When you start at a new company (especially as a younger social media bod) it can be quite daunting to be put in charge of a companies social media presence. A lot of people seem to underestimate the importance of this but of course, you’ll be connecting with thousands of people who ‘like’, dislike and may even downright hate the company. If you’re designing a social media strategy from scratch it can be even scarier, a lot of what you’ll be doing is trial and error. So here’s five tips I’ve learnt along the way that might help you.

1. Take the headphones off

This works on two levels. Firstly literally take them off. Copywriters and designers often immerse themselves in music as it helps to keep distractions at bay but you can miss out on so much. If you’re the social media representative of a company it can be vital to know the little day-to-day details of what’s happening around the office. These are quite often the things that people love to read. I’m a big fan of headphones myself but I’ve learnt that sometimes it’s better for me to be listening. It also works on a second level, immerse yourself in your company and find out what everyone’s up to. Interact in the real world, not just online.

(I picked this tip in a fantastic post on the99percent.com. A site which everyone should be reading regularly. I glean a lot of snippets of information from there and it reminds me a lot of a book I picked up in an airport when I was younger called ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff‘.)

2. Find evidence

It’s all very well telling your new manager that everyone on Twitter is green, likes sushi and listens to The Rolling Stones but where’s the evidence. Just because you’ve had a blog since you were twelve doesn’t mean you know the ins and outs of everything. Do some research. Preferrably before you join the company, and keep it up-to-date. If the age-group on a certain social media site changes and you don’t keep up, it could have dire consequences for your brand. Look for plausible statistics. Check the dates on studies and carry out your own research.

3. Look around

All other companies can teach you something whether they’re massive brands or just little local companies. Look outside your own niche area. Although I work in finance, some of the best examples of Facebook pagesare run by food establishments. Analyse what they’re doing, make contact, find out what their audience thinks of them. Then go back and see how you could apply the lessons they’ve learnt to what you’re doing.

4. Connect and react

Yeah you’re on Twitter, you may be on LinkedIn too, but how much time do you spend reacting to what people say. To gain a following you must interact with the other people in your network. It’s also very useful, once you’ve made connections you may find that they can help you later on down the line. And be nice! People generally like to receive more than they like to give but if you share and help other people you’ll find you get returns and the generosity surrounding your own personal brand will spread. People like people who are nice.

5. Don’t measure in ‘likes’

It’s hard to measure the effects of social media in terms of sales, a fact that hard-nosed businessmen find difficult to grasp. Their role is to drive sales, your role is to be nice (see above) and make everyone in the world more aware of the brand. Of course this will drive sales and with bit.ly and other tracking links, you can see the direct effect. A lot of what you do though will remain unseen. It’s important that your manager realises this. Objectives like ‘Get 1,000 Twitter followers’ can be useful but really it’s the interaction that will tell you how social media is having an effect. Look at what people are saying about you, measure volumes of retweets (this shows that they like your content), ask people how you can improve.

On top of all this you need to be clear, honest and enjoy what you’re doing. Mistakes will occur but if you admit to them and remedy the situation you’ll be known as the people who fixed the mistake rather than the people who made the mistake.

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