Seven suggestions for using social media

Everybody wants to engage with their customers, and social is the place to do it. But in trying to be active on social media, many brands end up coming across as tone-deaf or desperate—particularly in B2B.

Here are our seven tips that will ensure you come across as a native and get more value out of your social networks.

  1. Don’t just broadcast, engage. Many companies treat social as a place to tell their story with a megaphone. But it should be a conversation. And conversations are two-way: so comment on other people’s content, and when someone contacts you, follow up. You can kickstart interactions by mentioning names or brands—particularly if they’re customers, partners or suppliers that you already have a relationship with IRL. Tap one network to help you grow another!
  2. Don’t be too hip, or too formal. Yeah, social is where all the cool kids hang out—but not everybody knows that IRL is short for “in real life”. Don’t feel under pressure to start tweeting in emojis just because that’s what the “social gurus” do. But equally, feel free to let loose a little bit. Social is too fast and too short for the usual rules of copy to apply. Just be yourself, and tweet like you talk.
  3. Think what your audience wants to read. If the content is boring, old-hat or weak, perhaps it shouldn’t be on social. Find the hook, and be ruthless about saying no where there isn’t one. There’s already enough content on social networks—avoid flooding them with low-quality noise. One great way to stand out is to be brave about your point of view. Make a bold statement that makes people say “yes! I completely agree!”—or, just as powerful, “hell no!”
  4. Sell the click, but don’t mis-sell it. When you’re crafting your tweet or post, particularly when linking off to a blog or report, be honest. Describe the most interesting thing in the content, but respect the reader and their time. That means avoiding clickbait headlines. If you have to lie to make your content sound interesting, that’s a dead giveaway that you’ve failed number 3—we loved this article on that topic.
  5. Ask questions, but don’t rely on participation. Feel free to use your posts to ask questions (particularly if you’re linking off to a piece of content that answers the question!). But don’t rely on participation in terms of replies, comments or poll clicks. Chances are that, particularly at first, you’ll get zero visible engagement. And for heaven’s sake, avoid astroturfing.
  6. Be sensible with hashtags. Some networks, like Instagram, thrive on large numbers of hashtags. Others, like Facebook and LinkedIn, don’t. The #rule of #thumb is not to #stuff #your #posts. For a start, it makes your content unreadable. But more importantly, it doesn’t help anyone. Have you ever tried to look at the results you get for #cloud or #digital? Hashtags work for specific events where lots of people will be tweeting, like #gartnersym. But don’t get too specific, either—if you create your own hashtag (#glooblogs, anyone?) you will likely find that you’re the only one using it.
  7. Use images, if they add something. Some research once found that adding images to posts increased engagement nearly four-fold. Now it’s de rigeur to add a photo to every tweet. People won’t thank you for clogging their feed with generic stock images. Use embedded images to show off quotes, event photos, charts and graphics, whatever. Just avoid the clichéd shot of people shaking hands—I hope that you’d guessed that we’d chosen the image above for a reason!

Let me know what you think about those suggestions or if you have one of your own.