One of the required readings for my graduate course in social media and the inspiration behind this blog post is the book Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. The book is a comprehensive look into how technology has revolutionized the business world. I would suggest reading it for a more detailed explanation of some of the best practices I’m sharing here. Though it touches on areas outside of social media the book explains how social technologies of all types are the primary force behind the groundswell. As defined by Li and Bernoff, the Groundswell is “A social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations” (2011). Blogs and micro-blogs like Twitter play a huge part in this trend toward customer empowerment. This blog post will explain some of the best practices to follow when blogging or using Twitter.
General Blogging and Twitter Best Practices
One of the things I have learned through my work, and studies, is that starting a blog has to come from the want and/or need to engage with your audience. It can be a bit daunting to open your brand and business reputation (regardless of size) to the possibility of public scrutiny. Blogging needs to start with a focus on people and the objectives you have established beforehand (Li & Bernoff, 2011).
Here are some of the suggestions on successful blogging, as described in Groundswell:
- Start by listening. This is essential in blogging, Twitter, and all social technologies.
- Develop a plan. You should have a plan for any business initiative, especially those based on social technology.
- Determine a goal for the blog. Are you going to share industry news? Company specific news? Are you going to be personable or strictly professional? You have to set goals to know what you want to accomplish.
- Remember, blogging is more than writing. “To be a successful blogger, you should start by monitoring the blogosphere and responding to what is out there, not behaving as if you are in a vacuum” (Li & Bernoff, 2011).
- Final advice: be honest. In other words, even though you are writing to promote a company or business idea, make your blog voice one of a real person, not just someone who wants to mindlessly build your brand (Li & Bernoff, 2011).
Twitter is known as a microblogging platform in social media. Where traditional blogs offer longer forms of content, Twitter has a very well-known 140 character limit. Though it may seem restrictive, that character limit “instills users to be creative and succinct with social media” (York, 2016).
Some Twitter-specific best practices are:
- A great example of the importance of listening on Twitter is provided in Groundswell. It basically describes a situation where Twitter listening connected McDonald’s to Nadra Fally, a mom and blogger with a strong social media presence that includes over 13,000 Twitter followers. Because McDonald’s listened when Nadra tweeted about her son getting a girl’s toy instead of the superhero toy he collects, a great example of social listening was shown by the large corporation. The full story is a lot better than my summation and can be read on Nadra Fally’s blog post recounting the event here.
- Talking. As much as the McDonald’s story is about listening it equally depicts the importance of talking to your followers (customers) should your company face a minor, or big, crisis. Twitter is regularly used as a customer service outlet for disgruntled customers. Whether their issue is a minor complaint or one that can really cause damage to your brand’s reputation, you need to respond. Still, it is important to remember not to make the conversation a public one. Ask for the customer to direct message you or offer another, private, outlet for them to find satisfaction
- Share links to your content, including blog posts. One of the great things about sharing a blog post is that you can incorporate a great image and hashtags when sharing them to Twitter. Sharing your blog posts (and other’s) covers the use of other best practices including using visuals, relevant hashtags and sharing great content.
- Use Lists. I know from personal experience that if you don’t use lists you quickly lose track of who you are following and who is following you. Lists enable you to group those accounts and influencers that you like to regularly retweet and engage with.
- Use apps and other tools. A few would be Hootsuite and Tweetdeck which will help with your best practices of listening and talking. You may also want to find an app to make sure you are not following a large number of accounts that have followed, and then unfollowed you. Cut that dead weight!
Yale Appliance…An Inspiring Story of Using Social Technologies
Although I have confidence in my social media skills, I found the blogging inspiration I needed in a case study I read about Yale Appliance + Lighting. Their CEO, Steven Sheinkopf, has used digital marketing initiatives (like blogging ) to turn his family-owned business around. The amazing thing is that he committed to blogging in 2007 and here I am ten years later talking about how relevant these social technologies are. Steven, and the Yale Appliance + Lighting story is an inspiring one in the vein of having a “nothing ventured, nothing gained” mentality. Read this blog post (written by social influencer Ann Handley), and anything else you can find on Steven Sheinkopf , CEO of Yale Appliance + Lighting.
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Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.
York, Alex. (2016). The Twitter Best Practices Handbook | Sprout Social. (2016). Sprout Social. Retrieved 10 March 2017, from http://sproutsocial.com/insights/twitter-best-practices/