How to ace the basics of social media

1. Engage, don’t broadcast

One of the most important things that we find many brands forget about when they set up social media accounts is that the key to social media lies in its name – being social.

While many businesses understand this, we know that social media can sometimes seem a bit of a minefield for others. The trick is to tackle it as a conversation; you are there not just to promote your brand, your services or your products, but also to talk to your customers, listen to them and be accountable for errors.

Respond to all brand mentions, acknowledge compliments and deal with complaints quickly, as this will make for a better experience for both your customers and your brand.

2. Have a reason to update

The great thing about social media is its popularity with internet users. However, because social media is so popular, there is always a lot of so-called ‘noise’ coming from social sites.

And because so many people are updating at once, it’s all the more important that every update you post has a purpose and reflects your values.

So, while it’s nice to say “Happy Friday” to your fans and followers on a Friday morning, think about what else you can say – how can you start a conversation and engage with the people that love your brand.

3. Spell-check your posts

When it comes to updates, spell-check all posts. Poor spelling, bad grammar and typos can reflect very badly on your brand.

Proof your updates before you publish, if you’re not sure of the spelling of a specific word, have a dictionary to hand, or ask another colleague to read the update and check that post makes sense.

Taking the extra time to ensure that your posts are spelt correctly will save you time and embarrassment later, because you won’t have to delete and then rewrite your updates.

4. Have a clear and recognisable brand voice

Whether you’re a small company or a large corporation, the voice you use on social media must be instantly recognisable, and perhaps most importantly, consistent.

Finding the appropriate voice for your brand is completely up to you; however, there are a few things to consider. Who is updating your social media accounts? One person or a team of people? If you have a team of people updating for you, make sure that they are familiar with the brand’s tone of voice so they can make sure the updates are consistent.

5. Use #hashtags – but check why they’re trending

On sites like Twitter, Instagram and Google+, hashtags are a great way of building visibility for a topic, a brand or an event. As a business, you can create your own hashtags and use them in campaigns, they can help you track how far your updates are travelling, and can be a fun part of any update.

However, hashtags trend for a reason, so if you see a hashtag that looks interesting, investigate it first before using it. If you are seen to jump on a trending topic, then this can reflect very badly on your brand.

One example of this was when the fashion brand Kenneth Cole used the #Egypt hashtag to attempt to advertise their new spring line. More recently, the clothing brand, Celeb Boutique, tweeted the now infamous “#Aurora is trending, clearly about our Kim K inspired #Aurora dress ;)”, when the topic was trending because of a massacre in Aurora during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises.

Social media shouldn’t intimidate or worry businesses, and its many positive aspects should certainly outweigh the risks of negative headlines and faux pas, providing you always have a clear objective, learn from others’ mistakes, listen to and engage your customers, and always, always check why a certain story or hashtag is trending. Then you will truly ace the basics of social media.