3 Golden Business Rules for Social Media Engagement
If you’re doing social media for your business, there’s nothing better than to do it right. Many companies partake in this “shiny toy syndrome” and do it all without a plan or strategy in place. Worse, many don’t really understand what to do once they start. They hear about tools, put forth a miserable effort, and are either too busy or just lazy.
With social media, an abundance of resources are at your fingertips. However, without a successful plan and any adequate preparation, your social media efforts will fail. Here are three dos and don’ts you should think about before you move forward.
Don’t self promote.
Okay, so this should be obvious, but there are so many businesses that don’t get it. On a particular forum I am active on (yes, I still use them!), I noticed someone asking for advice. A response came from a business owner who had the perfect answer on her website and directed the original poster to the website for a detailed reply. Sadly, this person’s post was pulled by the strict moderators on that forum; the post was purely self-promotional and nothing but. When I reviewed the poster’s account, I understood why. I noticed that she had done the same thing on other discussions on the same forum over a period of several months and all of them were pulled!
Want to self promote? You can! Just do it while giving back to the community as well. Engage in dialogue. Participate and offer genuine feedback. If you’re only on the forum to tell other people to visit your website or to use your product, you won’t go far. Maybe the moderators of the forum you visit won’t care, but the incessant messages eventually annoy your followers and they’ll unfollow you, report/bury your submissions, or find another place to congregate that doesn’t include your spam.
Do engage during business hours, especially if that’s your job!
Many of you who have hired me know that some of my best work may not come between 9 AM and 6 PM. I reply to emails around the clock like a robot. If I’m managing your Twitter account, you might find a response from me at 11 PM on a Saturday night or 2 AM on a Tuesday. But that doesn’t mean I go silent during business hours, and neither should you. While I respect that most of the world isn’t on the same schedule as I am and that most of the world is tweeting when they’re on the clock and won’t go the extra mile because it’s “just a job,” I do have the expectation that you should respond to your customers during business hours, and preferably within a reasonable amount of time (1-2 business days, but closer to one when using a social media channel). Don’t make your social media efforts half-assed. Don’t check in on Twitter and Facebook once or twice a week and only for 10 minutes.
I understand that some people may have other responsibilities on top of social media. That’s why this is more of a message for large and not necessarily small brands. Not long ago, I tweeted praise to a business and followed up with them about something else via email. Neither the tweet or the follow up direct message was responded to in a timely fashion. This is a well known brand, but yet they’re not building up their social media presence despite prominently advertising it on their website. Their Twitter account has less than 500 followers but they’re not engaging enough. The Facebook page could be totally overrun by bandits and they’d never know because they aren’t paying that much attention.
If you’re going to engage in social media, do it! Just do it head first, not with one foot.
Do study your influencers
Want to reach out to influencers? Yeah, most of us do. We want to get the people of a certain level of authority to talk about us. It can be potentially huge for everyone involved.
Thing is, some people don’t really reach out correctly to influencers. They don’t read 20 blog posts and comments. They don’t follow guidelines on contact form policies on what will be covered and what won’t be. Influencer outreach may possibly be the most powerful outreach tactic that PR practitioners or marketers are laziest about. This turns bloggers sour, thinking that everyone in public relations or blogger outreach is just a spammer.
I can tell a zillion stories about off topic pitches, but other posts have already told some of those tales. But before you gloss over this bullet point and say “it won’t happen to me,” guess what — it probably already did. In a recent campaign, I was reached by a social media agency about a topic that was totally irrelevant to my audience and would never be something I’d blog about. Some people get that. Meanwhile, this agency contracted one of the biggest social media rockstars in the space, a guy who has a stellar social media record. Yet he’s also the reason why I was on this agency’s distribution list using an email address I don’t publicize. If this rockstar knew better, he’d have used my contact form and read my coverage policy (short answer: I won’t cover anything you send to me). He’d also have done the outreach personally since I’ve met the guy at social media events. Instead, he passed on my email address without regard for it being a private email, and the agency sent me a clear newsletter blast with fancy fonts and the whole nine yards — with no regard for who I am and what I write about.
It’s time consuming to look at which bloggers to target, read posts, and then write a personal message to the blogger along with the actual pitch. However, if you want really good coverage, you’ll do it. Study your influencers out; don’t take the lazy path because you can. Nobody passes a difficult exam with little to no preparation (unless they’re really smart!)
This may be nothing more than a refresher course in the Captain Obvious department but even the savviest of companies is still missing the boat. When it comes to social media, social should always be carefully weighted before the marketing is put forth. In social media, it may be more important to market slowly and the right way or not at all. It’s not always about numbers and it’s not about sporadic participation. It’s about building relationships, spending time on the networks, and having regular conversations with the people you want to connect with who you will value for more than just helping move the needle and getting to the bottom line. All of that will come — but it comes more effectively once you put forth true effort into connecting with the people who matter.
Photos by Shutterstock.