Social Media: The Rules of Engagement

So my mom is on Facebook.

Though she rarely signs in and hasn’t posted anything since the day she opened her account – she’s taken the steps to joining the Social Media revolution by just putting her name out there.

The problem is, if she were a business, her blank page would not bode well for her company. It would signal to customers and the rest of the social media universe that she merely signed on because everyone else had done so, not because she genuinely intended to communicate directly and offer valuable information.

Her lack of posts, interaction and presence are tell tale signs that she jumped into the deep end of the pool before learning the basics on how to swim.

Businesses should not dive into the fast-paced realm of social media without first understanding the rules of engagement:

1. Update your website. Appearances are everything and regardless how the motto goes, people do judge a book by its cover. A businesses’ webpage is its online identity – whatever social networks you join, people will refer back to your webpage to find out more about you. If you wouldn’t go to a social event without first making yourself look presentable, why would you join a social media site without first making sure your website is up to par?

2. Know who you want to reach. Think about it this way, would you go to a Monster Truck Rally to sell medical supplies? While that might not be a bad idea, typically you’re not going to find the type of customer here that will empty their pockets to purchase the latest finger splint. Point is, know your audience and go where they are. Different social media sites cater to different demographics- so do the research!

3. Don’t be a wallflower, join the party! It’s not enough to simply join a social network – you must actually have a presence there as well, otherwise you’re missing out on the opportunity to meet and interact with current and potential customers.

4. Don’t be that Guy/Girl. Everyone knows them, the guy/gal that only talks about themselves. It’s a turn-off. Don’t do it. It’s called social networking because it’s meant to be social. Take the time to interact with people, contribute to conversations without being self-promotional.

Which leads me to my final rule…

5. Have something to offer. We live in a “what’s in it for me” world and let’s face it, if you can’t bring something to the table, you’re likely to be passed aside. Social network sites can and should be used, not only to announce the latest news, but to provide tips/advice, answer questions, etc.