Dos and Don’ts of Using Social Media to Grow Your Business

26th, Oct 2015

Social Media Dos and Don'tsAre you using social media to grow your business? What challenges are you facing? A few weeks ago, I spoke on a panel on “Using Social Media: The Dos and Don’ts to Grow Your Business” for the Organizational Development Network of Long Island. We talked about how social media can help and hurt your business. I’m happy to say I learned new things and got to exchange a lot of tips for how to make the most of social media marketing.

Here are my top dos and don’ts:

1. Do go where you audience is. A common question from the audience was which type of social media is the best. Well the simplest answer is to find where you audience is. If you’re targeting certain types of companies, determine where the company and its key individuals have a social media presence. Are they on LinkedIn? Twitter? Google+? Also look at how they are using each channel. Where are they the most actively engaged? Are they talking to their customers, peers, vendors or others? Yes, you can get into a more detailed analysis about which social media channel is the best, but it basically boils down to knowing your audience – where are they active and where do they look for the kind of information that you could provide to them.

2. Don’t think of social media as either a scourge or miracle cure for your business. Social media is a channel for marketing, business development and building/reinforcing relationships. It doesn’t mean you stop doing all the other things you’ve done previously; nor does it mean that you don’t try it because you’ve done okay in the past with your other tactics and don’t need to change. There was a time long, long ago when few used email marketing or had a website. Now you have both, but you are probably still incorporating networking, advertising, telemarketing and sales, direct mail, etc. Email and websites didn’t replace everything else, but you did change your marketing mix. Hopefully you’re always continuing to test and evaluate what works best for your business. And you should keep doing that as you incorporate social media into your mix.

3. Do dedicate resources to social media marketing. A lot of comments at the event centered on finding the time to deal with social media. Well, it’s like everything else you do to market your business. You have to set aside resources for it. With some types of marketing, the investment is more in terms of money (ex. advertising). Other times, it is more about time. Either way you have to make a commitment to promoting your business. With that said, look at some of the other dos and don’ts in order to help maximize your resources.

4. Don’t use it as a channel to talk about yourself. Yes, you can use it to distribute press releases or talk about your activities, new hires, etc. but just don’t do that most of the time. People want useful educational information; they are less interested in hearing about how great you are.

5. Do leverage your employees. Employees are a great resource for helping you develop the right kind of content to engage your audience. They are the ones fielding questions from clients. They probably have a lot of insights about what clients want to know about and how to craft your message. Employees can also help expand your reach by distributing your content through their own networks.

6. Don’t forget to consider legal liability. Have a social media policy covering what your employees can and can’t do. Understand rules governing advertising, copyright, trademark, trade secrets, publicity, and other problematic areas. If you’re in a regulated industry, special rules apply. You should also monitor what is being said about you for legal purposes as well as for your own reputation management.

7. Do have a plan and goals. Like all marketing (and business), social media works best when you think through who you want to target, how you’re going to reach them and set goals so you can measure how you’re doing. Otherwise you are likely to waste valuable resources.

8. Don’t try to do it all at once. Great, you believe in the value of social media and want to dive in. Even still you should start simple. Build a presence and an audience on one or two channels. Begin sharing content on a regular basis, but don’t be overly ambitious. Come up with a conservative schedule and once you’re reliably following it, then you can increase the frequency. It’s better to scale up slowly, than start with a bang and die with a whimper because you couldn’t maintain that level of activity.

Thanks to ODNLI, Paul Rubell (@PaulRubell) at Meltzer Lippe, Jerry Siegel at JASB Management, and a very engaged audience at the event.

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