While social media can be a great tool for promoting your company and building an enthusiastic client base, it’s important to have a strategy that gets results—and to avoid creating a social media mire. These simple dos and don’ts will point you in the right direction.
DO See What’s Being Said About You Online
Potential employers and clients use the Internet for research and information. You should do the same. Have people posted online reviews of your company? Have you been tagged in photos? It’s smart to do personal research to see what is being said online and who is saying it.
The simplest way to do this is to search your name and company on Google. Once you’ve done that, set up a Google Alert (www.google.com/alerts) to track new information as it appears. Parameters make it easy to determine what type of materials you want to receive (news items, blog posts, etc.) and how often you want to receive them.
DO Create an Online Presence
Giving your audience an easy way to learn more about you goes a long way toward helping build relationships—and it doesn’t have to be difficult. Creating a Facebook page is much simpler than developing a full-fledged website. You can create a Twitter account—and instantly start posting—without having a website.
DO Set Social Media Goals
Setting realistic and attainable goals can help you monitor your efforts and understand what is working and what isn’t. You can then adapt your strategy from there. Your next step could be as simple as determining how often you will post per week or setting a goal for numbers of new followers. HootSuite, Klout, Twitalyzer and other sites can provide data and comparative analysis to give you a sense of how your posts are resonating. The key here is using analytics to understand how you’re doing and what to do next.
DON’T Just Broadcast—Have a Conversation
It’s good to let people know what you’re doing, but don’t turn updates into a daily play-by-play. Limit your Facebook updates to two or three a day. More than that and you risk motivating people to “unlike” you.
Make sure you talk to your audience, responding to their comments and questions. If you’re on Twitter, remember to use hashtags to take part in bigger discussions. Sometimes the most dynamic interactions come about when you post a topic and let people start talking. What are some easy conversation starters? Highlight a current fitness story or trend and ask for opinions. Pose simple quiz questions (e.g., “What are your favorite fitness practices?” “What was your last guilty food item?”). Sometimes the simplest questions can generate fun and engaging conversations among your followers.
DON’T Take a Cookie-Cutter Approach
It’s wise to have your social media sites connected so that one status update reaches everyone, but don’t become an online robot. Whenever possible and/or appropriate, make slight changes or customize your messages based on the format and who is reading. In her 2011 IDEA World Fitness Convention presentation, “Social Media—Fit Biz Boot Camp," social media expert Chalene Johnson recommended taking time once a week to brainstorm and schedule the following week’s posts. That ensures that you have a series of posts laid out that are unique and informative. You can then use a program like Hootsuite to schedule tweets or Ping.fm to access all of your social media profiles.
DON’T Be Afraid of Negative Comments or Customer Complaints
Social media is a showcase for your knowledge, experience and customer service. It is a community, however, which means not everyone is going to like or agree with you. Don’t shy away from questions or comments that may not be completely positive. Instead, look at them as an opportunity to share valuable information, correct misinformation, promote strong messages and turn the situation into a plus. Many companies have built goodwill because they handled a negative situation in a prompt, honest, open way—you should do the same.