One of the first videocasts I made was called ‘treat every social network differently’. Now I find myself writing a post entitled ‘All Social Networks The Same’. Have I had a change of heart? No, the original post was about automation and the danger of linking your tweets to your Facebook and Linkedin account. I still strongly believe you need to understand each network and post accordingly but as I wade through the mass of new networks trying to see how they work I’ve discovered that there are some key ways that they are all the same, some rules of thumb that can help you be successful with any social media tool. Once you have got to grips with these it’s just a case of learning the mechanics of the networks you choose to use. Here’s the tips that I believe will keep you on track:
When we go to school we are encouraged to write in a certain style, we much conform to this to pass exams but if we treat our social networks the same way our posts look stale. It’s hard to break the habit but always try to write the way you speak. Let your personality break through in all your posts. Look at what you are writing and then look at it again, does it look to straight, does it look like a person wrote it or does it look like a line from an essay at school?
It’s worth putting a bit of time in to defining your brand persona, think about your tone of voice, how you want to be perceived and tailor your posts to fit that. Your tone of voice will be slightly different depending on the network, on Facebook and Twitter you might want to be more ‘fluffy’ on Linkedin you need to be more restrained, however your persona should be consistent on all networks. For examples of brand persona here’s a great article from How To Branding.
Social media is ‘social’ it’s part of the name. We often hear people being criticised for broadcasting their message and I think I’ve often assumed this means them broadcasting sales posts. However broadcasting could just mean throwing up a link without asking for conversation. If you put a link up on Facebook, Google+ or anywhere, don’t explain why and don’t encourage others to contribute you are neglecting the ‘social’. Always try and think about why you are sharing content and ask for opinions or a simple ‘do you agree?’ As we’ve seen with Facebook recently, interactions are becoming the most important part of what we do there. Getting conversation helps us know that someone is listening, it can inform us further, it can help us get to know our communities and identify brand advocates, it will encourage people to talk about you. It’s too important a priority to ignore
Be generous – curate
If you are generous and share information from others or links to websites other than your own, people will begin to see you as a resource for great content. Curating good content can take a while but once you have a system in place it becomes less of a chore and more of a resource for yourself. By curating you are also reading and finding the best content online, you are educating yourself whilst discovering. It also helps you build relationships. If you share content from another Facebook page, Google+ account, Tweeter you are endorsing them, you are making them aware of your presence and you are taking the first step towards getting to know them better.
A lot of social networks can seem stale, you might set up your profile and share some content but find that no one is responding to you. In order to encourage more people to interact with you, to like your page, to circle you, to follow your Pinterest board you need to go out there and like, share and most importantly comment on posts from other users. Whether it’s an opinion on a shared article or a bit of fluffy conversation this is relationship building in action. Remember you are social networking, you are meeting people, finding out about them, finding common interests. It’s exactly the same as networking in real life but social media allows you to widen your base to include the whole world rather than just who is available in your local area.
Lying in social media or exaggerating a claim can land you in hot water. By putting something dishonest out on the internet you amplify the danger of being caught out. If you are caught you run the risk of being pulled apart by social users who feel cheated. You should always strive to be authentic, by this I don’t mean you should share everything about your life but what you do share should be real. For example if you put your name on an account it should be you updating it. If it isn’t you should make it clear that someone else does this for you.
And there’s more! I know I haven’t covered all bases here. Is there a hard and fast rule for social networking that you use? And of course with all hard and fast rules there are exceptions. Do you know of any? Leave your ideas below.