The Definitive Do's and Don'ts of Social Media Marketing

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Do: Pay Attention to the Competition

Musto says it's important for companies to stay abreast of what the other side is doing. "Monitor competitors' @handles and hash tags to see what type of content they are sharing and who is following them, as well as what others are saying in reference to them," she says.

Don't: Go Overboard With Self-Promotion

"There is only so much you can share about your company's positive attributes before you turn people off," Musto says. "You need to have a varying mix of content that is shared across social channels, making sure to incorporate RTs from thought leaders and industry-related news peppered into the posting schedule."

And in the same "overdoing it" vein, another don't that Gillin advises people of is not to "blast." "Even though there are tools that make it possible to post the same message across multiple social networks simultaneously, I urge you not to use them in that manner," he says. "Each social network has a different culture and style. On a practical level, they also have different length limitations. Speak in the language of the community."

Don't: Think It's Just Marketing

Gillin says you shouldn't consider social media to be strictly a marketing channel: "Recent research has shown that people are twice as likely to interact with companies over social media for customer support purposes as for marketing. Look at social networks as a way to connect with your constituents, regardless of whether they buy from you, sell to you or partner with you. Anyone in the organization who can benefit from this kind of engagement should be trained in the tools and protocols of social media."

Similarly, experts advise that social media isn't always about making a sale. "Don't lead with a sales pitch," Gillin advises. "Your principal goal should be to help people solve problems and make smarter decisions. Be helpful and sales will come. A good rule of thumb is to make about 90% of your contributions relevant to your audience's needs, regardless of whether they promote your products or company. The other 10% can be self-promotional."

Do: Know Where Your Customers Go

"Identify the social media channels that your customers use-if any-and stake out at least a basic presence there," Gillin says. "You don't need to be active on every social network, but you do need to understand the culture of the ones that matter and you do need to respond to customers when they ask questions or talk about you there."

"Have a holistic social marketing approach," Goldner advises. "That is, don't look at social as simply managing your brand social channels. Find where existing conversations happen relevant to your brand. Go there. Listen. Engage. Over time, invite people to your content hub, and social channels, but do this slowly. Build a reputation for being helpful before you push your own social channels."

Do: Measure Your Social Media's Impact

Gluckstein says it's important to "measure the impact of your social media both by channel-Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.-as well as its impact in driving both traffic and revenue. When you quantify the results it is clear where you should spend your time and energy." She adds there are tools available, such as SumAll, "to see all of your social actions and how they measure up against other digital marketing strategies."

Similarly, Gillin says that companies should "[h]ave metrics in place to measure results. These metrics should be meaningful to the business, not just page views and visits. Look for engagement metrics like downloads, registrations and subscriptions. You need a way to determine how your activity and social channels [are] translating into business results."

Do: Be Prepared, Have a Plan-And Stick With It

"Be prepared and have processes in place for escalation," Musto says. "Social media is used today for lead generation, customer service, awareness, and discovery. Make sure you have the answers in place to reply back in a timely manner or that a workflow is in place to escalate specific issues/comments that are directed at your brand."

Along the same lines, Goldner says it's important for companies to "have a thorough content strategy and plan." A content plan, Goldner says, "should include a) awesome original content, b) curated content that reinforces the brand position and stance, c) UGC (User Generated Content), and d) a plan to capture earned media from influencers.  Outstanding content is what gets shared."

Gluckstein adds that it's important to establish and maintain a pattern to your tweeting and posting.

"Keep fans and followers coming back by providing useful, actionable and consistent information," she says. "They will learn to expect new content, so the worst thing to do is to give up or start and just forget about it. It takes discipline!"

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