While many people use these tools daily, just as many individuals are overwhelmed by the prospect of using Facebook, Foursquare, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Polyvore, Twitter and so many other digital resources. I receive a lot of requests about using social media from individuals and organizations trying to understand how all the cogs and gears work together.
Regardless, social media shouldn’t be overwhelming – it only takes a little bit of effort to learn how to harness these tools effectively. The tips below are adopted from social media sessions I led for entrepreneurs and local companies during my tenure at the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce, and from training I’ve conducted for organizations such as the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute and Cameron Smith & Associates. These guidelines are very elementary, and the goal is to save you some time and research, help you avoid some trials and tribulations and to simplify and speed up the process of using social media to build your business or brand.
While there technically aren’t any hard and fast rules for social media, these are the ones I apply for myself and consider imperative:
- Your grammar and spelling should be impeccable. The moment you post “U are the best LOL!” or misspell a word, your personal brand and your organization’s reputation take an enormous hit. It does matter, and people do care. Take the time to do it right.
- Be succinct – brevity is essential.
- Stop talking constantly about yourself or your company. Counterintuitive, isn’t it? More on that to follow. Just use the same idea you use in life – if you stand at a party and drone on about yourself without asking about others, you’ll find yourself standing alone very quickly.
- Frequency is good – but overdoing it is not. Find a good stride – for some people, daily posts are good, and for others, once a week is ideal. There will be days when you post several times throughout the day, but try not to overwhelm. The quickest way to acquire an “unfollow” is for someone’s feed to be nothing but your posts for hours on end. Another disadvantage: it communicates that you may not be busy enough at work.
- On that note: if you handle marketing and social media for your company, people will expect to see you active throughout the work day on social media. However, keep in mind that every time you pause to friend ten new people or “like” your favorite beer or bar, you’re sending a signal – and it isn’t that you’re hard at work.
- Use a manager such as Hootsuite (preferred) to manage multiple social media platforms, multiple accounts, key words and trends.
- Helpful for posting the same update across multiple accounts.
- Leave it running in realtime and scan updates quickly or make quick posts throughout the day without repeated logins and delays.
- Manage your time intelligently: once you get the hang of it, set routines: it should be natural like email, not a burden.
- 10 – 20 minutes each morning is sufficient, maybe a nightly check.
- Weekly is fine – if you post less frequently, your voice may be lost, inconsistent or unrecognized.
- Create a well-developed and well-rounded brand.
- Follow sources such as Mashable, Fast Company, Kyle Lacy, Seth Godin.
- Keep up with thought leaders, your professional association, competitors, people and companies you admire, those with whom you would like to do business or connect.
- Search by demographic: in your area, in a specific field of work.
- Be shameless in inviting others, asking for connections – be direct, but not overwhelming. Don’t stalk people you don’t know – you need a connection.
- DON’T solicit business (i.e. I’d like to call you to give you a quick overview of the program my company offers).
- Per Seth Godin: Don’t shout – earn the right to whisper.
- Be circular (blog references on Twitter, LinkedIn articles on Facebook etc.).
- Be reciprocal – use manners, say please thank you, send traffic to others.
- Add links to your email signature, web page etc.
- Set a goal or focus for your social media use: to provide timely updates, a casual and conversational tone, to engage clients, to learn, customer service.
Hopefully this helps if you’re new to these tools, and I’m happy to be a resource or answer questions. And for those who just don’t want to know what goes on behind the curtain and want someone else to handle their brand’s presence online, I offer short and long-term support ranging from setting up accounts, establishing a strategy and offering training to fully managing. For others, I get them up and running, offer a little training and send them on their way.
*Image credit/source: The Graphics Fairy.