Clients frequently ask us how they can use social media effectively. Here’s a few of the more common questions raised. Please do add comments and ideas at the end to expand on this advice. Or if you have more questions you’d like answered let us know and we’ll see what we can do!!
How can I manage Social Media?
Tweeting daily and constantly being ‘connected’ is an effort. Particularly if you’re running a small business at the same time! The key is to use tools which simplify the process, the main two being:
- Social media management systems. These include TweetDeck and Hootsuite, among others, which are free for simple usage (eg. up to 5 networks in Hootsuite). What makes them so useful is two things: 1) you can put a post onto multiple networks at once (this usually doesn’t cause an issue of overloading your users by getting the same message in two places as they tend not to check multiple networks simultaneously) and 2) you can ‘schedule’ your posts. That is you could sit down once a week and write up a number of posts in one go, set to go out daily. Tip: rather than sitting down and expecting creativity to just come try keeping a note of things you might want to share in the coming week.
- SmartPhones (Blackberry, iPhone, Android .. and yes, Nokia’s Windows phones). If you check your email regularly on one of these you have the skills needed. Putting the social media network’s app on your phone will alert you to any comments and whether you need to respond to them. They also give you the opportunity while in a ‘dead moment’ (waiting room, platform, sofa, reading a paper, etc) to send out updates. And the good news it that the scheduling services mentioned above also have apps so you manage your media while waiting for the train.
Another simplifier is automatic posting from your website so that when you add a news item, event or blog post, it feeds through to your social networks. One action, job done. For example: website -> Facebook -> Twitter. The connections between different networks vary so you’ll need to check this out. For example, Twitter is breaking it’s connection with LinkedIn so the Twitter -> LinkedIn feed through won’t work anymore (though LinkedIn -> Twitter will still work).
Alternatively, you don’t. Rather you delegate the task to someone else. You provide a clear brief and guidelines about what (and what not) to post along with a set of passwords. It’s also good to give them some insight into where they can find relevant items (depending on how well they already know your industry area) and to email through good links that you stumble across. Security wise be sure you have a full list of passwords and access just in case. If you do decide to out source, it works well to use a social media management system – then the person only needs the one password, allowing you to keep direct access to the networks secure.
What should I post?
The main rule is to have a clear idea of your brand identity and the expectations of your ‘average’ follower. Only celebrities can get away with posting ‘anything and everything’ (although even then we’re not convinced).
For example, if you are ‘Mary’s Cupcakes’ and the brand is closely associated with Mary then you could use baking related posts as well as news about what Mary is up to. This gives your brand a friendly feel which your customers are likely to engage with.
By contrast if you are ‘Munrow’s Legal Associates’ you’ll probably find your followers don’t want to know that you just had a super-yummy cake or suffered a flat tyre on the cycle into work. That doesn’t mean you need to be completely serious, cartoons about the legal profession or comedic comments alluding to news items can go alongside links to more serious articles. Similarly, while you want to engage with your audience posts like “@Mary congratulations on just winning your #divorce case!” are obviously inappropriate.
Keep coming back to your aims – why are you doing this at all? And use these to keep your posts in check. General aims may be:
- To generate / increase your online profile.
- To maintain your online profile.
- To engage with your clients / customers (and potential ones).
- To direct the above to your website (for sales and / or information dissemination).
But then you may have specific time-limited aims – if launching a new product direct your posts specifically to raise awareness about the product. Though it’s important to not do ‘sales’ all the time. You want to get a balance between providing information and directing people to interesting articles elsewhere, and linking to your own products / website.