12 habits of successful social media pros

How many of these traits also belong to you and your clients?


What’s the secret sauce of social media? Well, it’s not just one recipe. After all, far too many apps, sites, and tools exist for a definitive source of success on social media. But it seems the pros share some common habits.

They do these 12 things:

1. Help

It doesn’t matter whether they have 1,000 followers or 100,000, social media pros often help others. If it could be harnessed, the karma flying around the Twittersphere (and on G+ and Pinterest and so on) might be sufficient to advance all humanity closer to world peace.

2. Share fairly

The pros never steal. They don’t have to because they’ve figured out that it’s not actually content that’s king. It is the creators of content that rule the kingdom. Social media stars create amazing content. And they also share content liberally, crediting generously as they press the words: publish, pin, or post.

3. Thank

The smoothest social media folks are also among the kindest. Just check out the Twitter streams of those with hordes of followers eager to sop up the social savvy. Tweets from the pros often contain thanks and kind words for others.

4. Remember

To have an effective social presence, you need to be mindful of others. Social media pros remember what it was like to not know that RT stood for retweet (or to not know what retweet meant). I think it is, in part, their own memory of feeling like a newbie that keeps the social media pros so generous with their tips and advice.

5. Don’t patronize

The pros don’t talk down to their audience. And they also aren’t afraid to admit if they don’t know something and need to double check before answering. I’ve listened to more than one webinar in which presenters gave a best guess to a question. Being so comfortable with their competence that they exude authenticity only underscores their social media chops.

6. Follow

In many, if not most cases, they follow back.

7. Have conversations

They have a lovely way with the back and forth, but also they know when to take it offline or move to direct messages. Social media is not one-way or performance art. Not when done well, anyway.

8. Make time for social media

They also know how hollow this comment is: “I don’t have time for social media.” So many tools help with scheduling posts, keeping track of mentions and chats, or monitoring various aspects of social presence that makes this excuse just that—an excuse. Social media pros find ways to find time.

9. Blog

It’s nearly impossible to be effective with, on, and around social media without blogging. This is a vital way to stay engaged with your audience and to maintain and build a social presence. Pros blog. Period.

10. Remain present

Sure, everyone needs to take some time off and seek downtime. Social media mavens are no exception. But generally, the pros are present. They ask, respond, reach out ,and chat with many others. That’s one of the ways they hone their skills. They’re out there, doing it. They don’t fake it.

11. Show their personality

Personality draws followers. It’s what lures readers to blogs, viewers to webinars, and eyeballs to shared content. The best on the Web all have a personality that pops.

12. Laugh at themselves

We’re all learning on social media. So much is new that it’s impossible to have mastered everything. But the most effective social media types maintain a sense of humor about it. They can, and do, laugh at the funny things that crop up so often online. They don’t take themselves too seriously. That’s one of the things that make them so effective, and so fun to follow.

This list avoided any social media rules, such as having a detailed editorial calendar or using specific sites or tools. Those guidelines are great. But I think these are the attributes that set apart the social pros from the rest of us.

What do you think?

Becky Gaylord worked as a reporter for more than 15 years in Washington, D.C., Cleveland, and Sydney, Australia, before she launched the consulting practice, Gaylord LLC. You can read Becky’s blog Framing What Works. A version of this story first appeared on the 12 Most blog.

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