From top global brands to local businesses many are jumping into social media by opening accounts. Opening a social media account is easy, staying active (be social) is the hard, yet very important part. Inactive social accounts are like inviting your fiends to a party, but then not talking to them.
How can you be active?
Be prepared. That is the advice from Imperial College of London’s Employee Social Media Guidelines. Before opening a social media account and inviting people, have some content ready for the first few days/weeks (tweets, posts, events, notifications etc.) Imperial suggests the information be interesting, relevant and useful, but not always all three. Then the college raises an important question that too many of us forget, “Do you have adequate time to dedicate to this?” Social media is an active conversation with your audience. You must be prepared to be social and spend the time doing it.
Brandginuity advises some simple ways to stay active even if you don’t want to invest the time to write a blog. You can search and filter news from the vast Internet and share what is relevant to your consumers in your field. Glean information of interest from: 1. Online news alerts. 2. Forums, other blogs and relevant message boards. 3. Content from your every day life (observations). 4. Reposts of great past content. 5. Ideas sparked by other posts. 6. Tidbits and history from your industry. There is value in filtering through content and presenting what you feel will be of interest to your target audience.
ClickZ offers further advice for building an active social media community. They say the key is giving your followers value and that value can take many forms. Start by learning what your customers like and then giving it to them. It can be videos, PDFs, photos, infographics, etc. Ask yourself, What’s in it for them? But simply answering questions, being consistent, and saying thank you can have a huge impact. Here are ClickZ’s top 5 suggestions: 1. Be transparent. 2. Be consistent. 3. Don’t blatantly sell. 4. Appreciate contributions. 5. Say thank you. Common sense, when you think about it from the perspective of being social in a personal context.
Where should you be active?
Deciding where to be active can be just as important as being active. It also can help you optimize your efforts. First let’s look at how top brands are using social platforms. The International Business Times reports that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube remain the most popular platforms globally and point out that Pinterest is more popular than Instagram. Vine, though very new platform, has also seen a lot of activity.
Search Engine Watch looks specifically at Fortune 500 companies and reports results from a new study to see how they are using (or not using) social media. Among these top performing organizations 77% have active Twitter accounts, 70% are on Facebook, 69% have a YouTube channel, 35% have Google+ pages, and 34% have active corporate blogs. Good to know, but the bottom line here is to do some individual research on your target consumer and find out where they are most active. Be active where they are active.
Still, Nigel Hollis from Millard Brown makes an excellent point to close off our topic, “Unless you have a clear rationale for why your brand should be active in social media, perhaps it would be better off not wasting time and resources on doing so.” That’s right. Don’t bother opening an account if you aren’t prepared to be active, but also don’t open an account if you are not sure how it fits into your business and marketing strategy. Too often too many of us treat social media as a separate project and not part of a coherent strategy. How does your social media fit with and leverage your traditional marketing efforts? If you don’t immediately know the answer, you need to go back and revaluate those efforts.
Before you throw a social media party, make sure the effort is strategic, integrated, and plan on being active.