20150116_163835In honor of #BlueFriday here in Seattle, we thought we would give you twelve tips for social media. Not everyone can be an expert on everything, but everyone can learn a little something about everything. We picked some of our favorite brands on social media and other tip lists.

In no particular order:

1. Don’t Just Post — Interact

It might seem easy to just come up with a list of things to post for a month, but if you are just constantly linking to your website, you’re missing out on one of the biggest perks of social media: interacting with your audience. Be conversational! Retweet from other industry leaders and be a part of the community around your business. Depending on the personality you want to portray, you can be funny, informative or enlightening. Social media is flexible, make it what you want it to be!

2. Capitalize on Big Events, Holidays, Etc. — WHEN APPROPRIATE

It’s the day of the big game, it’s turkey day, it’s some nationally recognized holiday. Chances are, your brand probably wants to jump in and gain some exposure by being a part of the national conversation. Oreo did a great job of this during the power outage during the 2013 Super Bowl. There are some times you should put down the smartphone or step away from the keyboard, however. As a general rule, tweeting about a national tragedy with some branded messaging is probably going to come across as self-serving and distasteful.

3. Customer Service

Why call a brand’s customer service phone line when you can just tweet at them or post on a Facebook wall? If you have a social media presence, expect to do at least some customer service on social channels. Don’t just direct them to a call line or email—try to solve the problem right then and there. Don’t know how to respond to a mean comment? We’ll get to that later in the list.

4. Your Social Media Persona

Deciding what you want to “sound like” or “appear to be” on social media is hard. It should match your personality, your industry and fit in with your audience. It also needs to be flexible and dynamic to suit your changing or growing business. Think long and hard about if your mortuary business should be making jokes on Twitter, or have a more somber approach. Keep it tasteful and engaging, and remember that it is OK to be funny on social media as a brand.

5. Know Your Audience

We’ve said it before and we will say it again: understand, get to know, admire and respect your audience. Also, realize that while Tumblr may be a great place for some brands, it may not work for yours. Knowing where your audience is in terms of social media sites is important so that you aren’t barking up the wrong tree. If you’re a jewelry maker or restaurant, Instagram is going to be a great tool because you have a lot of visual opportunities, but it won’t be so great if you’re an ecommerce business or provide some service that can’t be represented visually. Don’t just be on a site because it is hip, evaluate where your resources and efforts will be best received and most successful.

6. Photos, Graphics and Videos are your friends

Even if you don’t have a tangible product to photograph, you can just create things like infographics, memes and how-to videos to break up the monotony of content. Make sure that these still match the brand persona you’re trying to create in voice, color schemes and where you decide to post them.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Weird

If you/your brand/your business is a little quirky, don’t be afraid to show it. Brands like Taco Bell and Denny’s have become Internet favorites by doing things a little differently.

8. The Dreaded Trolls

An unfortunate part of being online for anyone—not just businesses—are the trolls that exist for the sole purpose of making your job and life more difficult. It is easy to get emotionally worked up about trolls, but there are more effective ways of dealing with them. Deciding how you will address these people on social media is an important aspect of your social media planning.

9. Monitor Your Brand

Keeping track of analytics, referrals and just what your social media presence “looks” like will enable you to identify which areas you are succeeding in and where could use some improvement. Doing bi-weekly or monthly check-ins on how your social strategy is going will allow you to make necessary adjustments and build your presence.

10. Find Your Preferred Social Media Management Tool

There are a ton of options for tracking analytics, and it is really up to you which one to use. Think about your budget, how much pre-existing knowledge you have and even ask other colleagues what their favorite social media management tools are.

11. Follow Your Competitors

It’s not a social media no-no to follow your competition and see what they are doing. In fact, if you aren’t, it’s quite silly. Free opportunity to get a glimpse at the competition’s strategy? Get with it, people!

12. Be Honest & Transparent

This is the most important aspect of brands on social media, in my opinion. Social media is a more authentic and engaging way of reaching out to your customers than traditional marketing, and I think that’s important to recognize. People are increasingly attracted to authenticity, so make sure that you stay true to yourself, your business and your audience.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. Have an idea for something I missed? Let me know!

Happy Blue Friday!