It’s now (thankfully) common knowledge that a meticulously strategised social media campaign can do wonders for your brand awareness and exposure, especially when incorporated as part of your overall marketing campaign. Of course, social media is by no means the answer for each and every company, and even then you have to be careful to select which platform is best geared towards your brand, customers and target audience.
Regardless of which social media platform you choose to put your time, energy and resources into, there is a (generally unspoken) set of etiquette rules that need to be considered. We look at some of the most important Dos and Don’ts below, with a particular focus on the two main players, Facebook and Twitter.
What you need to DO:
- Be real, have a personality: This is perhaps one of the most important aspects you need to consider. People like to connect with people, and although you are directly representing your brand, it’s gets stale fast if you just post link after link of resources (even if they are very relevant and interesting). It’s important that the ‘company persona’, and that of your team, is communicated effectively across your social media platforms. Basically, don’t be a robot.
- Engage as much as possible: Post questions that are guaranteed to spark (positive) responses, offer fair and honest opinions, help answer questions, give advice and slowly build yourself up as an industry expert.
- Respond personally (and promptly) to mentions, comments and questions: On Twitter, while it’s good to retweet something interesting, it’s better to first add your own comment on the piece along with a RT at whoever first posted it. Social media users expect an immediate response, so make sure you regularly check for any mentions or notifications pertaining to you.
- Be polite and avoid bad language: Someone might have complimented you or given you sound advice, or you might be responding to a message or tweet that you don’t agree with. The point is, you should always remain professional, polite and avoid using bad language, because you really don’t want to become known as that brand (for all the wrong reasons).
- Have beautifully designed landing pages: Generic Twitter backgrounds are a dime a dozen, so take the time to customise yours by adding pictures of your team and company logo. Ideally, it should be instantly recognisable as your company account – think of it as an extension of your website. The same applies to your Facebook page – personalise it and update it with as much information as you can about the company, clients and your team.
- Have a “crisis” plan: Online reputation management (ORM) or ‘buzz’ management is one of the most important tasks of social media and has the potential to damage your brand, or if handled correctly, save it from a potentially disastrous situation. Be pro-active and timely in addressing any issues that arise and whatever you do, don’t be tempted to ignore it and hope the problem dissipates. Make sure you have a strategy in place to handle any negative comments or publicity.
- Including multi-media links: It’s not enough to just link to interesting articles - make a point of also including links to images, videos and slide shares. Variety is essential when it comes to keeping your fans and followers interested, and of course, if they find it interesting, there’s a better chance of them retweeting it or sharing it with others.
- Keep your objectives in mind: Be realistic about what you want to achieve, who your target audience is and how you’re going to build up your fan/follower base. By starting off small and learning the ropes slowly, you’ll get a more thorough understanding of how it all works and what the best way is to reach your potential.
And here are a few of the DON’Ts:
- Spelling mistakes, poor grammar and ‘text’ language: This may sound trivial, but it’s by far one of the easiest ways to lose fans/followers, especially if they are industry peers. It’s easy to double check your spelling and grammar, and users are quickly irked by people or brands that repeatedly make these mistakes. On the same par, using abbreviated ‘text’ language when you have enough space to write out a word in full is also generally frowned upon.
- Try not to mix and match your posts too much: Whilst content variety is important up to a certain point, remember that people follow you because they expect to receive updates on specific topics. If you’re trying to establish yourself as industry expert (which is what your social media account will be geared towards), then it’s best to stick to comments, links, status updates etc. that are relevant to this.
- Don’t cover up or hide mistakes/negative comments: At some point, someone might have something negative to say about your brand, services or products. If it’s done on Facebook you’d simply be able to delete the comment and hope it doesn’t come back to bite you. Of course, this isn’t the best reaction. You need to address the issue openly and as soon as possible. Social media users have come to expect (but also appreciate) near-immediate responses, so use the opportunity to show your followers and fans how you effectively handle negative publicity or a crisis situation.
- Don’t post too frequently (or too little for that matter): You don’t want to clog your followers timelines or newsfeeds with your hourly updates, but at the same time, if you only post once every couple of days people are going to forget you exist. They followed you for a reason, so keep up your side of the deal.
- Don’t try to grow your network too quickly: It’s not necessary to follow everyone. Here, the ‘quality over quantity’ rule definitely applies. You can tell a lot about someone by the people/brands/companies they follow, so you can afford to be picky when it comes to deciding who to follow. Start by following only those that you genuinely find interesting, or who always post relevant (sharable) content, or who you find funny. It’s much better to build up your network over time.
- Don’t be Polly the Parrot: Information overload and repetitive (boring) content are two of the main reasons why people stop following a brand online. 44% of Facebook users ‘unlike’ a brand if they post too often and 52% of Twitter users will un-follow a brand if they post boring or repetitive content. It’s a fine balance that is largely dictated by how and when your target audience and customers are online.
- Don’t just use your profile to sell: If most of your posts talk about your latest product, sale or discount (and you aren’t a daily deals site), then followers are going to get bored, fast. Blatant self-promotion is frowned upon, especially on Twitter, so be very careful when it comes to marketing your products via this avenue.