10 Essential Social Media Marketing Rules for Businesses and Brands

BY VICTORIA LEE, FOUNDER & MANAGING DIRECTOR, SOCIALEE MEDIA

Would you turn up to play cricket without knowing the rules? Unlikely. Like sport, social media marketing is a strategic long game, packed with rules and anomalies. 

Yet every day brands jump onto social media without a blind clue what they are doing - and then wonder where it went wrong.

The reason is painfully simple: if you don’t understand the rules then you're starting on the losing team.

So before you set up social media or content marketing for your business take some time to understand and consider how to apply these 10 fundamental rules of social media marketing:

1. Listen

Success with social media and content marketing requires more listening and less talking.

Find out what your target audience are talking about and join discussions to learn what’s important to them.

Only then can you create content that will be valuable to your customers and spark online conversation.

2. Focus

A restaurant offering five specialist dishes is likely to turn out a better dish that a diner that serves every dish under the sun.

A highly-focused social media and content marketing strategy has a better chance for success than a strategy that attempts to be all things to all people.

Once you’ve taken the time to understand your target market you can build a strong specialist online brand that will appeal to them.

Never be a jack-of-all-trades.

3. Genuine

So you have 10,000 connections… but no one is engaging with your content. Oh.

It’s better to have 1,000 online connections who are genuinely interested in your brand and read, share and talk about your content with their own audiences, than 10,000 connections who disappear after connecting with you the first time.

Our recent post on Protein World's disastrous #BeachBodyReady campaign talks about the futility of attention-seeking stunts that attract a large new following of users with no real interest in your brand. After the initial engagement they will never come back.

4Quality

Quality beats quantity every time. Once you've built an audience that is genuinely interested in your service or product, you must focus on serving them high quality content. It won't be hard to persuade genuine fans to share those useful posts, visuals and articles you produce with their own social media audience. 

And each time your content is shared and discussed on the social web, your brand is opened up to an entire new audience - each of whom is a potential corridor for new customers to find you.

5. Patience

Social media and content marketing success doesn’t happen overnight.

If you commit to the long haul you will achieve results; aim for lightening results and you're setting yourself up for failure.

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6. Influence

Invest time in finding the Influential Industry Professionals online who have an audience that is likely to be interested in your brand. Schedule time aside each week to connect with these influencers, get involved in discussions with them and work to build positive online relationships.

Once you are on their radar as an authoritative and interesting source of information, they might share your content with their own followers. This would put you and your business in front of a huge new audience.

7. Value

‘Content that is valuable to your audience is valuable to you.’ Read that again. And again.

If you spend all your time promoting your products and services, people will stop listening. You must add value to the conversation. Less stick, more carrot.

Focus on creating amazing content and developing online relationships.

Social media marketing is essentially a powerful form of word-of-mouth marketing; develop a reputation as an industry expert and, in time, word-of-mouth will lead new connections to your doorstep.

8. Acknowledgment

Building relationships is one of the most important elements of social media marketing. 

Acknowledge every person who reaches out to you in the same way you would acknowledge someone who contacted you in person.

9. Accessibility

Followers online can be fickle and won’t hesitate to replace you if you disappear for weeks or months.

You must make yourself regularly available to your audience. That doesn’t mean you need to consistently publish new content - just don’t publish content and then disappear.

If someone reaches out and wants to chat about your latest blog post, be ready to engage in a conversation.

10. Reciprocity

A portion of your social media time should be spent sharing and talking about content published by others. 

After all, you can’t expect other users to share your content and talk about you if you don’t do the same for them.

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