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Social media: the networking event you can’t afford to miss

Lindsay Herbert Head of Digital (Global)

In this, the fourth of a six part column contributed by Precedent to PSMG magazine, Lindsay Herbert talks through some deadly sins of social media, while giving three simple rules to help you succeed in the social space.

Before I get into the nitty gritty of how to capitalise on social media, I’ll do the obligatory ‘why social media?’ for any remaining naysayers: put most simply, social media is where your users live online. For anyone still questioning this, look at networks like LinkedIn and its growth rate of 100% per year, or Twitter and its over-representation of professionals, politicians, journalists, and generally high-profile, influential people tweeting and conversing every day.

Essentially, not engaging in social media is now the business equivalent of skipping your next 500 networking events.

Deadly sins of social media

Firstly, please put those press releases down and back away from the Twitter feed. Posting press releases to social media is like walking into a cocktail party wearing a sandwich board of your services and shouting your latest achievements into a megaphone at the buffet queue.

Other deadly sins include setting up a profile and blocking people from writing comments on it (or, in other words, being anti- social), not to mention taking so long to reply that answers may as well be sent by 2nd class post.

The last and probably most common sin is spreading yourself too thin: you don’t have to have a presence on every site and you definitely shouldn’t try to appeal to everyone who may come across it.

Rule #1: one goal, one audience, no exceptions

For each social media channel, pick just one goal to achieve with one audience and stick with it; for example, using Facebook to raise awareness among new customers. Social media isn’t your website and trying to cater to everyone via a single Twitter feed is just going to make your presence feel bland and unclear in purpose.

Rule #2: seek out new contacts

Use Google and bespoke software like TweetDeck to find your peers, competitors, customers and anyone posting about your subject area. Once you find them, follow, fan and engage with them directly. This is especially the relevant for Twitter and LinkedIn where people often make the mistake of only adding the people they already engage with in real life and then wonder why their networks are stagnating.

Rule #3: be agile and adaptive

Identify metrics you’re going to monitor that so that when you aren’t meeting them, you can react quickly and from an informed perspective. And make the metrics matter – number of ‘fans’ is irrelevant if none of them are clicking through to your website, sharing your content, providing you useful insights into their needs, or asking you questions.

If you stick to these rules but still find yourself standing at the punch bowl on your own, give me a call.