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The whole internet is awash with articles preaching the benefits that social media can bring to businesses – how you can reach out to new audiences, generate leads, manage your online reputation and boost your brand image (hey, we’ve even written a few of them ourselves).

It seems that social media is the future of the internet and that you’d be crazy to miss out.

But even once you’ve come up with a suitable social media strategy, getting your staff to implement it properly – thereby avoiding the worst pitfalls of social – is no walk in the park.

How do you make sure your staff make the most of their social media activities?

Social for Small Businesses is Easy

If you’re a sole trader or entrepreneur then getting started with social doesn’t throw up too many problems. You’re in total control of everything that’s put out on your social media channels – everything you Tweet, everything you post on Facebook, everything you +1.

It’s easy for you to monitor your approach to each of the different platforms and control the image you present to each of the audiences you’re targeting through them. Your interactions are automatically personal because they’re coming from one person rather than a faceless company.

What About Medium to Large Organisations?

Now things get tricky. Even though you’re involved in creating and overseeing the social media strategy, you’re not the only one contributing to it.

The potential pitfalls are numerous:

  • Your social strategy becomes disjointed – no channel knows what the other is doing. You’re replicating output across channels even though they’re targeting different groups. You begin to lose sight of the purpose of each of the different platforms and end up with one big incoherent mess.

  • Your social profiles get neglected – no one knows what they’re supposed to be doing and when. Gaps start to emerge in your social media timelines, followers/friends drop away and your social media channels start to decay.

  • Your customers decide you’re not listening – because no one replies to direct enquiries, creaating a bad impression fro those that come later.

  • Your great website content is left unpromoted – well, nobody told ME is was getting published!

  • You bore everyone – including yourselves. Who wants to interact with a brand? No one! People want to interact with people.

  • You offend your audience – stuff that’s inappropriate for you business social media profiles is posted. Your customers react badly. It creates a stir and negative publicity for your company…

The list goes on. While some of these concerns are more relevant to some businesses and organisations than others (e.g. a healthcare company would have to be really careful about interactions with disgruntled customers) all can have a negative effect on your social media presence.

And if your efforts are having a negative effect, why bother at all? (Which seems, incidentally, to be the position of some of the world’s biggest brands…)

Don’t Worry – You Can Fix It

Rather than jumping off the social media bandwagon altogether you just need to take a few simple steps to make sure you’re presenting a united but not overlapping front through all your online channels:

  • Slim down – do one or two channels well rather that doing them all badly. Decide based on your target audience (i.e. your customers) and which channels they predominantly use.

  • Make sure you know exactly who you’re targeting with each social media outlet – draw up customer profiles, decide which side of your company’s ‘personality’ is most suited to that type of customer.

  • Make sure everyone involved in your online marketing efforts knows exactly what each social media channel will be used for and which audience it’s targeted at.

  • Make a style guide – just a few guiding principles that will govern every post/Tweet/page you create. Do one for each of the social media channels you use.

  • Get each member of your team to set up their own Twitter profile. Don’t force them to use their personal one – instead get them to create a business profile. Not only does that create a much more human face to their interactions, it also makes them accountable for what they say and respond to – something you don’t get with an anonymous company profile.

Following those 5 simple steps will ensure that your activity across all channels is not only joined up but is presented with a human face and that it speaks directly to your target audience.

What you actually say is another matter – and it’s entirely up to you…

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