As much as we all wish there was that “magic bullet” formula that guaranteed foolproof social media success, the truth is a lot of it comes down to trial and error (and a good dose of commitment).
Still, you can learn a lot by watching the traits and habits of successful social media marketers. You may not find a one-size-fits all strategy, but you will find certain principles that virtually every successful social media marketer follows.
These aren’t tips or tricks, but basic principles to abide by if you want to increase your chances of success:
#1 A Good First Impression
Your window to impress on social media is very small, so try and make the most of it every single time. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want to be shared far and wide.
Present yourself or your company as a friendly, knowledgeable expert who wants to help.
And don’t forget the impression social media ads make — in many cases they will be the very first impression people have of your brand. Make it count.
Honesty is always best when you’re conducting any kind of business, and social media is no different.
Obviously, you shouldn’t outright lie on social media, but you should also be careful not to be misleading about your intentions or purpose when you interact with other people in your industry, including competitors.
Take this tweet from American Airlines. Whoever was monitoring their social media surely wasn’t paying attention at all. It was an automated response to a genuine issue.
Successful social media marketers have respect for their followers, respect for competitors and potential clients, and respect for the platforms.
All social media platforms have their own rules of etiquette, which you should be familiarize yourself with and follow.
Most etiquette boils down to being respectful to people, not posting images without permission, and not spamming people ever.
In addition to etiquette, there are platform rules you have to respect or risk having your page shut down.
Most of these things are bad for business anyway, such as posting pornography or hate speech, but it may also include harmless-seeming tactics like following as many people as you can on Twitter to get attention.
This is considered “aggressive following” and Twitter monitors how aggressively users follow other accounts.
So while technically your account is able to follow up to 1,000 people a day, it’s not a good idea to mass follow anywhere near that number of people in a day.
This Upscale furniture company Habitat incurs the wrath of Twitter users for piggy-backing on popular topics to send spam.
The consequences of not showing respect on social media can be huge for a business. You can be flagged as a spammer, lose social media accounts, and, worst of all, it can seriously tarnish your reputation.
#4 Be in the Present
Social media is an extremely fast-moving form of media — the topics that are hot one minute will be stale the next, sometimes within 24 hours.
You probably post a lot of less time-sensitive topics, such as evergreen advice, but it’s still important to keep things fresh by showing that you’re there, and you’re real, in the present.
One way to be in the present is to simply interact with followers in real time. You can schedule a Q&A, for example, once a week for 30 minutes. During that time, you’ll commit to answering questions from followers in real time.
John Lee Dumas of EOFIRE.com is a great example of that. He is constantly replying and engaging with his followers on all social media accounts.
Another way is to acknowledge the world around you. That doesn’t mean you have to post commentary about current events (in fact, it’s better if you don’t), but if something tragic is occupying the news and social media, you should refrain from posting jokes and lighthearted posts (this may mean halting your queue). Otherwise, you look oblivious.
An easy way to be in the present is to make seasonal posts. Summer-related posts in the summer, Halloween-related posts in October, etc.
#5 Be Relevant
People follow you because they have an interest in something you offer. A fast way to lose their follow is to post a lot of stuff that has no relevance to that interest.
Everything you post, whether it’s a blog, and article, a joke, or a meme, should be related to your business.
If you sell furniture, make furniture jokes. Post interior design articles. Pass on things like “You Won’t Believe What These Child Stars Look Like Today!” It’s irrelevant.
#6 Be Positive
One of the biggest turnoffs, unless you’re watching a celebrity Twitter beef play out, is negativity. Your business social media platforms are not the place to complain about your day, your kids, or current events. Keep it on-topic, and keep it positive.
This doesn’t mean you can’t be critical here and there. People don’t want to scroll through posts of you complaining, but they may stop and read if you post something like “The Biggest Design Mistake You’re Probably Making.”
It has a thread of negativity in the title, but ultimately, readers know you’re here to help them fix their mistakes.
#7 Share Other’s Content
Sometimes people are so focused on creating and posting their own content that they forget to share.
Sharing other’s content is the backbone of social media. You depend on it for your own social media success. Don’t be a taker and not a giver — look through your feed and pick a couple of relevant posts you think your followers will enjoy.
You should be sharing others’ posts every day, and not just to be polite. Sharing also increases the chances that your content will be shared, simply because people appreciate having their content shared and are more likely to see if you’ve posted anything they want to share.
#8 Keep Your Focus
Make a plan, and stick to it. It can be easy to be distracted by trends and social media fads, but they may not help you, especially if it leads you you gaining followers on false pretense.
You do need to be flexible on social media, but always remember to keep focused and relevant at all times.
#9 Be Transparent
Trust is important in all areas of business, and social media is no different. Don’t do things like pretend your page is not a business page or make connections by acting like you’re not working.
Basically, everyone you interact with should be completely aware that your page represents your business, and that when you interact with them, it’s as a business entity that is interested in their business.
That doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly and casual. In fact, you should be those things. But you’re there to market.
If you do it right, people will want to interact with you (because you have an awesome product or service) knowing that you’re not there to be their new best friend.
#10 Share Your Success
When you do well in social media, it’s good form to share your success by sharing relevant content from up-and-comers.
First of all, it’s gracious and shows that you’re not all about yourself. Second, the up-and-comers will be excited to get the free push, and they’ll tell other people about you.
It’s a win-win situation where everyone gets some bonus publicity and brand recognition.
#11 Set Priorities
Decide on the things you most want to accomplish with your social media strategy, and make them a priority.
If you want to increase sales for the month by 10%, concentrate on creating content that will steer people into making a purchase.
If you want to make valuable industry connections, concentrate on content of value to industry professionals.
Most of all, don’t make social media itself the priority of your life. As important as it is, you need to let it run on autopilot at least sometimes while you spend time in the real world with family and friends. The internet will understand.
Success on social media isn’t easy, but with commitment and sticking to the most essential principles, it’s within the reach of your business.
Do you have any essential principles you live by on social media? Share them in the comments!
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