There’s a cool infographic that was shared on a blog about the 36 rules of social media. While I agree with most of them, I went through and picked what I felt was the top ten, and included some case studies (surprise!) for examples.
1. People care about what you had for breakfast – if you’re a food brand
Stick to what you know, and what people expect from you. Creating posts that are unrelated to your brand do not drive engagement.
2. Social Media doesn’t live in a vacuum. Make traditional media and social work together.
Integrated campaigns are the best for driving engagement and increasing frequency. For an example, many TV shows now have hashtags on the screen during the show, and have the actors live tweet while the show is airing. Most people use at least two screens now when enjoying their entertainment (for example, watching a movie on a TV, and going on IMDB to learn more about an actor on a tablet at the same time), so this way it keeps watchers interacting with the show while watching it. One example of this is the A&E show Longmire, which has a small hashtag #Longmire in the bottom right of the screen, and has star Lou Diamond Phillips live tweeting before and while the show is airing, to keep people involved and to make them feel a part of the show’s community.
3. Embrace negative content about your brand.
Using negative feedback from your site can help you improve your brand. Using social media as a listening tool of your consumers can help you discover what works and what doesn’t. Not everything that a consumer complains about can be useful, but if you’re seeing significant patterns for a particular product or service, then it’s a safe bet that something isn’t working. This information can be invaluable, and should be seen as user generated research.
4. The consumer is out for himself, not for you.
The main reason that a user will follow a brand on social media, is that they want to keep on top of what’s going on with the brand in case it benefits them, and they want to take advantage of any opportunity that might be offered. I’ve recently been flying back and forth to Regina for an industry-related course, and I’ve started following WestJet’s Twitter page. I started doing this because the fog has been so bad the last couple of days in BC that there has been warnings of flight delays. WestJet has been posting about the delays and cancellations on their Twitter page with the link of affected areas. This way I don’t have to check the website and search for my particular flight number to see what’s happening. Would I have followed them otherwise? Probably not. Will I stop following them after my course is over? No, because I found their posts to have value for me, therefore they might be useful in the future.
5. It’s an organism, not a process.
Social media is a living, breathing thing. There is no real way to know in the end to what might work and what might not. There are a lot of guidelines and rules that can be followed to help be successful, but social media requires constant optimizing to make sure you’re providing the right content for your brand. There is no simple five step plan and there is no controlled environment.
6. Think past vanity metrics like followers.
While the amount of followers you have is helpful, it’s useless if none of them are engaging with your brand. It’s best practice to use analytics such as Facebook insights to see how many people you’ve reached, which posts gained the most engagement, who’s talking about you, etc.
7. Contests and sweepstakes are fine, if you want to encourage short relationships.
There are a lot of contests out there that ask users to “like our Facebook page for a chance to win”. This can drive up your number of followers by quite a bit, but the amount of users that actually stick around after the contest is over is fairly small. This leads us back to #4. The user cares about themselves first, and what value they can get. If you don’t have engaging content to keep them around, the more users you will lose after the contest is over.
8. Solve problems for people who talk about you, even if they don’t address you.
Using programs such as Radian6 can allow you to see who’s talking about your brand, even if they don’t actually tag you in their posts. Another, cheaper way of doing this is to type your brand’s name into Twitter search. You may find a whole world that lies outside your Twitter @handle. Find out what these people are saying, and try to help if needed. They will appreciate that even though they didn’t direct their comments at you, you still went over and above to try and solve their situation.
9. It’s okay to drive people to your site instead of Facebook’s.
Creating Facebook promoted posts are great for getting a high reach and frequency targeted at a specific audience. However, they default back to your Facebook page (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). Including a link in the actual post can increase the amount of people you drive to your site. And with Facebook analytics, you can find out how many people actually clicked the link back to your site after seeing the post.
10. Have a crisis plan.
This can happen to anyone, no matter how careful you are, and you have to be ready to take action right away. One client that we have had run display ads on a community newspaper website. The newspaper had decided to run a very controversial letter from a reader, and our client’s ad showed up next to the letter. Within minutes the client had received numerous posts on both Twitter and Facebook, slamming them for supporting the newspaper group. Our client and my company had to act fast to pull the ads and reassure the social media community that we do not share the views of what was written in the letter, and answered all posts as soon as they came in. This proves that no matter how careful you are, crises can always happen, and if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.