Social media -- get it right and your company can soar to viral internet fame. Get it wrong and your brand could languish in obscurity. To help crack the code to the perfect social media messaging mix we spoke with three savvy business leaders whose passion for social media comes through loud and clear on their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages.
Here are their top three tips to master the basics of social media marketing:
1. Put down the megaphone and listen.
"A lot of entrepreneurs fail [with social media] because they're talking at people," says Dave Brown, director of digital strategy for New York-based experiential marketing agency MKG, whose clients include NBC Universal and Evian.
"Put the megaphone down and listen, join conversations organically. Let them see your passion for what you do," he says. Brown knows how get potential customers to join the conversation, at his previous position as social media specialist for Etsy, he increased unique visits on Etsy's social platforms by more than 200 percent.
One way to start the conversation is to provide something of value to your customers and fans. "Always make sure what you're broadcasting is meaningful and relevant to people's lives," Brown suggests. For example, Evian posts inspiring quotes on its Facebook page for “Motivation Mondays” to help fans start the week off right.
2. Don't let your intern handle your social media.
You may be busy, but you can't afford not to know what's being said by your brand. Geoff Alexander, president of Wow Bao, an Asian steamed-bun franchise, oversees all of his company's social media, and no tweet goes out without him seeing it first. He says social media is the last thing a business owner should give up because nobody knows the company like its owner.
Take, for example, Celebrity Boutique, the online retailer that tweeted about a Kim Kardashian-inspired dress called the “Aurora” during the Aurora, Colorado massacre in July 2012. The company deleted the tweet and apologized, but the damage was done.
"If [a company] pushes social media to an entry-level employee, it really undermines the importance," says Dan Kim, founder and chief concept officer of Dallas-based Red Mango, a top-rated frozen yogurt franchise, has built a following of more than 700,000 Facebook fans and 1.7 million Twitter followers (on his personal page) without national advertising.
"[You're] turning over the brand's reputation to someone who knows nothing about it." If a television reporter wants to interview the company, you'd send the CEO. The same goes for social media. If you absolutely can't make time for social media, make sure you find someone you trust that knows your brand inside and out and how to represent it over social media.
3. Find your sweet spot.
Finding the right social media strategy can be daunting. Alexander suggests that business owners pick one medium they feel comfortable with to start, and be patient as they find their voice.
Brown suggests entrepreneurs ask themselves these questions: What's your goal? If you hit 1,000 followers, then what? Who's your target market? "There's no specific number [of posts] to push out a day. It's all about finding your groove," Brown says.
The great thing about social media is you can pivot at any time, and experiment to find out what works best for your business. Kim agrees, noting that business owners often "overthink social media and are afraid of it. [Social media] is a new way of communicating and enjoying content. Don’t be afraid of it.”