10 Commandments of Social Media Marketing

Because some mistakes are unforgivable.

By Shannon Ashley

Prior to launching my own writing career, I spent about 4 years writing for a social media management agency. Prior to that, I was the marketing writer for a number of youth ministries and small businesses.

If you aim to run a successful business in managing social media accounts, there are certain non-negotiables.

1. You need your own successful social media accounts to show clients that you know what you’re doing.

Don’t let this stop you from beginning your marketing career, but keep in mind that your inability to grow your agency’s social media presence will be problematic down the road.

The agency with which I previously contracted has an appallingly low engagement rate across all platforms after 5 years of existence.

Just imagine how many clients they lose upon seeing their Facebook page, Twitter profile, or Instagram account. We’re talking about a business that is supposed to be a social media wizard, yet most of their posts garner just a few likes.

Usually from their own employees. Clients won’t trust you to boost their engagement if you can’t do it for your own page.

2. Never stop innovating.

Social media is always shifting. To market well, you need to be able to shift and pivot with those changes too.

Offer packages for every single platform. If you ignore Instagram or Snapchat you’re leaving money on the table.

And if a new platform pops up, it would behoove you to become an expert as early as you can. There are plenty of businesses and individuals who need help building their online presence and they can set themselves apart by becoming early adopters of the next big thing.

You don’t need to be limited to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube. Help clients manage their Patreon accounts. Get them on Pinterest. Here are 21 different sites to consider for your marketing services.

3. Get on top of the latest hashtags and viral stories.

Most social media sites allow you to schedule content, which is ideal. You can schedule posts two weeks out and know your clients are covered.

However, most of those posts are going to be evergreen, meaning they are always relevant.

To bring your clients up to the next level, you really need to tap into some of the latest news and hashtags.

Google is your friend here, but most social media sites have a trending tab too. Not every client will benefit from references to the latest hashtags and headlines, but you certainly don’t want to miss out on any golden opportunities.

4. Never share fake news.

This is hard for so many people. They mean well. People see an interesting infographic or headline but they don’t consider whether or not that thing they want to share is really true.

If you are going to work in social media marketing, you have to know how to separate fact from fiction. Otherwise, you jeopardize your business and your clients' businesses too.

Learn how to identify fake news.

5. Be generous with the information you give to followers.

In the past, I have had clients that were way too worried about losing business by giving too much away. I’ve had catering clients refuse to use brilliant wedding tips articles all because one comment suggested having a pot luck wedding reception.

Restaurants have also refused to share stories which suggest a person might do anything other than eat... there.

This is a narrow and shortsighted strategy. Who are we kidding? Restaurants and caterers know that their customers could be foodies who often cook for themselves.

Don’t fight reality! Your social media strategy will make a much bigger and better impact by actively engaging with your clients.

If you’re client is a piemaker, they can’t just sell their followers pies all the damn time. They need to sell the image and feel of homemade pies. The comfort and fun.

In that vein, show customers how to make the pies. Show them how your client makes them better. Share fun pie trivia, and talk about all of the occasions for indulging in pie.

Followers love businesses that don’t take themselves so seriously.

6. Always deliver more than you promise.

When you give an ETA for new content, beat it. Never give yourself the chance to be late. Wow your clients with your knowledge and professionalism instead of only giving them the bare minimum.

You can’t have typos, half-assed blogs or anything else that reeks of amateur hour. If you do screw up, you’re human. But you’ve got to admit that right away and make it right as soon as you can.

People will feel betrayed if you don’t handle their business as tenderly as if it was your own.

7. Teach clients the real purpose of social media marketing.

One big problem I often see is that clients don’t understand why they need to be on social media. And marketing agencies don’t explain it to them.

Make no mistake. If your clients don’t know how to manage their own social media accounts, there’s a damn good chance that all they care about is making sales.

Part of your job as a marketer is teaching your client to focus on their brand image and relationship with customers. Many businesses need to focus on forging a relationship with their customers before they can reach their true sales potential.

An effective social media campaign helps potential customers trust your clients.

8. Offer a varied and truly curated selection of content.

Virtually every successful social media strategy relies upon careful curation. You want to give your clients' customers a reprieve from constant sales pitches.

Instead, you need blogs, infographics, articles, memes, photos, videos, polls, and more.

You also need a mix of current and evergreen content. Not just anything will do. Set standards for each client.

9. Avoid falling into a content rut.

Sure, it’s great to work on a schedule. Scheduled strategies can make the workflow easier. But you shouldn’t rely 100% upon that daily strategy.

Throwback Thursdays and Meatless Mondays might work really well for your client. Use them. But don’t fall into a rut of only working from a schedule.

Your clients and their customers still want to be pleasantly surprised. Make sure that you’re doing that.

10. Always be useful, relatable, or entertaining.

Few customers love a sales pitch. Regardless of your client’s business, there’s one rule that will keep your content from going stale.

Make sure that every piece of content you post is:

  • Useful (informs, educates, or solves a problem),

  • Relatable (taps into a customer’s feelings), or

  • Entertaining (makes customers laugh, catches their attention, etc.)

Above all else, you want your clients to be equipped with content that adds value. And it’s got to add value for their customers.

When you take on social media marketing for your clients, they are entrusting you with a vital piece of their business (even if they’ve been running it into the ground.)

It’s important to remember that on social media, you don’t always get a do-over. Certain mistakes may be unforgivable to your client or their customers.

And you don’t want to blow any chance to shine.


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