Social media has become very much part and parcel of the business marketing mix, and like any other marketing tool available, you want to be able to derive the best possible value for your business. Donna Palinhos, head of content and community at NATIVE, SA’s largest independent digital marketing agency, provides the do’s and don’ts of social media.
Social media principles that apply to large corporates also apply to SMEs. When getting started, all businesses, no matter their size, need to bear in mind that social media is not a PR tool, it is an experience requiring businesses to create a ‘home’ with unique content about the business.
• Have a social media strategy in place that will effectively promote your brand. Don’t automatically assume your business belongs on Facebook. Perhaps Twitter or MXit would provide a more meaningful conversation with your target audience.
• Develop your company’s brand voice in accordance with its unique brand identity, marketing message and positioning. Social media must look off the cuff but be planned well ahead of time and regularly updated.
• Provide fans and followers with exclusivity to time-sensitive deals, offers, give-aways, events and rewards in creative ways.
• Be conversational and friendly to your audiences to stimulate dialogue and build a sound relationship.
• Measure the worth of your social media strategy. Analyse the activity on your Facebook page or Twitter profile every month – understanding what kind of content resonates best with your audience.
• Never ignore or simply delete queries and complaints. Answer all queries and deal with negative comments quickly and honestly.
• If the situation is difficult to contain within social media, try to take the conversation “offline”. Don’t panic if your brand faces slander, negativity and complaint in your online communities. Have a plan in hand to deal with crisis situations.
• Forego the PR and sales-pitch speak. Ask questions that inspire response. Create thoughtful and engaging conversation with your communities.
• Don’t take content without crediting its source. Make your presentation of content fresh, engaging and shareable.
• Don’t spam fans and followers with a continuous stream of messaging.
• Don’t use the same content on Facebook and Twitter. These are different platforms with different audiences, treat them as such.
• Don’t ignore Facebook rules when it comes to the use of the cover image (not to be used as a promotional space or for competitions). The requirements of the Consumer Protection Act should also be adhered to.
The article first appeared in the TechSmart SME Guide 2012, available to download or read here.