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Kevin Hill
M Posted 11 years ago
t 7 min read

My name is Kevin Hill, and I run the SEM and E-Commerce for a company in a niche marketplace for safety products.  Prior to that, I ran the SEM programs for Harbor Freight Tools, and was responsible for over 47MM in revenue tied to my programs.  In both of these positions, I was tapped to help guide social media marketing both formally and informally.  I am going to share with you the guidelines to success with Social Media marketing that have helped me in my quest for successful digital marketing and buyer's journey

Rule 1: You Can Participate - Not Control

Social media is a place where people go to talk about the things that matter to THEM, not you.  What this means is that ,often times, the discussion might be about how a customer is using a chainsaw as a nose hair trimmer - and your legal department is having fits about you  even responding to this kind of post.  Most likely, they are begging and pleading with you to get this post off of Facebook, LinkedIn or other social media sites because of liability issues. What is important to realize is that you don't control the content or content of the conversations about your products or services.  Let me repeat that.  It's important. YOU DON'T CONTROL THE MESSAGE. What you do control is how you participate in the message.  Can you add value to the discussion?  Can you answer people's questions? Can you be helpful and responsive?  Can you do it in a professional, yet human way?

Rule 2: Develop A Ruleset

Now that you know you can't control the message or subject - what can you do? Develop a ruleset around what subjects you will post about, what you will respond to, and how you will deal with angry or negative posts.  I suggest something like the following: Tone

  1. Will use proper grammer
  2. Will use language your customers use
  3. Will be neutral in tone


  1. Will be informative and relate to the discussion at hand
  2. Posts about our products or services will generally be human interest stories of how our products were used, or professionals in our industry have succeeded/won or done something newsworthy
  3. Posts like the above could start with "Like this if:..."
  4. Use stories that are of interest, or that ask questions

Subject matter that will not be posted

  1. Involving improper use of products
  2. Political in nature
  3. Sexual in nature (unless that's your business)
  4. Abusive, angry or attacking
  5. Foul language

Dealing with Angry Posts

  1. Posts that attack others, contain foul language will be deleted, and we will post a comment acknowledging the deletion and reason for the deletion
  2. Posts that reference politics, sexual issues will not be responded to
  3. Responses will ask the person in question to contact customer service at xxx-xxx-xxxx so that we can help the customer directly.

Rule 3: You control what you post

The 3rd rule is pretty obvious.  You control what, how and when you post.  For Twitter, you probably need to assign someone who uses Twitter regularly, and is willing to respond to a Tweet within seconds of it going live.  That means they monitor it during all their waking hours.  It also means you need to assign this task to someone who understands your policy of how you post, when you post, and what you post (See Rule 2). When responding to customer posts, it's critical that you participate in the discussion at hand, and don't try to "sell" something right away.  Help the conversation along by simply participating and being human.  Social media is about developing a place where people can talk about your products, and sharing with people how your products matter to them in their personal lives. It's also simply about sharing what's of interest at the moment.  Think about posting things that are interesting, may generate questions and responses.  Find someone who knows how to be the center of a conversation, and how to enliven a conversation. This person will know how to turn up the volume, and get activity to increase with interesting stories, tidbits, and posts.

Rule 4: Don't sell things in social media

Unless you are asked to, don't sell.  When someone is having a discussion about how a ladder might be used, it is totally appropriate to post with some details about the differences between fiberglass and aluminum ladders, and include a link to your website where you sell ladders.  It's not appropriate to interrupt a discussion about puppy house training, with the said ladder post, or an offer for 20% off dog collars.  When a post comes around asking about "where can I find a coupon for...", by all means, post a coupon offer.  But don't post that coupon offer just because there is a conversation about the best way to use a DeWalt power drill motor for driving skateboards. Unless you are involved in the conversation and proved that your not just a vulture trying to hawk products, avoid such posts.

Rule 5: Post often. Post Frequently.

You have the ability to post content to your social media page and accounts.  Make interesting posts about your company, your staff, and your products and how people are using them.  Make the posts often, and make them frequent.  Look at what posts your customers respond to, and post relevant content.  Be genuine in your posts. People have very good marketing detectors today.  They'll spot a sales pitch miles away and filter it out.

Rule 6: Monitor your Social media

Watch your social media regularly. Visit it.  See what your customers are saying. Learn from that, and use it to find and spot trends.  Do you see quite a few posts about how customer service is abusive? Perhaps it's time to start monitoring phone calls and seeing if there is any truth to that rumor.  Do you see a Tweet complaining that you are always out of stock on flux capacitors?  Perhaps a call to Purchasing might shed some light about the situation, and you can Tweet back with some information about the issue?  Get involved.  Respond to your fans, and they will respond to you.

Rule 7: It's not hard, it's just constant

Social media is not hard.  It's constant.  That means you need to start living and breathing your social media.  Fans will instantly detect fake interest, attempts to control the medium, or blatent attempts to monetize all social interactions.  Be real, Be human, and start talking to your customers.

Rule 8: Never censor (unless you have to)

And then, if you do have to censor, be transparent about it.  If someone posts a comment about a subject that is clearly illegal, wrong or calling names, feel free to delete the post or edit it.  But be 100% clear about what you did and why you did it.  For example - let's say someone posts an attack against another poster that is laced with expletives.  You'd probably be justified in removing or editing the post.  And along with that, post a comment saying "This post was deleted and/or edited because it did not follow guidelines found here.  Specifically this post used inappropriate language and attacked another poster.  We hate to do this, but when this happens, we will always let you know."

Rule 9: Have Fun!

Most of all, remember, social media is more like a conversation than a sales pitch.  You are extremely high up in the sales funnel, and your goal is to bring customers to think of your brand, product and entity in a ZMOT way.  You won't get sales immediately, but I promise you, if you actively post to your social accounts on a regular basis, and your stories that you share are of interest to your audience - you will grow - and more people will be reachable by your media. Feel free to test your knowledge with BrightEdge Digital Marketing Quiz or SEO Quiz.