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Just because they’re on Snapchat, doesn’t mean they should automatically represent your online brand

Technology seems to be the province of the young. How many times have grandparents relied on grandchildren to fix the computer or show them how to use the remote? When it comes to the latest and greatest, we often look to younger folks for help. And while it may seem true that toddlers are born with an intuitive understanding of the latest in cell phone technology, youth is not an automatic sign of online business competence.

Everyone over the age of 13 seems to have a social media presence these days, but that doesn’t mean they know how to use social media for business. It’s easy to think that someone who receives a hundred “likes” on every post is a social media guru. However, personal use of social media can be very different from business use.

Here are 9 tips for choosing your firm’s social media and online brand evangelist.

1. Comprehends the “Big Picture” of the business

Behind any marketing avenue, there’s always a WHY. Why am I doing this? What are we trying to accomplish. You know that your business needs its Facebook page, but you don’t necessarily know what will it be used for. And if you don’t know, your 22-year-old intern is not going to be able to tell you. Social media is just another way to get brand awareness, solve customer support issues and sell products. It is a bit less formal and more carefree than traditional marketing outlets, but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be a business vision behind it.

2. Understands the voice and persona of the company

When it comes to running a social media account for a business, knowledge and experience in marketing or branding is crucial. Social media is all about giving your business a personality and encouraging other users to engage with you. This is not as simple as it sounds. Simply posting a picture with a mundane caption will not get you noticed. Marketing is about knowing what makes your customers tick. What do your customers like, want, and need? The messaging should be clear, with a clear goal behind it. I want people to share this post. I want to inform/educate. I want to promote the product. I want to evoke emotion.

3. Knows who your customers are

I once took charge of a firm’s social media account that had previously been handled by a few post-college students. These kids were personable, bright and intuitive, but they were used to using social media with people their own age. They didn’t understand that when they did social media posts for the company, they needed to cater to older generations. They shied away from doing posts they felt were too “clickbaity,” and they firmly believed that asking people to share posts, or to like them, or to tag people was “lame.” But the majority of the clients for this business didn’t share that belief. The majority of clients were 10, 20 and 30 years older, and though they were on social media, they weren’t being reached or engaged by this firm at all.

4. Has the right personality

The voice and human-like traits of your messaging matters. You can’t change who a person is. More often than not, if someone is shy, or hates parties and people, they won’t be the social media guru you’re seeking. Successful social media posts are often a lot of fun, and you want a person who has passion and energy that will come through in what he/she writes. Most importantly, you want someone who is creative and willing to take measured chances, with quirky or goofy or fun-loving posts. And no, a marketing degree is not necessary.

5. Employs solid problem solving skills and common sense

Social media isn’t just for fun. Your social media pages are also places for your customers to find you to share concerns and sometimes to post negative reviews or complaints. Fear not, this is actually good. Don’t race to hide or block them, because negative reviews and posts can give your company the opportunity to show that you are paying attention to your customers, and are willing to fix problems. It gives you the chance to let them know that you hear what they’re saying, you care about their experience, and you’d like to help. Never respond with anger or defensiveness. Instead, show thanks for the review and your commitment to ensuring the customer has a positive experience. It’s surprising how often this will result in a satisfied reply from the reviewer, and a positive response from readers. It shows that you’re a company that cares about its customers.

6. Understands the difference between professional and personal posts

It’s easy to simply trust spell check or autocorrect when typing online posts. But what if the typo is spelled correctly? Think there vs their vs. they’re, or the horrendous apostrophe malfunction. Everyone makes spelling and grammar mistakes, and a seasoned writer knows the importance of proofreading every single post before it goes live. Someone who only has experience with their personal social media platforms may not be used to the diligence required to ensure that your business maintains a professional reputation online.

7. Gets which social media channels to use, and when

All social media is not created equal. Some platforms cater to the young, while others find boomers to be the highest demographic. Some are designed for customer support and news, others for business networking, while others could be for personal sharing. It’s important to evaluate which platforms to devote your time to and why. For example, if I were promoting an aging-related product designed for the 65+ population, I’d probably spend more time on Facebook and forget channels such as Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest. If I were a manufacturing company with a B2B sales focus, I might do more educational blogging, directed splash emails, and networking/sharing on LinkedIn. Find your customers and go to where they are.

8. Can identify goals and reasonable ROI, especially for sponsored posts

The advertising side of social media is something that many people have never even considered when their experience is limited to personal posting. There is a whole world of tracking analytics, engagement measurement, and learning the value of boosting or sponsoring posts. A newbie to the world of corporate social media for business could have a hard time tracking metrics and deciding what is working. It would be a crap shoot to invest money into sponsored posts without a realistic expectation of desired results.

9. Makes thoughtful judgement calls before clicking “post”

Some things are innate and others come with experience. Using good judgement on behalf of a professional organization takes a little bit of both. There are times when an organization will want to take sides on a controversial issue. But these occasions are few–and must always come with management approval. In most cases, the last thing you want to do as a business is alienate a portion of your market by posting something in support of one side of a controversial topic. I still remember a college intern who had prepared a wonderful post, wonderful except that in the photo was a person wearing a T-shirt favoring one of the candidates in a recent highly charged political election. (You might remember the one.) The content of the post wasn’t political in any other way, but with one careless post, the firm could have ended up making a political statement it hadn’t intended, and alienating a large percentage of its clients. Even when it comes to sharing something humorous but in questionable taste, it often takes real-world experience to know what is and isn’t okay to post. Don’t let a rookie learn that lesson from experience while in control of your business’s social media account.

So next time you look to that young intern to decipher your digital online strategy, make sure he/she fits the overall bill to represent your brand correctly and effectively.

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