9 Social Media Rules That Will Never Go Out of Style

Kadee Gray / 9th January 2013 / Comment

slow is the way to get things done right

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For the uninitiated, social media can seem complex or even confusing. For many, the technology is still new, the landscape unfamiliar and the perceived risks all too high. However, once you understand how to think about social media, skill will follow. Below are my favorite, timeless rules for social media success.

1. Stop sitting on the side lines. Some businesses are so afraid of their customers and/or damaging their reputation that they avoid social media altogether. However, avoiding issues that disgruntled customers want answers to only gives them more opportunity to talk and vent publicly without you responding. Even if you’re simply offering customer service contact information, people expect you to listen and respond on social media. Just because you’re not there, doesn’t mean they aren’t talking.

2. Listen first. Once you’re in the game, listening first is crucial, but it takes time. To tap into consumer sentiment and find what’s important to your audience, you need to have an ear to the ground at all times. If you simply broadcast without listening, you’re negating the greatest value of social media.

3. Authenticity wins. Even if it’s your company talking, use your own voice and you’ll attract the clientele you want. As Guy Kawasaki put it, “people have great BS detectors”, so take heed and bring a sense of humanity to your online presence.

4. Cut back on promotions. It’s easy for marketers to ignore the social and skip directly to the media part of social media by constantly promoting their own products, links and websites. While the goal is to get people to click on the links, too many promotional messages will turn them off quickly. Consumers will seek out the information they’re looking for once they’ve made a connection with you.

5. Lend a hand to all. Look past the superstars and use your social media platforms to give the everyday man or woman first class customer service, or support … no matter how big their social influence. You may just make a bigger difference to the up and comer than you would to the big timer.

6. Be a student. As I mentioned in the intro, learning best practices for social media (and SEO) is never ending so don’t ever assume you’re an expert, always consider yourself a student. Develop a solid base of knowledge but always remember that that base will transform with each step.

7. Share what you believe is worth sharing. When you find a piece of content that speaks to you, share it. Thoughtful curation (with opinion) is a great way to show off your business intention. Content that speaks to the way you do business will do much more for your online presence than updating for the sake of it can do.

8. Be helpful. If you find someone asking a question that you can help with, answer them … even if it has nothing to do with selling them your product. People will start to see your brand as one that’s willing to help others and will help increase their trust in your brand (à la Miracle on 34th Street).

9. Stop worrying about all the latest tools. The most effective way to learn and understand your social media presence is to do it by hand. Tools will only get you so far. Share quality content, answer questions and find real people with interests similar to yours and you’ll find followers who want to hear your message because they believe in your mission. It may take a bit longer but you’ll be rewarded with a community of real value.

There will never be shortage of tactics and best practices when it comes to social media which, admittedly, can make it hard to get into when you’re new to it. If you remember these simple rules, you’ll find success no matter how you choose to use your online presence.

Here are a few more good reads on how to think about social media:

5 good friends are better than 100 bad ones – The Kimecs
How to really listen to your customers – Entrepreneur Magazine
Facebook: The numbers you should really be reporting – Wheelhouse Search

What rules do you think will stand the test of time?

By Kadee Gray