Your social graph is determined by the quality of conversations, people on the network and information exchanged you and your network members. Hence, it’s important to adopt some best practices (Dos) and refrain from indulging in certain kind of untoward behavior (Don’ts) while interacting on a day-to-day basis. Though, you may think that your posting does not make any difference on a ‘casual’ site like Facebook or MySpace, it all adds to your social image.
This social image building process may seem like a waste of time in the short term, but in the long run, this has the potential to yield rich dividends. For example, someone with whom you are interacting on Facebook can give you a lead to a potential job opening (may be his status update, it may be you reaching out to him outside Facebook etc) or in other case, someone may bounce a creative business idea and then you can team up and find a future business partner. Even someone’s posts and views on particular topics may be liked by you and he/she may end up as a date and subsequently marriage.
The social media is an opportunity to expand your network multiple tunes than is possible usually. It thus increases your ‘probability’ of doing something constructive with your network like the instances stated above. The flip side is, if not used judiciously and wisely, it can have negative consequences and result in harming your reputation. While each person has to determine his/her own ‘positioning’ in social network, listed below are some of the recommendations for personal online presence.
If you are yet to use Facebook or even if you are already using it, it would be a good idea to browse through http://www.facebook.com/help/ to understand more about the features and their judicious use.
Below is a list which includes some tips (Do’s) that can help individuals build their social identity using social networking websites like Facebook. Also listed is behavior which should be avoided (Don’ts) to have a valuable experience on this channel. Please not that this is not an exhaustive list of Do’s and Don’ts but surely covers some of the most important ones.
Be generous in replying to peoples’ comments on your posts. If someone took note of what you had to say, it’s pretty obvious that they expect you also to take care of what they had to say and reciprocate. If you don’t do that, chances are high that people will stop replying or even reading what you post. The reciprocation on Internet needs to be explicitly demonstrated; else the other person wouldn’t have any clue, if you had even read his/her post.
Rather than just posting and replying to the people’s comments on your posts, do read what others have written also and drop in a comment or ‘like’ (Facebook allows you to express your liking by a ‘like’ tab on each post) others post. This helps to develop a rapport between you and the other person and you will find that getting extended beyond the online life as well.
All networking websites post reminders of ‘Birthday’, ‘Marriage Anniversary’ and the like of those in your network. Drop in a good wish everyday on such occasions on that person’s wall or send him a private message. Even if it’s a busy day and you fail to do so, make sure you do it the next day. These occasions, are very special to every person and whosoever drops in even a small comment. You would be pleasantry surprised to see numerous good wishes on your ‘special occasions’ – accelerating your social graph.
Do recommend friends to your friends end help them ‘connect’ to those in your network, if your friend wants. This will help in the ‘favor being returned’ when you ask for. This will further your reach and expand your network.
If you are benefitted in terms of knowledge by a link or a story or an update that a person has posted, you should thank him/her. This encouragement can lead to more such behavior and thus more knowledge sharing can take place. You should also post relevant content that you come across and who knows that a discussion on that may reveal some new insights!
Do post a link or story from a topic which is of specific interest to a friend on his/her wall. This will let that person have a special feeling that you care for him/her and will also establish a ‘positive image’ for you in your network as well as the others can see what you are posting.
Do keep your profile ‘updated’ regularly with all the necessary information like ‘what you are looking for’, ‘your employer’, ‘your interests’ etc. This helps the relevant people to network and connect with you. Keep checking your privacy setting’s (the people who you want to share info with etc) very carefully as you can control access to each micro bit of the information you share.
Do not accept a ‘friend request’ from anyone blindly who you have not known before. This can be really detrimental as that person may be a spammer or an unwanted entity. If you are not sure and still want to connect, you can send that person a personal message and inquire more about him/her before adding to your network.
Do not post information which is confidential (e.g. a bid that your company is pursuing etc). This can be very detrimental to your career. It’s also not recommended that you post negative views about your company as this is not taken in a positive light and to vent out your grievances, most of the companies now have internal portals.
Do not post about issues on the wall, which may be too personal to you or the person on whose wall you post. Postings regarding a person’s religion, relationships, career, salaries, professional issues etc shall not be posted in public. Everything that you post on your wall/someone else’s wall, automatically gets posted on everyone’s wall in your network, unless you have some privacy settings.
Avoid posting on contentious issues especially those relating to a bias against a religion, sex, a country or a community. These are never taken in the stride and are bound to have negative effect on your image as a person with strong biases.
Be very careful while posting photos or videos in your profile. These can be easily downloaded and used against you or misinforming a prospective employer or spouse/date. For example photos from ‘wild party’ can be detrimental to your own image in front of your family. For that matter please be cautious as who is clicking you as people are very eager to post all kinds of pictures on Facebook!
Do not click on every application that your friend has ‘liked’. Some of the applications contain spam and they retrieve information about you, which could be used against you in some manner. Even some applications may damage your PC or laptop, as they may contain virus.
A Facebook page is a brand’s profile on Facebook, similar to that of an individual’s presence. However, this Facebook page has certain unique features like unlimited number of community members, access to applications, access to analytics, etc. It’s very important that the objective is clearly defined while launching each campaign and each step is taken with much caution as the damage caused can be irreparable. The Return on Investment on a Social Media Campaign, unlike that by the usual channels, is not defined over a short period of time, but is more determined from long term perspective. For e.g. The weblink of that innovative ad campaign can be forwarded from one friend to other after a year of the campaign launch and have a positive impact and even a ‘sale’.
Social Media Marketing is thus a ‘Strategic Investment’ and thus calls for a long term vision. There can be manifold uses of an effective social media presence like it can help building a brand image, boost brand recall, help through a sale, keep the existing customers informed about the new products etc. While each company is unique and have their own unique ‘positioning’ in the market amongst competitors, listed below are some of the recommendations which may help in establishing an effective online presence.
The first and foremost thing that any corporate should keep in mind that social media is a powerful channel to further your brand reach and should be in conjunction with your brand positioning. A ‘messaging consistency’ should be maintained across social media websites that are chosen to establish a presence in. This has to be ensured by consistent messaging – for example, the timing and content of a tweet should match what’s posted on the wall of Facebook.
For a corporate, in order to establish a populist presence, it’s very important to have a well laid out plan. The step wise (IF, THEN, ELSE) plan should be in place in order to understand the user behavior, collect feedback and then iterate. For example, IF the users do not like a new post and give negative comments on the same, THEN analysis Should be done and if found justified, the next post should carry a clarification/rectification, ELSE the same picture post should be retained and users comments be dealt with (pacify, explain etc).
The time available to ‘fix a feature/application, page settings etc’ which has got negative user response is very less. The ‘ASAP’ (as soon as possible) generations requires the actions to take place as users react. Thus during the initial launch days 24X7 monitoring of the feedback by the target audience is very important.
Given the continuous ‘need for change’ of a generation ‘spoilt for choice’, there is a need of constantly evolving and adapting to the ‘latest trend’ in order to keep the audience engaged. For e.g. If humorous images/videos are a fad then you may want to add some humour to the campaign. Similarly there is an increasing adoption of ‘video on web’ due to growing broadband penetration. The target audience’s preference need to be studied and the campaign targeted accordingly.
It’s very important to strike a conversation with your audience. For example, if someone asks a query on the ‘Wall’ the online community manager(s) should be adept at handling it and respond quickly. Also, utmost care should be taken that the response is appropriate and worded correctly.
If you don’t respond for a long time (that’s more likely to be in minutes or even seconds for today’s generation), users lose interest. It’s very important to prioritize these responses and give first priority to those that can attract negative publicity/press.
Ego boosting works the best with this generation as this generation wants everyone to take a note of what they said, Thus applauding people who post something good and informative as a comment to the blog, video or response to your wall posting, can really help attract more people and retain the interest of the audience. Not only the positive, but also constructive criticism should be noted and given due mention. This shows transparency.
The community members might get monotonous with the same kind of content. These days it is very common for brands to take help of third-party applications, which are later on embedded with the brand’s Facebook page. These applications are often prepared with the brand and customer in focus. It could simply be an entertainment application or a purely utility application like a store locator application which could be used by retailers. Many of the conversations with the community manager could be eliminated, if valuable information is made available to the community members through such interactive applications.
Social Media is not about broadcasting information about your brand/firm. It’s about communicating. Just a one way flow of information can make it unattractive for the customer who ‘likes’ your page on Facebook. Given the attention spans of the Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z who are avid users of Internet and thus the social networking websites, it takes very less time for them to lose interest.
Taking criticism positively is a very important proponent to build the brand image. When a user posts something negative, try to first understand what the user is disgruntled with. Interpret the corrective action and if required, immediately intimate the respective team (marketing, sales, operations, human resources etc). Also get the commitment on the time required to resolve the issue and convey it to the user. For example if it’s a delay in servicing, first apologize and then convey the time it will take to fix the issue. This will create a positive impression and the customers will start perceiving it as a brand/firm which ‘cares’. Social media is about engaging the user and more importantly ‘listening’ to the voice of the users on a real time basis by way of reading his/her comments on your social media page. This user voice needs to be converted into ‘action items’ and then acted upon. This honest feedback is very important and sometimes the ideas given by the user can be helpful in the launch of a new product, improving an existing one or improving service quality.
Engaging users by posting updates regularly is a desirable activity. However, posting unnecessarily is not perceived positively. It may not be necessary to post updates about the topics not directly relevant to the brand like political issues etc. This may result in loss of focus and brand erosion in the long term causing customers to lose interest in your social media page.
If by a rational reply or replies to a post by someone on your ‘wall’, an unnecessary argument is triggered off and/or it appears that the person has an agenda, it’s advisable to immediately stop participating (replying further to what he/she posts). If you continue, it may result in heated exchanges causing much more damage to the brand image. One of the best ways to deal with the situation is to intimate openly on the wall that you would like to have a personal communication with this other person who has created this situation. ‘To understand the issue better’ can be one of the most adept reasons cited for the same. Then you can establish a one-to-one communication and resolve the issue.
It just takes seconds for your update post to reach the walls of your hundreds or thousands of followers. So, if you delete a post/update it doesn’t mean it won’t reach the wider audience. Hence, if by mistake you have posted/updated wrong information, don’t feel shy to apologize in public. Accepting the mistake will garner respect for you. We all make mistakes. It’s human. However always remember the golden rule ‘Think long enough before posting’. The post/update is like an arrow which is almost impossible to retrieve once shot!
It’s the ‘content’ which engages the user and in turn draws attention to your Facebook page. If most of the posts/updates from you are linked only to sales, then the user may lose interest and this can even lead him/her to not be a community member anymore. The mix of content should in such a way that it keeps on attracting the attention of the user (contests, videos, pictures etc) while delivering the key message of the brand.
You should restrain from posting anything maligning your competitors brand image. Even if a competitor indulges in such behavior, you should avoid it. One of the ways can be to come up with a terse and firm message on your wall that it’s against your policy to respond to such campaigns.