20 social media marketing dos and don’ts

From repurposing content (a ‘do’) to creating a nameless, faceless social media presence (a ‘don’t’), here’s a series of tips for marketers at any level.

A recent study found that 42 percent of U.S. companies are in their social media “infancy.” A mere 16 percent of the businesses surveyed had incorporated social media into their marketing plans.

As you work social media into your marketing mix—or, if you’re already at that point, fine tune it—we suggest you refer to these tips from Ashley Zeckman, who offered 10 dos and 10 don’ts for social media marketing on the Top Rank Blog this week. – Editor

10 social media marketing dos:

1. Save time, repurpose content

While this is a useful approach, it’s important to be thoughtful about the way you are reusing content. Simply spitting out the same information over and over again will not work. Be sure to change elements of your posts to either highlight different information within the post or target a different segment within your audience.

2. Strike the right balance with interaction

True interaction via social media can be a tough tactic for many marketers to master. Finding the correct balance of self-promotion and intriguing content that inspires action is instrumental in using social media appropriately.

Take some time to comment or interact with your current and prospective clients to show that you’re there, and you care about what they are saying. A simple tactic is to ask questions that inspire a response.

3. Try multiple media types

Social media users are interested in fresh new ways of presenting content, which they can share with their networks. In fact, certain forms of media such as infographics or videos have a tendency to be much more sharable and appealing.

Try to incorporate some new media types into your social media content plan for the year.

4. For Pete’s sake, make it searchable!

I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that you have some sort of search engine optimization in place for your website. Keep the same strategy in mind for your social media content. If it can be searched, it can be optimized.

5. Stay calm in a crisis

The last thing you need is your social media intern to have a meltdown at the first sign of something unfavorable said about your brand on social media. By keeping a level head and having an emergency preparedness plan ready, you will be able to calmly and rationally tackle the issue.

P.S. Ignoring it doesn’t count as a plan.

6. Customize the flow

If you’re like us, you have multiple audience members to provide information to online. This could be different verticals or even different departments within a single organization. Do your homework. What sites do your different audience members participate in and what topics are of importance to them?

7. Identify a clear voice for your social media channels

In the past, some companies have encouraged all team members to participate in the promotion of their brands because they worked under the notion that more was better.

False.

While you don’t want to discourage interaction or squash the dreams of your team, it is important that the voice of your social media strategy represents who you are and what you believe in as a company.

Trish from accounting that posts on her social network about the copious amounts of alcohol consumed Tuesday night and the terrible time she’s having at work the next day may not be the best resource for networking your company.

8. Remember why you’re using social media in the first place

By determining a set of realistic and attainable goals you will be able to test what works and what doesn’t, and adapt your online marketing strategy from there.

9. Pull out the toolbox and find your measuring tape

What’s the point of creating a beautiful piece of furniture, if you can’t fit it through the front door? The same applies to your online strategy.

I don’t want to discourage big planning, but make sure you have an effective means of measuring your success to identify the true ROI of your online marketing strategy.

10. Be innovative, or at least open to innovation

You don’t have to be cutting edge to run a successful social media program. However, it doesn’t hurt to have your eyes and ears open to the latest trends.

Experiment with your strategy to find new and interesting ways to present the same information to your networks.

And now 10 social media marketing don’ts:

1. Burying your head

One of the worst things that you can do is ignore your audience. I shared an example last week of ChapStick’s reaction to unfavorable responses from its network. Deleting information or simply refusing to answer are a big marketing fail.

2. Automating your communication

If you’re anything like me, you’ve found yourself screaming at the automated help desk for your credit card company, enormously frustrated that you couldn’t speak with a live representative.

Try to spare your online audience the same exasperation. Create thoughtful and conversational content. Leave the robots for the other guys.

3. Insulting or offending your audience

As we’ve said before, it is difficult, if not impossible to take things back once you’ve said them online. There’s nothing wrong with disagreeing with audience members, colleagues, or competitors, but there is no need to be impolite.

If you take a “do unto others approach,” you will save yourself and your company a lot of damage control.

4. Creating social media accounts and forgetting about them

You did some research and found 10 new social networking platforms that your company has not joined. You assign a task to your marketing team to sign up for these accounts, and unfortunately that is as far as it goes.

Sound familiar?

If you cannot commit to using a platform on a regular basis and setting it up in a way that clearly represents your brand, then what is the point? Don’t do it just to do it.

5. Believing one size fits all

All social media sites are not created equal.

As marketers, we must consider not only the type of interaction that typically happens on a given platform, but also the audience we are trying to reach with that platform.

If your social strategy for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are all exactly the same, you may want to reconsider your plan.

6. Creating a nameless, faceless social media presence

To make friends online you need to be friendly, and one part of being friendly means adding a personal note to your social media profiles.

Snap some impromptu photos around the office and share information about some of the key team members. This is an instance where a little bit of extra effort can go a long way.

7. Letting your relationships stagnate

Romancing your prospects does not end at gaining them as followers. Sure, they’ve signed up to receive updates on your company, but is that really enough?

If your ultimate goal is to gain them as new clients, it is important to have a personalized and meaningful flow of communication with subsequent steps in the relationship.

An example would be recommending that you have a phone conversation or possibly meet in person to discuss some business opportunities.

8. Treat social media fans like second-class customers

Spending countless time and effort to engage with prospects only to abandon them is a completely useless tactic. Handle these relationships with the same care that you would your other business relationships.

9: Ignoring what’s important to customers

I consider each of the following statements to be obnoxious and pitiful tactics for engaging followers: Our company is great. We have so much to offer you. Hire us now!

Instead of using your platform to market your products and services, try to offer information that can help solve the business problem of your prospects.

10. What Are All of These Followers For Anyways?

You’ve built a community of online followers. Now, what can you use it for?

Your online community is a great resource for crowdsourcing content and brainstorming ideas. For instance, if you want to gather a set of your own statistics, go to your online community and ask them to participate in a study or survey. Share the results with everyone.

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