We’re living in a social media economy. Companies that don’t have an online presence will disappear into the business woodwork. While most companies are starting to realize this, not all of them know what to do and what not to do. Here are six rules that apply to businesses of all sizes, from giant corporations to lone entrepreneurs.
You don’t want to give away your company secrets. Don’t post any information on social media that you wouldn’t want your biggest competitors to have – because they’re watching. This is just as true for your personal information; your business’s followers don’t need to know your home address, your birthday, etc.
Don’t mix business with personal.
Unless there’s a direct link to your products or services, limit your opinions on controversial subjects to your personal accounts. Even subtle comments that reflect your personal views are likely to alienate about half of the people who read them. And just as it’s easy to build relationships through social media, it’s also easy to sever them simply by clicking “unfollow”.
According to socialmediatoday, some of the biggest social media blunders occur when people think they’re on their personal account but are actually on their business account. A good way to avoid mixing things up is to log out of your business account after every post, but you should still check the account before you start typing.
Content is king, but…
Amidst all of the advice about the importance of content, it’s tempting to use the shotgun approach, posting about anything you think people may be interested in. But people follow your business because they’re interested in your business. For instance, if your business is restoring classic cars, people follow you because they see you as an expert in the field. They know that you’re going to provide information about a topic that interests them. They don’t come to you for advice about the newest smartphone technology, so don’t waste their time (and yours) posting about it.
In addition to being relevant, content should also be yours. Not only is plagiarizing someone else’s content illegal, it undermines your credibility and erodes your customers’ trust. Once that’s gone, it’s hard to earn it back.
It’s all about relationships.
Content may be what draws people to your site, but the relationship is what keeps them there. Don’t make the mistake of overtly trying to sell to your followers. This is a tough one for a lot of business people, and it’s where social media experts like Yodle.com can really help. They can help you establish your expertise and trustworthiness so that customers who are interested in what you sell will naturally come to you when it’s time to buy.
Grow a thick skin.
Eventually, somebody is going to post something negative about your business. When that happens, focus on rebuilding the relationship rather than on convincing the customer they’re wrong. Simply put – don’t argue; fix it!
A social media presence is no longer an “extra” for businesses; it’s expected. Your business’s followers may live all over the globe, but they expect the same personal relationship as if they lived down the street. In a way, it harkens back to the days of the corner grocery, when the owner knew each of his customers by name. Be that mom-and-pop grocer: demonstrate your expertise, establish your trustworthiness, build relationships, and don’t offend your customers.
Outsource your social media engagement.
While outsourcing can offer your business a real solution resource-wise, it’s not always ideal. When you outsource repetitive tasks, that’s fine; but if you are hoping to build a relationship and win consumers by updating your social media profiles with the help of an assistant, you are daydreaming.
You shouldn’t outsource relationship building. Hiring an agency is fine, but engaging consumers is YOUR job simply because you have the know-how in what your consumers really want and need.
About the Author: Amber Davis researches marketing strategies. She often blogs about her insights into web marketing using social media and websites.
Photo credit: Pete Simon