More and more of us are using social media. In fact, Ofcom's latest data shows 72% of adult internet users in the UK have a Social Media profile. Whether it’s catching up with old friends on Facebook, reading content posted by celebrities on Twitter or establishing business links on LinkedIn, Social Media is impacting on all of us.
Social Media for business is a relatively ‘new’ science. There’s still a lot of ignorance with regards to what it is, how it should be managed and what the real benefits to your business can be. Many of you are also blissfully unaware of the harm Social Media can do to your business when it isn’t correctly managed.
To help you avoid any problems or misunderstandings, we've put together some practical ‘Dos and Don’t Dos’:
DON'T assume your 25 year old office clerk knows everything about Social Media
A common misconception is the belief that people who use social media everyday for their own personal use can also manage it for business. Having a personal account is not the same thing. Unfortunately, social media management is a lot more work than most assume. It takes wit, writing skills, formal training and education, planning and expensive tools. It takes a lot of time, too.
DO engage with your audience
I remember as a child walking into the local shop with my mum. The shopkeeper would greet her by name and strike up conversation about the family, beyond the ‘buying and selling’.
The result was that everyone felt good about it. They trusted each other. Most importantly, it promoted customer loyalty and people didn't mind if the prices were a little higher than at the new, large supermarket around the corner.
Social media is an excellent opportunity to get back to that very personalised way of doing business. Ask your audience questions, start conversations, share information that your customers will find useful and, most importantly, talk like a ‘real’ person.
DON'T be slow responding to complaints or negative comments
It can take 20 years to build a brand, but only 5 minutes to ruin it (Warren Buffett - American business magnate, investor & philanthropist.)
For a perfect example of this, remember Dave Carroll? He was a singer-songwriter who was struggling to get compensation for damage to his guitar during a flight with United Airlines - until he named and shamed the airline in a YouTube video. United Airlines saw its share price tumble overnight.
Now we’re not suggesting problems on this scale are common place, because they're not. But it's worth remembering how one negative comment or a trivial customer complaint, when magnified through social media, can become an international embarrassment overnight.
Remember, care enough to listen and respond appropriately.
DO always pause and think before posting
While we recommend you reply to any negative comments or complaints in a timely manner, your response should be appropriate. Our one simple rule is this:
'Before you post your response, pause. Then pause again.'
If you're feeling any uneasiness with your response to a negative comment or complaint, don't click the 'send' button. Instead, work out what is making you feel uncomfortable and fix it.
DON'T jump on every single platform
Not all Social Media platforms are the same. In fact, there are literally dozens and each one has its own unique benefits. However, unless you have multiple Social Media managers, the best thing to do is choose the platforms that will work best to showcase the products or services you’re selling.
For example, LinkedIn is a good platform to target for business-to-business connections while Pinterest may be better if you’re in the fashion business. Some of these platforms will become obvious when you look at your competitors and what they're using.
DO ensure your content is fresh and engaging
A common mistake many businesses make is not posting enough fresh and interesting content. One way around this is to develop a content plan that will deliver engaging material on a regular basis.
Post and share content that is relevant, current and what your target audience will find interesting or helpful. The content needs to align with your overall messaging and be appropriate for the platforms you’re using.
This is more than just product and services information. Think about how you can deliver real value to your audience and keep them engaged.