If there’s one resource it seems every organization needs to utilize today, it’s social media.
Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn. Pinterest. Whether it’s one of these or any of the other hundreds of networks out there (and there genuinely are hundreds), there’s a range of different benefits any organization can see from using them.
But as with any resource, it’s not always a straightforward process and just as you can benefit from social networks, they can have a negative effect on your organization, too.
So, how can you ensure you only see benefits from social media?
And the very first thing you need to do is be aware that to see benefits, you have to be active.
I’m fully aware that this sounds completely and utterly obvious, but the reason I wanted to mention it is that some believe if they don’t utilize social media, they won’t see any benefits, but they also won’t see any negative repercussions either.
This, unfortunately, isn’t the truth.
Utilising social media is expected by customers. It’s seen as somewhat of a necessity. Therefore, when it’s not delivered, you’re not meeting customer expectations, ultimately having a negative effect on how your brand is perceived as a whole.
Linked in with this point is the need to always carry out activity. In no way should you start and then stop – even if only temporarily – for the simple fact that online activities are always representing your brand.
Therefore, if it looks like you’re only half-heartedly attempting to engage with your customers on social media, what does this say about your organization as a whole?
What else have you tried and seemingly failed at? Do you always only seem to give 50% effort? Don’t you care about your customers on social media?
Now of course, these comments might be completely unjustified in one sense, but they’re very easily the impression your customers could be receiving if you’re inconsistent with your social media activity.
One of the main points to always keep in mind when you’re utilising social media is that they’re social networks. They’re not dedicated sales channels and aren’t marketing tools.
There’s no doubt they can be used for such purposes, but they must always be thought first and foremost as social resources.
You need to engage with your audience, interacting with them regularly. A good rule of thumb is to ensure your activity follows the 80 / 20 rule – 80% of the time you should be providing activity that’s of genuine interest to your target audience and only 20% of the time it should be about your products or services.
Customers don’t want to be sold to. They don’t want products or services forced upon them. They’re much more receptive to the occasional piece of sales-type talk if it’s interspersed with other information that they’re actually going to find generally interesting.
There’s a whole lot of information to take into account when you’re looking to utilize social media, but the simple fact is, you need to consider your customers at all times – keep them in mind and they will provide the right foundations for any activity you carry out.
This post was originally featured on April 16, 2013.