Words of social media wisdom : from the trenches

For many business owners, the online world can be confusing, and understandably so. Where do you start with social media? What do you do when you get there?

I thought I would put those questions out to some of the most respected “tweeps” (those on Twitter, for those of you still foreign to that world), marketing and social media agency owners, and business owners to offer you a mash-up of their advice and best practice tips. Here’s what they had to say:

First, Gary Vaynerchuk solidly highlighted his rock-star ways on social media. I asked a question, and, mere seconds later, he delivered this response:

“Listen to your consumer and deliver on their needs while still maintaining a profit and happiness.” I immediately complimented his speedy ways, to which he responded: “And THAT is my real advice to businesses – live for your community – they are the end user– they pay your bills.” @GaryVee

Chris Brogan, an author and speaker in the digital space who runs Human Business Works. had this to say: “Consider it concierge-class customer service. Listen more than you promote.”@ChrisBrogan

And from Amber MacArthur, “Read the news. As we’ve seen recently, timing is everything insofar as appropriate and inappropriate tweets. Don’t ignore your company website. The content you build there is the only thing you own.”@AmberMac

I also asked the same of business owners and those in digital roles at their companies across Canada. The best advice comes from people who have ‘been there, done that.’  Often some of the most valuable lessons are delivered in simple tidbits. Here were some of the key responses of their tried-and-true strategies:

GregHounslow My #1 social media tip: Jump in with both feet and ensure you allocate resources for growth. Oh, and pics. Lots of pics!

AlyPain Make a plan and set goals, you are building a business, not a hobby. Other support/experts will help get you there. Don’t try to do it all at once or be someone else. Small, consistent steps in an authentic voice draw qualified follows.

buzzbishop Listening is more important than tweeting. Use social media to hear what your customers are saying about you, and react to it.

Onboardly Regarding messaging/positioning, don’t take anything for granted. Before investing significant time and energy into pushing marketing campaigns or content that you believe will be effective, test it.

jeffHinesyyc What I tell my managers – you are either ’on or off’ SM. In-between will hurt more then help. There is an expectation if on.

ReneeTsang1 Figure out how you wish to present your biz to your audience, then find the platform that best meets your needs & commit to it. Start somewhere. Don’t be afraid of social media. Start small. You don’t know how it will impact your biz until you try it.

STIRCRAZYFFC If you are using social media, MANAGE IT! Don’t keep your head in the sand, if you own a business you need to be using social media!

inyourmouthTO Understand your value proposition before engaging in social media. Deep market research is still required, just executed differently via social media. Start at the beginning. Properly exploring a strategy can be an effective litmus test for the effectiveness of your biz.

clickflickca You need to embrace competition not compete with them. Learn from mistakes. You need to leverage your partners or connections. Leverage is key.

JDtrains Don’t imitate competition; invest in research to see what works.

AmberCraig_ Social media isn’t 9 to 5. Don’t make the mistake of leaving your clients waiting for an answer.

TamaraRosenblum Be part of the conversation, take control of your brand and drive it where you want it to go.

BasicBlkDesigns If you’re going to tell people to “like” your company on Facebook, have something of value waiting there for them.

T_Burrows Always show the benefit for the consumer and while they may not always be right, they are always important.

ZoomJer Don’t send auto-DMs; it’s like flyers. Maybe they work, but they are so wasteful and annoying that I wouldn’t want to associate with them.

Amplomedia Openly promote those that you admire. Most of the time, you’ll get the same great publicity in return.

kulaklips Never link your Facebook post to Twitter, it annoys people b/c it doesn’t fit in 140 or less.

morgzlive Each platform has a different audience. Tailor your messages appropriately.

Tnjohan Be open, honest & put the needs of your community ahead of yours. Do it w/ speed & context & you’re bound to come out ahead!

SimpLee_Serene Stand up for yourself, Speak up & ask for help, Show up with love, kindness & gratitude.

Frisbeeplate I like the 15 to 1 rule. Connect, entertain, educate or inspire 15 times for every “sell” tweet.

bikepiratepage Pick 1 or 2 social outlets & do them well. Facebook or Twitter; don’t try and be everywhere all the time. You’ll end up nowhere.

ManorPainting “Best practice” on social media is just that. Practice! Must keep at it often to find your desired demographic. No downtime!… & with no downtime, there’s plenty of time to put some of the above tips into play.

Social media can and does work for many businesses in a variety of industries, but it’s not a one-week time investment. It’s a long-term commitment that needs to be made.

Pay heed to this advice to get on track.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Lisa Ostrikoff is a TV journalist/anchor-turned-creator of  BizBOXTV, a web video and social media marketing agency. Find her on  Twitter and  Facebook.