1. Remember these platforms are called social media. Your tweets, your posts, your comments, etc. should not all be about you. Be generous with your re-tweets and re-posts. Flagrant ego-thumping and blatant sales pitches may get you attention; but it will not be the kind of attention you want.
2. Understand what the various social media platforms are designed to do – and what they cannot do effectively. Twitter and Facebook, for example, were not designed for business-to-business sales or lead generation. If you expect that from them, and build your social media marketing strategy around that assumption, you are going to be seriously disappointed, no matter how many “likes” and “follows” you have. LinkedIn was designed as a business medium; but it still functions best as an electronic networking and company billboard site. Not many people get business directly off LinkedIn. But using its tools can definitely provide you and your company with credibility and exposure.
3. Define what you mean by social media success. Too often the definition of success is provided by people trying to sell you how to get more likes, connects, or follows. Among the slightly more sophisticated, the numbers game focuses on the trajectory of gaining likes, connects, and follows. But while large numbers of followers may be good for the ego, they don’t necessarily translate into sales. And the press for “engagement” may or may not produce any noticeable ROI. Ask any salesman: A conversation is not the same thing as a purchase order. But these are excellent media for building brand awareness, testing key messages, and getting customer and prospect feedback. Just what is it you are expecting to get from the time and energy you invest in social media? And are those expectations realistic?
4. Learn each platform’s etiquette. For example, you don’t spam your LinkedIn connections with unasked-for sales pieces or tweet only your own materials and articles. These things are noticeable, annoying, and cause you more harm than good.
5. Don’t believe everyone who says he’s an “expert” on social media. Most aren’t. Take the time to learn the platforms, what they can and cannot do, and how you can use them best to your advantage. Then make your own determinations on what works. Not all platforms are useful for all products, companies, and industries. One size does not fit all.
6. Don’t waste everyone’s time. If you don’t have something to say, don’t tweet, post, or blog just to fulfill a supposed SEO imperative. Fewer tweets and posts of value will get you more attention – and the right kind of attention – than an unending string of words just for the sake of having words.
7. Use your grammar and spell checks. Posts, tweets, and blogs filled with grammatical and spelling errors do not enhance your credibility. Basic literacy does matter.
There is no inherent mystery to working on social media or on making social media a useful element of your marketing tactics. Don’t let the consultants, pundits, and academics make it seem harder – or easier – than it is. Just as with any other marketing tool, it takes time and energy to learn how to use it best. Then it takes time and energy to consistently implement what you’ve learned. But there is no reason you can’t do it, and do it well.