7 Simple Rules to Succeeding on Social Media

Here’s Your One-Size-Fits-All Social Media Marketing Strategy

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An artisan, an old man out of focus in the shot, is using a stencil to draw a shape on a piece of leather, presumably for sewing.

Tailor your social media strategy to the channel you’re on and the people who are using it, they say. We say, there’s only one social media strategy and it’s completely irrelevant which network you’re using. Follow these 7 rules to achieve marketing success on social media.

While every social media platform is indeed different and you have to watch out for different things and plan differently, some rules are universal for brands who are engaging in marketing activities on social media. These rules apply whether you’re on Facebook or Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest or Musical.ly.

1. Start building your social media presence in time

If you’ve been ignoring your accounts until you badly need them for your next campaign, you’re already way late. Building a presence on social media takes time and effort and it takes time to grow organically. So start now. What are you waiting for?

A GIF of Chris O’Dowd in the TV show “Moone Boy” sitting on the kerb and checking his watch

2. Don’t be a megaphone

Don’t be that brand who just yells its promotional content into the void. Talk to people, not at them. Engage, have conversations, reciprocate — people can tell when you’re just trying to get something out of them, instead of genuinely caring about them.

A GIF from Grace and Frankie. Frankie is saying: “I am engaging with all the people in internet-land.”

3. Don’t be a dick

Don’t be sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist etc. No brand has ever sustainably benefited from unacceptable behaviour. This is generally good advice for brands, but people tend to forget that social is very much a part of a brand and should reflect the brand’s values. That means hiring social media managers who are on board with the company values and have no problem sticking to them.

A GIF from Veronica Mars with Veronica saying “be cool, soda pop” to Wallace.

4. Be honest

People — consumers — like honesty. They like transparent ingredients lists on products and knowing what a company stands for. Honesty builds trust. And it extends to social media as well.

Don’t lie to people on social media, whether you’re answering questions about your product or reacting to customer complaints. If you make a mistake, own it and work hard to repair the damage.

Lies will come out eventually, especially in a time where user-generated content and user reviews play such a huge role in people’s buying decisions. The internet is pretty unforgiving when it comes to dishonest brands.

A GIF from Daria: Daria is giving her graduation speech: “The truth and a lie are not sort of the same thing.”

5. Don’t just be honest, be sincere as well

Mistakes do happen. When they do, it’s best to own them and apologise sincerely, instead of doing the fake “sorry if it hurt someone” apology. The problem with the fake apology is that “sorry if I hurt someone” really means “I’m sorry you are feeling offended even though I don’t think I did anything wrong”. The only real apology is one that says and means “I’m sorry that I fucked up and hurt you.”

A GIF of Rihanna singing “Don’t tell me you’re sorry ’cause you’re not” in her song Take A Bow.

6. Be helpful

When you offer customer service on social media, your standard answer to help requests should never be “Thank you for contacting us. Please, send an email to support@….” Chances are, your customers can google your support email address all by themselves.

The reason they turned to you on social media was that they wanted your customer support there and not via email. If you can’t handle social media customer service, don’t offer it. But better yet, learn how to improve your customer support.

A GIF of Gina in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, shrugging and saying, “Let’s give the people what they want.”

7. Have a sense of humour

There are few things worse than a brand which has zero sense for irony or can’t share a laugh. Educate your customer service and social media teams accordingly. And, please, give them some leeway to be human instead of robots when they’re interacting with people on social media.

A GIF of Raymond from Brooklyn Nine-Nine saying, with a deadpan face, “That is amazingly funny.”

One size fits all?

Yes, alright, so you’re still going to have to create a social media strategy and plan everything out. But if you take these seven rules as something to base your behaviour on, you’ll be in pole position for whatever you’re planning to do: from day-to-day social media activities to planning a hashtag campaign.

This basic strategy really does fit every brand on every social network, given that it’s built on something as straightforward as basic human decency.

A GIF from The IT crowd. All three people are engaged in their own activities with their laptops at different places in the room, quite far from each other. The caption says: “I love this. I feel so social.”