Starting strong in social networks is all about pre-planning. First, BEFORE they do anything on social networks, use daily alert tools like Google Alerts and socialmention.com to monitor what other people say about the business. Google will monitor all the internet traffic while socialmention.com monitors blogs, comments, Facebook Posts, Tweets and other socially-generated traffic. These are just two specific tools that I use to monitor my own brand online. You can use any type of tool like this to see where you should jump in.
The second key to starting strong is finding a purpose to being in the social space. There are times that businesses create a Facebook Page because their competition does it, or they use Twitter because their daughter suggested it. Is that where they should be? Is that the best tool to use? Why are they here? What are they going to say? Who within the company is going to say it? If something happens and somebody says something bad, what are the responses going to be? (PS- tid-bit for you, unless there is a slew of f-bombs or it's spam in the posting, I'd NEVER delete a comment. Responding to a negative complaint can actually create more positive than the initial negative post. Of course, not responding and letting it sit there can really fester on your page.)
Next, make it a point to look at the social channels once per day. This is the bare-minimum interaction to consider. I'd recommend more, but at least look at it. The middle-part of the afternoon is best. It's the best time to post on Facebook if there is a need and has a higher opportunity to reach its recipient before the end of business if something needs fixed. This once-per-day phenomenon keeps them heading back to the page and looking at it, deleting spam posts, monitoring the interactions and maintaining the brand.
Lastly, be consistent. Again, before they jump in, find out how often to post and STICK TO IT. If they create the page, start interacting and then walk-away or have a hit-or-miss posting schedule, not only are they sending inconsistent messages, they are missing interactions on your pages. If it were Facebook, I'd shoot for once per day. Twitter, maybe a little more depending on the business. Make it a point to do something with your social channels per day. (PS- there really isn't a "magic" posting rate. It's subjective and based off of the audience, not the business.)
So now that they are set-up and rolling properly, let's talk about the meat of the situation, maintaining. Keep using the alerts set-up before posting started and keep looking at them. In all honesty, I get alerts at times and really want to hit delete, but there are times when there are true nuggets of information in there for my business. Keep going strong with the alerts.
There are several other types of applications that one can add to their bag of tricks that are designed at making and monitoring social interactions. First, I think any application that alerts you when you get a new tweet in the form of an @reply or direct message or a Facebook Post to your business page is super important. As the business owner, I find it important for my personal devices like my cell phone and my tablet computer alert me when something new comes down the pipe. Twitter and Facebook both allow you to alert your email when something happens, or I use a application on my iPhone called Boxcar to alert me when a new tweet happens.
I'd also recommend a tool that becomes a social-media dashboard for your business. There are several different sites that allow you to bring Facebook, Twitter, Wordpress blogs, LinkedIn and several other mainstream social sites into one screen, one tab, and one tool to monitor all the traffic. I've used TweetDeck, Twhirl, and am now using HootSuite for many of my clients. It's tools like this that allow you to see everything that's happening in one space when your time is pretty limited.
Embrace social media as a tool
When I first "got on" Twitter, I was enamored by the power and the awe of the network. I am also a competitive person and wanted to see how many followers I could get and Tweets I could post. After a while, however (and many breaks) I found Twitter to be annoying, another thing hanging over my head. I didn't care. I was actually turned off for a time.
It wasn't until I started using an application on my cell phone that alerted me every time I got a tweet that I started to care. I didn't have to head back to Twitter's website and use it there. I brought Twitter to my life and my business. I embraced the technology and started using it as a communication method. Managing it became second fiddle to the fact that I integrated it into my life.
Remember when email first came out and it was a huge hassle to get to it? You had to dial into AOL, wait for 3 minutes for the mail to load, weed through the spam and then read the one message your grandma sent that you wish she would have just called. Wait, it probably wasn't your grandma, probably an early-adopter aunt who forwarded you some garbage.
It's different things like spam filters, instant connectivity and other tools like mobile phones that made email more mainstream. Social media is soon following. If I can get a notification about a tweet or Facebook post, then I'm going to look at it. If I integrate these technologies into communication tools, I'm going to succeed at it.
I feel it is fundamentally important to treat your social networks differently. Facebook is excellent for picture posts. Twitter is good to share short-burst information. LinkedIn is good for connecting with business people. Learn to use each technology as they are supposed to be used. At times, I set clients up with the ability to post in Facebook and it Tweets the same message. I find this to be important in the beginning to get them into the space, but ultimately they must be treated differently.
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