Few people have the same definition of “social media.” To some, it is a waste of time or a black hole. Others hear the term and immediately think of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and a host of other platforms.
That needs to change immediately.
The people who “get” social media don’t think about the platform; instead, they think of people and the relationships that can develop there. Social media is not a destination or place to go; it is a way of getting there.
The social aspect of social media is the most important vehicle to drive a return on the time invested. If the social aspect of social media is the car, then community management is the steering wheel.
Here are six simple things to look at—three each on Twitter and on Facebook—to determine whether you are on the right track:
Principles for Twitter use:
1. Scan your last 50 tweets. If you don’t see any @ symbols, you’re doing it wrong. The point of the platform is to engage, and the absence of those symbols shows that you aren’t doing so. Twitter is not the platform to continually blast your latest press releases.
2. Look at the links you have shared. Do they all lead to your website? If they do, you’re too promotional. Provide content and tidbits that your audience will find relevant and valuable. The great news is there are millions of content producers out there who will welcome your sharing their content. Eventually, people will recognize your sharing and return the favor.
3. Do you tweet and get no response, even though you have 5,000 followers? That’s because you are not top of mind. You need to start paying attention to the people that you follow. Answer their questions, congratulate them, or simply show them you are listening. When people see that you want to engage with them—authentically—they will start doing the same.
Now apply similar principles to Facebook:
1. Look at the comments on your page. Are you the most frequenter commenter? You should be, because you need to engage with the audience on your page. If others are commenting on what others say more than you, either hire them or start answering the questions yourself. Think of it this way: Would you rather have an employee answer phone calls at your company or an unqualified teenager?
2. Scan your status updates. Are all your status updates about your latest sale? Facebook is not the Sunday circular. You have a tough battle because you’re competing not only against your normal business competition; you are also competing to appear in the newsfeed along with people’s friends. They’re inherently more interesting than those trying to sell you stuff all the time. Be a friend.
3. Does anybody respond when you post a status? Take a long, hard look at your content, and take off your marketer’s hat. The most important aspect of appearing in the newsfeed is interaction. Start thinking like a consumer to produce content that is short, sweet, and sharable.