How many times have you thought, if someone could just give me the rules for what works with social media, I … or the people on my team … could follow them and we’ll see social media success, too? Just tell me what to post, when to post, and where to post and we’ll make it work, right? This is where many companies get into trouble and in some cases give up in frustration all together with their social media efforts because they follow these rules, but they still don’t see the results.
The reality is there really aren’t any rules except what works for your business. That may not be the answer you want to hear, but it’s true. Yes, there are recommendations and best practices based upon the average of all results on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and other social media networks. However, these results don’t always translate into a blueprint of rules for mastering social media. Instead, you should look at them as guidelines for you to use when you are testing what works best with your particular market.
Here are some guidelines that apply for businesses when engaging in social media:
1. Invite the people you know.
Who is more likely to join your social media network and leave comments or ask questions: people who know you, or those who you don’t? After you complete the set up of your accounts, your first order of business should be to invite all of your contacts over for a social media profile warming party. Most people who check out a social gathering where they don’t know anyone are likely to hang out in the background. Starting by trying to engage a group of people who don’t know you and don’t see any other conversation going on is tough. However, if they arrive and find interesting conversation going on, they are more likely to participate.
2. Conversation is as important as quality content.
While quality content is critical to providing a benefit to your audience as well as creating credibility for you, your audience wants the ability to connect with the people in your business or organization. How can you accomplish this? Ask questions. Respond to your audiences responses. Listen to the people in your social media groups. Listen to the questions they’re asking and the needs they have and adapt accordingly.
3. Be human.
When I talk about the importance of conversation, I’m not simply talking frequency of chatter. I’ll get into the importance of frequency in the next point. For this point, we’re talking about personality, baby. Social media is about being social. People connect with people they can relate to. If your social media posts seem robotic, non-conversational, and simply a data dump, your audience won’t likely respond. Keep your content conversational in tone. You are more likely to receive questions and responses if your audience perceives that they are conversing with another person. Nobody wants to talk to a machine.
4. Be consistent with your frequency.
Don’t do one post earlier in the week, wait a few days, and then post 10 times in a day to make up for lost time. This is like having a fair-weather friend who disappears for a while only to come back and dump on you what’s been going on in their life and then splitting again. How many posts a day are best? You will need to test what works best for your audience. In some cases, once a day works, in others, three to five times a day seems to hit the mark.
5. Use tools.
If you manage multiple different social media profiles (which in most cases you do), it helps to have tools like TweetDeck for smaller companies on Twitter or Spredfast for larger corporations. How many times have you felt, “I simply don’t have the time for social media?” The reality is … you don’t have time to waste. Find the tools that will help you manage your accounts. A quick word of caution though … when you use these tools, make sure you don’t automate everything so that it sounds like a machine is sending out content over a conveyor belt. Your audience doesn’t want to be fed a steady diet of spam or nutrition-less fodder.
6. Track your results.
You’re still a business, and you need to see the statistics that result from your social media strategies to see if they work or if they require tweaking. While conversation is important, it is about conversation that counts … dialogue that provides benefits to your audience and creates the opportunity for you to lead them through the sales process. Many social media sites offer their own analytics, while there are some other third-party tools you can use to help with tracking, too.
At the end of the day, you need to realize that even with an in-depth understanding of your audience, you will still have to do some testing to see how these social media rules apply to your scenario. If you find that you’re struggling with social media, leave a comment or contact SmallBizMedia.tv for help.
All the Best,
The Solopreneur’s Guide