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How NOT to Ruin Social Media for Your Brand:

10 Must-Know Tips to Create Your Wildly Successful Social Media Strategy
  • Be an socially relevant community member
  • Win friends, influence people and DON’T make enemies
  • Build your brand and establish your voice
  • Avoid the #1 BIG MISTAKE that can instantly take you down
  • Sell strategies that fit the social media philosophy

    Read on.

    Social media is experiencing exponential growth and it seems that everyone, from managers, executives, CEOs to companies, have a social media presence. You might be wondering if it’s time your company developed a social media presence and what it should look like.

    How do you know if social media is for your company? Your competitors like it that you have no social media presence; it’s no problem for them. How would you like to have your marketing space all to yourself? Or without the presence of your arch competitor? You would love it, right? The first thing to realize is that your competitors are perfectly happy that you do not have a social media presence. They are happy to take up your social media space. They are happy to dominate you on Face book and Twitter. If you are not there, this means more possibilities for them.

    The rules of the road in social media are revealing themselves. You’ll want to know what’s working well for companies so let’s find out what we know already about what’s working and what is not working. First impressions can turn people off forever so let’s find out how to make a good lasting impression. And, yes, in case you are wondering, you will make more sales. However, the path to get there will be different from what you might be used to.

    Social media is not your space; it is the people’s space: You are just invited to the party. For now. So the first rule of social media is that it’s not all about business. In fact, keeping the party idea in mind, if you think of social media as a party you can apply the rules of etiquette to your social media presence and you can’t go wrong. You would not show up to a party dressed in flashing lights with a “hurry, big sale happening right now, buy me” sign on your head, now would you? Of course not and just like a party, you don’t just crash onto the scene. You respect the venue, the mood, the other guests . . . or you can get thrown out.

    Win friends and influence people but do not make enemies: Social media is a place to chill, that is, people go there to connect, find out what’s happening, and enjoy finding out the inside scoop on their friends as well as to find out about great deals from the companies they follow. People are relying on others to keep them posted on “what they should know.” There is so much information coming “at us” these days that people just can’t keep up individually, but as a group and as a whole they can. So imagine a network of people who share all the good stuff they know, have a few laughs, and warn people about bad deals, bad service, and bad companies. Now, the last few words should really get your attention. Bad companies. A bad company, in the eyes of the social media community, is one that uses the social media forum as a method of e-mail spam. If you think of your customers or clients as a dollar sign, you will fail at social media. The thing about social media is if you make the community angry, it doesn’t have to take it. It can remove itself from your group; it can decide it doesn’t like you. The key is to get into the mindset that one doesn’t talk at social media; one can only talk with them;  otherwise you get uninvited to the social media party.

    Be a good community member: Social media’s relaxed environment gives you the platform to reveal many facets of your company over time. It’s about who you are as a business. It’s time to get involved with causes or concerns that make a difference in the lives of people and in the world, and do something about it. When you do something about it, you get to share your actions with your community. Whereas in advertising you have 30 seconds to get your message across, in social media you have a lot more time.

    You can’t change the world but you sure can try: It’s about living your mission in motion. Your company’s mission statement that’s etched on a plaque on the wall is given the chance to come alive, get out into the world, and take some action. Choose your passions as they naturally align with your product offerings. Why not? If you sell workout gear and sneakers, why not get more involved in the experience of those without sneakers, without access to exercise, and who would welcome your product or service into their lives. Your social media community will love this. Plus, you get to share all about what you are doing to help without a lot of grandiosity. You are doing it because it needs to be done. You can share something like this later with your social media community: “our ‘GET FIT; HAVE FUN’ bus took 20 needy teens to Amusement Park today, they all got a new pair of sneakers, loved the look on Jimmy’s face when he saw his brand new pair, he was all lit up, had so much fun, we all did!!!”

    Yes, of course, you can have a marketing strategy in plan: But the way you sell is very different from traditional marketing and advertising. Social media is a different forum and the flashy, “buy-me” marketing does not work and actually looks more like an intrusive billboard that ruins the view. If your community gets the message that the only reason you are on social media is to make a sale, they will rebel and not buy from you. If you are a contributing member of the community and you follow the unwritten rules, you can include a sales and marketing strategy; you can create meaningful and sincere special offers for your communities and you can include a call to action. No one wants to see silly stuff like “hurry, only two days left” messaging in flashing neon light. They want to see “come on in this Saturday as we have a terrific selection of fun, new outdoor party accessories from the ultimate in margarita glasses to a live, in store, cooking demo on how to make five star BBQ sauce so you can get the perfect burger from a celebrity chef.”

    You are only a visitor here: The culture of social media is more like that of an engaged community. Members are there to help others. They share their lives, interests, and time. They don’t want anything from anyone else except to get to know them, reveal their own personalities, and see what’s happening. Social media is entertainment and fun. But now, with social media being viewed by many who seek profit and profit only, it is being over-run with the old-fashioned marketing strategy of in your face tactics. But the community does not have to listen to or engage with you. In fact, they can make fun of you and LOL to your misguidance. They can make a mental note to boycott your products and services.

    Build a social media team that “gets it”: Hiring the right people to create and expand your social media presence is essential to your success. Hire someone who gets the voice of your target market, who knows how they think and speak. Your teams should study some typical customers to get to know who they are in their social media space. Before you know it, you will know your customer or clients better than ever. Not only will you be posting news and events in a voice they intuitively understand but you will get to know what makes your market tick. What happens from here? A better connection with your client can lead to better marketing strategies and new product and offering ideas.

    If you engage in social media, sales will come: Of course. The more you engage others and are just one of the gang without pretense or hunting for your next sale, the more your community and those who are a part of it will get to know the heart behind your company. As we know, one of the fundamental premises of business success is that people will do business with those they know, love, and trust, so why not you? Will they think of you as a “their space” spammer or as a valued and respectful member of the social media community that they have grown to know, love, and trust?

    The more your customers get to know you and like you, the more your business will grow. Think of social media as a group of friends and not just your target market. Now, that idea alone makes for a very good starting point!

About the Author(s)

Annie Jennings, national Internet marketing and social media expert, is the founder of the national firm Annie Jennings PR, a strategic marketing and publicity firm that offers publicity, social media creation and integration, and social media optimization. For more information, visit: www.anniejenningspr.com or contact: Annie@AnnieJenningsPR.com.