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Social Media Marketing Guidelines

Social media marketing is an enigma for some and a clear path for others, but for everyone, social media marketing starts out as an enigma. It is a maze of pathways that seem to lead into each other in a confusing manner. To some, success on social media seems mysterious and unknown.

I once saw social media marketing as an enigma, but now social media plays a vital role in my brand. The key to becoming successful on social media is to know what to do and what not to do. This statement may sound like common sense, but common sense is not necessarily common practice. Not only is common sense not common practice, but not everyone knows what to do (and not do) on social media. I am going to dispel all doubts on what to do and what not do do on social media with a comprehensive list of 25 DO’s and DONT’s of social media marketing.

 

DOs For Content

#1: Post Your Content Often: When you build a social media audience, that is your audience. Don’t be afraid to share your own blog posts most of the time. I share my blog posts with my Twitter followers often, and this results in a massive amount of traffic for my blog. Instead of losing followers for promoting myself too often, I actually gained followers. People appreciate valuable content regardless of whether all of the content comes from your blog or not.

#2: Spice It Up: Don’t tweet the same things over and over again. I use CSV files that contain prewritten tweets and HootSuite’s bulk scheduler to schedule over 100 tweets in just six clicks. It is a massive time saver. By following this approach, I tweet in an eight day cycle which means I will send the identical tweet eight days from now. Taking this approach will lead to my most loyal followers seeing the same tweet multiple times, so every month, I revise my CSV files. I will add, remove, and change certain tweets so the tweets are new.

#3: Read Before You Share: Many people have a tendency to look at the title of an article and share that article based on the title. Don’t let that be you. After a closer examination of the article, you may decide this article is not good enough for your audience, or you may completely love it. Remember, each article you share reflects what your brand stands for. If you share an article that looks good on the surface but is a low-value article upon closer examination, then that reflects the way people see your brand.

#4: Write Your Own Content More Often: The classic problem new bloggers face is the inability to share their blog posts without quickly going through all of the blog posts. If you send out 10 posts per day on one of your social networks, and each post was a link to one of your blog posts, how long would it take for you to go through all of your blog posts? When I came across this problem, I decided to write two blog posts per day for an extended period of time. These blog posts were in the 250-1,000 word range which isn’t the best word range for SEO, but I quickly had enough content to easily share my blog posts across my social networks. Now that I have over 1,000 blog posts on my blog, it is easier for me to share over 100 of my blog posts on Twitter every day.

#5: Find Reliable Sources: When you share other people’s blog posts, the rule of thumb is to look for reliable sources. In this case, reliable sources are sources that contain accurate information, but they are also blogs within your niche with numerous pieces of good content that you can share. If you are in the social media niche, some reliable sources are Social Media Today, Social Media Examiner, and Business2Community just to name a few. All three of those blogs have a strong focus on social media, and it’s easy to find a good piece of content on any of those three blogs. You may even find some of my guest posts on Business2Community.

 

DON’Ts For Content

#1: Be Too Broad: The more you specialize on social media, the easier it is for people to understand your brand, and when people understand your brand, they have a deeper understanding of what to expect from your products and services. If you are too broad with your content (i.e. you tweet about music on one day and tweet about pet training advice the next day), then your followers will not understand your brand. My advice is to go off topic less than 10% of the time, and if you can avoid going off topic, then that’s even better.

#2: Share Too Often: On Twitter, I can get away with tweeting once every 15 minutes because people know me, respect my tweets, and the average Twitter user does not spend much time on the social network. If I sent one Facebook post every 15 minutes, I would annoy people because they would notice more since Facebook users stay on the social network for an extended period of time.

#3: Not Sharing Enough: If you only share content once in a blue moon, then you won’t build the relationship between your audience and your brand that is necessary for survival and growth. You should be posting on any social network at least five times per day. The ideal number of times to post per day for each social network varies, but five posts per day is the minimum.

#4: Inconsistent Posting: If you find yourself in this trap, get out of it now. If you inconsistently post content on your social networks, your audience will see you less often. Posts from other social media users will take up their home feeds, and if they don’t see you at all, then your audience will completely forget who you are. HootSuite is a reliable tool for scheduling tweets, Facebook posts, and other social media posts.

#5: Excessive Retweeting/Sharing/Repinning: When you excessively share other people’s content, it becomes more difficult for your followers to see your content in the mix. Your social media profile will be filled with different messages that will make your brand’s identity difficult for your audience to discover.

 

DOs For Audience

#1: Focus On Growing A Targeted Following: The difference between a follower and a targeted follower is so dramatic because one won’t have any interest in your brand while the other will have a strong interest in your brand before even knowing about it. Targeted followers are people interested in your niche, and when these people discover your brand, your brand perfectly fits in since these people are interested in your niche.

#2: Interact With Your Audience: Interacting with your audience allows you to develop stronger relationships between you and your audience. Few people take the time to interact with their audiences which will make your interactions stand out all the more. Some of the interactions I had on social media opened doors to new opportunities that I would have never discovered on my own.

#3: Follow Back: When I first created my Twitter account, I always wanted to be the person with 1 million followers who only followed family members and a few friends. I also envisioned the blue checkmark next to my name. It hurt to see myself stuck at 1,667 followers even though I only followed 12 people. I knew my strategy needed to change quickly to surpass 1 million followers. I decided to follow people back so they would stick around, and I also followed targeted individuals who were likely to follow back. I have not surpassed 1 million followers yet, but I aspire to reach that milestone before I get out of college.

#4: Set Goals: Setting goals for your audience growth is a great way to actually reach those goals. Many people simply go with the persona of, “I want a larger audience,” but the word “larger” can have many meanings. If you only gain one follower today, then your audience got larger. If you gain 100 followers today, then your audience got larger. Although the audience gets larger in both scenarios, the end results are dramatically different. Ask yourself how many followers you want to gain per day and then move towards that goal. When you set goals, choose the low hanging fruit (i.e. if you gain 10 followers per day, go for 15-20 followers per day) so you can get a series of small wins that make progress natural.

#5: Provide Your Audience With Free Value: When first confronted with the decision of providing free value or not, brands often stop short of providing free value. They provide something for free, but the free stuff is rarely valuable. While some brands view this approach as a way to ensure tactics from an informational product are not free and on the web (and hopefully, this will increase sales), not providing valuable content hurts sales. Potential customers have more ways than ever before to conduct research on a brand, and with more free content on the web, potential customers like to look at the free stuff before buying the products. If potential customers don’t appreciate your blog posts, then they won’t buy your products, regardless of how good those products are.

 

DON’Ts For Audience

#1: Focus On The Number: If you do not meaningfully engage with your audience, then it does not matter whether you have 100 followers or 100,000 followers. The number is not verification that your social media marketing efforts are working. The results you get because of your followers indicates that your social media efforts are working.

#2: Only Think About Getting More Sales: All of your real followers are people with needs and desires just like you. Targeted followers will want to learn more about your niche, and although an information product can fill in that desire, free value does the job more effectively. Not only does free value serve others, but the people you serve will be more enticed to buy your products later on. You must be in it to help others, and the revenue will come as a by-product.

#3: Buy Fake Followers: Some people, confused with the process of gaining followers, will consider buying fake followers. Buying fake followers is the worst thing you can do for your brand because your real followers will feel uncomfortable, your engagement will stay the same, and your brand’s reputation will get damaged. Buying fake followers is viewed as a slimy way to get ahead and boast a superficial audience. You don’t want your brand to be viewed in that manner.

#4: Develop An Ego Based On Audience Size: Regardless of how large your audience becomes, never grow an ego. Growing an ego will hurt the way you view the very people who helped you reach your current status in life. Some people get “drunk in the power,” but when you get drunk on power, that power is destined to evaporate or negatively impact your deepest relationships with the people who mean the most to you.

#5: Keep Them On Social Media: Your primary goal should be to send people from social media to your blog, landing pages, and occasionally, your sales pages. If people stay on social media, then they won’t reach your blog. Create more compelling social media posts with links and pictures of your blog posts so your followers click on your links more often.

 

DOs For Interaction

#1: Ask Questions: Asking a question is one of the most basic ways to start a conversation because a question demands an answer. Regardless of whether you get a comprehensive answer or an “I don’t know,” you can take the conversation further.

#2: Answer Questions: Twitter Advanced Search makes it easy for you to search for tweets within your niche in which users ask questions. You can answer these users’ questions, and by answering their questions, you will start a conversation that can develop into a meaningful relationship. Regardless of which social network you use and what searching tools are available, people ask questions related to your niche. Once you find these questions, respond with detailed answers.

#3: Ask For An Opinion: Have you seen any of the tweets that ask users to retweet if they believe in one statement and to favorite the tweet if they believe in another statement? You can ask your followers what their opinion is about something and get more social engagement in the process. On Pinterest, you can ask people to repin if they believe in one statement and to like the pin if they believe in another statement. On Facebook, you can ask your audience to like the post if they believe on one statement and to share the post if they believe in the other statement. MLB Memes does this often on their Twitter handle, and because of this strategy, the account gets thousands of retweets and favorites for some of its tweets. Take a look at this tweet that got thousands of retweets and favorites by asking for readers’ opinions.

#4: Thank People For Sharing Your Content: Each time someone shares one of my blog posts on social media, I thank that person. Few people thank the people in their audiences for sharing their content, and the people in your audience will feel special when you give them that recognition. The recognition will make it difficult for the people in your audience to forget who you are, and many of the people who I thank the first time end up sharing my content numerous times. That’s just a by-product of being a nice, genuine individual who gives his/her audience the recognition that they deserve.

#5: Free Product Promotions: When I do a free product promotion or create a new landing page, I contact individual followers and ask them if they are interested in the free promotion. When using this strategy, I only interact with people who have interacted with me before. The people who have interacted with me before will feel more comfortable since they know who I am. If I only contacted strangers, my free product promotions would not work as well.

 

DON’Ts For Interaction

#1: Ask For Shout Outs: The last thing you should ever do on social media is ask highly successful individuals to give you a shout out. I get tweets of people asking me for shout outs, and I don’t give them. I believe that instead of asking for shout outs, people should grow their audiences so people ask them for shout outs. Even if you manage to get a shout out from a highly successful individual, shout outs won’t transform your brand. Most shout outs generate temporary recognition that is insufficient for building a successful business around.

#2: Get Into Verbal Fights: If you get into verbal fights with other people, many of your followers will unfollow you. People don’t like hanging out with pessimists that they don’t know, and they certainly won’t want to follow someone who clogs up the timeline with inappropriate content. Play nice on social media and elsewhere.

#3: Exclusively Interact By Thanking People For The Follow: I almost never thank someone for following me. If your simply thank someone for the follow, then you’ll probably get a response like, “My pleasure.” This type of response is a nice gesture, but also a conversation ender. Most of the conversations that start as “Thanks for the follow” don’t result in long, meaningful relationships.

#4: Post Before Thinking: The advantage of having a conversation on social media is that you can think of your responses before you send them. However, talking with someone face to face makes the same process very difficult. Use the extra time to write a more compelling, meaningful response to one of your follower’s social media posts. If you get caught up in a verbal fight and find yourself about to post something without thinking, remove your hands from the keyboard, take a few deep breaths, look at what you typed, and ask yourself if putting that post on social media is really worth your brand’s reputation. Remember that anything that goes up on your brand’s account and your personal account reflects your brand’s reputation.

#5: Ignore Direct Messages: Direct messages nowadays are highly associated by spam. We have to verify TrueTwit Validation and click the link in the direct message to confirm we are real people. About 80% of the direct messages I get are spam, and they can be downright annoying. However, 20% of the direct messages I get are relevant. Some people ask me questions via direct messages while other people contact me about speaking opportunities. That is quite the curveball from traditionally spammy messages. Don’t ignore your direct messages because you never know what will show up in the DM inbox.

 

DOs For Growth

#1: Read Social Media Articles: Since you are reading this article, then you are heading in the right direction. When I was stuck at 1,667 Twitter followers and had no social media audience anywhere else, I started to research how social media works so I could grow my Twitter audience and the audiences on my other social networks. I came across several great methods for growing my social media audience by reading articles and implementing the tactics.

#2: Create A Simple Plan: Simple plans are easier to understand than complex plans. You must understand your own plan if you wish to become successful on social media. Many people believe that complex plans are more difficult and that creating a simple plan is a downgrade. However, a simple plan can be more difficult to implement than a complex plan. One task can be more difficult than 10 tasks. Ask yourself how you can make your plan simpler to implement. A plan that is simpler to implement is not always easier to implement, but you’ll have a better idea of where you are heading and where you want to go.

#3: Go On Social Media Every Day: Earlier in the article, I mentioned how important it is to follow others and focus on growing a targeted following. However, if you only implement the tactics for one day, you will see growth on that day, but that growth will not carry over into the other days. I consistently gain 300 Twitter followers every day, but I don’t gain 300 Twitter followers every day by doing nothing. I gain those followers by consistently following targeted people who are highly likely to follow back. The moment I stop, my growth will slowly start to stop, and I may even experience a decline. Since I don’t want to see my growth stop, I continue putting in the work for Twitter and my other social networks every day. The moment consistency falls apart, your entire social media strategy can fall apart.

#4: Cross Promotion Across Your Social Networks: Not enough people cross promote their social networks. In fact, cross promotion is one of the secret weapons for dominating social media as a whole. Nothing is stopping you from tweeting about your YouTube channel, promoting your Facebook Page in every YouTube video’s description, and promoting your pins on your Facebook Page.You want people to travel across your social media accounts so they see more of your content and appreciate the value that you provide. Some of these people may decide to follow you on all of your social networks, and at that point, if you consistently post content on all of your social networks, these people are bound to see at least one of your social media posts every day.

#5: Build An Email List: One of the goals for all of your social networks should be to promote your landing pages so you can build an email list. The email list is where the money is because more people use email than social media, and most of the sales full-time bloggers make come from the email list. If you do not have your own email list yet, then start one with iContact, MailChimp, Aweber, or Constant Contact. I use iContact for my email lists, and ever since I started to focus on building my email lists, my revenue has skyrocketed.

 

DON’Ts For Growth

#1: Spend Money Prematurely: When businesses don’t get what they want from social media, they immediately look towards advertisements as a way to get initial exposure that would hopefully lead into constant exposure, traffic, and sales. Social media advertising will lead to more attention and traffic, but if you don’t use your social media accounts to engage with your audience, then the advertisement won’t lead to long-lasting results. Before you spend any money for social media advertising, you should get comfortable with sending more than five social media posts per day. Don’t rush the decision of spending money on social media advertising because you may not be ready for it yet (you must have a landing page with an autoresponder before you start paying for social media advertising).

#2: Use All Of The Social Networks: One of the most common mistakes people make is creating numerous social media accounts across all of the platforms and then trying to grow audiences on all of them. You may find yourself with accounts for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and a few other social networks. The problem with creating numerous social media accounts is that the more accounts you create, the more difficult it is for you to grow audiences on them. Each social network has its learning curve, and each social network requires that you put in a certain amount of work. Instead of building audiences on all of the social networks, only build an audience on one social network to start, and as you get better at that one social network, start experimenting with a second social network and advantage from one social network to the other social network in a one-at-a-time basis.

#3: Churn: Churning is the act of following numerous people and then unfollowing numerous people in a matter of minutes. The problem with churning is that social networks frown at this behavior and view it as a way of cheating the system. Your followers who notice the churning won’t appreciate it, but you will anger the social networks. Social networks have policies in place that, if violated, will result in a suspension (some suspensions are permanent), and all of the social networks have rules against churning. One time, someone with over 10,000 Twitter followers got suspended due to churning, and the account stayed suspended permanently. If you want to grow a social media audience and keep that social media audience, then you must play by the rules.

#4: Become Impatient: Social media growth takes a long period of time. It takes time to learn the methods that allow you to achieve rapid growth, and then it takes consistent, rapid growth to achieve big goals such as surpassing 100,000 followers. Success requires patience, and your efforts will pay off when patience combines with technique.

#5: Beg For The Follow: In an attempt to grow faster, some people will ask others to follow them. Asking people to follow you is not a time effective way to get more followers, and few of these people will agree to follow you. Some of these people will only follow you because they expect a follow back which means if you do not follow these people back, there is a likelihood that these people will unfollow you a few days later. There are better ways to get a follower than begging for one.

 

DOs For Time Management

#1: Use A Few Social Media Tools: When I first started to take social media seriously, I found myself using numerous social media tools. That is a big mistake because each social media tool takes up time, and most of them are more appreciated for statistics than for their actual use. One tool I used often was Tweriod which allows you to see when most of your followers are on Twitter. Ever since I started tweeting once every 30 minutes, this statistic became irrelevant since I started to tweet consistently, so I no longer use Tweriod. This one decision allowed me to save 15 minutes of my time per day.

#2: Use Social Media Tools Instead Of The Social Networks: I find myself on HootSuite more than I find myself on Twitter. That is because I use HootSuite to send tweets, Facebook posts, and other posts across my social networks. Instead of interacting with people on Twitter, I interact with these same people through HootSuite’s dashboard. HootSuite’s dashboard has fewer distractions which allows me to get to my other work (i.e. writing blog posts like this one) quicker.

#3: Have Something Important To Do Other Than Social Media: If you have something important to do other than social media, you will have a better incentive to get your work done on social media quicker. By getting your work done on social media quicker, you can create products and write content that you promote on your social networks. If you have nothing to promote on social media, then there is no point to building a social media audience.

#4: Use The Three Step Process: Each time I want to save more time on social media, I use the three step process that allows you to save time in any situation. The three steps are to identify a social media activity that takes up time, reduce the amount of time it takes you to perform that action (this can be done with tools, research, etc), and then repeat the process with other social media activities. The three step process does not exactly lay out the solution, but it gives you an easy-to-follow path for finding the solution that you are looking for.

#5: Set A Timer: When you set a timer for yourself, you will feel the pressure of working under the clock. You will have less time to procrastinate on the social networks because once the timer is up, you must log out of your social networks and disable your internet if you don’t need it for your work (browser blockers make this easy. For my Mac Book Pro, I use the Mindful Browsing web app. When I am writing a blog post, I don’t need the internet so I use Mindful Browsing when I write my blog posts). As you set the timer for yourself more often, you will become more comfortable with working under pressure and getting your social media work done in a shorter amount of time.

 

DON’Ts For Time Management

#1: Look At Trending Topics: On Twitter and Facebook, it is very tempting to look at the trending topics and see what is trending so we can know what is going on. Since trending topics are based on the news around us, we are bound to hear about the important trending topics from our friends regardless of whether we look at them on social media or not. One way I avoid looking at the trending topics is by carrying out all of my social media activity from HootSuite. On HootSuite, I don’t get to see the list of trending topics. Remember that trending topics are only big news for a few days or a few weeks at most, but your brand’s work (or lack of) will impact your confidence and brand’s reputation for a long period of time.

#2: Surf Through YouTube Videos: When people go on YouTube to grow their brands, it becomes tempting to search for some YouTube videos and then kick back and relax. We have a strong desire to surf for YouTube videos because we know we are destined to find something good on YouTube. When you feel like surfing through YouTube videos, and you know that you have more important work to do (you always have more important to do), remind yourself that the enjoyment you get from a YouTube video is temporary, and you may not even find the YouTube video you were looking for. You can reward yourself at the end of the day when you have completed all of your work, but until you complete all of your work, there is no reason to surf through YouTube videos.

#3: Manually Do The Things You Can Do Automatically: For a very long time, I manually scheduled my tweets with HootSuite. However, as I started to schedule more tweets, it became more difficult for me to manage my tweets, my school work, and my business. I looked for a permanent solution that would allow me to schedule more tweets and save time. The answer was HootSuite Pro which allows me to upload a CSV file of over 100 prewritten tweets. In six clicks, I can schedule 100 tweets, and if I did that manually, it would take more than two hours of my time every day. I don’t know how I would have manually scheduled tweets during my junior year.

#4: Make Excuses: Excuses quickly emerged as one of the most reliable methods to escape responsibility, but you can’t escape the results. You can blame the weather, your internet connection, your overwhelming amount of work, the curveball the day threw at you, and other things. It is easy to make excuses, but no matter how good our excuses are, they don’t improve the results for our brands and what they stand for. If anything, making excuses will hurt your brand’s reputation and stagnate its progress.

#5: Let Social Media Consume Your Life: The mission of social media marketing is to get as many positive results for your brand in as short of an amount of time as possible. You must have other things to do for your brand and your life besides social media. Letting social media consume your life is the equivalent of making the excuse that you don’t have to leave social media since it consumes your life. Even if you use social media from a business standpoint and get great results, spending too much time on social media will hurt your business. Social media is a double-edged sword that promises success to some and is primarily a top method of procrastination for others. How you use social media determines what you get out of it.

 

In Conclusion

By knowing what to do and what not to do on social media, you will know how to make your social media marketing efforts pay off. We will all spend countless hours of our lives on social media, so it only makes sense that we get the best out of social media. Getting the best out of social media requires some basic knowledge combined with techniques that get acquired along the way.

How did you list the DOs and DON’Ts list? Do you have any other tips on what to do and what to avoid on social media? Which DO or DON’T was your favorite? Please share your thoughts and advice below.

 

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10 Comments

  1. Vignesh says:

    Had a question. Any mention about the “bot” followers and how to avoid them?

    • Marc Guberti says:

      You can’t control if a bot decides to follow you. However, depending on the tools you use to grow your audience, you can filter your audience search to active users who for the most part are not bots. It all depends on the process you use to find the people who eventually make up your audience.

  2. I don’t know what to say… maybe espectacular is the best 😉

  3. Excellent advice! Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  4. Michael says:

    Incredible insight Marc!!! You always are “THE” source for the best information.

  5. As a newbie to social media, this blog was very insightful. I’ve bookmarked it for future reference. Thanks, Marc!

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