Top 10 social media best practices

You can’t go a day without seeing a news article, blog post or tweet about the growth of social media. Many advisors, agents, firms and government agencies have already experienced the power of this new channel while many others are just getting started. In the financial sector, with the recent clarification from FINRA there is no doubt we will see 100% participation in the not too distant future.

Whether you are a social media ninja or novice I hope the list below helps you see better results.

1. Be provocative, interesting and “catchy”
There are over 400 million Facebook users, 100 million on Twitter and
over 60 million on LinkedIn. If you are going to rise above the noise
you have a split second to capture your reader’s attention. Done well
they will reward you and amplify the message across the social web.

One way to do this is write a provocative headline. Something that is thought provoking, controversial or completely goes against what we
believe is true. I find this is usually the hardest part of writing, but
in the age of blogs and Twitter it is even more important. In fact,‘);”>there
is a book out that helps you write specifically for Twitter.

Need a few examples?

  • How to Live on $0 a Day
  • State DOTs are paving more than roads
  • 5 steps to ensure you lose customers

Keep an eye out for great tweets or headlines and start working those elements into your writing.

2. Track and measure everything
Tracking results with social media can be tricky. Instead of explaining
all the reasons why, I will move on to things you should do to make it

  • Install‘);”>Google Analytics on your blog and website. This is free and super simple.
  • Open a account or other URL shortening service. These services will take a
    long URL and trim it down so you can include it in your social media
  • Install the Firefox plugin Snip-N-Tag.
    This will allow you to create shortened URLs with embedded tracking
    codes so Google Analytics can accurately credit the source of the

With these steps complete the last item is to make sure you shorten and tag every link you post out to a social media site that directs
traffic back to your site. Don’t worry about tagging 3rd
party links as these will just show up in that site’s analytics.

3. Skate to where the puck is going to be
Wayne Gretzky said it best “I skate to where the puck is going to be,
not where it has been.” The same is true of social media. Many people
assume that Facebook and Twitter is only made up of 20 or 30
something’s. While this isn’t entirely true, it is important. This group
represents a large number of your future clients so make sure you are
ready when the puck is passed.

Also realize these sites are rapidly becoming commonplace for boomers as well. Here are a few stats to consider around Facebook’s

  • The overall number of users between 18 and 24 years of age has grown only 4.8% between the fourth of January and the fourth of July of 2009.
  • In comparison, the number of users aged 25 – 34 has grown 60.8%
  • The number of users aged 35 to 54 has grown 190.2%
  • The number of users older than 55 years has grown a tremendous 513.7% (I can personally attest to this as my in-laws and now my
    grandmother are all getting Facebook accounts!)

4. It must be archived
recently clarified the guidelines around social media use and
they made one thing very clear. If you are using social media sites
(Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter) for business purposes you are required
to archive everything. It doesn’t stop there. In addition to having the
data archived you need an easy way to search through your posts and
export the data when needed. The same is true
in the government sector
. The Freedom of Information Act, State
Archive requirements and more require government agencies to capture,
archive and produce this information on request.

I’ve heard stories of people taking screenshots of Facebook, tracking tweets in Excel or in some cases doing nothing at all. These approaches
are time-consuming, error-prone and risky. If you are looking for an
automated solution check out Socialware Sync (there
is a free trial).

5. Repetition, repetition, repetition
Social media is a lot like giving a presentation. You want to tell the
audience what you are going to tell them, tell them and then tell them
what you told them. The problem you have to overcome is again all the
noise out there. There is a good chance that you first message will slip
through the cracks.

By repurposing and retelling your audience the same thing in a different way you are helping ensure your message gets heard. Of course,
if you have a nice provocative headline you may not need to repeat
yourself as your connections will it do it for you!

6. It doesn’t take as long as you think
One of the biggest excuses I hear about not engaging in social media is
that people don’t have the time. If you don’t have time for social media
you are saying you don’t have time to find new referrals, to build your
brand and to close more business. This isn’t a fad, it is a powerful
marketing channel. By becoming an expert now you will set yourself up
for tremendous success in the future.

That being said I understand we are all busy. Here are a few tips on how to add some efficiency to your social media activities:

  • Use‘);”>Google Alerts to setup saved searches so you can quickly find interesting
    topics that you can highlight or comment on.
  • Repurpose old content in creative ways
    • Do a blog post on your top tweets of the week or month
    • Say the same thing in another way
    • Do a blog post on the interesting articles you discovered (whether you have commentary on them or not)
  • Don’t forget to add some personality, people don’t care about you stopping by Starbucks but a little insight into your personal side will
    help your followers connect to you (no pun intended).

7. Contribute to the discussion, not the noise
I’ve found the most valuable way to build a presence online is to add
value to existing discussions. You can do this in a lot of ways. You can
comment on blogs. When you do this be authentic and add value. In
exchange you should absolutely put a link back to your site. This will
increase direct traffic and also your SEO ranking.

Also take advantage of things like‘);”>LinkedIn Groups and‘);”>LinkedIn
Answers. These are forums where people are actively seeking
information. Take your expertise on the road and in the process start
building your brand.

The last recommendation is to amplify the points of others. It is not the same as a discussion but you are helping your connections find
valuable and relevant content. It adds to your social karma too. The
more your share from others the more they will share from you.

8. Use the right tool for the job
There are a lot of great tools out there to help you be more efficient
in your social media activity. I’ve created a list of my
favorites right here
. I will continue to add to this toolkit as I
find valuable products. If you have a recommendation please let me know.
My Twitter handle is @bockius.

9. Always add value
When you start sharing information with your network remember to add
value first. When you make it about yourself you are selling – when you
add value first you are helping build your reputation, increasing your
network and eventually increasing your revenue. It also buys you the
right to mention your own products and services along side the value you
are sharing. It is a balance. And when in doubt always error on the
side of creating value for your readers. It will pay off in the long

10. Connect the dots
Now that you have a blog, Twitter account, LinkedIn profile and Facebook
Fan Page you will want to link all of your activity together. Doing so
maximizes your reach and the benefit you will get from these sites. Here
are a few simple things to remember:

  • Promote blog posts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Do this every single time and be on the lookout for blog plugins that can post to
    these outlets automatically.
  • Link your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. You can do this on the LinkedIn settings page.
  • Do a summary blog post on your latest and greatest tweets
  • Start conversions on LinkedIn and drive people back using a tweet, status update or blog comments.

I hope you were able to get at least one valuable tip from the list above. If you are looking for more please connect with me on Twitter,
subscribe to our blog and follow us on Facebook.

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