July 14th, 2011
by Dan Gold
Social media is a growing part of every day life for more and more businesses. And why shouldn’t it be? There are literally millions of people who use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media outlets. Not tapping into that would be a huge folly! But, are you committing another folly by not following social media etiquette?
If you’re scratching your head and asking yourself, “What social media etiquette?” then you may be in trouble. There are certain unspoken rules to bringing your business into the social media world and not everyone realizes that. Failing to follow these rules is a great way to drive away potential customers, and that’s bad.
The biggest difference between social media marketing and traditional marketing is that with social media marketing your audience can directly interact with you. This is great! You can build real relationships with people, share great information about your product and industry, answer questions and concerns directly, and so much more. This also mean, though, that the way you interact with your audience is very different.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts for social media marketing.
DON’T: Sell, Sell, Sell! No one likes logging into Twitter or Facebook and being bombarded with “Buy this!” ads, tweets, and news feeds. This is the best way to effectively eliminate most followers, likers, and potential customers from your social media platforms.
DO: Educate your audience. By educating your audience about your product, your field and your company, you build a stronger relationship with them. You’re giving them something far more vital than a sales pitch: information. Internet users today don’t want to be sold, they want to be educated, and they appreciate being treated like people and not dollar signs. Educate them and the sales will come.
DON’T: Spam. Spam is a terrible nuisance of the internet, and by now, most people have learned to root out, and tune out, spam. Spam is a sure-fired way to be blocked, ignored, reported, and all the other bad internet things that can happen to spammers, including being cast into the deepest, darkest corner of internet hell.
DO: Repurpose information. You can share the same information more than once without spamming. The key is to change up the way you present it. Recycle old blog ideas, favorite quotes, anecdotes, etc. Social media is often about the newest and the freshest, so you want to make sure you keep sharing great information with your audience even if you’ve shared it before. Remember, sharing one thing in one way twenty times in ten minutes is SPAM! Sharing one thing in a few different ways throughout the day is repurposing information to increase the odds of everyone seeing it. Big, big difference.
DON’T: Create a profile and never look back. In today’s world, everyone is online. ATMs want you to tell them how they did on Twitter. The local coffee shop wants you to like them on Facebook. Pretty much every website you visit has a way to share the information on different social sites. So, you need to create a profile, too, right! And that’ll be enough, right! Wrong! It’s better to not be on Twitter at all than to have an account with a handful of followers and tweets from 6 months ago. This makes your business look neglected. A potential customer is now scratching his head and wondering if you went belly up. If you create it, you must own it.
DO: Own your profiles once created. Daily activity is best, but even weekly is better than nothing. If you’re stumped about what you’d tweet about or share on Facebook, start looking at social media as a way to have a conversation with thousands of customers at once. What would you want to tell someone if they walked into your store or called you up right now? Share it!
DON’T: Get too personal. You want to be real, authentic and transparent, but that doesn’t mean your clients and customers need to know, or want to know, the color of your stool, or that your husband is being a complete jerk, or that your competitor really screwed you over in some way. They don’t want to know where you are every moment of the day unless it somehow relates to your business or to them, like a great seminar. Create a personal account separate from your business if you feel the need to share every thought, activity, and moment of your life. Keep the professional profiles professional.
DO: Be real. You can be real and authentic without overdoing it. Potential customers love to see humor, wit, personality, and humanity in social media. Loosen up a little and get real with people. Be honest, be authentic, and be approachable. Much like how internet users have mastered the art of spotting spam, it’s incredibly easy to spot robots and inauthenticity. Get your audience involved by engaging with them. Ask them questions, answer theirs, and be sure to address any complaints, problems or concerns as they arise.
DON’T: Be negative. Bashing your competitor makes you look childish. Bitching and moaning about a supplier or distributor is not necessary. Complaining about a bad day every now and then makes you human; complaining in every other thing you post is going to drive people away. If you come across a complaint or a negative comment about your business, decide if it has any merit and ignore it if it doesn’t. Flaming a flamer just makes bigger flames. If it does have merit, address it honestly and openly and maturely.
DO: Be inspirational. Share trials and tribulations and how you came out on top. Be inspirational. Share great stories, news articles, blog posts, and become an all around hub for great, inspirational information for your audience. People love to connect with, and share, people who are inspiring.
Finally, don’t expect social media marketing to be a success overnight. It takes time to build up a following, to gain a reputation, and to master the art of social media. Have fun with it, own it, love it, and watch it grow.