With active users nearing 700 million on Facebook, exceeding 300 million on Google+, and hitting 200 million on Twitter at the start of 2013, there’s no denying that social media use is only trending in one direction.
• Marketers who spent 6 hours a week or more using social media and engaging/sharing content on it saw 52% more leads than those who did not.1
• Companies that use Twitter average double the amount of leads per month than those that do not.2
• Both B2C & B2B companies are acquiring customers through Facebook and more than 1/3 of of them say Facebook is critical or important to their business.3
With such a huge percentage of daily time consumption being accounted for on social networking sites, it would be ignorant for businesses not to use these platforms to catch up with their target audiences. Social media marketing provides a direct link to followers of a brand and prospective customers, but is not inherently a business-transaction medium. Social networking sites still need to be used in the way their name implies: for interacting with others in order to build relationships and form communities.
Businesses often have unique settings for their pages on these platforms, but they are expected to use social media in a similar fashion to everyone else - not that everyone else necessarily fully understands social media use best practices. So, what can businesses learn from the operation norms that everyone using SNSs is expected to adhere to?
• Do create a presence by posting regular updates on what’s happening in your biz. Don’t disappear for huge stretches of time – your followers might just forget about you completely.
• Do be a little racy, sometimes. Work consciously to build your brand’s personality in line with your company values, and then let it loose on the Internet.
• Do share a variety of content. Use the various features of social media sites: post pictures and videos, share interesting links, and find out what others have to say about them.
• Do be knowledgeable and up-to-date about the political climate surrounding your industry. Be a thought-leader in changes taking place in your field.
• Do be friendly and open. Make friends with friends-of-friends. Encourage others to interact with you by interacting with them first.
• Don’t be a show-off. Like proud parents over-saturating the cute factor with an overwhelming number of tot-posts, businesses need to mind how much they self-promote their own babies.
• Don’t turn off potentials by making extreme statements about where you stand personally on a topic – unless that’s your business model.
• Don’t ignore people who take the time to interact with you. Work with whatever feedback you can get, respond to it, and build relationships based off mutual understanding.
• Don’t assume everyone is on your level. Be sensitive to the varying perspectives of visitors to your page. Explain your reasoning, cite your sources, and tailor your rhetoric to the individuals you interact with.
• Don’t be repetitive. Give continuity to your brand’s voice by keeping threads of content alive, but don’t annoy your audience with the same tune over and over and over again.
Just like everyone else, businesses need to make sure they stay abreast of their social media etiquette. Use social networking sites the way they were made to be used and your business will butterfly. Break the rules too often and you’ll be shunned to the corner of the Internet cafeteria to chew on your ideas alone.
1SOCIAL MEDIA EXAMINER, 2011 Social Media Marketing Report
2HUBSPOT, STATE OF INBOUND MARKETING REPORT, 2010
3HUBSPOT, STATE OF INBOUND MARKETING REPORT 2011