Social Media: Are You Blindly Following Terrible Rules?
Why do businesses use social networking sites? Should I be using social media for my company? How often should I post? The questions can go on and on for those of you who haven’t dived head-first into the digital marketing land of social media. Since the rise of sites like Friends Reunited and Facebook we all knew that this was going to be a whole new platform for people to communicate through and, as the digital age came upon us, companies saw the potential for business use and promotion in social media.
This is what sparked ideas such as the social network site LinkedIn, the idea of a formal social media platform where you can promote yourself and your company, build up a profile of your work experience and qualifications, to add connections and create a business web where you are potentially only two people away from the person that you are looking for (a potential employer, business partner, etc.); you can even search for job opportunities and business events.
So we are going to run through the main queries that come around when talking about this topic, addressing if the advice people are often given is in fact right. Let’s start with a nice and simple one:
Should I be on all of the social networking sites?
Absolutely not. If you really feel the need to explore them all then go ahead but it is certainly not necessary. You will just find it difficult to manage every site, and then having so many links to put down on posters and emails etc. will just become a pain. Remember it’s more about quality than quantity; you could have many different accounts to try and spread your digital presence further out but having one to three different accounts with more focus for followers and posts is likely to be much more effective.
Should I make all of my posts automatic?
Not unless you want your followers to lose interest. You see, it’s perfectly fine to have some automation such as blog posts, but your followers will begin to notice that the same few posts are going out. Even if you are only automatically sending out new posts you need to add a human element to draw in an audience, something that appeals to people’s eyes because they can feel that there is someone reaching out to them. This definitely cannot be achieved through automated posts.
How can I automate messages whilst still looking relevant to my followers?
You can send out a few automated posts, but you want that human touch, that empathy that will allow you to connect with your audience and is a quality that doesn’t come with automated posts. For example, if you are a retailer getting ready for a summer clothing line, an automated message will likely only have a bland photo with a hyperlink to the website and a tag line such as “Summer is coming, and with it comes our Summer sale. Up to 20% off now in-store”. Something posted by a human should appear more personal such as a photo of a family on holiday wearing summer clothes and having a great time with a simple but heartfelt tag line such as “Are ready to fly off into summer?” and a subtle hyperlink will make followers reminisce about their family holidays and look forward to the next one. This shows the difference between getting a meaningful message out to your followers and keeping it lazy (although that is fine some of the time, particularly if you’re putting out a detailed blog post).
Another way to humanise your company is for the rare occasion when there has been something terrible happening around the world (e.g. 9/11, Paris attacks etc.) and almost everyone is using social media to post messages and prayers to victims. Now, this definitely is NOT an opportunity to promote yourself, but it is a great chance to humanise your company. Do not take any sides but send out something simple such as a “Our hopes and prayers are with the victims of…” or something even simpler with no words which often hits people’s emotions even harder such as photo that is going viral as it is paying respect to the victims (e.g. the Paris attacks in 2015 when there was a beautiful photo of the peace symbol that had the Eiffel tower incorporated into it).
Should I set up an automated direct messages to all of my new followers?
Not to keep on going on about what it means to keep your company human, but no. Followers like to hear that you are thankful for having them follow you as it reinforces their decision, however automated DMs (direct messages) create the complete opposite effect. Automated DMs are considered spam by most followers, they are very inconsiderate and make you look like a beginner at social media. Remember, social media is called social media for a reason, you need to make sure that you are addressing your customers as if you were stood in front of them. People see too many emotionless paragraphs of dullness in their life so reach out to your audience and ensure that you thank them properly.
Will I gain more popularity and exposure by using hashtags?
This is an interesting question and it depends on the size of your company. Although hashtags can be very useful to connect with an audience somewhere out there in the web you must ensure that you use the right ones, otherwise you can come across as looking very unprofessional. Your current followers may also find it irritating seeing hashtags in your posts. There a couple of ways around this, you can either hide your hashtags:
“How to connect with your audience through social media.
This will mean that when people read your post, they will only see the top of it and will have to click ‘See More’ to be able to read the hashtags that you have hidden. The other way to do it is to incorporate the hashtags into your wording:
“How to #connect with your #audience using #social #media”
However, this can make it more difficult to read with the hashtags and the inconsistent colour, and actually will likely become quite a pain and an eyesore, which will drive people away.
So should you use hashtags? I would only recommend them if you are a startup company and really need the exposure, you wouldn’t see Thompson or McDonalds using hashtags. You may also use hashtags if you’re talking about a specific business event or campaign as people can find your tweets and posts, but try to avoid hashtags in your posts otherwise.
The more I publish the better, right?
Nope. Forget about quantity. If you want to impress your followers, post once every 4-5 days. That’s not a rule but you should only be putting out relevant posts – if you are constantly in people’s faces they’re going to cut you off. Everything that gets posted online must be of great quality, otherwise people will assume that you will continue to put out loads of rubbish posts that they aren’t going to read. If you have a personal social media account then you probably understand what I’m saying about that one friend who posts more than anyone else about things that you don’t need to know and don’t want to know, which can get can really, really irritating and you completely lose interest. Bottom line is, if your new posts are always great and you only post 2-4 times a week then people will look forward to hearing what you have to say which builds you some momentum and a following which will really aid your company.
If people start to send negative comments about our company, should I ignore it?
All depends on the size of your company; you should listen to all of your feedback in order to understand where you can improve. Of course there are some people who just love to complain even though if you gave the same service somebody else they would love it, but you still need to keep an eye on what people are saying. People are more likely to take to social media to complain about your company than to praise it, so don’t feel down if it appears that all you ever see are complaints.
We have seen people sending well-structured complaints to big companies such as Sky and, though many people may be complaining online that day about some bad service, they will be going in and communicating with these people instead of ignoring them just like they have with the customers who haven’t explained their bad experience. Doing this will not only humanise your company, it will also show your customers that you care and take full responsibility for your mistakes. You should only try to do this to customers who make a very good case about their experience rather than somebody who just says something blunt like “Sky don’t think about what I want and are crap, never going back to them again”. However, if you are a start-up company then we would highly recommend communicating with any complaints that you find over social media, this will show that you are the real deal and don’t want anyone to feel let down by you, which in turn will create respect for your company, which is much needed to increase sales and growth in your company.
Should I be blocking my employees from using social media?
69% of adults have social media, as the youth grow older, and social media becomes even more relevant, that number is only going to rise. Many companies think that they should block social media on their network so that their employees can’t use it, however if this is done then they will just use mobile data on their smartphones. Blocking social media shows that you don’t trust your employees which can create a negative vibe in the company, and indicates that you don’t have any trust or respect in your staff. So while it’s completely up to you, we think that there is no need for it.
Would an entry-level employee/intern be able to handle the company’s social media?
The majority of people looking for internships are young people (possibly graduates) trying to get their foot-in-the-door experience. Having been brought up in the generation where technology and social media has really surged they may have a lot of knowledge in social media that is of great use, however these are also people who don’t know much about your company, or even how to use social media within a business, so you wouldn’t want somebody sending out posts and messages to other professionals or customers if they don’t know what they’re talking about. Interns have many skills and can be a great asset to the company, however, they shouldn’t be the digital face of your company. With your guidance and training I’m sure they can meet the standard but until then you should ensure that whoever is managing your social media activity is someone who is qualified to do so.
Should I disable comments on my posts to stop negative comments?
Although it’s a handy way to avoid complaints, disabling comments on your posts will come off looking anti-social and will not be very interactive. People want to know that you are listening which is why a comments section is important because you can always reply to a comment if you feel it is necessary. If we haven’t said this enough already: it HUMANISES your brand!
If I can’t stop comments, should I delete posts if things go down badly?
You can’t delete the past, even online. Once you have said something that has received a lot of negative comments, people can screenshot it. You can’t escape your mistakes, there’s no point in trying to hide them, all you can do is own up and apologise to any offence you may have caused. Deleting your posts may just make you look cowardly, so don’t try to run away from any issues.
The more followers, the better?
Whilst building up a following online is very important it shouldn’t be all that you target. The whole point of social media being used for a business is to focus on the end game, hitting that goal of gaining customers, being paid, earning the money. The reason you are using social media is to draw people in so of course build up followers and customers but do this by making sure your content is brilliant so they stay around.
Should I only publish about my company?
No. If you were reading through a company’s page and all they wrote about was themselves, would you be drawn in? Of course not. To be interesting you should also write posts about your viewers’ issues, make it relatable and relevant. People will start to pay more attention to your posts and listen to what you have to say. Make sure you are helping out your followers and are posting, retweeting, and sharing interesting articles, blog posts etc. that aren’t making you look like a self-centred company.
Should I have a separate social media account for each division of my company?
We are not sure why so many companies do this. We often stumble upon different account names for other divisions or locations of the company. There really is no need for it. If you feel the need to be location specific then you can always type your location into your accounts bio/about section, but if you must include it into your account title. It is much easier to focus on one main account which can then build up lots of followers and have links to blogs etc. about other areas of the company. It seems to make much more sense to have it all under the same name. This is also helpful because it means that all of your customers will follow one page, which can give you more publicity if they are to tag you in a post.
So that’s it for now! We’ve gathered up the rules that we hear more than any others, and we really hope this has been useful to you and will help you to use social media in your business. Did we miss any that you have thought of? Make sure you let us know in the comments section!