9 Social Media Resolutions for 2014

This post originally appeared on the Core Creative blog.

Just like many people resolve to be healthier, happier and more financially stable every New Year, you can set goals for yourself when it comes to social media. Doing so can help you develop a deeper understanding of how social media functions as a whole, and how it can work for you and your company.

Why not challenge yourself to move beyond the core competencies you’ve developed. What is your basic understanding, your safe zone? This year, challenge yourself to move outside of that zone.

Social media is a powerful tool to help serve your business and customers while building your brand, yet not everyone is able to spend enough time to learn the nuances of the networks. With that in mind, take these resolutions as tips to help you get better when you do need to increase your social media activity and identify more strategic ways to utilize it to serve your business.

1. Instead of asking for likes, retweets and shares … focus more on content that resonates with your audience. 

Facebook considers more than 100,000 factors when determining what content to show on a user’s News Feed. One of the more prominent factors is:  Is the content genuinely interesting, or is it trying to game News Feed distribution (e.g., asking for people to like the content)?

If you beg people to interact with your content, it’s actually less likely to increase the post’s visibility. Instead, focus on providing your audience with relevant and quality content. If it’s good enough, they’ll like, retweet and share all on their own. Can’t figure that out? Watch the data as you develop and share your content, learn from that and go with what works.

2. Instead of joining networks just to be there … identify where your audience is and then grow to understand how you can serve them in that space. 

If you take the time to set up a profile, make sure you actively monitor and respond to content in that space. Otherwise, you may find you’ve provided your audience with a forum in which they can air their grievances with full force. People want to talk to you and connect with you. Be there and be part of their experience to help build your brand.

3. Instead of shouting about yourself, utilizing social media as broadcast-only platforms … interact with and elevate your community.

Don’t just post about yourself. Provide opportunities to amplify your users’ experiences with your brand. Help share their stories. Develop your content strategy around the things that will interest, serve or build the understanding of your audience. Are you offering value or making your audience laugh? If not, think about how you can develop and share content that will do more than talk about yourself.

Beyond that, talk with your customers. Hop in and listen to them. Be human enough to actually talk to people. It sounds silly to say, “show you care,” but … show you care! Be social and work on building relationships with your audience by talking with them, caring about them and being as happy about their successes as you are with yours.

4. Instead of posting just to post … share content that truly provides value. 

Your social media plan may say to post 3-5 times per week on Facebook or 5-7 times on Twitter. However, if you don’t have something of quality to say, is it really beneficial for you to post? Providing value in every tweet, status update or Instagram photo is important and something you should work toward, but there’s also value in sharing of yourself to help build personal relationships and connections.

5. Instead of linking your accounts or sending one message out to all profiles … tailor your messages for each individual audience. 

Each of your social networks is comprised of a different audience. It’s important to tailor your messaging for the particular audience you are trying to reach and for the forum you’re using.

While there may be a different audience on each network, don’t forget to cross-promote your other networks. Many of your Facebook followers might not know about the cool things you’re doing on Instagram. Your Twitter followers might not know about the interesting boards you’ve put together on Pinterest. Every so often, let your audiences know where else they can find you in the social media world. They’re already fans of your brand if they’ve “followed” or “liked” you in one space; give them the opportunity to get even more out of your relationship.

6. Instead of wedging your way into current events … determine when to interact and when to stay away. 

Look, real-time marketing had its splash and will still be a nice way to spark your brand’s personality from time to time, but when it comes to a company having its say on social media about issues such as national tragedies or political affairs, more often than not, it’s best to remain silent.

7. Instead of attacking or even ignoring an unhappy fan … have a response plan in case you find yourself in the midst of a “social media crisis.” 

Sometimes a person will make their way on to your Facebook page and use it as a place to vent. Perhaps they had a poor experience with your company, or maybe they just want to push your buttons (often known as “trolling”). Do you ignore them? Engage in a conversation right there on your page? Delete their post? NO!

Determine the appropriate response for different types of social media situations, and when one actually takes place, you won’t find yourself as the next case study on “social media fails.”

8. Instead of just saying “thanks” … do something awesome, just for the fun of it. 

Sometimes users will leave an extra-nice comment on your Facebook page or recommend your company in a tweet to a friend. You probably say “thank you,” but why not go the extra mile and really make them feel special?

Similarly, consider stepping in when something not so great happens to someone in your audience.  A great example is what happened to Paull Young when he fell off his Citi Bike in the rain and got his pants dirty (read the full story here).

While this extra effort may take a few more dollars out of your marketing budget, in the end, it’s often worth it.

9. Instead of being serious and sales-y … keep it fun! 

People use social media to be just that – social. They’re not there to be bombarded with advertisements and sales messages.

Keep in mind the 80/20 rule: just 20 percent of your content should be promotional. Spend the other 80 percent of your time providing your audience with something they can’t get elsewhere; a behind-the-scenes look at your brand, a story they won’t find in a magazine, or an image they can keep in their mind the next time they want to do business with you.