By @TheMarkDalton

Social media has become a part of business. If you are running a business with absolutely no social media at all then you are missing a big gateway. You don’t have to be on every platform of course but you should have some form of presence somewhere.

We use social media to build brand awareness, drive content, sell products and generally build our digital footprint. It is an essential tool of any business in the modern era. However, many companies are still struggling to get the most out of their efforts online. Social Media Examiner’s 2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report revealed some interesting data.

– 92% of marketers don’t know which social media management tactics are most effective
– 90% of marketers don’t know the best way to connect with customers
– 86% of marketers don’t know how to use social media to find their target audience

Social media is a minefield, you try some things and they work. You try something else and it is a disaster, then you start feeling lost and wondering what route to take next.

So lets break it down into quite simply what you should do and what you shouldn’t do when it comes to managing social media.

Do

1) Implement a strategy

The worst thing you can do is jump in without any planning and think people are just going to respond to your brand because you finally decided to join in with the rest of us. Before you publish your first post or send your first tweet you need to sit down and think about what you want to achieve.

Do you want to sell more product? Do you want to build your brand? Do you want to connect with customers? How are you going to measure growth? What are your growth targets? What style are you going to adopt? How are you going to respond to people online?

Every business will have different goals and different objectives. These are all questions that you should be thinking about and working out answers to. If you go in blind you will get lost very quick so define your objectives that will have an impact in your business.

Do you think all this content I put out is getting pushed out with one eye closed? Of course not, there is a strategy in place to cover all of the distribution channels I use from Instagram to Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook. Each one is different and there is a different strategy to reach people on each platform.

2) Use the right platform for your business

Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Peach, Anchor, Reddit, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, Periscope….there are a lot of different platforms to take advantage of now. They key is finding the right one which works for you based on the strategy you have set out above.

The worse kind of marketers will try to put you in as many places as possible which makes zero sense. You don’t need to be everywhere online. I am on every single one of these platforms above because this is what I do, however you need to be focusing on what platforms you are good at.

So lets say you are pushing out a lot of written content, then you need to be executing hard on Twitter and Facebook. You want to expand to a bit of video but nothing too extreme? Time to check out Facebook Live, Snapchat, Instagram or Periscope. Want to go hardcore on video content? You need to be on YouTube.

Different platforms will work for you in different ways. You won’t be a God on every platform you sign up to. So lets say you have been crushing it on Twitter, you have a big follower base and you are networking with lots of businesses. You expand into Snapchat, doesn’t mean you are going to be a good practitioner at Snapchat.

Just because you were doing well on Twitter won’t mean that it translates to a different platform. Think about what is the right platform for your business. If you are a gym or a fitness trainer then you definitely want to be on Instagram.

3) Use the right tools

There are a variety of tools I use to stay on top of the game and if you are serious about social media for business then you need to be using them too. Keeping up without help is an impossible task for us mere mortals and don’t be fooled by people who claim you are less authentic for using social media tools – that is nonsense.

Here is what I use for Mark Dalton Media:

– Buffer/Hootsuite: Whichever one you prefer for scheduling and planning. I flip between the two so much, right now I am rocking Buffer.
– Canva: Awesome tool used to create visuals for content promoted on social channels
– Tweetdeck: Mainly used for social listening and monitoring
– Dashboard: A Twitter tool also used for scheduling and deep analytics. It allows us to schedule links with a GIF

You don’t need to get a big bunch of different services, just enough to cover what you want to do but you definitely can’t do it alone.

4) Create content every day

Content is the living breathing element of you social media strategy. Constantly creating new content is a challenge but it is key to success. How people build confidence and faith in your business and in your brand is through content. You can establish yourself as an authority figure in your industry and you can elevate yourself above competitors with great content consistently.

5) Experiment

This is a hard one for people in business to get their heads around. Social media is a risky game and if you take the safe route all the time you will always be that little bit behind. I’m by no means telling you to take risks all over the place at every opportunity but you do need to think about taking a risky bet if something comes along and your gut tells you it could be big.

Look, not long ago I was judging Snapchat and the social media managers I knew at the time using it. How is this going to be good for business? Oh how wrong I turned out to be. Right now, lots of you are judging Instagram stories and being bitter about how they ripped off Snapchat.

My reaction when I first saw Instagram stories? ‘Oh they completely ripped off Snapchat! Now, how can I use this to sell my content and services online…’

If you take a risk which pays off and works then the return can be huge.

Don’t

1) Delete negative comments

The worst thing you can do is delete negative comments. Negative comments allow you to show your customer service skills in the public domain so don’t look at them as a bad thing. Look at it as an opportunity to show people how awesome you business is and how you look after customers.

Deleting negative comments or reviews about your business just puts you in a bad light and even if you delete a negative review it is still there. Either in a screengrab on someones computer or in a cached web page. Respond, react and deal with the situation.

2) Be a robot

When you reach out to a brand and you get a boring generic reply which is not authentic and is clearly scripted you just think – why bother? Scripted responses are boring, be authentic, be genuine, be an actual human being. If you want some guidance on this then just look at how Buffer replies to people on Twitter.

They use GIFs, they use emoji and they tweet like an actual person with emotion would. Social media is meant to be social! Nobody wants to talk to robots online, especially not your customers or followers.

3) Neglect your followers

People are taking time to reach out and reply to you or your content. Worst thing you can do is ignore them. It looks bad, it looks unprofessional and honestly what is the point of being on social media at all if you are just going to neglect the social part of it?

Talk to customers, engage with them, interact with them and have a bit of fun or banter with them. It goes a long way on leaving a lasting impression which could be what brings them back for more in the future.

4) Worry about the wrong data

This is a big problem at the moment, way too many of us are worried about the wrong data. Impressions for example, is a nice metric to look at because the number can get pretty high. Sadly it doesn’t really mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things.

What I’m really interested in is the engagement, the click through rate and ultimately the sales or the conversion to a reader or a visitor to the website. Getting bogged down in impressions too much is not a good thing, of course you can use them for guidance but try not to obsess over them. If there is one thing you should look at when viewing impressions it is simple a guidance tool to see how exposed your brand is to eyeballs.

Now you need to get those impressions converting.

5) Try to play too safe

Back to this point again because I feel that it can’t be emphasised enough. Again, I am not telling you to take a risk at every turn but playing too safe and wanting to feel within a comfort zone is never going to be the best strategy. At some point you are going to need to take a gamble on something if you want the pay off. Easy for me to say when I am running my own thing right? I don’t have to answer to someone if the gamble goes wrong apart from myself. I get it, but the gamble can pay off big time.

When I started posting content to Snapchat that was a gamble, I jumped on around the same time that a bunch of other influencers and publishers also started jumping on board. It was kind of weird in a way, within two weeks a large number of bloggers, brands and influencers that I was familiar with all went in.

That was a gamble because I didn’t know how I was going to work it, I didn’t know if it was going to be a success, I was apprehensive of putting myself out there through video for fear of being judged. I could have played it safe and not bothered with Snapchat but I felt there could be something there for me.

The return has been there because I took the chance on it, traffic to the site has gone up, there is higher engagement, genuine feedback and a friendlier sense of community than other platforms. If you want to constantly play within your comfort zone all the time you will be eaten up at some point.

Plan properly and take control

Planning your social media properly will allow you to take control and will allow you to meet objectives and goals that have been set out. It also gives you a clear idea of where you want to go online and what you want to achieve. Plan, then jump in and execute your strategy.


Mark is the founder and CEO of Mark Dalton Media and helps businesses with their content and digital strategies. Follow him on Instagram or Twitter for more.