Five Social Media Guidelines to Adhere to in 2010

It’s no longer a question of whether or not your brand should go social—it’s an expectation these days. In fact, according to the Cone Study, a staggering 93% of social media users expect companies to have a social media presence. This represents your current and future consumers.

Plain and simple, social media is here to stay. And your presence is required.

But rather than make a hasty go of social media, it pays to have a strategy in place. Here’s a quick breakdown of five social media tips you should take into 2010 to ensure that your business harvests all of the benefits and opportunities that social media has to offer:

Choose your site wisely
The number of social media sites currently available to companies is growing at an exponential rate, and it’s an important first step for your company to do some research about your audience so you know where to locate them within the vast social media realm.

For instance, Nielson Online reports the largest growth on Facebook coming from the 35-49 age demographic. Is this the audience you’re trying to capture? What’s more, Quantcast statistics show that Twitter’s U.S. audience is slightly more female than male.

Perform a search to see where your brand is being talked about. You can do this directly from a major search engine or by using the search capabilities the social media outlets provide.

Have a purpose going in
Determine what message your brand wants to communicate and who you’re trying to communicate with. Some other important aspects to consider include what you’re trying to gain from your social media presence and what your clients and prospects will be seeking within your profiles.

It’s critical that your purpose conveys the same value that these clients and prospects seek from your business. Remember, your social profiles serve as a means to build trust and communicate the value of your business to your audience.

Engage your followers
Don’t be boring or ego-centric. Social media is not a classroom, so there’s no need to lecture anyone. Conversation and engagement are vital components of successful social media campaigns, so be sure that the way you’re communicating allows for such interaction.

And above all, don’t break the fundamental rule of social media marketing: Thou shall not forget to update profiles and include fresh content.

Establish meaningful measurements
Let’s say your business sets up a Facebook page, a Twitter account and posts an informational video to YouTube. One month later, you’ve amassed 100 Facebook fans, 300 Twitter followers and your video has received 1,200 views on YouTube. Have you reached your goals?

If you decode the numbers, what this really means is that within one month, brand advocates asking to receive regular news and updates through your Facebook page increased 100%. With your Twitter account, you’ve increased your reach nearly 300%, with followers who view posts daily and (hopefully) retweet your news and messages to all of their connections just as often.

And those views on YouTube translate to a 1,200% increase in the number of interactions consumers have had with your brand. Establish meaningful measurements and let the numbers do the talking.

Unify your marketing message
Use each of your marketing channels to build on each other and strengthen your overall message.

For example, let’s say your clothing company just started offering a line of children’s apparel. Unify your social media channels to strengthen the message. Tweet about it, include a tab on your Facebook page dedicated to this new line, post commercials advertising the children’s apparel on YouTube, and include a link in your company newsletter and e-mail signature to all of these social media channels. This provides consumers with quick and easy access to your social channels and increases the likelihood that they’ll check out your new fashion line.

Lisa Wehr is CEO and founder of digital marketing agency Oneupweb.

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