Even though social media has now been around long enough to be inducted as a mainstay category of marketing, it still has a tendency to elude and intimidate business leaders who lack (or at least they lack) the knowledge or resources to establish a social media presence. To be fair, managing business-based social media accounts is a fairly massive undertaking if it’s to be done right, but implementing a few key parameters will make both the process and the results much better. The best news? You don’t even need to buy expensive tickets to a West Coast social media conference or hire a “guru.
These overarching pieces of advice make for a great foundational perspective; a few minutes of research or your innate business sense can take care of the rest.
Be true to your company's voice.
Whether buttoned-up and serious or uplifting and cheery, you should be well aware of your company’s tone of voice and always keep it in mind when you post on social media. Multiple exclamation points (which tend to be interpreted as overly casual or excitable), grammatical errors and robotic language can all derail your message and lessen the impact made on your audience. Make sure your social media manager is well versed in both your company’s preferred expression and grammatical correctness.
Choose quality over quantity.
Having an active profile on every major social media site is not only ill-advised; it’s darn near impossible to manage. After all, as with any aspect of the business, expansion typically tends to create more room for error. Instead, pick two to four key social media sites that fit your company best and give them all your attention. Facebook and Twitter tend to be advisable front runners, but the specifics of your business might call for a presence on Instagram, Snapchat, Yelp, Pinterest, YouTube or Reddit. Of course, the list of potential platforms to choose from goes on.
Consistency is key.
Choosing quality over quantity will help set you up for success right out of the gate. Your own definition of “consistency” may not mean posting every day (it’s not always easy to do, even for an incredibly active business), but whatever you do decide is your sweet spot, it’s important to stick to it. That’s especially true now that major social media players like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have adopted timelines that show users the “most important” content first. Of course, this is an arbitrary method of showing user content, but the best way to beat these platforms at their own game is to simply deliver quality posts on the regular.
Instead of committing right away to posting every day, work your way up by starting with a bi-weekly schedule, followed by an every-other-day schedule until you feel comfortable with the quality of your content being spread across a day-to-day schedule.
Know what your goals are.
If you aren’t sure what your social media goals are, it’ll be harder to find value in your social media presence as time goes on and find a return on your investment — whether that investment is defined by time taken out of your day or actual ad money spent. All you really need to do is ask yourself what you want to gain from social media. Is it more local exposure? Higher visits on your website? A dramatic increase in sales? Whatever it is, make sure every action you take on social media complements that goal.
Designate a gatekeeper.
You may be a one-person shop or a large operation, but you can never go wrong with designating one person or a small team to be your trusted social media gatekeeper. Don’t give out Facebook admin roles willy nilly nor hand the keys over to a new intern without understanding the potential consequences. After all, some of the worst social media horror stories out there start with an intern lacking foresight or a disgruntled ex-employee seeking revenge. Perhaps it’s best to first ask yourself a crucial question: Would I give this person a megaphone on behalf of my company?
Avoid a PR crisis before it happens.
Like it or not, we live in a society with increasingly high expectations about the commentary companies make on social media. While it may be tempting to share political beliefs or offer condolences for a tragedy on behalf of your company, silence is more than likely the better route because sometimes even good intentions can backfire. If you find yourself debating whether to post something that could be interpreted as controversial, just ask yourself another few key questions: Is this post relevant to my brand? Is it helpful? Is it informative? Is it kind? If you can’t answer yes to all or most of those four questions, you’re better off not saying anything at all.
Pay attention to customer interactions and reply appropriately.
Part of managing a social media presence on the behalf of a company or brand means being responsible for following up with customers or clients who post anything from glowing reviews to urgent questions to harsh criticisms. No matter what the customer’s message is, the best mode of action is always to be prompt, be kind, and offer to continue the conversation over the phone or in person.
Also, you should never delete a customer post or review, even if it’s unfounded or negative. A diplomatic response and apology for a bad experience will always go much further (and possibly even mend a customer’s initial dissatisfaction) than deleting a post. Deleting a negative post will only make your customers feel as if they don’t have a voice.
Host a think tank for content ideas.
Sometimes the hardest part about starting and managing a social media presence is simply coming up with post ideas, but it’s actually as easy as one good brainstorming session. Set aside an hour and a pot of coffee and get your best thinkers together to think about what your customers would want to see the most. You’ll be surprised at all the unique ideas you come up with.
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