If you thought social media marketing was easy, think again. This multi-billion dollar industry remains one of the fastest-moving and challenging aspects of corporate self-promotion. While we’re all comfortable uploading photos to personal pages or swapping memes with friends, using a business account to handle customer complaints or advertise forthcoming products requires a detailed understanding of how companies should (and shouldn’t) use social media.
Facebook remains the undisputed king of social media marketing, though its appeal is waning among younger audiences. They’re increasingly attracted to Snapchat’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it immediacy, or encrypted messaging platforms like WhatsApp. Conventional posts won’t work on these direct communication services, so it’s vital to immerse yourself in the specifics of how each platform works. For instance, Twitter is all about real-time debates and news stories, whereas YouTube is great for uploading a strong visual narrative that can be accessed years into the future.
Here is our list of social media marketing dos and don’ts…
Do establish a presence on at least two social media platforms. Facebook and Instagram are presently the most popular options for American and European brands, though Twitter’s immediacy means customers frequently rely on it to get in touch or make a complaint.
Don’t confuse professional and personal commentary. You might have a simmering feud with a neighbor or a love of Indian food, but that’s not relevant to your business. Keep personal bias and subjective opinions well away from corporate accounts.
Do update company profiles regularly. This is particularly true for LinkedIn, which is a hugely valuable platform despite not being a typical social media outlet. Frequent updates demonstrate a proactive approach, giving you a chance to discuss recent work and news.
Don’t be a show-off. There’s a clear gulf between promoting the latest activities and bragging about record turnover or stealing clients from rivals. Think about how you’d feel if you read posts from a boastful company – would you want to do business with them?
Do write new posts in advance. When you re-read previously posted content, it’s much easier to accurately gauge how it sounds. Always try to give yourself a few hours to review posts with a fresh perspective so you can correct mistakes and refine it before it goes live.
Don’t let your presence slide. Amid the inevitable churn of deadlines, contracts and company administration, it’s easy to forget about tweeting and blogging. Accounts that haven’t been updated for a while look neglected, creating a poor first impression with new audiences.
Do analyze your post responses. Study audience engagement rather than firing content into the void. What time of day achieves the best response, and what type of content sparks a debate? If nobody’s responding, use more hashtags or adopt a more sales-oriented approach.
Don’t get into a spat. Twitter is especially bad for trolling and dissing, which might seem fun in real time but will quickly lose its charm when seen out of context months later by a stranger. Always maintain the utmost professionalism when representing a brand online.
Do pre-load content. Software packages like Buffer and Hootsuite allow companies to prepare updates for dispatch at specific times. A bit of pre-emptive scheduling on a Monday morning can ensure a steady stream of social media marketing throughout the week.
Don’t ignore complaints. People often vent on social media about a bad experience, so reply quickly and politely to show you take criticism seriously. Thousands of people might read these exchanges in future, which reflect how much your brand cares about customer service.
Do harness positive feedback. If you win over a skeptical customer or receive a glowing review, you’ve created a permanent testimonial on that social media page. These can reassure wavering consumers that your brand is trustworthy in a way advertising will never manage.
Don’t try to do too much in one post. If you want to write a lengthy piece on a new product, publish a blog. If you’re resolving a complaint, a 140-character tweet might not be long enough. Social media should complement other communication platforms, not replace them.
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