Guest post by Stacey Acevero, social media community manager at Vocus and PRWeb.
Integrating social media into your online marketing mix can be a lot like the first day of school. The marketplace, and the playground, is filled to the brim with those both mature and immature, those that are outspoken and shy and each has its very own set of rules.
Remembering that the social world is really a combination of communities and groups who move in ever widening (and connecting) relationship circles, be sure your PR and social media efforts follow the rules that every smart small business marketer needs to know.
1. Make Sure to Make Friends
Go beyond writing a press release, a blog or posting company content into social streams. Rather, start conversations with journalists and target audiences alike by setting aside your personal agenda for a few minutes. Introduce yourself and offer something of value without asking for favors.
Comment on other posts, join conversations and participate in forums to establish your presence. Make positive remarks about content you like and be careful about criticizing content you don’t without spending the appropriate time explaining why and how you might approach it differently.
Be sure to share liberally. Add your thumbs up and positive ratings to let others know you’re interested in what they have to say and you appreciate their expertise and/or point of view.
Being a valued member of the community is key to a long-term, successful social strategy. If you join only to serve your own needs, you might find yourself playing alone.
2. Find Ways to be Resourceful & Creative
On any playground the most fun kids often end up with the most playmates, and oftentimes are the best at drawing a crowd.
Everyone wants to play with the kid that successfully turns the jungle gym into a fortress guarded by a fire-breathing dragon who is protecting a princess. These little social butterflies are also good at letting others play lead roles, like the princess, dragon and ever-handsome knight. What does this sharing of the spotlight create? Relationships!
As you build a following by telling stories, asking questions, offering helpful advice without always asking for something in return – don’t forget about those watching from a distance.
Ask them to participate. Invite readers to comment on your blog or answer a question in Facebook by making it easy for them. Don’t start by forcing them into uncomfortable situations or excluding them. Rather, ask simple questions to help build their confidence, or ask a non-industry related question so they can get their feet wet without fearing that their answers are incorrect.
Polls are a great and easy way to do this, ask a question and offer a few answers. All they have to do is click.
3. Be Ready to Stand up for Yourself
We’ve likely all been the victim of a playground scuffle or two. The important thing to remember is first trying to avoid situations where you or someone else can be the victim of a bully.
But if/when it happens it’s often best if you don’t pretend as though it’s not happening. If others are saying things you don’t agree with OR things about your brand that aren’t true, you don’t have to stay quiet.
You have the right to express your opinion but follow these three rules before you do:
• Think before you speak! Remember that hasty responses rarely come off better than those you spent some time thinking about.
• Consider how your content sounds to people just learning about the conversation. Snotty comments do little to add to your credibility.
• Add “oomph” to your message with facts. This is where you can establish yourself as credible. Offer links/stats from research that supports your position. Other kids on the playground may want to disagree with you but they can’t argue with facts.
• Remember the words “in perpetuity.” Once you hit that post button, your words are available forever for all to see. Be sure your message is one that won’t come back to haunt you for days, weeks or even years in the future.
The good news about joining the social media playground is most of life’s lessons can be applied.
Be a person that plays well with others, pays attention to all and continually uses resources to provide help when it’s needed. Start by leveraging what the playground taught you in your social efforts and you’ll be on your way to being the cool kid.