Now that 2014 has officially begun, it's time to make new resolutions and plan for what the New Year will bring. Thought leaders and businesses that use social media should consider January as a starting-off point and opportunity to enhance social-media strategies and strengthen online brands. To help get you started, here five resolutions for taking your social-media presence up a notch this year:
1. Become a listener
Social media is popular because it provides everyday users with a platform where they can share opinions and let their voices be heard. This is also true for thought leaders and businesses. However, as an online brand, it is important to avoid falling into the trap of the constant “me” conversation. Therefore, consider 2014 the year to put the commercial on pause occasionally. Instead of only promoting business events, new blog posts and featured articles, take the time to tune in to what your audience has to say. Listen to what they are tweeting and posting about hot topics and engage in conversations with them. Think of this listening as research to incorporate into your overall business and marketing strategies.
2. Focus on quality, not quantity
Social media is like an open door between online brands and consumers. It provides the ideal platform for interaction. With this open door comes the importance of brand perception and engagement. Therefore, 2014 should be all about taking understanding your online voice and taking social engagement up a notch! What some brands fail to see is when it comes to building a strong following on social media is that it's the quality of your posts and not the quantity that is beneficial. Consumers want to be involved, interacting with someone who not only understands them, but also someone they can relate to. Before sharing that next post, take what you have learned from listening to your target audience and incorporate those insights into relevant thought leadership pieces. This will allow you to share quality content online and ultimately transform social media engagement into brand loyalty.
3. Embrace negative comments
More often than not, when someone posts a negative comment on social media, brands immediately go for the delete button. This year, instead of going into panic mode, put your customer service skills to work to provide a speedy solution. While working towards a fix, respond to that disgruntled customer's post, assuring them that you appreciate their business, as well as their patience while the problem is corrected. Brand loyalty comes with respect. Target audiences will respect your brand if you take the time to keep the conversation going, instead of ignoring what they have to say because you have a thousand other satisfied customers. Through genuine interaction and catering to the needs of your customers and prospects, those social media users will most often return the favor by spreading positive reviews online and through word of mouth. Those interactive skills are what turn fans and followers into loyal brand users.
4. Build trust through authenticity
When it comes to social media, engagement and connections go hand in hand. The desire for a connection is the driving force behind anyone's decision to hit that like or follow button or send that friend request. Whether it's a person or a business, users are looking to establish connections with those they identify with. However, in order for a successful connection, brands must display the humanity behind the business. Take the opportunity to share your story and give your audience a positive impression of who you are as a business. Establishing an honest and authentic social-media presence is a key building block to gaining the trust needed to continue the brand loyalty cycle.
5. Make social media easier
Without a steady stream of content to share on your social media platforms, the opportunity to connect and inspire your audience is gone. Luckily, there are several publishing tools users that make it easy to create and share content. Start off by building an editorial calendar, one of the easiest methods to planning and consistently publishing content across your social media channels. Microsoft Word, Evernote, Google Drive and Wordpress all have templates to help users get started. Furthermore, using a social-media management system, such as Hootsuite, Sprout Social or Buffer, can help save time while making sure each platform (and audience) receives the attention it deserves.
Caitlin Zucal is the marketing coordinator at RegEd.