A version of this post originally published on crainsdetroit.com.
The new year is well underway. You should be out of your holiday haze and working hard toward whatever resolutions or goals you set for yourself and your company this year.
If you work or play on the social Web in any manner, I’d like you to do something for me. Really, it will benefit all of us who value social media. I’d like you to take the following social media pledge. I’m not asking too much. I promise. Read on…
1. I will think before I post. This seems like a no-brainer, but the “Oh my gosh why did this person say that?!” posts are still happening all too often. Case in point: Zlati Meyer from the Detroit Free Press recently tweeted something very offensive about the people of West Virginia related to the recent water crisis. If you take one minute to think before you post and realize what you’re about to say may even be slightly offensive, resist the urge.
2. I will stop complaining about Facebook changes on Facebook…and every other social channel. Facebook, like any other business, is trying to make money. Facebook is going to continue making adjustments to its platform with the sole intention of making a profit. Throwing a tantrum every time Facebook pulls the rug from under us isn’t going to do a darn thing. Stay updated on the changes, and adjust accordingly.
3. I will stop pretending Google+ doesn’t exist. I honestly don’t think Google+ will ever evolve into a massive social network like Facebook. The two sites have opposite strategies. But, Google is making this online hub more tied to search. Therefore, you have to pay attention and figure out how to make Google+ part of your strategy.
4. I will not allow myself or my company to have a ghost presence online. It’s 2014. Social media has matured. So should your social presence. That means if you’ve had an inactive Twitter account since June 2012, quit ignoring it. It’s a good idea to keep the handle for branding purposes, but make the page private and note in the bio that you aren’t actively tweeting. Same goes for any other social network you aren’t going to focus on this year, or ever.
5. I will add context to my LinkedIn connection invites. This is such a simple effort to make, yet so many people ignore it! Spend one extra minute and add a sentence to your LinkedIn invite to explain why you want to connect with someone. It’s an act of thoughtfulness, particularly if you don’t really know the person you want to connect with. And on that note, if you’re an offender of choosing the “we’ve done business together” option when connecting with someone you’ve never actually done business with, stop. Finally, if you send random sales-y LinkedIn messages to people you don’t know, stop that, too.
6. I will not go on a keyword-stuffing spree when I write content for online channels. It really irks me when people proclaim something is “dead” (PR is dead, SEO is dead, blogging is dead…yada yada). But, it’s absolutely appropriate to say keyword stuffing as a viable SEO tactic is dead. Please don’t do this. Google dings you for this, and your copy sounds like a robot wrote it. Also, pay close to every algorithm change Google makes moving forward to see if it will/won’t affect your content strategy.
7. I will seek legal input when creating a social media policy. This is a must. Do not write and/or implement a social media policy without having someone with a legal background review it first. No matter how much you read up on the National Labor Relations Board and social media, no one understands the guidelines quite like a lawyer.
8. I will not run contests on Facebook solely to garner more likes. This is so 2010. Yes, we all want to grow our Facebook pages, but hosting a contest with the sole intention of acquiring new likes is a false reward. More than likely, a good majority of those people will enter the contest then never come back to your page again because they only cared about trying to win something. Remember quality versus quantity in this instance. You would rather have 2,000 likes and a very active Facebook community versus 20,000 likes but hardly any interaction with the content you share.
9. I will stop ignoring the option of embracing a paid/owned/earned media strategy. Advertising on social networks and Google can no longer be ignored. This three-pronged approach won’t make sense for every company or campaign, but don’t assume it won’t work simply because you’re too stubborn to admit that throwing a few dollars toward Facebook may actually help gain you more visibility.
10. I will not allow leadership to only care about vanity metrics. This ties back to #8. We all know someone from a leadership team who gets super giddy about new likes, followers and pageviews. I’m not saying these metrics aren’t important. They should absolutely be part of your reporting. But, don’t settle for only reporting these metrics. There is so much data available (which can be a good and bad thing because it’s easy to get overwhelmed). Report success to your leadership in a way that makes sense to them and shows value. Example: I have a client that cares most about connecting with people in 15 specific states throughout the Midwest. This client also cares about driving traffic from our blog to the corporate website. As part of our monthly reporting, we use Google Analytics to determine how many visitors are coming from those 15 states and how much traffic we’re sending from our blog to corporate sites.
11. I will have a strategy. Enough said. Have a strategic plan before you take any action. Please, and thank you.
What are your thoughts on this social media pledge? Anything else you’d like to see social media users agree to do in 2014?