Unspoken Rules of Social Media

Cheering up
Ever see someone completely out of place trying to fit in? That is the set up for most comedies: the standard fish out-of-water scenario where someone is obviously out of their realm. If you look at online marketing, you won’t have to go very far before you see this happening.
Social media has its own unspoken code of honor. In fact, most sites have their own inside jokes, memes, cultural norms, language, and practices. Some jump into the water and sink right to the bottom. Others look to social media experts to toss them a life saver and rescue their digital marketing channels. Finally, there are those who take to the water and thrive.
To help you navigate the world of social media, here are some unspoken rules that guide your path:
  • Think more “social,” and less “media”: The world of social media can be compared to a  giant cocktail party. You can either be the loud, obnoxious guest who butts into conversations and talks about themselves incessantly, or, you can be the one who provides timely, witty remarks that steals the show. Walk around and listen to get a vibe before you jump in.
  • It’s OK to be a “newb”: Don’t be afraid to try new things but watch some of the pros to learn how it’s done. Try and avoid simple mistakes, such as leaving entire URL’s in Facebook posts, syncing all of your social media posts, not taking advantage of closed captioning transcripts on YouTube, and being inconsistent about tone or voice. People will forgive simple mistakes but not if you do it over and over again.
  • The Pareto Principle: Often called the 20/80 rule, the pareto principle states that you should spend most of your time and resources on your top 20% priority customers because they provide 80% of your return. Social media uses a similar rule: spend 80% of your time focusing on your audience, 20% on yourself. Also, you should focus your efforts on your top 20% most engaged and enthusiastic followers.
  • Be consistent but don’t over-post: Posting too often causes several problems. Most of the time, you just start annoying followers who will block or un-follow you. Some social media sites, such as Facebook, actually punish you for over-posting (it decreases visibility). It’s good to have consistent and constant visibility, but you should definitely avoid over-saturation. This is why I’m usually against automated, regularly scheduled, pre-written updates.
  • Learn to separate business from pleasure: Do you have a social media policy for your organization? If not, you should definitely think about creating one. It’s easy to blur the lines between your work life and your personal life. Your friends are probably tired of you selling something to help boost numbers at work; your customers probably don’t need to know the details of your love life. Keep separate administrative accounts and avoid combining personal and business social media feeds in one place, lest you accidentally post to the wrong one.

Get comfortable with social media by using it on a regular basis and reading about some best practices. Most businesses recognize that social media is an important part of an integrated marketing strategy, yet they go without any strategy at all. Do yourself a favor: do the homework and become the life of the party, not the embarrassing friend walking home with a lampshade on their head.

4 thoughts on “Unspoken Rules of Social Media

  1. Well said. Too many people simply post about themselves or their company and then wait to see how many “likes” they get. If you were at a party, would you love the guy that just talks all the time? Non-stop? Of course not. You need to be able to listen on social media as well, and this article hits it right on the head. Nice work!

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