By @TheMarkDalton

Social media is growing more influential every month and now more brands are jumping on board to try and see if they can find success. If you are not using some form of social media platform in 2016 to engage with new potential customers you are basically leaving money on the table. 

Brands who are new to social media need to tread carefully. Social media users are now more savvy than they were a few years ago and what brands got away with in the past doesn’t work so well anymore. There are a lot of things that can go wrong, while social media can be a fantastic tool for business it can also be a tool which could sink your business and damage your brand if you are not careful. If you are doing any of the following then you need to look at your strategy and adjust.

 

Stop acting like a robot.

You may be running a business social media profile, but that doesn’t mean you need to talk to people like you are a robot. No matter what platform you are using, social media is designed for “social” communication. When people reach out to companies and brands on social media it is done so in a candid, authentic manner. It is a laid back and relaxed forum to engage people on.

So when you send some boring generic reply, the same one that you send time and time over again. Or even worse you have an auto-responder message in place so that when people do reach out they get a fast reply which you think buys you some time to think – just remember, that is not what people want when they reach out to you.

Engage with customers as if they are friends. Keep is casual, use a bit of humour if and where it is appropriate and most of all, treat them like an actual person. People buy from people.

Don’t buy followers or fans.

This can be tempting for brands who are only now joining up to social media. You look around at other accounts and there are hundreds, even millions of followers on there. Keep in mind, they have been around a lot longer than you have, you are the new kid on the block and you need time to grow your online audience – organically!

You may see services offering to get you thousands of fans or followers for a small investment out of your pocket, don’t fall for it. No only are these followers fake accounts, but other genuine users and customers can see right through it. If your follower numbers quickly sky rocket into the thousands overnight then we all know what has been going on.

Take your time, encourage, curate, create and engage with people online and I promise your audience will grow over time. It will take longer than buying them but at least you will know that all your followers are real, 100% genuine people and a community which you grew organically. If you want to reach out to more users quickly then invest in advertising on Facebook or Twitter instead of trying to buy them from a third party vendor.

Respond to negative feedback.

None of us like negative feedback. However, feedback is feedback and it won’t always be positive. For a lot of businesses and brands, the first instinct they have is to run away, hide or delete negative feedback from their profiles before too many people see it.

Don’t run away and certainly do not delete negative comments and feedback. If you shut down on your side of the conversation then all that happens is you become known as ‘that brand who can’t handle criticism and deletes comments they don’t like to read.’ Trust me, you don’t want this reputation. Always let customers know that you hear them and you value what they have to say, even if what they have to say hurts when you read it.

Address negative comments quickly and fairly. If you do this then you can survive with your brand reputation intact and people will know that you are not going to run and hide from them. Remember, it is not about you. Social media is a two way street.

Don’t spam other blogs or websites.

Commenting on other blogs or websites for the sole purpose of getting your own brand out there means you are a ‘spammer’ and there is not much that can get a worse online reputation than that. Nobody likes spam and people who spam will do more damage to their brand than good.

If you think your content is relevant and you provide value when you comment on other websites or blogs then that is absolutely what you should do. If people like the value that your provide then they will go and look you up themselves to find more content from you.

Don’t go out there and try push your content on anyone you can find. The internet will eat you alive.

Keep things businesslike on your business profiles.

There are a few people I have seen guilty of this one. If you create your social media profile and build it around your brand then you need to remember to keep things businesslike on that profile. People have followed your brand, not you. They want it to be casual and laid back with brands, but they don’t want it to be overly personal.

If you want to get personal on social media then you really need to create a separate personal profile where you are free to post whatever the hell you like. People typically use social platforms to air grievances, document personal opinions on topical issues, share political views and so on. Brands should not approach social media in the same way.

If you are a tech Twitter account and you share content related to technology and it is branded as a technology Twitter account then that is what I follow you for. I don’t follow this account for your personal opinion on topical issues, I don’t follow for your political views, I don’t follow to hear your grievances. I followed you because you branded the account as a technology news account and I am expecting relevant content to that brand.

Now some people may say that its their account and they are free to do whatever they want and post whatever they want. You can indeed do that, but it is counter productive to your brand because what happens is you post personal opinions or about political issues, then when a really good piece of content gets pushed out I will have zero value for it and there is a high chance I am just going to ignore it, why? Because the message you are sending is conflicting the brand of the account.

Keep them separate, if you have a branded account and you have been posting personal content or opinion to it which is not relevant to the brand then I would strongly suggest you stop doing that, get a personal account and use that account instead. Keep content on your accounts centred around being relevant to the brand.

Final thoughts.

Keep it casual, real and authentic but remember where the line is. Keep it businesslike. Stay on the ball, don’t leave your social media platform unattended. You need to devote time and energy on social media, it has to become just another facet of your business. It needs to become part of your working day.

You can easily set up a business and grow it without social media, but if you do that in 2016 you are leaving money on the table. Don’t shout about yourself and spam others, engage, talk and connect. If you create value then your followers and fans will grow over time.

The biggest pay off on social media strategies come with an element of risk so don’t worry if you feel out of your comfort zone, it could pay off for you big time down the line. However, by a similar token, using social media in the wrong way can cause severe damage to your brand.

Remember, don’t be a robot!

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