To me the biggest issue we are seeing these days with Facebook and other social networking sites are companies trying to subtly and awkwardly break into this consumer powered and dominated space. There is nothing worse then seeing a brand start up a Facebook page only to flog off their sales, discounts, product/features and benefits to you on an hourly basis. Do they honestly think this is going to work? Social networks are NOT the medium for this. If you are doing this, you are setting yourself up to fail, get blocked or even get ridiculed by groups of pissed off consumers.
Companies need to let go of their ego’s and understand that they are losing a lot of power out there, and that using a traditional mass market approach in a consumer generated space such as Facebook will never work. There is an art to this, and I believe it can be summarized into a few key areas:
1. Engage your audience. Provide relevant and interesting information to your followers. No one cares how long your company has been around for, how many staff you have or the quality of the awards you have won. Consumers want information they can consume, use and share to their networks. It must be advantageous to them or they will simply just ‘unsubscribe’.
2. Be constant but not annoying. You must ensure you are being kept front of mind however there is fine line between this and being all up in someone’s feed to much of the time. You must find a happy medium. Try and post when it is relevant and at the times your target audience will be online to get the best results.
3. Represent your brand in an appropriate way. If you are a fashion brand it therefore wouldn’t be appropriate to allow your social media manager to post about how much she is looking forward to her next holiday. Engage internal social media rules of engagement to ensure your brand is portrayed in a consistent way through networks. An inconsistent brand message can fast lead to a lack of trust among consumers.
4. Give more than you receive. Social media is a two-way street. Don’t just chuck up a post every day and wait for people to like it or comment on it. You need to be an active player in this space to get anywhere. Comment on other people’s statuses, share posts. The ‘like’ button should be your best friend. Use it to acknowledge other people’s updates.
5. Avoid directing selling anything. Some people will disagree with me on this one but I don’t believe social media is a space to advertise products and services. Build up a following and increase your brand awareness yes but avoid getting people to jump on your website to buy, or call you for a ‘free trial’. That is what your website is for. If you are doing everything right, people will end up on your website anyway so avoid the hard sell approach.
If you follow these simple tips you will be on your way to avoiding embarrassing yourself on social media. Finally, keep in mind that the most active users on social networks are those under the age of 30. Be ‘cool’. Long winded posts with perfect grammar and citations screams old, boring businessman. If this doesn’t come naturally to you, then hire someone that gets it and can relate to this demographic for you. They will be worth their weight in gold.
But that’s just my view… what are your thoughts on this?