How to be Social: Best Practices for Getting Started with Social Media

Good work! You have listened to the myriad of voices telling you that you must implement social media as a part of your business strategy. You’ve signed up for Facebook. You’ve dusted off your LinkedIn profile. You’ve even created a Twitter account. Now what? Well, it’s time to start being social.

Here is a short list of social media best practices to help you to start building your social media savvy.

Things you SHOULD do

Build your community
Connect with people who already know and love you. Start by adding, following and connecting with your personal friends, family, colleagues and existing clients. Make your interactions with your closest contacts meaningful and they will spread the good word to their closest circle. Suddenly your “reach” or “circle of influence” has the potential to expand, greatly.

Search for what’s going on locally
Use  the three letter airport code of most major cities (i.e. #YEG is short for Edmonton). Make sure that when you talk about goods and services you’re offering, you include the city hash-tag in your message so people know where to find you. With the recent popularity of the buy local movements, you should definitely use local to your advantage.

Be interested in your community
Listen (and respond) twice as much as you talk. No one likes to be stuck in a room with a person that only talks about themselves. When it comes to social media, the same is true. One of the quickest ways to engage your community is to become involved in what they’re doing. Ask questions. Say good morning. Respond to tweets and posts. Get to know your community as people first, clients second.

Be strategic about what you post about your business
The point of all this socializing is, after all, to be at the forefront of people’s minds when they need your services. But tread lightly! There is a very fine line between delivering relevant information and what is considered the social media equivalent of spam. As a general rule, people like to know about sales, promotional offers, giveaways, industry-related events and articles; but these types of messages should never comprise the bulk of your social media interaction.

Things you SHOULD NEVER do

Don’t forget your manners or basic grammar
There’s no reason to feel you need a PR department to approve everything you post or Tweet, but you should take care to make sure your tone is respectful and your spelling is correct. Text speak such as: LOL, U R, Y, and L8R does not position you as an industry leader, or professional. The same goes for swearing. It’s best to refrain. As far as content is concerned, a good rule of thumb is, if it would make your Grandma blush, you probably shouldn’t post it. Bottom line, be mindful of the words you speak!

Don’t ignore people
If someone has taken the time to talk to you, it is imperative that you respond back. Even if it is something as small as a smiley face or a simple thank you, these interactions count for a lot. You may have times when someone contacts you out of frustration or anger; even then – especially then – make sure you respond in a timely and professional manner. Customer complaints are an opportunity like none other. Quick and polite responses will earn you customer loyalty.

Follow back, add or connect with everyone that follows you
Unless you’re Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga (and we’re guessing since you’re reading this blog, you aren’t), having millions of miscellaneous connections will not serve you well. The more followers you have, the more work you have to do in filtering out the good from the bad. Not to mention that your timeline will be updating almost constantly, making it impossible to really see what your community is talking about. We think social media is powerful because of the quality of connections, not the quantity. Let go of the idea that you need thousands of followers.

So, are you ready to go forth and socialize?

Does entering the social media realm seem a little less scary and overwhelming now? We hope so! If you’d like to connect, or you have a specific question that hasn’t been covered here, let our Social Media Strategist know. You can comment below, find us on Facebook, tweet, or earn extra geek points and connect with us on G+.