While there are no wrong ways to eat a Reese's, there are definitely some wrong ways to do social media. That said, whenever there are wrongs, there are always many rights to counteract them. As a small business, here are some things you need to avoid and some things you need to do to help you get on the right track of using social media effectively to help you increase traffic, leads and sales…
1. Don't Be Selfish
This is a common mistake I see far too often. What does it mean to be selfish in the social media realm? Quite simply, a selfish social business only talks about themselves. If you look down your stream of social posts and you only see promotions about your business, sales from your business, and things that directly ask others to do something for you, you are being selfish. Selfishness in social media, just like in real life, doesn't bode well.
2. Do Add Value
Social media is another form of communication, which means you have to be interesting and add value in order to get through to your customers, fans, and potential business partners. Think about what types of things you can share with your fans that will get them to fall in love with you. Your goal is to make people crave the content you share. When you offer value, you'll see people constantly checking in on you to see what you have to say today.
3. Don’t Take Short Cuts
Nothing in life comes for free, and this goes for social media as well. There's no magic pill to social media. To be successful you have to look at it for the long term. Buying followers is not going to get you anywhere. And while you may think you are tricking people into thinking you are well-liked and popular, a savvy social media user will see right through it. If you want real results, you need to understand it takes time. I wrote more on the subject in my article here.
4. Do Focus Where It Counts
Yes, there are tons of social networks out there. But that in no way means you need to be present and active on all of them. Your most important and valuable networks are those that your audience is active on. Think about your audience and where they hang out online, monitor where your social traffic comes from and spend your time and resources there. Think about your social media as a billboard. You wouldn't spend money on a billboard in the middle of the Los Angeles if your business is in Louisville, right? The same is true for social media.
5. Don’t Steal Images
Stealing is wrong, we all know that. Beyond the moral aspect of stealing, there are serious financial pains that will come along with it. Everyday I hear of a new company who is being fined for using images that aren't theirs. These fines are hefty too. Use your own images or invest in something like stock images. Believe me, you will be happy you made the right decision.
6. Do Be Authentic
Being authentic is the key to establishing an online business identity. When you start a business you probably know what this is already. Stay true to who you are and let that show online. This one is a bit harder to define, but think about this. When someone comes to your online presence they should know what they are going to get. It's consistency and it's authenticity.
7. Don’t Be A Ghost
I am all for social media automation. In fact, I wrote a whole article on it here. We also use marketing automation through Infusionsoft in our business. There is nothing wrong with doing it, but you have to do it right. One surefire way to loose at social media is to automate and run. Social media doesn't sleep, and either should you.
8. Do Test, Monitor and Report
Each business is different and thus every social media strategy is going to be different. You'll never know what works if you don't test different things out. Of course to know what works you need to monitor different trends, keywords, and other pertinent information. Plus, to really show your results you need to report these things. I call it CLEAT method of reporting.
9. Don't Expect The World If You Don't Give The World
Social media is a two way stream. You have to give to get. Give your audience value and other things they want. Then when it's time to ask for favors you won't be perceived as selfish. See #1.
10. Do Know Your Audience
Your social media strategy is only good if your audience response and relates to the content you share. If you want to connect with them you are going to have to know who they are like the back of your hand. The better you know your audience, the more targeted your marketing can be.
11. Don't Let Your Employees Run Free
If you have employees who are using social media it is very important to have a social media policy in place. Recently we saw a huge social media no-no happen with Justine Sacco. If you don't know who she is, here's a quick run down of what happened: She tweeted something stupid. She was fired. Her company looks dumb. You have to have an open policy for social media and one with rules. If your employees make you look bad, you have be ready for the backfire.
12. Do Tailor Your Content To The Right Network
Each network is different and thus different types of content work best. It's all about context. If you want to see results you need to play by the rules set forth by the network. For example, on Pinterest info graphics, food, and visuals work extremely well. On Tumblr, it's all about GIFs. Quotes and articles work well on Twitter. Hashtags and longer form content works best on Google Plus. Business related, value added content works on LinkedIn. And so on. Don't put the same thing out on every network. It's lazy.
13. Don't Be Afraid Of Haters
Haters are going to be out there. The worst thing you can do is not be on social media because you are afraid of putting yourself out there. The good thing is that you are given access to insight that wasn't available years ago. This allows you to respond when needed and evaluate your operations as necessary. Haters gonna hate, there is nothing you can do about it.
14. Do Build Relationships
Marketing and social media specifically is all about building relationships. By knowing your audience and making a step into learning about them they are going to feel wanted, respected and heard. These are all things humans need. If you can do it socially, you are going to see loyalty and word of mouth in your favor. It's a must!
15. Do Have Something To Share
This is the most important point. If you don't have something to share you are not going to succeed on social media. In my opinion, blogging gives you the best type of content to share. Not only will it drive traffic back to your site, but it allows others to share from your site as well. Now that's a win win situation!
Take my advice and stop doing the don'ts and start doing the do's and you will be a happy and social business. What would you add to the list?