6 Tenets of Social Media

I first joined Twitter on April 18, 2008. Yes, I was not an early adopter. In fact, I only joined because I was curious about this “new” tool that some of my fellow colleagues were talking about. As for the other social networking sites, I had already given up on MySpace, I was very active on Facebook, didn’t have my own blog (unless you count my old LiverJournal account which hadn’t been used for years). So I will admit that Twitter actually re-energized my participation in social media.

And here I am, almost three years and three months later, with 13,337 tweets, 1,159 followers and 1,541 people I follow on my personal Twitter account. My “professional” account has only 469 followers; I follow 647 people and have tweeted 845 times (846 when this post is published). But enough of that small glimpse in time, let’s take a look at the fruits of my labor over the past several years: 6 Tenets of Social Media.

These tenets are grounded in professional experience of developing social media strategies and managing the accounts for institutions of higher learning, non-profit organizations, medical/healthcare organizations and a financial services industry. They are the result of the lessons learned there, as well as the knowledge gleaned from countless blogs, email newsletters, thought leaders, workshops, webinars, conferences, discussions and even academic research.

I invite your feedback and comments. These tenets are just that–guidelines–not laws to obey, but principles to use when making your decisions, formulating your strategy and implementing your tactics. They may change over time, as the technology changes, as the paradigm of social media changes, and as human behavior continues to evolve. But for now, I believe them to be fairly relevant…and hopefully, useful.

1. Be Human
  • Be conversational and friendly.
  • Be responsible; own up to your mistakes.
  • Develop a persona; have a consistent voice if possible.
  • Ask questions and engage your followers.
  • Be playful, but professional, matching your brand’s communication style.
  • Be transparent; don’t lie.
  • Give credit where credit is due.
  • Be unique.
2. Be Diligent
  • Explore the mediums; one may work better than another.
  • Get to know your audience.
  • Set goals and measure results.
  • Align social strategy with marketing and business objectives.
  • Know your tools and services.
  • Stay current on trends.
  • Have a plan for handling negative comments or crisis situations.
3. Be Relevant
  • Stay on topic.
  • Speak (and listen) to your followers.
  • Avoid automation.
  • Use appropriate conventions.
  • Don’t just regurgitate; add value.
  • Measure successes and failures.
  • Stick to your area of expertise.
  • Be a (thought) leader.
4. Be Thoughtful
  • Thank people.
  • Mention others.
  • Promote discourse.
  • Be creative and create excitement.
  • Be smart.
5. Be Timely
  • Respond quickly and accurately.
  • If acknowledging, less than an hour.
  • If the response requires research, acknowledge, then provide the full answer within one business day.
  • Post when appropriate.
  • Build buzz.
6. Be Respectful
  • Moderate the community with fairness.
  • Do not spam or inundate your followers.
  • Acknowledge positive and negative feedback.
  • Share opinions, but avoid speculation.
  • Respect privacy.
  • Disagree respectfully.
  • Think twice before posting.
Special thanks to my mentor and supervisor, Barb Richey for providing initial feedback. And of course, my sincere gratitude for further feedback and input from my social media mentor, Carri Bugbee.
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One response to “6 Tenets of Social Media

  1. SO much information in one post! But I love all of your bulleted tips and I think you are dead on with all of them. I am new to Twitter and have had a hard time engaging with folks. As of now, I there are only a handful of users that I interact with on a regular basis – and that is a huge success for me! It is such a learning process…

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