While being on social media is half the battle, how you use it largely determines whether your business will sink or swim.
Here are five ways you can stay afloat in the choppy waters of social media:
1. Stake your claim
Acquire your brand’s “handle” on every social media outlet you can think of, especially the big ones like Twitter and Facebook. If you have a bigger brand or are expanding quickly, it’s good to grab your brand’s name in as many places as possible, even if you don’t plan on using that social media tool. That way, you have ownership of your official name (e.g., so a disgruntled person can’t open a fake account and create a PR nightmare).
2. Narrow your focus. Think about your product and the content you’ll create for it. Do you sell jewelry, furniture or clothes? Or are you a news outlet? Different types of social media might work better for you than others.
If you’re a fashion retailer or interior designer, Pinterest is a great way to get gorgeous images and your ‘pinspirational’ products in front of potential customers.
For example, Fashion Week is all over Pinterest, and different media outlets use it in specific ways.
If you’re a chef or own a restaurant, the foodies are all over Instagram. News publisher? Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. Make a ton of videos? Vine, Vimeo, YouTube. You get the picture. Find out how and where your type of content is best shared and share it there the most often.
3. Use each tool individually. There are several great tools that allow you to post to each outlet in one step, but resist that urge. Different audience segments use different tools differently and you must do the same. If you post a lot of articles, a good headline and a link works well on Twitter, but might not be enough for Tumblr. Animated GIFs about kittens might not be appropriate for LinkedIn. Make sure you and your audience are getting the most out of each tool.
4. Think ahead. Facebook’s staying power has been prolific, but it won’t last forever. The latest headlines about Facebook are how it’s losing its teenage fanbase. It’s still a giant, but new networks, technologies and services start up every day. Keep an eye out for any newcomers that would be right for you. Find out where people who work in your field are going. Learn where and how they communicate. Evolve with your audience.
5. Put yourself out there. Think about how you, as a normal citizen, use social media. How does it feel when your question or complaint disappears into the ether? What makes you smile and click “share”? Knowing an actual person is running the social media, giving it a human voice goes a long way. Users are people who like to interact with other people so give them a person to interact with. There’s nothing like a nameless, faceless brand or an automated phone service to make you feel like no one cares.