Social platforms and the practice of social networking are some sort of paradox in themselves: on the one hand, business gurus maintain that having a proactive social media presence is valuable for a business. But on the other hand, the same gurus provide little information about creating and sustaining a social media presence which actually contributes valuably to a brand. Their advice is limited to menacing messages about keeping your social accounts clean and above reproach, and perhaps reactive strategies in response to dealing with negative publicity, specifically to push them from the first few pages in Google search results pages. It is difficult, therefore, to find trustworthy information that lists practical tips for carrying out social media networking within the context of a business.
We all already know that posting negative comments about customers and competitors is a no-no, as are making known your personal opinions, especially on volatile matters such as the political arena. However, treating your entire relationship on social media as though it were a formal client meeting waters down the very reason we use social media in the first place: as a non-formal interactive platform to help build meaningful interactions without business pressure. As such, one can never realize the full potential/value of maintaining a vibrant social presence since you are always questioning and tiptoeing over the platform.
Of course, there’s a balancing point between a stoic, bland and very formal business page, and the overly-comfortable page that could tarnish you brand reputation. But where that point lies depends in huge part on the objectives that you have set to accomplish as a business and brand in the social media scenario. Below are some rules that you can use to promote your brands and products on social media without taking all the fun from it.
- Make your content interesting but useful
You should understand that there’s a lot of information to be shared at any one time. As such, strive to stand out from the sea of data by giving users a reason to continue listening to you and sharing your messages. In this age when people’s news feeds are already crowded, just a few misleading, annoying or useless posts will have your audience chucking you faster than you can say the word, and it’s tough to win them back after the connection has been severed.
- Make your content purposeful
On a related note, do not simply post because it’s that time of day again, oryou found this tool that offers effective task management for marketers and it says posting every day at 5:00 pm is great for brand development. Before putting up any post, carefully weigh the information and its implication on the brand. It isn’t everything that happens to your brand that’s worth sharing. Actually post when there’s a genuine purpose behind the post.
- Use more than one social platform
You can better connect with your audience and drive traffic back to your site by using a mix of the available social media platforms. For instance, the 140-character limit on Twitter significantly reduces how much information you can pass on to your audience in a single post. Fortify that by having a Facebook profile. Similarly, you can’t share entire albums of stuff your brand is involved in on Facebook without boring your audience, but Instagram was made just for that. Use all avenues to promote your richer sites like your articles, blogs, website and reviews.
- Give your business a rich public image
Your personal brand story – the virtues, vision, goals and history – may be very valuable to you because you own/run the business that that information actually means something to. For your average social followers, however, all this is a boring lull of words, so you need to add something extra.
An idea might be to have images and profiles of your employees – and not that standard resume-style biography, but real details about who they are and what motivates them. Post stories with pictures of them being human – going kayaking, climbing mountains, goofing around at a team-building retreat or visiting a children’s home.
People like to do business with someone they feel they know and trust, so work to transform your brand from a list of values and logo to human faces that your audience will identify with and hence appreciate. Profiles of your people are your biggest asset in social media marketing; after all, social media IS about people and connections. Get rid of those standard, stale bios and actually give your audience a glimpse into who you are as a brand.
- Do not fight back with negativity
If a past client has posted a Yelp review full of vitriol, you may be very tempted to come up with your own defense ‘to save the brand image’. Don’t. As a business, you won’t ever have 100 percent of your followers, customers or others liking you, and there are just those people who want to destroy your image for the sheer fun of it.
You may feel like you’re failing the brand by not setting the record straight, but this move almost always ends disastrously. If they really are defaming posts with no evidence to support, retain an attorney and find out your options. However, if they are a matter of opinion, reach out personally to the person on phone and see what you can do to make it right. Otherwise, forget it and move along. Not saying anything is better than getting into an altercation on print. As the brand, the impetus to maintain a good name lies with you.
- Less is sometimes more
The first rule of public relations is to ensure that your brand doesn’t get overexposed, and social networks are nothing if not exposition channels. There are lessons to be derived from this; ask yourself every time before you post: Are you advancing the brand by offering new information, or are you simply repeating something that has been said? Emphasis is great, but there’s a limit to how often you can post the same message about a product, for instance, without looking like you’re out of content.
Social networks allow us unbridled access to the world in its entirety. This can be scary for a brand, but provided the platforms are used judiciously, you can derive actual value for your product and brand image.Avoid any form of negativity, whether in offense or defense of your brand. One negative post is all it takes to bring your entire brand down, even after years of success.