So, in my first proper post, I thought I’d write about how I think Small and Medium Businesses can use social media successfully by keeping to just four rules.
1. Show some personality
The Pareto rule is theoretically important in business – you’ll hear the phrase “80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers” and “20% of your sales come from 80% of your products” a lot.
So, keep to this rule to ensure you don’t annoy your followers with menial information, but keep it interesting enough to encourage interaction.
Keep your tweets at 80% business, 20% personal
Personal doesn’t just mean talking about yourself, but effecting human emotion and interaction by giving people a special view into your company. This could mean tweeting photos of the office or of staff enjoying themselves, to wishing employees happy birthday – let your followers feel closer to your business and the lifeline of your business.
On the flip side, business doesn’t just mean promoting marketing material or talking technical. It might mean talking about your industry and sharing interesting insights, interacting with thought leaders or influencers in your target audience, and thinking about the more human parts of your business.
Don’t tweet about your new product, tweet about what it means for customers, then upload a photo of your staff hard at it!
2. Who are you?
If you’re in the US, you’ll know that every Zappos employee wants to be your friend. Mailchimp is personified as a funny, cheeky chimp. To be successful, your company needs to have a voice.
Find a voice and stick to it
What do you stand for? Are you cheeky, quirky and fun? Or eloquent and informational, with a hint of wit? Your voice should not just be about your Twitter or Facebook feed, it should translate down to your customer service departments and more.
For a great example at the thought that can should be spent on developing your voice, look at Mailchimp’s voice and tone guide.
3. Who is listening?
Social media isn’t a broadcast tool. On the surface, you might think it’s for talking, and letting people reply. But at it’s soul, it’s about listening and learning.
Think about follower personas
You can find plenty of information on how to create personas for content marketing – you can easily follow the same steps for social media personas. It all boils down to who your followers are, what they want to talk about, what they’re saying, and why are they following you.
You will get followers who are just gagging for a discount code or competition (see my fourth and final rule) – personally, I think you should avoid this sort of follower base. Of course, everyone likes a bargain, but regularly giving away discounts and free stuff will reduce your revenue eventually, trust me.
Some followers will be interested in you AND popular – these are your valuable influencers. Interact, promote, get them on your side. Others will be super engaged, but not that popular – they are still valuable, as they are most likely to be able to help shape your company and provide much needed feedback.
Once you’ve determined your follower personas, think about the sort of content, engagement and interaction they would like. Influencers would like cross promotion or ego-boosting, the engaged will want indepth insight into your business, and middle of the roaders will want a mix of everything.
4. Don’t cheap out!
It’s easy to be guided by vanity metrics such as follower count and Likes. But running competitions, announcing discount codes and shamelessly encouraging RTs will only prove messsy.
Be true to your company, brand, voice and followers
It’s so tempting to hold a Twitter competition, or ask Facebook users to Like the page to get a discount code to bump up your vanity metrics. But don’t do it! Stop yourself!
Your followers won’t just want discounts. They want to find out more about the business and it’s personality. Your company voice probably doesn’t do “cheap” very well. Finally, your company revenues might not like them either.
Remember that social media is just that – you don’t go to the pub or bar and make announcements to a quiet room, or give everyone free drinks. Take some time to think about what you are doing in the pub: listen, talk, crack a joke – have fun.