Social Media Best Practices - Twitter & Facebook

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     The current buzz around the marketing world is “Social Media Marketing” or “SMM”. Many companies are having great success while others are still struggling to either get momentum going or still vying with executives for permission to pursue this uncharted course. So what exactly is the best way to get your social media efforts up and running?

Getting everyone on board
      While research is showing more and more consumers are using social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, there are still a few marketers who are skeptical on these mediums. I believe the biggest culprit of this skepticism is misunderstanding. As marketers we see the purpose and potential of utilizing such budget friendly outlets to engage current clientele while attracting new ones.

     “Our client's don't use Twitter/Facebook”

Are you sure? In October 2009, Twitter announced their user growth grew 200% between the years 2008-2009. The numbers skyrocketed from 6 million to 18 million with a projected growth to reach 26 million world wide by the end of 2010. Facebook also announced earlier in 2009 that their number of users world wide had reached 200 million. With these numbers increasing daily can you really afford not to get started in social media? Pair these numbers along side the fact that search engines are placing social media content in search results; this is another way to get your website to the coveted first page.

     “We don't want to hire someone to spend hours a day on Twitter/Facebook”

It takes literally five minutes or less to get a new account established on either. Not to mention a member of the marketing team can pick up this task with no need to hire on additional personnel. As soon as news, events, or products come out each social outlet is as easy to update as cut and paste. Even if your company has several divisions of which need separate accounts, online tools such as “Tweet Deck” allow users to control multiple accounts on Twitter and Facebook with the click of a mouse shortening the amount of time online. Find reliable news sources for your industry and bookmark them, so when you need something current there is no last minute searching.

     “We tried it once, it didn't really work out”

How much effort was put in to the initial push? It takes more than a few months of updating once a week to gain momentum for results to start pouring in. I'd recommend updating three times a day, morning – noon – late afternoon every day of the work week, again I refer to tools such as “Tweet Deck” and bookmarking reliable sources to minimize time when updating. Even though your company is a big force in reality, in the digital realm new formed accounts have zero respect and authority. Time is the biggest obstacle for any newcomer to the digital arena. Planning out when company updates/promotions/product announcements go out and when you will need to use industry news will also shorten online time. Anyone promoting shortcuts such as, “Pay us $49.99 and we'll get you 10,000 Twitter Followers within a month” is a way to quickly end any online efforts to market your business. Remember this equation, “The amount of effort exerted + time of effort = amount of success”.

Using Social Media Marketing

      So you've got a Twitter or Facebook account up and going, now what? No one is following you on Twitter and the Facebook Fan page doesn't have any activity on it. Before giving up, take some time to re-focus and think. Ask yourself, “Why are we using these accounts?”, “Are we using them the way we intended?”.

     “We tweet and update Facebook as our company announces a new product or event.”

While it is good to promote events and products via social media, it shouldn't be the only thing you are posting.

Part of social media marketing is not only increasing your awareness, you also wish (or you should wish) to raise awareness of knowledge and authoritativeness in your market. There are several ways to accomplish this:

Re-tweet or create links to current articles pertaining to your industry.
Post any case studies you've successfully done.
Invite guest authors to write a special post.

 “No one re-tweets us or interacts on our Fan Page”

A big part of social media is to be SOCIAL. Social is defined as, “Friendly companionship or relations. Seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; friendly; sociable; gregarious.” If all your doing is updating, re-tweeting and using a generic method to invite others you aren't being very social.
Follow others on Twitter, even if they don't follow you at first they might later.
Track down current customers, industry partners and trend setters
Don't follow potential customers, if the tweets are good enough, they will find you.
Encourage your customers to participate
Post relevant comments on other blogs, fan pages and re-tweet appropriate tweets. If you read a blog, or something on another Fan Page be sincere. Stray away from comments such as, “Great Post!” or “Hey that sounds like a good idea”.
Re-tweets from other accounts can not only show some respect to others (and may garner someone to re-tweet yours), but when you need to get another tweet up it can save some time.

     “We update as often as time allows”

Set a schedule and stick to it.
Research your customer base to find out what time of the day their time is spent online and plan updates accordingly. The freshest tweets show up first, and the sooner visitors can find information the better.
Involve multiple members of the marketing team.
Show the diversity of your company.
More than one person needs to know how to access the accounts and create relevant interesting updates.

     “How will we know if what we are posting is good content?”

Listen to your audience.
As you journey along the path to having successful social media campaigns you may gain insight from customers and others who participate, take every word whole-heartily. Any interaction an individual can get from a company is a good opportunity to make a good impression.
The number of followers/members will grow.
Outside of inviting people to join, when you generate good content people will take notice and want more of it.
Use Google Analytics or a similar tool to monitor where the traffic is coming from

      In closing I'll go ahead and admit that by the time most people read this, another popular social medium may be out, new tactics might be used and, who knows, the internet might disappear (Al Gore would be so disappointed!).

Regardless of what might be current, the point is to stay current. Don't wait for the next article to pop up and tell you what to do in order to be successful. Search for trustworthy resources that post content on social media marketing. By being proactive in your social media methods you won't have to be reactive when it's too late.

Sources for Twitter & Facebook Stats:
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