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Social media for businesses…It’s a game of Scrabble!

Earlier this year, Scrabble was said to have officially updated its dictionary to include 6,500 new hip and happening words. These included a number of social media buzzwords such as lolz, obvs and bezzy and exclamations such as eew, grr and waah, additions which are now affording players with the opportunity to up their game during a traditional game of scrabble.

Now I can’t see too many businesses in the financial services sector rushing to include such words in their marketing content (whether offline or online), however there are some more traditional words which they will do well to keep in mind, particularly whilst writing online content for their business. Social media…it’s a game of Scrabble!

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SECURITY (26 points): The realm of social media can be a very scary and risky place for businesses, which highlights the need to safeguard your business as part of your social media marketing strategy.

Although an area worthy of its own blog post (perhaps a subject matter for my next Abacus blog contribution), I would suggest that as a minimum a business implements a social media policy, a crisis management plan and an internal posting procedure which should be accompanied by adequate monitoring and control. Together these can help safeguard a business, reducing the chance of exposure to the vast array of risks associated with using social media.

ORGANISE (40 points): The key to success in any social media marketing is planning. This goes beyond ensuring you have the right tools and the right people to manage and control your activity (although these are of significant importance), it is about being organised with your content. Good planning can afford you the ability to produce a variety of content which promotes a strong and consistent brand message, which in turn will help you reach and engage with your target audience(s) and build better and more effective relationships. Ensure you put in place a content schedule that is regularly monitored and reviewed – this shouldn’t be static, it should continuously develop and should be reflective of previous content performance, current business activity and even economic factors.

CREATIVITY (144 points): Acquiring new followers and encouraging interaction is a daunting task – after all it is one of the main objectives and biggest measurements of social media success, right?

It’s time to start thinking outside of the box! All too often audiences are exposed to dull and boring posts consisting of plain text, regurgitated information and uninspiring visuals. What they really want is to see something different. Give them new concepts to consider, stimulate them visually and mentally; there is still a place for fundamentals, facts and figures but think about the way in which you present them as it really does make a BIG difference. Furthermore, be sure to show some personality, your human side and your sense of humour – these are great ways to engage with people and can often assist you to connect. When you are dull and boring, so are your posts – if you don’t like what you are doing, neither will your audience… Don’t be afraid to try new things and really let your creative juices flow!

INFORM (45 points): Creativity is all well and good, however it is still important that you retain a clear message and that your content has a purpose. Keep it simple, tell the truth and most importantly, keep it real! Your content should be informative and relevant to your audience, it should be useful and of value…although a little bit of fun and lightheartedness can also go a long way! It is up to you to decide what is both suitable and comfortable for your business and then find the right balance between the two for your audience.

ACCURACY (29 points): There is nothing worse than receiving a letter from a company who spells your name wrong, or browsing a website which uses ‘their’ instead of ‘there’ or fails to use punctuation correctly. Your content is a reflection of your business – spelling mistakes, grammatical errors together with inaccurate facts and figures reduces the credibility of your content and can be detrimental to its success. Accuracy is important, so check, check and check again!

LEVERAGE (26 points): There is a lot to say for sharing information within social media content, be it news, images, ideas, thoughts or opinions, but it is important to remember that once it’s posted, it can be seen by the thousands. When writing your latest tweet, Facebook status or LinkedIn post, use your content as leverage to get people to connect with you –give them just enough information to grab their attention, but not enough to remove the need to interact with you.

Similarly, don’t give away too much too soon – you can unintentionally provide competitors with insight and opportunity when posting online content i.e. talking about a new product/service before it is launched can provide a competitor the opportunity to pip you to the post.

MANNERS (36 points): I, like many, was always taught to mind my P’s and Q’s and there is no need for these to be left behind when posting social on media. You should act with the same level of politeness as you would if someone visited or called your office – say hello, ask nicely, say please and thank you. Don’t be rude or ignore people when they communicate with you; a lack of response or engagement can be detrimental to your business as your audience will assume you are not interested in them, their thoughts or their feelings. Being polite and professional and embracing interaction is important – customer service applies both offline and online. After all, manners cost nothing!

ENGAGE (16 points): It is important to encourage engagement on social media, however, as a business you should connect with caution. It is not imperative to accept every request to connect nor must you follow everyone who follows you so before connecting, think about who you are about to connect with and why.

Would you talk to anyone in the street just for the sake of talking to someone? No. So why act any different online? Who you connect with can reflect both positively and negatively on your business, so any potential impact of a connection should always be considered before you proceed with it. Look at their social accounts, their activity and their connections – do they fit with your business? Would they be a controversial connection to any of your other followers or your target audiences?

Remember that engagement can be both positive and negative. As a business you should avoid being pulled into heated online debates and be careful not to start any – you will often come across controversy online, which quite often sees high levels of engagement, but it is a grey area and getting it wrong and being involved could have dire consequences for your business, so if you are not sure, keep away from it.

DOMINATE (12 points): We all want to be the dominant ones on social media, to grow a big following, increase brand awareness and develop ourselves into thought leaders across social media…particularly amongst our competitors, however, this doesn’t happen overnight or without thorough thought and planning…. Rome wasn’t built in a day!

There is a fine line between being active and content overkill so it is important to find the right balance between the two. Quality over quantity is vital as overdoing it with your content is where you risk growing a reputation for spamming (and nobody likes spam) and is how you lose credibility and respect. Conversely, you must not neglect your social media channels. It is important to update them regularly with clear and consistent messages – you have to use your accounts to make them work. However linking back to organisation, planning your content properly and producing a content schedule will assist you in finding the right balance and the right type of content to push out to your audiences.

INDIRECT (21 POINTS): When I talk about being indirect, I refer to it in a selling sense. Yes, the ultimate goal is to promote your services/products, but that doesn’t mean you have to go in with the hard sell. It is not the way to attract an audience, or retain one for that matter. You can still indirectly promote and sell your services/products whilst providing your audience with relevant and useful information that engages them.

ANALYTICS (16 POINTS): Last but by no means least you must measure and monitor your content. There are a variety of analytic tools available including those integrated into the respective social channels you may be using. They can provide a lot of valuable information, such as how many impressions your content has made, the number of times a post has been shared/re tweeted, the number of click-throughs to your website and much more. All of this is integral information which can be used to develop your content and social media activity going forward – evaluate which content does and doesn’t work, review your content plan and make any relevant changes to reflect these findings.

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