It is this attention to detail that can make social media marketing an incredibly valuable tool.
As a consumer, social media channels are often the first place I will look to research a company or get a feel for their brand or products. Secondly, if not entirely consuming, it is a free promotional channel through which to express ideas, thoughts and news.
So here are some simple best practice tips I’ve learned to follow for using social media in business:
- Really get under the skin of your brand. Get to know it inside out and back to front. That way you will instinctively portray that representation on your social media channels and not get distracted or influenced by any informal or social overtones. Every opinion, share, like and dislike will be on brand, which proves the benefits of social media to the business to anyone who should question it.
- Analyse your social media activity using free tools such as Google Analytics to produce hard facts to the management. Look at this data and use it to inform your strategy. If stats are good do more of what you’re doing, if not think of other tactics for content, and carry out some research to understand what drives preferred behaviours and the right followers.
- Use tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite to monitor social media activity. These aggregators allow you to plan your social media activity on a weekly or daily basis by scheduling tweets in advance. This is good use of resource as an hour a week can allow you to set up 14 good quality tweets. When compiling a complete set of tweets, it is easier to see if they align and remain on brand and relevant. Just be careful how you time certain pieces of content ensuring that in a day or two they are not old news.
- Research which social media channels are best for your business. There is no value in using all social media platforms. Instead, you are better off picking one or two to manage thoroughly, creating rich content regularly and galvanising a strong following, rather than spreading yourself too thinly.
- Look at the trending topics and hashtags and find a way to make a relevant (but not too far-fetched) connection to your business. Tagging posts with one or two relevant or trending hashtags can help reach new users, but hashtags can be seen as spam when over-used or attached to irrelevant content.
- Twitter especially is about sharing or reacting to other people’s content – clients, bloggers, trade/sector media, and sometimes even competitors – as much as creating your own. It shows your business is on the ball and outward-facing, rather than being insular and too focused on self-promotion.
- Where possible, think about how your business can get involved and take advantage of a situation, whether it’s specific to your industry, your clients or society in general.
- If your team is small, ensure everyone is on the same page and that social media policies are totally embedded. If you have a large team, select one person to be the social media ambassador ensuring that standards are maintained across all channels.
Starting with these basic rules will stand you in good stead on your professional social media journey.