Getting Started with Social Media

By Shamil C. Clay

Social media promotes exposure, involvement, interaction and the ability to share information with millions of people with just one click. Are you looking for ways to successfully integrate social media into the communications plan of your business or brand? I have four tips to get you started. Let’s go!

1. Share vs. Advertise
Don’t let your press release writing style carry over to social media. Members of your social media community want engagement, not advertising. “Share” your information in a way that compels people to engage with and be comfortable with your brand. Fictitious examples below:

Advertising tweet (I’m trying to sell this to you)
“The Destiny’s 221- FLEXI HD: one of the most flexible headsets around.”

Sharing tweet (I have information that will be beneficial for you)
“If you’re looking for flexibility with your headset, Destiny’s 221-FLEXI HD is the one for you.”

2. Engage vs. Announce
Announcements can be lackluster and out of place in the social media platforms. Social media messaging should not mirror a commercial, radio or a news bulletin. Instead, engage consumers to encourage involvement with your brand and solicit feedback from users about the information you’ve shared. Fictitious examples below:

Announcement tweet (Blanket statement of information)
“Pearl’s is now offering 20% off of every purchase over $50.00”

Engagement tweet (Statement soliciting feedback)
“Pearl’s is now offering 20% off of every purchase over $50.00, will you be stopping by? Which location?”

3. Create Exposure vs. Being Exposed
There are more than 1.3 billion internet users and social media gives them all a voice. From Foursquare to Yelp, online review sites give each of these users a chance to share their opinion about their brand. Take advantage of the ability to share your company’s purpose and objectives through the information that you publicly exhibit. Claim your business, provide differentiating information and respond professionally to positive AND negative reviews to contribute positively your company’s online image.

4. Control Image vs. Controlled Image
Take charge of your company’s online image! If you are not driving the conversation about your brand, social media could take on a life of its own with your company’s image. Your website is not enough. Be willing to initiate conversations with consumers and respond to feedback. When you experience negative feedback, use it as an opportunity to win the consumer over by acknowledging that you heard, understand and are willing to take their feedback into consideration. This is a progressive step in controlling your company’s image by establishing a presence and maintaining a clear and consistent brand proposition, along with proactive and responsive consumer engagement.

Shamil Clay has a broad range of communication experience in public and private sectors. Shamil honed her strategic planning and social media skills at the Department of Transportation (CDOT), the third largest infrastructure department in the U.S. Shamil has had over two years of experience in creating and implementing social media plans, monitoring and analyzing social media data and implementing strategy around her findings. In creating a brand voice and building presence across various social media platforms, she successfully increased CDOT’s following by over 300%.