Jan 2, 2012

4 Social Networking Techniques to Avoid

Social networking can be a time-consuming endeavor, so the temptation to cut corners is big.  There are tools, techniques, and add-ons available that seem like a great idea to help you streamline your social media strategy and save time… until they start to undermine your efforts to connect in a real way to your customers.  Here are 4 things you should avoid:

Social Media1. Automated Greetings and Responses

There are several tools and online resources available to help you manage your social media campaigns.  One popular feature of almost all of these tools is automated responses and greetings.  These programs will send out an automatic message to fans, followers, or subscribers when they take a specific action.  While this seems like a great idea, not to mention an incredible time-saver, automatic messages eliminate one of the most important factors of social networking – personal engagement.  Use too many automated messages too often, and you begin to seem like a spammer.  Instead, aim for personalization as often as possible, and be sure to have a strategy for responding individually to customer posts and activity on your social networking channels. Which brings us to the next item.

2. Working Without a Plan

It is vitally important to have a plan before you venture into social media.  Winging it is never a good idea in advertising; don’t let the casual nature of social media fool you.  A misstep here can cause just as much damage as a poorly planned print ad.  Keep the following in mind when building your social media strategy.

  • Don’t overextend yourself. Decide which social media channels will work the best for your company and brand, then stick to those.  Don’t waste your valuable time on twitter, for instance, if you only realistically have time for Facebook.
  • Decide on a schedule – then stick to it. If you can only update your blog once a month, that’s fine.  However, once you’ve decided that’s your schedule, you need to stick to it.  A blog (or Facebook Wall or Twitter feed) that hasn’t been updated in a while reflects badly on your company, making website visitors wonder if you are still in business.
  • Create a social media policy. This is important for any company that will have more than one person updating social media channels.  Your social media policy should set out guidelines for your employees on what to say and do on various social media channels and how best to represent your brand.
  • Create a commenting guide. A commenting guide is very much like a frequently asked questions document.  It sets out the most common questions, comments, and activities a Fan or Follower of your brand might make on social media, and then sets out the appropriate answer or response that should be taken.
  • Consider creating a schedule. To make sure you don’t fall behind on your social media campaign, consider scheduling posts and items of interest ahead of time.

3. Focus on Sales Only

No one wants to follow a series of ads and commercials.  Be sure to balance your sales pitches with a healthy dose of entertaining, useful, and interesting items that aren’t directly sales-related.  A good rule of thumb is to post at least 3 non-sales items for every sales item you post.

4. Duplication and Repeat Posts

When you create content for social media, you’ll want to make sure it is shared across each of the channels you are active on. So if you write a new blog post, you’ll want to make sure you post a link to it on Facebook and Twitter.  However, make sure you haven’t set up any automated posting or feeds that end up repeating the same post more than once on the same channel (for example, don’t post a link to your blog article by hand if you’re already automatically feeding your blog items via RSS feed).  This makes you looks spammy.

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