Business is about relationships, and in this day and age, relationships can ignite, flourish, and even sour – entirely through social media channels. There’s nothing trivial or oblique about it: the judicious use of social media has to be front and center to any 21st century marketing plan. It’s how the vast majority of your customers interact with you, find out about you, and ultimately, judge you. Given how quickly reputations are made and fade these days, it’s never been clearer that a deep, sustained, and positive social media experience is absolutely critical to a company’s success.
With the power of social media – for good and for ill – at your fingertips, you need to know how to wield it properly, both to make gains and avoid fallout. This guide will help you get the best possible results from your social media program – and steer clear of the worst.
1. Stay positive.
Your social media pose – the tone of your messaging – should be calibrated to energize your audience. It’s almost never worthwhile to go negative, even if it seems like you’re doing a service to your clients. However tempting it is to point out a competitor’s malfeasance or play the blame game when something goes wrong, the attitude is ultimately self-defeating. Your social media presence has to create an aura of positivity. Always find something nice to say, and if you can’t, as the saying goes, don’t say anything at all.
2. Engage with your audience.
Social media isn’t like advertising: it’s not one-way communication. When a customer engages with you, whether through your initiation or theirs, you have an opportunity to shape your market that isn’t to be missed. Listen to their concerns and reply with forthrightness and sympathy. Their reactions are valuable insights into how you can improve your business going forward – both what you do and how you do it.
3. Tailor Your Message
Don’t send out a tweet or Facebook post just because you feel like you need to post something. Tailor the message to the audience, and craft it around what you think they will benefit and find valuable. A more personalized post will lead to more engagement and shares!
4. Reward engagement.
It can be difficult to incite and maintain the kind of social media relationships that help a business grow. Even satisfied customers aren’t necessarily going to follow you on Twitter. That’s why you should give them something for listening. A great example is social media-exclusive deals – coupons or giveaways that are only announced by or redeemable through the use of social media.
5. Time things carefully.
Social media has intricate patterns of usage: there are regular peaks and valleys throughout a work day; certain demographic groups are concentrated in certain areas; rates of consumption are dependent on rates of issue. It’s all pretty complicated, but the better you understand the statistics, the better you’ll be at targeting your customers. Don’t post ten tweets within ten minutes at 3 am: develop a studied rhythm of communication to meet your audience’s needs. You can also schedule out content management systems such as Hootsuite.
6. Be concise.
It may be tempting to flood your social media channels with the hope of engaging with a wider audience, but that’s a short-sighted strategy: people unfollow oversharers pretty quickly. If you want a sustained audience, keep your messages short, with a minimum of repetition, and make them count.