Companies realize they need visibility on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, but even those that have hopped on the bandwagon may not be taking full advantage of their presence there. Are you making any of these newbie mistakes?
Using social media for nothing but self-promotion. Unlike your website, your social media channels shouldn’t be all about you. Yes, you can use them for contests and promotions, new product announcements, and links to your blog — but you should also be sharing other material, including some that’s not directly related to your product or even your industry. Create an environment where your followers return to your page regularly to see what’s new in general, not just what’s new with your company.
Things you might share:
- Business-related material like news articles, industry analyses, economic forecasts, and poll and survey results. You won’t link to your direct competitors, of course, but there’s no reason not to link to a news outlet or other third-party source.
- Depending on your specific business or industry, you can also link to a wide variety of material that your followers will find interesting or useful. Examples are videos, recipes, usage tips, or inspiration boards — even the occasional cartoon or lolcatz.
Treating social media like a podium and not a conversation. You should be doing as much listening as talking. Engage with other users, using your best manners — the magic word isn’t “please” but “thank you.” Thank a Twitter follower who retweets you. If someone mentions you in a tweet, thank them and then retweet them; this helps them expand their network as you expand yours. On Facebook, “like” positive comments, or, better, respond with comments of your own.
Walking away in the middle of that conversation. You can’t just create social media accounts and then let them take care of themselves; you need to continue to participate to not only extend your brand message but keep it from going negative on you. Social media has given consumers a powerful platform to discuss what they like — and what they don’t! — about the products and services they use. If you respond promptly and appropriately, you can keep a negative comment from spiraling out of control, and maybe even make a new friend.
The other day, I was grumbling about a particular software application on Twitter. It wasn’t a huge deal, just a “Geez this is annoying” tweet, and though I did mention the brand by name, I didn’t use their twitter handle or a hash tag. When I logged on the next morning, I found a tweet from them, apologizing and suggesting an easy fix for the problem. I was impressed, and the incident definitely improved my opinion of a company I’ve always thought was obnoxiously unresponsive.
Maintaining your social media presence requires some time and effort, but is well worth it — it is a fast, flexible, and responsive way of both advancing and protecting your brand, as well as engaging your customers.