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March 21, 2018 (Updated: March 2, 2020)
Marketing on social media is a tremendous opportunity, but it’s possible to make mistakes and offend people or get no engagement with your brand. Before you commit to particular strategies, make sure you’ve internalized the following essential rules. Following these will help you enhance your business using social media.
Don’t Mix Business and Personal Accounts
Using a social media account for both business and personal means has been the death of many brands. Someone operating from a business account might come across something that gets them emotionally charged, or they post or comment about something personal without realizing they’re on the business account. You might have more leeway if you’re someone, such as an artist, whose business and personality are closely linked, but it’s still important to stay professional.
Among your employees, make sure no one says or does anything controversial through an account that can be linked back to your business. Make it clear that there will be repercussions if employees invite a controversy that harms the brand. Before you post, comment, or share, ask yourself if it’s in the best interest of your business.
Keep it Visual
Social media posts are dramatically more attractive to passing traffic if they include some sort of visual content, such as graphics, video, and infographics. At the minimum, include some sort of attractive, relevant image with every post. This serves as a visual anchor and can help viewers track the post down again if they want to share it at a later time.
Give Value First
Social media is about sharing, and naturally you’ll need to offer something worthy of sharing if you want people to engage. Keep a firm ratio of about 80/20, with most of your posts giving value to others. The other 20 percent can be direct sales copy for products, special offers, customer education, and more.
Don’t forget, you can still insert vital parts of that 20 percent into the other 80 percent. Creating entertaining content that has a natural reason to introduce a product you sell, for example, will serve both purposes nicely. If you provide value far more than you ask things of potential customers, you’ll be seen as genuine.
These days, people expect to get an answer from a business immediately after asking a question. Without responding to everything that comes your way, your business can come across as detached or robotic. Even if someone’s comment is negative or harsh, respond quickly and professionally, taking advantage of the speed social media allows for solving problems. Some social media sites, such as Facebook, allow you to integrate chatbots that can provide immediate answers and automated customer support for common issues.
Be Cautious With Hashtags
Image via Flickr by cogdogblog
If you’re in online marketing, don’t avoid using hashtags altogether — their ability to get people talking about a topic is practically unbeatable. When abused, however, hashtags make a business look cheap and desperate for attention. Instead of shoving tons of tags into every post you make, find a single hashtag worthy of each post.
The other concern with hashtags is they can get hijacked by groups that don’t take you or your business seriously or who are upset with you for some reason. On one hand, this is a sign that the hashtag did become popular. On the other, it’s the death knell of the tag’s value to your business, and it’s time to jump ship and try a totally different tag or take a break from using them.
Follow for follow strategies, like those on Twitter, and similar games used to rack up a high quantity of followers will not work out in the long run. Instead of trying to build your following en masse, find reasonable, exclusive means that only give you the followers who qualify for your target audience. While your follower growth might be slower, it will lead to real, natural engagement once you’ve gained a sizable following, with no gimmicks necessary. Be careful of the company you keep, and remove accounts that seem problematic, spammy, desperate to gain follows, or otherwise not useful to you.
People need to see the same message seven times on average before they truly understand and remember it. This is why social media is so useful, allowing the same ideas and messages to spread repeatedly. The caveat, however, is that social media is rife with copyright infringement, plagiarism, and other theft of intellectual property.
Hitting share or retweet on an existing post is one thing, but always ask for permission before posting something that doesn’t belong to you. This includes images, text, videos, and more, including something as short as a quote. Attribution helps, but without permission, you’re setting yourself up for trouble. Even if the content was given to you by a customer or fan, ask if they’re comfortable with it being posted on your page or profile. The age of social media hasn’t negated people’s right to privacy, compensation, and acknowledgment.
Most important of all, treat social media like it’s meant to be treated. Connect with others, form discussions, help people when possible, and be a part of conversations. Even a business can do these things, and to stave off suspicion of being unscrupulous, a business should work especially hard to be natural and engage with others in its niche. Using social media to blare out a message and ask for sales might work occasionally, but the results will be like pulling teeth.
Social media for business ultimately boils down to being a welcome presence, one that people are happy to check up on and support. Following these eight tips will set you on the right path. Now that you’re protected from the most common pitfalls of businesses and marketers on social media, make sure you put this research to use by adding real value online. Whether that’s through content, curation, expert support, or other means, give social media your all, without fear of making mistakes.
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