snapshot of social media posts

There are many social media ‘experts’ out there – and I’m certainly not one of them. I’m just a regular guy who started using twitter a while back, who branched over to several platforms with personal and brand accounts. More importantly, I’ve built relationships that have led to discussions (and some have led to sales). If you aren’t sure of how social media can help your marketing efforts, let me share what I’ve found that works.

I try hard to respond to others’ posts. If they ask a question and I don’t know the answer, I’ll tag a person in a reply that would know the answer – even if they’re a competitor. If I do solve a simple problem, the person who asked is more likely to contact me when they have a bigger issue. As well, others can see that I’m helpful and they also may ask me to help them with their problem. I respond to any posts mentioning me pretty quickly. I don’t think ‘within a few hours’ is too much to ask. Scott Stratten calls BS on the people who infrequently check. He compares it to a cocktail party setting: “imagine having a conversation with someone where that person takes an hour to reply to you, face to face. “Hey, how’s business?” and they blankly stare off for an hour, then reply “Good thanks!” That’s how it feels.

I set reminders to check my accounts fairly often so people get accustomed to seeing me.  I’ll also act on any recent posts that had engagement (this can be done with notifications, but when you get active, these happen often enough to be distracting).

I recommend keeping the brand account’s voice the same as my own, to keep the tone consistent no matter which account I am writing for. After all, company accounts are run by people. I get asked if personal accounts should be used for brand messages. I wouldn’t have them do brand messages too often, but they make sense when mixed in with things a team member is posting about his or herself. While we all have interesting things going on in our personal lives, prospective bosses/clients won’t care that we just brought a new goldfish home. Keep the ‘signal-to-noise’ ratio low.

My brand’s account follows competitors accounts, and will sometimes exchange posts with each other. This seems counter-intuitive, but it’s a good way to acknowledge others who share my passion for what our brand does. It’s also a good way to get found.

When someone follows me, I almost always follow them back and I send a direct message that thanks them and says something regarding their profile. I may point out that we’re in the same town, know the same users or refer to a recent post of theirs. Our brains are wired to better remember those people who acknowledged our existence or our environment.

don't be a social prairie dog

Don’t be a social prairie dog

You can use a scheduling tool, but it should only be to sprinkle your feed with the odd static image or link back to your site – yes, these are the type of posts you can sponsor in a social ad. These posts should not represent more than 50% of your activity. They should be there to complement the real-time posts which are talking to or replying with your followers.

If you see social media primarily as a vehicle for promotion, you’ll typically login to a network, post your promotional piece, and walk away. After all, everybody *else* on those networks is online waiting with bated breath for your message, right? Truth is, you, me and everyone else wants to be heard, but we should also want to listen and even engage in conversation. It’s not okay to pop out & immediately pop back into a hole like a Prairie Dog.

The last piece of advice I have is to be yourself. No one can keep up an act forever and there’s no point trying to make your online persona different from you. In most businesses, people end up meeting you offline. If you’ve embellished what you can do when online, you’re bound to give yourself away sooner or later. Rather than pretending to be anyone else, from your very first post you should simply say what comes naturally.

image credit: Flickr @badlandsnationalpark

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