How to Use Social Media Appropriately: Business & Pleasure

Social Media. This little phrase is a big concept and has taken the world by storm in the last couple of decades. It comes in various shapes and sizes, with something for every taste – you like photography you have Instagram, if videos are your thing you’re a YouTube fan, discussions on Twitter and friends on Facebook…the social media world is big – and expanding.

It’s not just the social side either. Social Media is much more than just “social”; it is promotional media, a meme generator, a data-driven goldmine for market research, a selling platform, a marketing tool – and with all of these blurred lines, the appropriate use of social media is increasingly important.

Of course, it is easy to fall down the digital rabbit hole (we’ve all lost hours, sometimes days, thanks to “Recommended for You”) but before you dive in, let’s start by taking a snapshot look at how you can best utilise social media; appropriately and efficiently, for your needs.

Using Social Media as an Individual

Social media allows you to show your best self, through a filtered window to the world. Use. That. Filter. Whether you’re a hopeful candidate on LinkedIn, a budding blogger or just a regular Joe – just because your status asks what’s on your mind, doesn’t mean you should type and post everything that is on your mind, for the world to see.

Similarly, avoid being a keyboard warrior; just because they can’t see your face when you say it doesn’t mean they can’t put your face to your name later on, and when you least expect, a social rant and confrontation could have negative consequences in the real world.

Remember, as easy as it is to build yourself a pedestal via your platform(s) of choice, it is even easier to get knocked off said pedestal with a few silly mistakes. Of course, common sense plays a big part in it; we all know horror stories about some fool pulling a sickie and getting caught out because they were daft enough to promote their bad judgement with tagged pictures on Facebook.

But simple things like etiquette, manners and even social platform politics can lead you astray, and many employers now look at social media as part of the vetting process to see you – unfiltered. And if you really can’t go a day without your foot in your mouth, set everything to private and choose your friends wisely.

Using Social Media as a Business

Social media should be used wisely, at all times, whether you are a start-up business building your brand or an established behemoth using it to stay connected with your customer base. Ultimately, it is a tool; in inexperienced hands, it is an Allen key, unlikely to have much impact, and in the wrong hands, it’s a power tool without instructions.

The best way to use social media is to figure out what you need, what you can offer an audience and how you can implement various strategies and uses. Perhaps you will use it as a customer service tool, where you respond to queries and make important announcements, amongst other varied content. You might choose to utilise it as an online selling platform, making the most of Instagram and Facebook’s e-commerce offerings.

However you choose to maximise your social media, you need to make sure you use this business-boosting tool to its full potential. Be prepared as that will require research, testing and time spent educating yourself on the various algorithm and guideline updates rolled out across social platforms on a regular basis; one month you’ll have a campaign running like a dream, the next, Facebook has tweaked it so your promotional posts don’t show as prominently and your ads aren’t featured as much as you’d like.

If you haven’t got the flexibility or your schedule doesn’t allow you to invest real time and effort in your social media, do not leave it to chance – recruit an expert to assist.

In the same way as you’d enlist an experienced agency for local SEO services in Peterborough or an AdWords specialist for a complex international campaign, so too should you invest in a social media marketing and management expert to ensure appropriate use of your business’ social media channels. Check this link out for more information.

Using Social Media as a Consumer

So you’re a consumer researching brands or mooching around companies’ stores on Facebook and Instagram Shoppable.

Fun fact: you are the golden goose, the winning ticket, the coveted prize. You are every cliché imaginable. Your every view, your every click, your every “Like” and “Love” and share – ultimately, the brands you follow are banking on the fact that all of these will eventually end with your custom.

This is what the big brands are vying for and every time you peruse and engage with their social content you give them a little boost. Use this to your advantage; find the best deals, enter the competitions. But be wise to what’s going on so you don’t get sucked in.

There are automated algorithms that use cookies and patterns and demographics to figure out who you are, what you like and what you want to see. Then companies show you what you want, tricking you into thinking they “get” you, so you trust them and buy their products.

Sorry. But that is the cold hard truth of being a marketing magpie, and a snapshot of how social platforms allow marketers to better engage with you.

Now you know about it, albeit not in great technical detail, you can be more aware and savvier with your social use.

Social Media Moving Forward

Boundaries continue to be blurred with social media and as hard as Zuckerberg is fighting, it is no longer a simple space for families and friends to connect. It is as saturated with promotional and clickbait content as anywhere else on the internet. Great news for businesses wanting to dabble, not so great for individuals wanting a relaxed spam-free digital space to connect with people.

However, by using social media in the right way for your needs, you should be able to maximise its impact and ensure it is fit for purpose. For more quick tips, check out some top advice for businesses.

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