18 Best Practices To Help Your Business Not Suck At Social Media

social media best practicesTo be great at social media you only have to be mediocre because most businesses suck at it.

The above line is a paraphrased quote from one of my marketing idols, Scott Stratten. Author of The Book Of Business Awesome.

Scott is someone who, like me, has an extremely low tolerance for businesses that suck on social media.

Apparently we’re not the only ones. I started my morning by reading this article about customers who are turning their backs on small businesses due to their poor use of social media.

As much as I hate to see small businesses lose customers, I have to say that I empathize with the customers in this case.

I follow as many local small businesses on social media as I can and the good ones are few and far between. Some are so bad that I couldn’t keep buying from them with a good conscience.

Putting out nothing but sales messages is not social. Not responding to customers is not social. Making no attempt to build a community through sharing interesting content is not social.

The list goes on. But rather than compiling a list of what businesses are doing wrong I decided to build a list of what they should be doing right.

The more time customers spend on social media the more adept they are at recognizing good use of social media from poor use.

If you come across like you’re just looking to make a sale, it’s going to hurt you.

Being good, or even great, on social media is not difficult! I promise you. What follows is a list of 18 social media best practices that are guaranteed to help your business suck a lot less.

Social Media Best Practices

1. There Are No Shortcuts

Social media marketing involves investing time, energy and creativity. It’s a commitment that can’t be avoided or overlooked.

2. Contribute Value

If you can’t contribute something of value to your community, no one will listen. It’s that simple. If you aren’t saying anything meaningful then you’re just adding to the noise and risk being ignored.

3. Talk Like An Expert

Don’t be afraid to talk like an expert in your field. Why would anyone take advice from someone who doesn’t know anything? If you need to learn more, make the effort to do so. Make sure you can offer valuable advice to your fans and followers.

4. Create Meaningful Conversation

Social media is where customers go to socialize, not to be constantly sold and marketed to. Develop relationships with customers by engaging them in conversation.

5. Activity Does Not Equal Productivity

Just because you’re active doesn’t mean you’re producing results. While you’re engaging with customers make sure it’s positively affecting your business. Be productive, not noisy.

6. Quality Over Quantity

Don’t annoy your followers with dozens of meaningless updates throughout the day. Keep it simple. Offer friendly, concise gems of advice rather than constant rambling.

7. Don’t Spam

Constant self-promotion isn’t engaging. If you’re constantly drawing attention to yourself you’re communicating that you’re not interested in your customers.

8. Keep It Real

Be authentic. Talk in your own voice. Businesses that show the most personality tend to have the best results on social media. Give your audience something unique by drawing on your own experiences, knowledge, humour etc.

9. Conversation Is A Two Way Street

Give your audience an opportunity to contribute. If you’re dominating the conversation it becomes a lecture instead of a successful marketing strategy.

10. Connection Doesn’t Imply Permission

Take the time to build relationships and trust with your audience. Just because someone follows you on social media doesn’t give you permission to sell to them.

11. Adaptability Is Essential

What’s hot today may not be hot tomorrow. Keep up with industry trends and be willing to adapt.

12. Accomplish Goals

If social media marketing isn’t helping you accomplish business goals then it’s just a hobby. Measure your efforts and make adjustments as needed.

13. Use Images And Multimedia

There’s nothing more boring than plain text updates. A picture is worth a thousand words. Video is worth even more. Don’t just tell your customers about things, use social media to show them as well.

14. Always Follow Up

Don’t ignore fans and followers who make an effort to socialize with you. Always follow up; it makes people feel valued and more likely to keep listening to you.

15. Mind Your Manners

Fans and followers aren’t always polite, they may disagree with your content or views from time to time. And that’s ok! If they speak up, always respond in an appropriate manner.

16. Patience Is A Virtue

Social media marketing rarely delivers instant results. Don’t give up after a short time. Be patient and you will reap the rewards.

17. Don’t Be An Obsessive Joiner

Joining too many networks can dilute your marketing efforts. Spreading yourself too thin can harm any marketing campaign. Limit your social networks to the ones that are most pertinent to your goals.

18. Have Fun

If you’re not enjoying yourself, you’re not doing it right. Social interactions should be fun as well as purposeful.

Wrapping It Up

You can call these best practices, but I prefer to think of them as the fundamentals of social media marketing.

These points are guaranteed not to go out of date no matter how much social media changes over the years. Social media marketing will always be about maintaining a balance between building genuine relationships and achieving business goals.

If you focus on these, rather than trying to sell something to everyone who follows/likes you on social media, customers will be a lot more inclined to like, trust and ultimately buy from you.

Do you have anything to add to this list that I haven’t covered? If so, please say so in the comments section!

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