As social media has grown and changed consistently over the years, it has become challenging for many businesses to stay current with a solid social media strategy amidst all of the constant changes.
And while there can be great value in staying current with new trends and platforms that keep you connected to your community and customers, I have found over the years that there are a few important rules that have consistently remained relevant.
These are fundamental truths that any business or organization can fall back on or use to develop their social media strategy.
While it may be bold to declare these tips to be the ten commandments of social media marketing, they have been essential to my success, that of my clients, and I hope that they will do the same for you.
10 Essential Social Media Commandments
1. Be Consistent
Rule number one of social media marketing is to be consistent. Consistency builds trust.
People buy from people they know, like and trust.
This consistency relates to all areas of your social media strategy and starts with consistently creating and sharing great content that your community, prospects and clients will find value from. This content can take many forms from blog posts, to graphics, to live videos.
As well as sharing your own content, be sure to curate and share the content of others, which your community will benefit from.
As well as posting regularly on your social media channels, you also need to be consistent in how you monitor and engage with people who are liking, commenting or sharing the content you have shared.
Finally, be consistent in testing what is and isn’t work, measuring your results and then modifying your social media strategy as appropriate.
2. Provide Significant Value
It’s important to always remember that everything you do must be of value to your target market. Providing significantly value is behind all of my social media efforts. You must always remember this one important detail:
“People don’t care about your business.
They care about their problems.
Be the solution they are looking for.”
This means that you always need to lead with undeniable value that targets the specific needs of your community and target market.
Here are a few ideas of content types that can help deliver solid value:
- Live video sessions that answer frequently asked questions
- How-to style tutorial content (video-based and/or written)
- Free downloadable reports or checklists
- Relevant webinar or podcasts
- Blog content geared towards solving problems
3. Care About Your Audience
Your customers and community want to be heard, understood, remembered and respected. Anything less than this will render you and your business obsolete. Your community will look for someone else who “gets” them.
“People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
People will trust you only when they know you can provide the solution they need AND that you care about them. No matter how skilled you are, if they can’t see that you care, they won’t stick around.
Keep in mind that people can tell if you are using social media only to promote yourself. This turns people off. I’ll also add, caring about your audience cannot be faked.
Caring about your audience doesn’t mean giving them “exclusive access to deals and giveaways”, rather it means…
4. Engage in Conversations
Effective engagement nurtures your community and provides excellent reasons for you to reach out and start a dialogue.
Your conversations and engagement keep you top of mind with your community and is crucial to relationship-building. You cannot build relationships if you aren’t present and engaging in conversations.
Look for these engagement opportunities (also known as trigger events), which will provide the chance to very comfortably and naturally engage with others to get a conversation going.
For example, there is no better way to get a conversation going than to reply promptly and appropriately when someone engages with your content or social media posts.
Remember, if you don’t personally engage with others, they won’t continue to engage with you.
5. Be Accessible
If you are going to commit to a social media platform, then you need to commit to being accessible to your community there.
This means responding to comments and other engagement on each of the platforms you post on, as well as replying to any messages in a reasonable amount of time. The acceptable response time will vary from business to business but as a general rule of thumb, strive to respond to all messages within 24 hours or less with a personalized reply.
6. Make It About Them, Not You
Who is this really about…you or them? Do people like the company Heinz on Facebook because they are excited about the company, or the way ketchup makes their food taste?
When you look at the social media world through these eyes you see a totally different place.
A great way to do this is to ask yourself each time you post, will this pass your communities WIIFM (what’s in it for me) filter?
Think about this from their perspective, not yours. If there is no clear benefit for them, then they will not waste their time as there is so much competing for their time and attention.
It must always be about them if you want to capture their attention!
7. Thou Shall Not Spam…EVER!
There is a very distinct line between thoughtful commentary, helpful posts and downright spam. While the term spam might mean different things to different people, to me, spam is anything that the receiver doesn’t find value in (aka blasting your community with sales information).
I think we can all agree that spam is a big problem on social media. No one likes to receive it, it doesn’t work, and it makes you lose all credibility.
Would you ever go up to someone at a networking event and say “Hi, nice to meet you, now buy my stuff!”
Of course, you wouldn’t. So, don’t do it on social media platforms.
Instead change the conversation from “What can I sell you?” to “How can I help you?”
“What can I sell you?” says:
- I care about your money.
- What else can I sell you?
- Thank you for your business.
“How can I help you?” says:
- I care about you and your business.
- How else can I add value?
- Thank you for helping us do business better.
8. Always Be Listening
Take advantage of social media monitoring tools like Agorapulse (Get 2 months free with Agorapulse here), Sprout Social, Mention, Hootsuite, and Google Alerts to receive notifications of engagement as well as anything associated with your brand and/or industry.
Your social media strategy must include social listening if you want it to be successful.
Keep tabs on prospects, clients, strategic partners and people who share your content so that you can remain top of mind through regular (and relevant) interactions.
9. Great Content Builds Authority
Sharing great content can build your personal brand and allow you to move beyond just someone trying to sell something to a trusted authority on your topic. The content you share can be your original content as well as curated content.
One of the most effective strategies to build your authority with content is to share your best knowledge with your community. You need to give them your best insider tips and tricks.
Now you may worry that by giving all your knowledge away that they won’t need you or that you might lose potential sales.
The opposite is true.
Those who will take and use your information to help themselves, often would not have been able or interested in paying for your services. But by establishing yourself as an authority to them, they will happily recommend you to others – others who will happily pay you.
By providing those with the desire to pay for your products or services with the information they need to make an educated decision, you have not only established yourself as an authority but also built up the kind of trust that makes you a natural choice when they are ready to buy.
An effective social media strategy has content marketing at its core to build authority, credibility and trust.
10. Never Underestimate the Power of Integrity
This is one of those social media marketing tips that is so important, it cannot be considered a tip at all…it is absolutely vital to a successful digital marketing strategy today.
Relationship-building and establishing credibility and trust is essential if you want to be successful using social media.
This is why ethical considerations and character traits (honesty in particular) matter in marketing. The only way you can establish yourself as a credible and trustworthy authority is to exemplify those values, especially in the way you market yourself, your brand, and your products or services.
And doing that is what constitutes ethical marketing something that is often lacking in the digital marketing space.
Unfortunately, the pressure of making that all-important sale or getting attention in the noisy online world may sometimes steer some in the direction of marketing practices that are… questionable, to put it mildly. And it is at this point where your marketing becomes unethical.
The unethical marketer uses deceptive tactics and half-truths to achieve their objectives, and while they may not see the harmful effects of applying such practices in the short term, the repercussions of these actions will undoubtedly be felt by the marketer at some point.
Even if unethical marketing works for you in the short-term, are you willing to risk your credibility, respect and trustworthiness, just for a temporary advantage? Your customers — your business — should mean more to you than that.
Remember, once trust is broken, it’s almost impossible to earn back.
I believe those that use unethical marketing tactics will find themselves becoming irrelevant very quickly.
The biggest payoff for acting with integrity on social media (ethical marketing), or as I like to call it, trust-based marketing, is that people do business with those they know, like and trust.
Summarizing the 10 Social Media Marketing Commandments
When you combine these 10 key social media tips together, you can build a social media strategy that builds relationships, authority and trust, and that will ultimately stand the test of time.
Unlike each of the individual social media platforms and other tools, these key commandments will not change. They may evolve to better fit with the advancement of technology, but at their core, each of the 10 concepts relate back to the fundamentals of marketing and relationship building,
Remember that saying, “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression,” incorporate these social media marketing tips at the core of your social media strategy.