1. Have a plan before you partake
About 75% of all Twitter accounts have 5 tweets (posts) or less. What's the point of signing up if you aren't going to use it? Just like in real life, people expect consistency. If you say you're going to update your blog once a week, then you better do it. If you're business hours are 9-5, then you better be open during that time. Believe me, people pay attention. Think about this; if you've got a disgruntled customer who searches you out online (perhaps to find customer service?) and they find your Twitter account and it's only got one tweet from 6 months ago; then they're likely going to get even more ticked off.
2. Check your insurance policy
If your identity is stolen through one of your social media activities, are you covered? What kind of coverage do you have? Be aware that some identity theft policies don't cover legal fees.
3. Don't follow people that don't matter to you
As interesting as it might sound, don't go following every possible celebrity you can find. Does doing that help or hurt your image? Follow the people that matter to you most; your clients (or better yet, potential clients.)
4. Expect to save money; not to 'get rich quick'
Many business owners expect that they're going to be raking money in by sundown because they made a Facebook page. While that's true for a lucky few, it's not really true across the board. Social media is a good addition to your marketing budget but it shouldn't replace it (in most cases.)
At Doth Brands (the Creative Agency I work for), we've never put an ad in any print publication, on any TV or on any radio station. All of our business comes from word of mouth and social media. Now, this won't work for every business, but it works for us!
A good place to start is to look at the worst performing advertisement you placed in the previous year. Why didn't it work? Was it because it was a poor design or was it because it maybe wasn't going to the right audience? If you're not sure how to improve it, consider not taking out that ad this year and try social media instead.
5. Start with three
The formula that seems to work well for our clients is to start with a blog, a Facebook page and a Twitter account in addition to their website. That's three things. Three things that need to be maintained and considered. Can you handle that?
6. Make social media work for you
It is possible for different social media networks to 'talk' to each other. For example, when Doth Brands does a blog post, that post is automatically imported into their Twitter feed. And, Facebook automatically pulls their blog posts onto the Doth Brands Facebook page. So, they do one thing and it gets broadcast across two additional social networks without them having to think really hard or do anything strenuous. Another major point here: make sure you reference your social media accounts on your website, in your email marketing and in your email signature. People need to be able to find you so make it easy on them.
7. Be personal
If you are thinking about starting a Twitter account for your business, make sure you say exactly who it is from your business that's maintaining the account. Think about this: Is it easier to talk to a wall or a person? A person! So, make sure you put something like, "David in sales manages this Twitter account" in your description. Remember, customers talk to people, not to your logo. It's also important to put a little personality into things, but don't go crazy. Be professional.
8. Track your traffic
First, you should be tracking the traffic to your website. Second, you should have a link to your website on all of your social networking pages. That way, when you take a peek at all the traffic you are getting to your website, you can see how many people are coming from your social networks and which one's send the most people.
9. Don't talk about how great you are all the time
If all of your Facebook posts or Tweets are about how great your company is then you're going to lose followers. People who only talk about themselves are considered rude in real life, right? Around 20% of your posts/tweets can be about you, but remember, let's talk about the customer--the very thing that matters most.
Got more tips? Leave them in a comment so others can benefit!