Feel like you're making social media marketing mistakes you can't reign in? Don't worry: we've all been there. Sometimes we just need a list of ground rules hanging above our desk to remind us what to do and what not to do. Here are some rules you should never break. Let us know in the comments what we might have missed.
Rule #1: Always Listen
There is no social strategy without social listening. If you're confused as to where to start with a new project, invest in a listening platform. What are your potential customers talking about? What are they complaining about? What kinds of behavior do they value? What holes in their needs can your product or service fill? What is the tone of the conversation? You can learn a vast amount by simply listening, and when you finally enter the conversation yourself, you'll have as much passively learned as actively learned.
Rule #2: Content First
If you don't have quality content, then you don't really have any value to your social following. Focus on creating a backlog of solid content before pushing your message out on social, because your brand is only as good as what you can offer your potential leads or existing customers. Hire writers and other content creators that you trust; it's worth it if it means your content has a leg up on the competition's.
Rule #3: Social is About Relationships
It's easy to forget in the digital world that what's happening behind our computers is humans interacting with humans. Bryan Kramer's writings on his "H2H" practice is valuable reading here. Personalization goes a long way in a sea of mass messaging. If you're feeling like your communications are falling prey to boilerplate language, take a step back and remember that social is a conversation and followers are humans, just like you.
Rule #4: Think Before You Post
Nothing makes for better scandalous news than a social media snafu, especially from a brand. Don't be a news item. The way to ensure that your risk of social mistakes is low is to always-always-practice the policy of thinking before you post. Make it a habit to have an extra pair of eyes look something over before you post it, or implement a set of personal rules each post has to follow (i.e, would you say this to your grandma? would you trust a brand that would say this?) And never ever post tipsy, no matter how much you might want a beer during the Super Bowl live-tweeting fest.
Rule #5: Influencers Gonna Influence
If you feel trapped by the boundaries of traditional advertising, keep in mind that influencers can be your way out. The new wave of social is all about authentic word-of-mouth selling through influencers. If you connect with the right ones, your brand can experience a huge jump in exposure and social standing. Make sure you have an influencer strategy (that begins with social listening, of course.)
Rule #6: Consistency Trumps All
It's true what they say: slow and steady wins the race. If you're feeling overwhelmed by brands that rush to fulfill the shiny seduction of real-time marketing, trending topics, and newsjacking tactics, keep this one rule in mind: a consistent presence is a trusted presence. The more regular your social activities are, the more followers you'll get. While followers might be swayed temporarily by the newest, brightest things, what they value long-term are brands the can rely on, brands that show up at the same time every day.
These are just six ground rules I always follow when approaching a new project, campaign, or brand. It can be easy to get caught up in the latest social platform or social tool and forget the basics. Hopefully these unbreakable rules are helpful in guiding every strategy.