9 things every business should know before jumping on the social media bandwagon

Posted on March 14, 2013 by William Ruzvidzo

Social media is here to stay and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, according to a recent study by Digiday , 64 percent of advertisers plan to increase social media ad budgets this year.
While it’s great to see that more and more businesses are embracing social media, it also means that we’re likely to see more companies that use it without a clue what they’re doing.

If you’re thinking about using social media for your business, here are 9 things to consider before you do.

1. Be human.

Save the PR speak and corporate jargon for press releases. If you want people to like your business on Facebook or follow it on Twitter, make sure that your brand is authentic, transparent, relatable and more importantly, fun. Have a personality and speak to your fans in a language and tone that is conversational and accessible. Create content for them that is shareable and likeable. Let people feel like they are talking to a real person and not some corporate machine.

2. Social media isn’t a stand alone tool.

A common mistake that a lot of companies make, is treating social media as a separate entity. If you want your social media strategy to succeed, you have to fully integrate it with your other marketing and communications efforts.

This means including social media links and buttons on your website and integrating social media with your SEO and email marketing campaigns as well as your print communications and event marketing plans. In addition, the creative and visual branding for your social media platforms should be consistent with your website, print ads and all your other marketing initiatives. All this is key for creating a cohesive and integrated online persona. This might all sound like common sense, but you’ll be surprised how many companies drop the ball on this.

3. Don’t just dive in.

Diving into social media without a plan of action is like walking into a forest without a map or compass. You’re bound to get lost. You have to clearly define why you want to use it and what you want to get from it. Lay out your goals and objectives and draw up a social media strategy which you should use as a roadmap for all your social media activities. Make sure to review and revise your strategy regularly to make sure that you’re on track and if you need to change and modify anything along the way.

4. Social media doesn’t guarantee success.

Being on Facebook or Twitter isn’t a guarantee that people will automatically like or follow your company or brand. You have to give them something to like. Focus on having a great product or service first followed by great customer service. The rest will follow.

5. Social media doesn’t work overnight.

It takes a lot of time and effort to build and grow an online community. And contrary to popular belief, social media isn’t free and you’ll have to pay up for Facebook ads, promoted posts and Google ads if you want to gain more traction from social media.

6. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

I’ve had clients that want to be on every social media platform as possible just because they can. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. Always go where your audience is and spend most of your time and effort building your community on the platforms they use. There’s no point in having a Google+ account if none of your fans use it.

7. Listen, monitor and observe.

Social media is a great listening tool and is one of the best ways to gauge what your followers like and what content they respond to the most by engaging them in conversations, paying attention to data and analytics and their likes and comments. Once you’ve gotten a pretty good idea of what your fans like, keep giving it to them!

8. Don’t delete it.

Your first instinct is to probably delete a negative post about your brand or company on Facebook. Don’t do it! This can open a floodgate of more negative comments and can quickly spiral into a crisis. The best solution is to address the issue and the person who left the post as quickly as possible. This not only makes your company more transparent, it’s also an opportunity to turn a critic into a brand advocate.

9. Be quick on your feet.

Whether it’s responding to a question or comment or adapting to the latest change in social media, you have to be able to move and act quickly. Social media is a moving target so always be flexible, responsive and quick on your feet if you want to stay on top of the game.

Is there anything I missed? What do you think businesses should keep in mind before using social media?

William Ruzvidzo is a Social Media Strategist and Content Manager at 88 Creative. Find him on Twitter @william_ruz and at williamruz.com .

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