The 10 Commandments of Social Media

A common misconception of social media is that not a lot of people see it. People often say that they have a Twitter handle or a blog, but assume no one sees it, so why take it seriously? Unless you choose a career path that absolves you from engaging society in every way, social media should be treated like a grizzly bear: with caution and respect.

Imagine standing on a hill with a megaphone and all the people interested in your brand are standing just beneath you with their own megaphones, voluntarily listening to you speak. They can love you, leave you, or riot against you at any given moment depending on what you choose to say.

That is social media. Your brand gets the chance to be a part of countless lives everyday and that opportunity cannot be taken lightly. People want to interact; if you don’t offer them that ability, they leave.

Howard Gossage

This brings me to what I call the 10 commandments of social media:

The 5 Do’s

Post relevant material: If you are a restaurant, stick to food content that makes sense to your audience. Don’t mention that great movie you saw last week.

Post regularly: subscribers can quickly detect a “dead brand walking” which is a brand that posts infrequent and ill-timed content. Users avoid these brands like zombies.

Have a direction: What is your post saying? I understand you found a funny meme but is that what your brand is really about? Does your post this week have any relation to your post from last week? If not then you don’t have a voice. See 5th Do.

Give thought: Think about your posts. People don’t want to read the first thing that comes to your mind. Think about what the post says for your brand. What’s your point? Remember all those followers can leave anytime they want.

Have a voice: Give your brand a voice and stick to it. If your brand voice is elegant and classy then why are you posting funny sports videos? You wouldn’t expect your mother to curse like a sailor (probably) so why would you expect your childcare brand to talk about politics? Make it make sense.

The 5 Don’ts

Mix business and pleasure: If you’re on Instagram as your business please don’t “like” a picture that is not appropriate. If you have to like that picture of the scantily clad underwear model, do it with your personal Instagram account so your business doesn’t send mixed messages or get sued.

Be that brand: Social media means that everyone can see it . . . let me repeat . . . everyone can see what you put on social media. If a person tweets to you or comments to you that they are unhappy with your brand or have a problem with your services this is a chance to make a great impression. Don’t be the brand that tries to argue and prove them wrong. Just because you are behind a computer screen doesn’t remove you from the court of public opinion. That jury is pretty unforgiving.

Drunk Social: One of the worst combinations is alcohol and social media. Remember that one time you were the designated driver for all your friends and everything they were laughing about wasn’t funny to you? Your audience doesn’t want to be your bar-hopping buddy so leave them out of the drunk conversation. Tip: Outsource your social media to a specialist and you can imbibe all you want.

Post something you will regret: Social media rants are good for one thing: getting your brand into trouble. Maybe you have a particular distaste for a politician or an airline lost your luggage, but why risk polarizing your audience over it? Unless the purpose of your company includes subscribing to a particular set of beliefs, posting content that could offend someone (remember how I said “everyone sees it?”), does not make for good social media.

Forget the golden rule:  “Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad.” – Howard Gossage

Not every post has to focus on the bottom-line; the point of social media is to engage.  No one wants to talk to people who only talk about themselves, so why would you inject your product into every post? Just like a conversation, you wait for the appropriate opportunity to make it about you. There’s a reason they’re called “friends” and “followers,” rather than “customers” and “clients.”

Social media can be tricky, followers are finicky and trends are constantly changing. If you are starting out, or don’t think anyone sees your content, just resort to these 10 commandments to avoid becoming the “social media fail” people are posting about.