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5 Rules Of Engagement For Social Media In Business

Every business owner knows that social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are powerful tools for creating customer communities; however it is worth remembering that when using social media for your business, the aims and agenda are very different compared to your personal accounts. You need to consider your policies of interaction and your brand values before relying on social media as a tool.

With more than 56% of online adults in the UK using two or more social media platforms, these channels represent a valuable SEO/online marketing opportunity, as well as a chance to net a customer base that follows your brand. For driving a high number of people to your website and brand it is an inroad that should not be ignored. Social media allows people to share, like, link, and talk about your brand with their own communities.

What’s more, feedback from your social media communities can give you real insight from your customers that can help in areas such as:

  • Research and Development
  • Marketing Focus
  • Gauging Success
  • Consumer Demographic
  • Brand Values

From a consumer’s point of view, to have a company on a personal social media feed is a big deal, as for many, social media is an exclusive club of friends.

If a person chooses to align with a brand on social media for regular updates then it follows they have a genuine interest in what that brand is up to, engaging with them and will be happy to be seen as a brand advocate by their own friends and family.

However, over the past few years many companies have hit the headlines for making mistakes on social media. These have included simple errors made when employees posted something to their company account instead of their personal account in error, as well as more serious lapses in judgement involving ill-advised hashtags, offensive jokes or errors made due to a lack of research. In today’s online world an ill-judged tweet can go viral within minutes so it pays to be wary with your updates and to have an official policy in place for your company that includes the following guidelines.

5 Golden Rules for successful social media marketing

1. A friendly voice

Be personable and friendly. Social media has arguably been long misunderstood by companies. It’s OK to talk to your customers’ one on one and have a chat – imagine it’s like a chat over a coffee – except everyone in the café is unashamedly listening to your conversation. Good social media practice says that you should say who you are with a sign off, if you are an administrator acting under a brand logo. If a customer has said who they are – you should not hide behind anonymity. Acknowledge actions that are positive for your brand because this is a) polite and b) draws attention to the action – for instance, say ‘thank you’ for a retweet or comment. Be clear, try not to use jargon and phrases that may confuse or isolate any customer reading the comment.

2. Manners make the company

If someone complains, address the complaint politely and professionally. The way that you manage complaints can define your values and attitude toward the paying customer. You can turn a complaint into a great opportunity to show how your brand cares, behaves and responds to people’s concerns. Similarly, great social media ‘fails’ can occur when a company replies to a customer complaint with similar aggression, or even tries to make an ill-advised joke. Remember that every time you reply, everyone else is looking- so always consider how your updates could come across to others.

3. U Certificate is sensible – PG if you must!

Avoid anything that could offend your customers – being edgy can be great but if you rely on bad language, questionable or graphic imagery it may isolate and outrage people. Whoever has access to your company’s social media accounts is acting as the voice of your brand, so make sure that the rules of engagement are clearly defined and understood by all relevant staff.

4. Double check

Check that you have the permission for images you use. Check all spelling and grammar by writing the comment into a Word document prior to uploading, if you are unsure, so you can use the Spell Checker. When you have a large audience you’ll find people will leap on typos in copy, if they find them.

5. Exclusivity for your followers

If someone is following your social media accounts, they will probably want exclusive content, which can be a promotion or offer or insight. Social media can be a great place to keep your customers updated on your latest company news, and to share relevant content with them. If you have a blog or news section on your website, make sure you share each new post on your social media accounts. Not only will your customers likely enjoy reading it, you also get a boost of traffic as they visit your site.

The clue to social media is in the word – ‘social’– meaning friendly, inclusive, chatty. It’s simply a way of finding out things and communicating.

Social media platforms should not be used as replacements for an old fashioned advertising space. If you try and broadcast the offering in capital letters and sales pitches with every entry you may find this switches some of your followers off. Whilst social media can be a great platform for sales chatter and discounts, by being too aggressive in salesmanship, customers may be less inclined to follow and return to your community, so you need to temper it. When you go to a friend to see what they have to say or what they are up to you don’t expect them to enter into a sales pitch to extract money out of you in the first introduction.

Give insight, make your followers laugh, think, feel empowered – seed positive emotions and this will be good social media in practice. Social media is about inviting people into your space and giving them an enjoyable experience.  For more advice or for support with your social media account, contact the team at Varn today.

This blog was originally published in May 2014, and then updated in March 2017.