Social media is fantastic, but the if you think creating a social media presence will yield instant results, you're in for an unpleasant surprise. Online engagement from your community isn't an easy or immediate result of your web presence: conversation takes time, effort, and strategy. Sure, you may have a Twitter account or a Facebook fan page or a blog, but social media isn't the Field of Dreams. Just because you build it, doesn't mean they'll come. And even if they do show up, your fans or followers might not engage much with you and your business.
But before you bash your head against the keyboard and shout to the rooftops that social media doesn't work, ask yourself: Am I following the Golden Rule?
Treat others as you wish to be treated.
The Golden Rule applies almost anywhere, from business relationships to blogging. In social media, following the Golden Rule means that you and your brand should model the behavior you want to see from your community, inside it and out.
If you want a community to engage with your brand in social media, then your brand needs to engage with the community.
Looking for lots of retweets and discussion about your content on Twitter? Don't just blast out your own message. Ask questions in the community, follow customers and industry leaders, start discussions and join conversations.
Striving for more readers and comments on your blog? Subscribe to and read other relevant blogs, leave comments, and spark dialogue about others' ideas.
Want your fans to like, share and comment on your Facebook content? Make sure you like, share and comment on posts from fans and content from other Pages. Ask good questions and share information that piques their interest.
Want your community to listen to you? Listen to your community, and use that information to create a better customer and community experience.
Social media strategy starts at home.
The Golden Rule in social media doesn't just apply to you and your brand presence, but to all of your people, from entry level employees to your CEO. Employees can be powerful brand ambassadors. Encouraging them to engage with your brand and communities can, in turn, encourage other stakeholders, colleagues and customers to join the conversation.
So, what do you think? Is the Golden Rule important to your social media strategy?
Teri Guill is a Strategy Analyst with Social Strategy1 and helps clients with social media monitoring, reputation management and online strategy. Look for her posts monthly on the Social Strategy1 blog and connect with her on Twitter @teriguill.
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