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5 Social Media Best Practices for Business

Social networks and blogs are changing how consumers find places and services, how and where they share their experiences, and eventually, where they will spend their time and money. Without an understanding of, and participation in, social networks, you can miss shaping and contributing to the decision-making process of those who define the success of your business.

While social media cheat-sheets and short cuts are available almost everywhere you look, the truth is that we have some work ahead of us. To help, I’ve assembled a list of five best practices to help you build, cultivate, and measure success in the new web right now.

1. Dedicate the time

We’re all very busy and our to-do list is never ending. Because time is a big concern, think about social media as an opportunity cost. Will your investment in identifying and connecting with prospects, customers, and influencers outperform your other activities? The answer is yes for most businesses, so carve out time for strategic experimentation. In short, you get out of it, what you invest.

2. Conquer your fears

Many business owners believe that social media gives people a chance to criticize their business. That’s true, but avoiding social media doesn’t mean that their opinions will never see the light of day. Your brand is at the mercy of those who take to social media to share their experiences, so you might as well take an active role to contributes to the stature and perception of your brand. You might even learn how to improve your product and service in the process.

3. Listen and research to learn and contribute

Social networking is far more effective when you realize that creating profiles and updating social networks aren’t arbitrary. There’s an art and science to all of this, and the process begins with listening and research. Step one: create a list of keywords that represent your market and then use the search box in each social network to see what people are saying about you. As you examine the results, you’ll identify the people who are leading conversations and the dialogue that invites and inspires participation. If local business is paramount to success, use services such as Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, LinkedIn. Also monitor location-based networks such as Foursquare, Gowalla, and Loopt.

4. Establish an attractive and expansive presence

Your presence online is far more valuable than you may realize. While you may think that you should focus on your website, your social-media presence also represents you and what you offer. The ability to showcase your products and services to attract customers and spark conversation is arguably greater on social networking sites than your own website. In any case, connecting the dots between social networks, websites, and the real world is now as important as the service and products that you offer.

5. Use engagement as the new customer service and marketing

It’s not what you say about you, it’s what they say about you that counts. Customer service and engagement overall is a new and genuine form of unmarketing. Customers, prospects, and influencers are already engaging with others to contribute, learn, and discover. They are forming and sharing opinions and making decisions based on the information they find online—with or without you. You should use engagement as a fast, free, and powerful way to reach and serve customers.

This is your time to engage! Doing so will earn you permanent residence in the hearts and minds of the people who make up your markets. This will expand market opportunities, build brand awareness, stimulate demand, and engender loyalty and advocacy.

Originally published on American Express OPEN Forum

Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google Buzz, Facebook

Please consider reading, Engage!: It might just change the way you think about Social Media


Get Putting the Public Back in Public Relations and The Conversation Prism:



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160 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “5 Social Media Best Practices for Business”

  1. “The ability to showcase your products and services to attract customers and spark conversation is arguably greater on social networking sites than your own website. “

    This is such a great comment. Many of my clients just don't realize that you will reach so many more people with your message on social media than you will with just your website. Once I start to explain this point, they start to understand why their company needs to be in more than one place on the internet.

  2. The time is the biggest reason where most social media efforts fail. You need to invest the time to ensure the success

  3. Sally Falkow says:

    Great post as always Brian.. I particularly liked this one: Connecting the dots between social networks, websites, and the real world is now as important as the service and products that you offer.

  4. Kyle Lacy says:

    Good post! “It's not what you say about you, it's what they say about you” It's true customers represent your brand just as much as you do…I'm much more interested in what they have to say more then what the company has to say. A good review from the company means little compared to an actual customer. It's make complete sense to engage with customers they are essentially the ones doing the marketing,.

  5. Bob says:

    Good post, but a little crit. Keep in mind the importance of words & images working together, your post is wonderful, but your graphic is bad. What happened to her hands? This image looks like it should be featured on PSD (Photoshop disasters). Cheers.

  6. Cherry Rahtu says:

    This is a classic social media advice. thanks Brian

  7. Jennifer says:

    I like the “dedicate the time” advice. There's too much “automate your tweets,” “automate your followers” kind of stuff out there. To me this has resulted in a lot of spammy followers. I don't return the “favor.” I can also tell who's automating their tweets. They never provide the value that true tweeters do.

    As for FB, once you have more than a few friends, it's impossible to keep up with the ones who don't post much. I have to see something from you most every day or I just might forget who you are!

    Good post, thanks.

  8. lary says:

    The one thing that I personally find very useful and powerful is listening and researching, as it is the best part where the process begins. Social networking is far more effective when you realize that creating profiles and updating social networks aren’t arbitrary.

    social media management

  9. lary says:

    The one thing that I personally find very useful and powerful is listening and researching, as it is the best part where the process begins. Social networking is far more effective when you realize that creating profiles and updating social networks aren’t arbitrary.

    social media management

  10. juergen says:

    I think “Conquer your fears” is important.

    Most businesses did not understand, that social media is more than just assigning someone to managing twitter and facebook accounts or write a blog. This direct communication channels must be empowered and empathic.

  11. Bill Rylance says:

    How about a best practice that helps us deal with time-consuming tedious tweets? See “Hell in 140 characters” http://bit.ly/b9cuan

  12. Phil says:

    Big business houses seems to be started the realization of social media importance ins their business on multiple social places as compared to single famous media site

  13. Credit Card Collector says:

    It is interesting about 2. Conquer your fears.
    I believe listen to what customers and others have to say about your business is actually away to identify which are the business's weaknesses and strengths.
    Those feedback are helpful in for self-improvement.

  14. Sarah Barbee says:

    Great simple tricks! Enjoyed reading it! Will check out your other posts!

  15. Brad says:

    Great list. Easy to understand and implement. Many thanks.

  16. As a provider of B2B Telemarketing Services, I find this article very helpful.

    See us on the web at: http://rhinotelemarketing.com

  17. Uwe says:

    How do you create brand awarness to the mobile consumer which has 8 X more penetration than Desktop?

  18. Mel ♔ says:

     nice feature!

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  21. stacie1121 says:

    Other than FB I am relatively new to social media. I understand how important it is. Other than building a LinkedIn profile, where do I start? How do I learn the “ins and outs?”

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