The 10 Commandments of Social Media

November 12, 2009

The proliferation of online users and accompanying social media networks in the last three years can confuse, bemuse and excite in equal measure. Editors included. There are some basic considerations for effective social media engagement.

Here’s my Top 10 Commandments for social media:

1. Thou shalt not spam

Whatever you do, don’t spam your target markets. They won’t appreciate a barrage of poorly-researched, irrelevant and inbox-clogging spam emails. Spamming inboxes – whether it’s company email addresses, Twitter accounts or Facebook will win zero brownie points and alienate you from any further contact. Once credibility is lost, it’s not coming back anytime soon, if ever.

Hyperlinking and acknowledging external sources on your blog makes common sense.

2. Thou shalt not steal

Stealing links to stories, news items, funky new websites, and wonderful products from another source, then passing them off as your own is a huge social media no-no. For example, on Twitter the re-tweet or RT function is an essential part of Twitequette, whilst hyperlinking and acknowledging external sources on your blog makes common sense. It engages and links you with the world.

3. Thou shalt not covet your competitor’s blog

One of the most unattractive and unprofessional social media rules to break is that of taking your competitor’s content, services, products and online offerings – and copying it. And there’s a lot of it about. After all, ideas and innovation do have a commercial value. Advice? Brainstorm and generate new products and services instead. It’s actually good fun too!

If you sell directly to them via your social media channels, you’ll lose them. Instantly.

4. Thou shalt not sell – anything, ever

The whole point of social media is to attract and engage an audience – hopefully a significant one – who will them promote your business on your behalf. Your audience are NOT there to sell to. They are there because they value your content, insights and advice. If you sell directly to them via your social media channels, you’ll lose them. Instantly. Play it smart – give, give, give. Never sell.

5. Thou shalt not kill

Nothing is quite as bad in social media-land as an account which is established and then sits there. Dead. No content. Nothing contributed. Setting up a social media space, such as a Facebook fan page, Twitter feed, or company blog, and then not adding content to it regularly is a sure-fire way of killing your social media credibility in front of a global audience. Add content. Add value. Just add!

6. Thou shalt not take the name of social media in vain

Remember that despite the fact social media can seem quite light-hearted, harmless and fun, your inputs on social media networks are on the web for Time Immorium. So be careful what you post. Add value, contribute to the flow of conversation. Think carefully before you post anything, anywhere, anytime, which can be viewed as an attack or negative comment in your industry.

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery

Social media adultery can be committed without thinking, but the effect and long-term damage is hard to recover from. Because many social media networks operate on an informality level which standard marketing does not recognise, the rules of engagement are still the same. Remain professional, polite and polished at all times. Remember your social media content is your legacy.

Make sure you cater for your audience’s requirements, needs and wants.

8. Thou shalt honour thy audience

Simple really – without an audience, your social media inputs are little more than an exercise in commercial vanity. Without followers, readers, commentators and fans of your social media content, being there is effectively a waste of your marketing budget and time. Make sure you cater for your audience’s requirements, needs and wants. It is, unfortunately, all about them. Always.

9. Thou shalt not forget the Sabbath Day

So, you think social media is a Monday to Friday exercise? Afraid not. In our 24/7, always-on, on-demand culture, social media plays an essential part of the online marketing mix, and your inputs need to cover the full seven days of the week. The good news is that you can pre-schedule posts, tweets and social media content using established tools to maintain an ever-present presence.

10. Thou shalt not worship any false Gods

What this means, essentially, is that just because an individual or company has oodles of followers or friends on a social media network, it doesn’t make them God. Challenge them, make them think, debate their content, get involved. This adds to your credibility and also hooks you into the audiences of the big players. Think of it as a subtle way of piggy-backing for exposure.

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2 Responses to “The 10 Commandments of Social Media”

  1. […] here (how? how?) and now we have to deal with it. So, in the spirit of understanding and sharing, here’s something that I stumbled across earlier. I should say now that these are the thoughts of one […]

  2. bristoleditor said

    Many thanks Jeremy

    Pleased it’s of some use – and yes, the age is correct. Seriously. Feel free to re-use wherever.

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