When it comes to interacting with consumers, there's nothing more effective than social media. Keeping tabs on what's happening on social networks, you'll gain valuable insight into your target audience, forge meaningful relationships with your customers and create a community of brand followers. It's clear that every professional out there needs to be present on social media. Here are 10 key do's and don'ts to help you survive on social platforms and build a strong brand that resonates with a wide range of consumers.
1. Do know your target audience
Without knowing to whom you're addressing your messages, you cannot enjoy the full benefit of social media. Your social media accounts should be tailored to match the expectations and preferences of your target audience, not reflect your personal interests. Consumers don't really care about you as a person – they're far more interested in what you can do to help them in solving a problem.
That's why you should know who you're talking to before you start posting stories and sharing your expertise online. This is where 80/20 rule comes in handy. Make sure that 80% of your content is relevant to your target audience and 20% of it is specifically about your offer. This is a formula that works perfectly for self-employed professionals.
2. Don't forget to set privacy settings
Just like you use them on your personal files, you should do so with your business accounts as well. Be careful when posting – just because you can delete a post doesn't mean that the internet will forget. You have no idea about who might have seen it before you decided to delete it – and they might have saved this information. Always think twice before posting something or sharing content. Make sure to have full privacy settings in place and protect your passwords. Never give your passwords to other people and make sure they're hard to crack. If your social accounts fall into the wrong hands, they can cause you a lot of trouble.
3. Do set the standard for good behavior
Even if social media and similar online activity seems more private, it's hardly so. Every single thing you write and share will leave a permanent mark on the web. That's why you should always set a standard for behavior online, showing your audience that you treat your online presence seriously and are in full control of your reputation on social media. Good online behavior will never lose you customers – your reputation as a solid company with great social media following will only help to boost your visibility on the web.
4. Don't rely on automation too much
Automation is great for scheduling and organizing your social media activity, but never rely exclusively on such tools for posting. If you do, you'll quickly lose that valuable personal touch with clients which makes your brand stand out. Show that you're human and strive to make engagement experience for your target audience more personal.
5. Do pay attention to timing
Post only when you're sure many people are listening. It's pointless to be active in social media at times when there's hardly anyone out there to engage and respond. That's why you should always keep tabs on analytics and find out when your followers are most active on specific social media platforms. Use this information to your advantage when scheduling your posts – engaging consumers in these time frames will help you to make the most from your social media activity.
6. Don't forget to respond or delete negative comments
Responding to comments, even if they're negative, is a must. If you fail to respond in time or at all, count on your audience to notice that and change their perspective on our brand. Without active engagement, you'll send a message that you don't really care enough about your customers. You should be using comments as opportunities for interacting with your audience.
Show your audience how you deal with both positive and negative situations. That's why you should never, ever delete negative comments. The person who posted them in the first place is still out there and seeing your lack of acknowledgment and outright denial will just enrage them. Stay calm and try to solve the issue – this is how you avoid a damaging PR disaster.
7. Do strive for originality
Be original and try different forms of content. Only by shaking things up once in a while you'll keep your audience on their toes and wanting more. Be creative and show your personality. This is how you can gain loyal following – it's what makes you stand out from others. Make sure your social channels are engaging and leave consumers with a positive impression.
8. Don’t be confident to the point of arrogance
Sometimes you might want to share your expertise and start to sound a bit too arrogant. If you want to make the most from your online presence, never use that tone. Don't try to come off as a know-it-all – this isn't an attitude that makes people like you. Respect the value your audience brings in to your conversation and keep an open mind – it's not like you've got an answer to every single question. You can learn a lot through your interactions – always acknowledge valuable contributions from the community.
9. Do understand which social media networks work best for you
Before you create an account for your business on every single social network you know, pause for a minute and reflect on the social media landscape for a while. You're using social media to meet your customers halfway, so what's the point of being active on a platform none of your relevant audiences use? That's right – when analyzing your target audience, you should also strive to learn about their favorite online hangouts.
Just because everyone has a profile on Facebook doesn't mean that you need one as well. Remember than in order to bring you benefits, you'll need to invest time in each social network – choose only those which are most relevant to your sector and audience. If you'd like to drive more traffic to your website and improve customer engagement, you need to choose networks that really fit your type of business.
10. Don't share too much information too often
Don't be hyperactive on social media – otherwise you risk coming off as someone who has no idea about when they're doing. Take extra care about the content you share and make sure it's 100% relevant and engaging. Sharing too much information can seriously damage your business operation. Just imagine what could happen if you share hints or pictures of your brand new product too early – you simply lose the momentum and effectively kill the entire product launch campaign. Post consciously and responsibly.
Becoming aware of these key do's and don'ts of social media for business will help you to unleash the full potential of your brand and build a vibrant community of loyal followers who are genuinely interested in what you've got to say.
About the author: Carol Williams is a community manager at Honeybells – a fruit shipping firm from Florida. She combines her interest in social media marketing with her love for writing.