I'm often asked to give quick social media advice or nuggets of wisdom to pass onto the small business community. And I'm happy to do it because I have a lot to say about the dynamic and confusing world of social media. I decided to pull these 'rules of thumb' into one post, as I find that we repeat these to our clients and prospects almost daily.
Here are five of my key tips.
1. Don't jump on the bandwagon
Social media sites like to create new features, apps and tools in order to stay ahead of the competition. My short advice is to avoid the shiny new object syndrome.
Blab is an example - even my most respected colleague touted Blab as the next big thing, and now it's gone. The current battle in the trending war is Instagram Stories vs. Snapchat Stories. I don't know who is going to win - and frankly, I don't care. As a general rule, you shouldn't invest a heap of resources into the newest trend until you're certain it will be more than a passing fad.
2. Create a central space
Facebook is great, but you don't own it - and if you've been active on the channel the past few years, you know they change the rules all the time. Own an online space - such a blog or your website - and make that the core of your efforts. You can promote your space on any channel you want, but make sure you have control of it. Otherwise, as channels evolve and dissolve, your central space goes right along with it.
Feel free to load your content to LinkedIn's long-form publishing tool or Facebook Instant Articles, but keep it on your space, too.
3. Engage with people who already know and love you
Social media enables us to reach people we've never been able to access before - but that doesn't mean we should forget those who are already promoting our brand.
I highly recommend starting with your current clients and brand advocates as you grow into your social media space. They will be your biggest champions and referral sources, they'll share your content and become your Alpha Audience.
Reach for more, as you're ready, but don't overlook those who are already in your corner.
4. Allocate resources
If you've been at all active on social media, you've no doubt realized that there are a lot of pieces to this wider social puzzle - and you may not be certain if your business is equipped to execute all of it efficiently.
It's said that an organization that realizes an element's importance, invests in it - but that doesn't mean you have to break the bank. This could take the form of paid part-time staff dedicated to social media. It could also be an outsourced consultant or social media manager.
The bottom line is that social media takes work - time, money and people. You need to allocate resources accordingly.
Broken record time! H-u-m-a-n-i-z-e. Humanize. HUMANIZE.
No matter how you say it, the principal remains.
If you're not sure why this is critical, just check out this link to dozens of past blogs on the topic. I've always advocated the importance of being human, and encourage our clients to incorporate the human element into their online brand.
Why? Because people buy from people they know, like and trust, and trust is built on relationships, on human-to-human connection.
You don't have to share every detail about your life, but please share something about what makes you... well, you.
These are some of my most common tips when asked about building a social media presence. Call them what you want: rules of thumb, quick tips, nuggets, key takeaways. Whatever the terminology, be sure to label them as nothing more than critical.