Keeping the “Social” in Social Media.
Social media has revolutionized the way that businesses and organizations interact with the world. When properly used, sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram provide tools for unprecedented growth of your audiences. And as varied as the options are, so, too, are the opinions of those who utilize them. Ideally, management of your social media outlets would be entrusted to public relations professionals who know how to maximize your messaging, your marketing plan and your strategy. But for the do-it-yourselfers, here are a few very basic guidelines and bits of social media etiquette that may prove helpful on two most widely used social media sites, Facebook and Twitter.
1. Choose your messengers wisely.
There was a time when the role of social media content management was tasked to interns or new hires. But savvy organizations have learned that content sharing and on-the-job training don’t mix. The most appropriate people to handle your social media content are articulate, seasoned individuals who are well versed in all aspects of your organization and, more importantly, savvy enough to know what not to post. Your content managers represent the voice of your organization, and should be skilled in the art of social media messaging. The selection of these individuals is critical toward your organization’s success and reputation. It only takes one misguided post to cause extensive, even irreparable, damage.
2. “I” and “me” vs “us” and “we.”
All posts to a business’ or organization’s social media channels should always be presented in the unified voice of “us” or “we.” In many cases, this is applicable even if you are a sole proprietorship. Even though you conduct your business as an individual, you do so with the support of a team of professionals, business relationships and even customer input to help shape your brand. The bottom line is that the messages you share are representative not only you, but also of those your organization serves, as they are an integral part of your overall success. People want to feel like they share a bond, that they’re part of a tribe—in this case, your tribe. It’s up to your content manager to create that sense of belonging. As the saying goes, “There is no ‘I’ in Team.”
3. Spelling and grammar matter.
One of the quickest ways for your organization to lose credibility is by posting messaging with improper spelling. Never, ever allow anyone to post to your social media channels if he or she doesn’t know the difference between their, there and they’re, its and it’s, and your and you’re. Literacy, and a good command of basic grammar, are critical. Collectively, they are part of an overall image of excellence. Demand it.
4. Be nice.
Keep your messages positive and upbeat. It is never a good idea to speak poorly of your competition, as it creates a perception of insecurity and doubt as to your own offerings. Instead, celebrate your organization’s capabilities, its strengths and its merits. You want to provide feel-good, uplifting messaging to retain and grow your audiences.
5. It’s not all about you.
This is Advertising 101. Your target audiences want to know, “What’s in it for me?” Take an objective look at your last ten posts. Do they scream, “It’s all about me/us?” Or do they share the successes and interesting or inspiring stories about others? If more than five of your last ten posts and/or photos are all about you, it’s time to shift your perspective from “Me” to “You.” Invite others to share and enhance your journey instead of watching your lonely “me” universe from an outside perspective.
6. Be authentic.
Today’s audiences are more in tune than ever with those with whom they interact. They can spot inauthenticity and self-serving behavior in a heartbeat. People are naturally drawn to those they feel they can trust as credible and authentic. Remain true to your ideals and don’t be afraid to show vulnerability and flaws on occasion. It will make your organization more endearing and approachable.
7. Keep the “social” in social media.
If you’re just pushing out ads and facts about your organization, you’re missing out on the biggest opportunities that social media offers. People want to see people they know. They want to connect with other people, with ideas, with authentic individuals and organizations. They want to read stories that inspire them. You can provide that opportunity by presenting interesting behind the scenes looks at your operations, spotlights of your employees, members or customers. Post pictures and stories that celebrate their involvement within your organization or the community. Show how your product or service has made a difference. With permission, share client testimonials. Show a sense of humor by sharing lighthearted anecdotes and interesting trivia and tidbits about or relative to your products or services. All of these offerings help build builds a greater sense of connectedness.
8. Invite interaction.
Social media paves the way for participatory experiences. People want to interact in meaningful ways that allow them to share their thoughts, their insights and their intelligence. Ask your social media audiences for opinions about issues relevant to your offerings. Create fill-in-the-blank questions that invite creative responses. Invite your readers to share some of their favorite experiences with your organization, its people and your product or services. Keep it simple. Keep it fun. Keep the conversations going.
9. If you mess up, ’fess up.
Let’s face it, mistakes happen. How an organization responds to mistakes can lead to one of two results: epic failures or shining successes. If you make a mistake own it, apologize for it and tell your audiences how you plan to address it. Assure them that you are doing what needs to be done to make it right. Then deliver on those promises. Depending on the severity of the transgression, consider bringing in a public relations expert to help address the manner with the expertise of a pro to help you address it and rise above it.
10. Administrative privileges.
Assignment of access to your social media channels could be the single most important decisions you make relative to your social media management. Sites like Facebook offer varied page role settings, including administrator, editor, moderator, advertiser and analyst, with a description of each role described in the page’s settings. While those designated editors can add and modify content, only those entrusted with administrative capabilities can add or remove others’ administrative privileges. As such, this level of trust should be granted sparingly. One disgruntled content manager can wreak havoc on your social media channels by “hijacking” your page, removing other administrators and taking control of your content, adding, modifying or even completely deleting your page. Minimize the risk by limiting top-level access.
So there you have them. Ten recommendations to maximize your social media effectiveness. Have other tips or tricks? Opinions that differ from those shared here? Feel free to provide your thoughts and recommendations.
© Kim Bergeron for Right Brain Diaries. All rights reserved.