Now that social media is definitely not going away any time soon, all businesses (not just large consumer brands) must start to engage with it.

But before you become a statistic of social media failure you might want to think about the 8 business rules for social media.

  1. Engage – don’t just post stuff mindlessly, actually start and engage in conversations. Get to know your audience and build a relationship with them.
  2. Have a plan – understand who you’re talking to, what they’re interested in, when and how they engage, what they currently think of your business/brand and offer content that fits within those parameters.  You can then create an editorial calendar of sorts (and that makes it much easier when you’re facing the blank white page on the computer screen).
  3. Ignore the plan at your own peril – a large well-known airline experience a campaign failure of epic proportions in 2011 when they thought it would be fun to run a cheap and cheerful twitter campaign (after grounding their entire fleet that left thousands of travellers in the lurch). Not unsurprisingly, anyone who was on twitter vented loudly and frequently and the vitriol spread like wildfire. In fact, it’s probably one of the most successful hashtags in twitter history. It just didn’t work the way the airline intended.
  4. Understand the expectations that go along with the technology. Think of social media as a business opportunity to provide some real time customer service. If someone complains something’s gone wrong, they expect that you’re going to get back to them reasonably quickly – today, preferably in the next few minutes – not next week or next month, when you remember to check your twitter feed. Likewise, if someone says something nice – be gracious. If you can’t engage daily, outsource your social media to someone who can.
  5. If things turn bad – as said airline found out – there is no off switch. There are ways to tame the wrath of an angry mob, but the response must be swift, heartfelt and come from the top (not the marketing juniors) – just like any other crisis management response.
  6. Use tools that will help you manage your social media so you don’t miss anything that’s critical to your success. Sure you can have stuff sent to your inbox, but if your inbox is anything like most business owners, that’s the last thing you need. Instead set up one of the myriad of tools like hootsuite, tweetdeck, tweetypop, that will help you manage your social media in one place.
  7. Be real. Don’t just put up stuff that just flogs your business wares. Likewise, don’t just burble on about ‘serious business stuff’. Be interesting and have a personality.
  8. Respond to people who engage with you. Social media is a conversation. If all you’re doing is babbling on about yourself, people will think you’re a bore. Take a breath, listen to someone else and then show them you’ve listened. On social media, just like everywhere else, people like people who are interested in them. And most importantly, they’re interested in their favourite question What’s in it for me?

Still not convinced about your business taking part in social media? You’ll want to watch this 4 minute video.


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