The social media world can be a terrifying prospect, yet it need not be so panic-inducing. With a few rules of thumb, a brand can open the door to a new and personal platform for conversation with customers.
When a brand hits the news because of a so-called social media gaffe, it is usually because the person in charge has misjudged their audience, had a lapse in concentration when composing an update or not been attentive enough with responses.
Logically, if you understand the demographic that you want to speak to and put sufficient time and resources into your social media activity, then you should not have too many problems. Essentially, you should use your presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google + or any other network to share engaging content and respond to questions. This can help you develop awareness of your brand and trust in your expertise.
Even though social media can be hugely fun it is not something you should enter into lightly – you should keep in mind how much time you can afford to devote to being ‘social’, how your profile(s) will be maintained and what you are hoping to achieve. Just starting up a Twitter feed without thinking could lead to problems.
Chances are that you will be responsible for your profile updates – it is better to have one person looking after the feed, so only share this responsibility if you absolutely have to. Being part of a franchise, you should ensure that you speak with head office before making any significant moves. The first one will be to decide which social networks to have a presence on – for example, LinkedIn may be more suited for professional services, while Facebook is a much less formal proposition.
During your preparation you should decide on a goal, whether this be to hit a certain number of followers or record specific levels of engagement. Try to keep your results in context though – a thousand followers is great unless they are all people who would never buy your product, whereas a small community of engaged followers is hugely beneficial.
Develop your sphere
The concept of developing a sphere of followers or ‘Likes’ can be confusing – how is it done? What value is there to having such a sphere? What should you be talking about?
As mentioned above, you should aim to share useful content that your target market may be interested in. For example, if you start a franchise offering training courses, then you could write and share a regular blog commenting on training industry news. In addition, you could share stories from national newspapers or specialist publications about the world of education, and perhaps even include the odd helpful tip on your chosen area.
The key to it all is understanding that people must derive value from what you are sharing, which may not be the case if you only post funny pictures of cats. By contrast, if a local firm knows that it will stay on top of important news from the accountancy world and get a regular business accounting tip from you, then there is real value in them following your account. Suddenly you have someone listening to you, which is hugely valuable for any business that wants to expand.
12 rules of thumb for social success
There are so many great tips on how to make your social media profile a success – below is a selection of important ones to remember:
– Don’t be afraid to show some personality, but re-read each social update before publishing to see if it could be misinterpreted
– Thank people if they share your content or follow your profile
– Aim to respond to people as soon as possible – not responding can cause people to get angry. Responding within an hour is ideal; over 24 hours is dangerous…
– Avoid only sharing your own content. Mix it up and include other people’s thoughts
– Don’t be too salesy, you will be unfollowed immediately
– Talk to people – commenting on other people’s updates could earn you a new friend/follower
– The occasional humorous post is great, but don’t let your feed become too silly
– If you are posting a link regarding an interesting story, why not comment on it?
– Monitor your stats. Seeing lots of new followers or unfollows can tell you something about your success
– Publicise your feed and encourage people to contact you on it
– Align your social media goals and activity with your broader marketing objectives
– Try to share a variety of media – videos, pictures, articles, reports and audio are all very shareable