Social Media Tips: There’s an Art to Being Social, Dude

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Social Media Tips

You’ll have no problem finding articles and blog posts that outline how to use different social media platforms, which ones are best for which industries, and how to measure ROI. But what sometimes gets lost in all this is how to ACT on social media. It is, after all, about being social. So here are five tips to keep in mind on how to keep it genuinely social.

1. Respond to people who take the time to interact with you. If you’re using your social media platforms simply to broadcast information, you’re doing it wrong. Social media is all about having conversations—that means listening and responding to people. This means you should respond to comments and tweets promptly. Unless you’re in the celebrity-status stratosphere and getting thousands and thousands of Facebook comments and tweets, you CAN take the time to respond to individual tweets and updates, even if it’s just to say “thanks for the comment” or “thanks for stopping by.”

And if you are that lucky dog who gets thousands of comments, you should still take the time to regularly acknowledge your fan and customer base by saying something like, “Wow, we’re overwhelmed and humbled by all the fantastic comments! We read them all, and we wish we could respond to each one individually, but due to the volume, we can’t. Remember, if you have an urgent request or question, the best way to contact us is here.” And then provide a number, email, or website landing page with a form.

2. Spend time engaging other people first. Don’t spend all your social media time responding. Yes, responding to people is important, but you should also take the first step and engage people. You do this by…

  • Sharing other people’s content and giving them credit through a shout-out, re-tweet, hashtag, you get the idea.
  • Occasionally taking part in conversations that have nothing to do with your business. For example, maybe one of the customers you follow on Twitter has a son heading off to his freshman year of college. Sending out well wishes is a nice gesture and goes a long way in showing people that there are real, hot-blooded, caring humans behind the curtain, not just a bunch of marketers and people out to make money.

3. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face or in front of your own mother, then don’t say it. Oh, it’s easy for people to get their snark on when they’re hiding behind a Twitter handle or Facebook profile—yes, even professional ones for businesses.

Remember, things can easily escalate online, since it’s sometimes difficult to tell when someone is joking or being serious. Here are some simple tips on how to keep your wits about you:

  • Don’t feed the trolls. If you have a troll, block the person instead of responding.
  • Don’t stir the pot. Be mindful of what you talk about and comment on. If you comment on current events and provide an opinion, be prepared that someone, somewhere is bound to disagree with you. We’re not saying businesses should never comment on current or newsworthy topics, but do so thoughtfully.
  • If a discussion is getting out of hand, take the high road and stop participating. You don’t need to have the last word. Let it go.
  • Think before you hit send. Would you say it to the person’s face or via phone if he or she called right now? If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t post it. Remember, stuff you put on the Internet stays “out there” forever.

4. Take a page from your customer service playbook. Social media often turns into live customer service for all the world to see. If people complain about your company via social media, respond politely and promptly and let people know you’re sorry about whatever they’re experiencing and that you want to make it right. Then, give the person a way to contact you directly.

Most often, people simply want to be heard and acknowledged. Doing so openly and without assigning blame or offering vague, insincere apologies will go a long way in cooling down the person who is upset and showing all the other people monitoring the conversation how your company acts in these sorts of situations.

5. Learn how to move on, say I’m sorry, show humility, and say congratulations. In other words, act like a human being in a relationship. Sometimes you’ll make mistakes. Best course of action is to own up and say you’re sorry. Sometimes you need to let things go. Know the art of “moving on.” Know when to take part in a current, trending conversation (e.g. national disaster, death of someone famous whom everyone is talking about). Know when the conversation shouldn’t be about you, but about someone else, like your fans/customers. The same protocols you follow in your real-life friendships should serve as a sound guideline for your virtual ones.

6. Bonus Tip! Here’s a great article on 10 more ways to avoid becoming a social media robot.

What do you think? Do you have any other tips to offer on the art of acting social? Share in the comments!

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