Ten years in social media can feel more like 30 in a fast-changing environment.
While much has changed since the heady early days of Facebook, and other platforms have vanished from the online ecosystem, some things have stayed the same.
Social media marketers are still trying to get consumers talking about their clients—and buying their products—with ever-increasing sophistication and style.
Here are ten imperatives veterans of the social media game have learned over the last decade:
1. Everything (except the endgame) has changed.
In the beginning the department was called “Word of Mouth Marketing.” There was no Facebook Business, and we spent our time posting conversation starters to both MySpace (RIP) and online forums. At that time, we had no solid results to analyze and my computer caught a new virus every other week.
Thankfully for our results-driven team and my IT savior Paul, this is no longer the case. We have a wealth of data at our fingertips, allowing us to reach our customers more strategically than ever and to measure the effectiveness of our work.
However, we’re still trying to achieve the same goals that we were 10 years ago: Engage customers in a two-way dialogue, get them talking about our clients and, ultimately, sell products and services along the way.
2. In social media, the only constant is change.
Think you’ve got a jump start on the next few months of social media editorial content? Think again! Facebook recently made changes penalizing any “engagement baiting posts” and Instagram just updated their image requirements for Stories. Something is changing in the social space just about every day. If you’re adaptable, it can be exciting. If not, you can easily get left behind.
3. The opposite of love is indifference.
When we first started onboarding clients to Facebook, the biggest concern was, “What if people post bad things about us on our own page?” Although most have moved past the fear of negative comments, not everyone truly embraces the power of negative feedback.
If someone is passionate enough to seek you out and post about his or her issue(s), nine out of ten times, that person wants you to change their mind. A well-crafted response can win you a repeat customer from a disappointing experience. It’s the people who don’t care enough to reach out who should scare you.
4. Social media never sleeps.
Negative comments and major issues can arise at any time, so you must constantly monitor.
5. You can recover from a social media crisis.
It’s not easy, but by actually listening to customers, implementing a well-crafted strategy and having a little patience it is very possible. These situations are when a close relationship between your social media and public relations departments can come in handy.
6. Access to a Facebook representative is amazing.
Our team is fortunate enough to have access to a Facebook Agency Partner, who not only gives us a heads up about upcoming changes, but will answer questions, provide insights and recommendations, and will even grant us access to beta programs and exclusive “partner-only” audiences for ad targeting purposes. In this world of constant Facebook updates, she’s about as close as you can come to finding an angel without wings.
7. Rock stars belong on stage.
I’ve come across a ton of self-proclaimed social media “ninjas” and “rock stars” and, in my experience, these people tend to spend most of their time shouting about their expertise through their virtual megaphones.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for social media marketing. Your strategy should be tailored to your specific goals and audiences. Instead, find a social media marketer who spends his or her time in the daily grind of executing the work. That person is going to have the best pulse on the ever-changing social media landscape and its implications on your objectives.
8. It takes a specific type of person to be successful on social media.
Writing creative post copy, analyzing results, developing reports, brainstorming campaign themes and partaking in client status calls is all part of one day’s work. To be successful, you need to be analytical, creative and organized all at once. Your social media team should be comprised of people who equally use both side of their brains – or at least contain a well-rounded balance of the two types of thinkers.
9. The best people never say, “That’s not my job.”
Once I drove two hours to put flyers on cars at an event, on behalf of a client. Who was papering cars right beside me? My boss, the head of the social media department – the first of its kind in the Baltimore area. What did papering cars have to do with social media? Not much. But it was for a social client who had a limited budget and we deeply cared about their success.
10. Social media is not a magic bullet marketing solution.
The most successful marketing campaigns will never begin by asking, “What can we do on this shiny new social media network?” but instead, “What is the best message to put in front of our target audience and what is the best way to deliver this message?”
What would you add to this list?
Kim Ritchie is a social media marketing account manager at MGH, Inc., a full-service marketing agency located just outside Baltimore, Maryland. A version of this article originally appeared on the MGH blog.