The modern world can be a scary and somewhat daunting place. Everywhere you look, there are warnings. Walk, Don’t Walk. Drink, Don’t Drink. Use in moderation, Don’t use at all. As a race, we have pretty much got it covered, if there is the slightest chance that someone may hurt themselves then a big warning is slapped on the side of the product and everyone is safe.
With social media being one of the largest ‘products’ out there, you’d think that there would be a list as long as your arm telling you what is safe to post, what isn’t, when you can post, when you shouldn’t, what to avoid etc. And there are. Not from the platform creators, but from people just like you and me who have blundered into their social media campaign and have learnt the hard way.
Say you post on your personal profile a picture or a comment that starts a bit of uproar from your friends. It’s likely that they know you well enough to interpret what you have said exactly in the way you meant it. Or at the very most, will be a bit mad for a few days, but drinking with you in the pub again by the end of the week. Your work profile is not so simple. What if you make a mistake and your company’s reputation takes a dent? Or you lose those followers you have spent months gaining?
With new stories of employees losing their jobs from posting faux pas’ appearing daily, and with even the front runners making mistakes (McDonalds promotion trend of #mcdstories resulted in people bombarding them with horror stories rather than the positive messages they were hoping for). They basically paid to promote a trend that showered them with bad publicity, how do you know that what you are doing is right?
In today’s ever growing online marketplace, there is less and less room for error and getting it right the first time is more and more important.
The power of social media is undisputable, with statistics showing that 15% of consumers use social media to search for local businesses and a whopping 71% of users saying that they are more likely to purchase from a brand or company that they follow or have read reviews from friends on their profiles, you cannot afford to be one bad move away from them jumping ship to your competitors.
Posting once or twice a week is not enough either. No matter how relevant your post is, if you are only posting once a week, your message will be easily overlooked. Twitter alone processes over 400 million tweets per day, so your one post is the needle in a very fast paced haystack. In the same breath, you can also post too much. Bombarding people constantly with your brand will turn them off, which can be far worse than them not noticing you at all. Recognise when your followers are online, look at what they are talking about, and slide your posts in when relevant.
Regularly posting engaging, relevant content to your followers keeps you at the forefront of their mind, gets them talking about and more importantly, using your services and recommending others do the same.
And once you have their attention, and they are talking to you and their friends, the worst thing to do is ignore them. Acknowledging feedback, answering questions and providing them with information is not only common courtesy, but has become an expectation. There is no excuse for not responding, we are more connected and mobile than ever. Responsive web design and mobile devices mean that technically, we are never off the grid. And treat all feedback that you receive, whether positive or negative as something to build on. Social media is a great platform for people to give their opinion without repercussion, which can lead to an overflow of opinions, so only focus on the feedback that you can work from.
So, you’ve mastered gaining followers and talking to them, but how do you ensure you don’t bore them? You have to stay creative; humour is good as long as it still correctly represents the image that your company is portraying. That joke your uncle told you about the Swedish girls was hilarious at the wedding, but may not go down too well with your customers. Think outside the box, what do you do that no one else does, what can you offer that they cannot say no to? Thought provoking posts on current topics to get them talking, latest offers, upcoming events, all these things are fantastic ways to keep people interested.
But there is still that fear that they will go elsewhere. The best way to get on top of this is to watch what your competitors are doing. When are they posting, what are they posting, how are they talking to people? Take what you find and turn it into original content that will work for you, never copy.
Only using the social media platforms that fit your business style will help you stand out as well. It’s pointless having an account with every social media site if you are posting the same content on all or struggling to find your relevance. It is better to do a few profiles well and really make an impact on your target audience than to spread yourself thin.
To ensure that you are on the right tracks, regular monitoring of your social media sites is something that cannot be overlooked. You may have retweets, likes and plus ones but are any of these actually driving traffic to your website? Has your client base grown? Has your phone rung more than normal? There are literally thousands of ‘apps for that’, which generate data that you can use to focus your strategy in the right direction, and help you gain ‘organic’ followers.
If you are struggling to up your follower numbers, it can be tempting to ‘buy’ them. Social media sites are really cracking down on this as it is unnatural interaction. You should steer clear too, as you will get about as much engagement from these artificial fans as you would from having no followers at all and this is what social media is all about. Real companies, talking to real people.