Shane Jones is a Senior Social Outreach Specialist at WebpageFX. He also is the founder of Local Soccer News, a League Soccer News blog. He is also a traveling fanatic, and writes about his bucket list on his personal blog, Shane Patrick Jones.

1. Be Active

You might be going into social media under the impression that you have to be on every network. Destroy that impression right now. In most cases, anyone who is on a more obscure social network is also on Facebook or Twitter, or both. For that reason, I recommend that you start with Facebook and Twitter, and add to that list if you discover a great target demographic on another network that you have time to attend to. Too many brands join many social networks and then never update them. Having these old and unattended profiles out there dilutes your brand.

2. Be Consistent

You’re probably aware that consistency is important in branding. It’s important in social media, too. You want your potential followers to be sure that they have found the right site – if you are a medical office specialist and your Twitter background shows a beach covered in sunbathers, your visitors will be confused. Take advantage of the customization tools available for Facebook Pages and Twitter. If you don’t have a designer on your team, you will definitely benefit from hiring one in order to brand your social media profiles.

3. Don’t Be a Billboard

Social media is more social than other types of marketing. While your end goal is certainly to drive consumers to your services, your social profiles can’t just be a sales pitch. Make an effort to engage your followers, and offer them value for being a part of the community. Your visitors will not feel any attachment to your brand if they think it’s just an interactive ad.


4. Be Humanized

People will respond to your efforts better if you don’t seem like a robot or a corporate drone. There are actually real people behind your business (I hope), so it’s not bad to give a face to your business. If your company is small, that face may be you or your president; if your company is large, you may not want to put a name to the person/people keeping up with your social media, but you can seem humanized in other ways. Speak conversationally, respond to visitors who leave messages, and participate in discussions.


5. Be Helpful

It goes without saying that you should try to be helpful to anyone who actively seeks you out and writes on your wall, or tweets to you. But you can go further than that with Twitter. Watch your mentions, but also occasionally do searches for different variations of your business’ name. Someone may be complaining about the customer service at your store without tweeting it at you; by monitoring your brand, you have the ability to appeal for a second chance or try to help someone with their problem.


6. Be Awesome

Before following you, your visitors should be able to tell that there are benefits to becoming a fan. You can do this by offering promotions just to your fans, or at least giving them the first word of any site-wide sales. People like to save money; make it clear that there will be opportunities to save money if they are fans. Of course, then you have to actually make sure you do this, so be careful how much you’re promising.


7. Be Timely

Though you’ll get used to timing your posts appropriately as you work more with social media, it is important to note that not all times are created equally – that is, it is better to post at certain times of the day than others. Do a little research and see when the best times to post to various social networks are for your time zone or other time zones you target. Once you figure this out, you don’t necessarily have to work late to post those things – Facebook has post timing tools, and Twitter integrates with tools like TweetDeck or HootSuite to allow you to schedule tweets.


8. Be Insightful

Get to know your demographic. Once you have 30 Facebook followers, you can use Facebook’s own tool, Insights, to obtain demographic information about your fans. Tools exist for Twitter, too, such as Schmap or Visibli. This information can be very useful in launching future advertising campaigns; you may be surprised to learn that your product appeals to groups you hadn’t originally considered. You can use this information if you ever invest in Facebook advertising or promote yourself on Twitter.

9. Be Inquisitive

Another way to learn valuable information about your audience and provide a little engagement is to ask them directly. You can post polls on Facebook and ask questions or link to surveys from either Facebook or Twitter. If you’re not getting the response you had hoped, you can incentivize it by saying that one random responder will win a small prize. Since you can already get demographic information using other tools, it is best to instead ask about specific products or other information one can’t glean from statistics.

10. Be a Community Builder

One of your primary goals with social media is to build a community of people who like your brand. Communities can do a lot of good for your company, from spreading a little word-of-mouth appreciation to providing a supportive buffer in times of bad PR. Obviously if you are just getting started, this goal is a long way off – but it should always be in the back of your mind.