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What to Ask Yourself Before Joining Social Networks

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Social media has given us the ability to communicate in real-time and is constantly changing the way we share messages with each other. Ten years ago, did you think you’d communicate in 6-second videos, 140-character messages or pins?

As a PR or marketing professional, it’s important to understand the new platforms and tactics people are using to communicate and how this may affect the format of your message. When a new site or network launches, what is the best way to approach it? We have listed a few tips so you can make a well-informed decision before signing up for the newest social network.

Is Your Market Using It?: While being an early-adopter gives you a little street-cred, if your market or industry is not using the platform, engagement will be down and you’ll lose interest fast. If you decide to pass on a network, set yourself a reminder to check back every few months to see if the audience has changed.

Try It Before You Buy It: Before you start any professional accounts on a new site, try it as a user. It will help you understand their point-of-view and you’ll see how people communicate on the site. Is it a casual environment or stiff? Do people mostly use images or text? This research will help you down the road.

Be Yourself: Use the same manners online that you would use in-person. It is impolite to constantly talk about yourself. The more genuine and real you are, the better experience you’ll have and the more value you’ll give to your users.

Don’t Speak Just to Hear Yourself Talk: Don’t join a site just because all the cool kids are doing it. Make sure you can add value to the conversations taking place and the communities you want to join.

Why Are You Joining?: What is your goal? If you answer “I don’t know” or “Because everyone else is,” you should re-evaluate your positioning. If you want to join a new platform to keep up-to-date on industry, connect with others in your profession or share your insight, sign up! But not until you …

Create A Crisis Communication Plan: This step is crucial, especially if you’re representing a brand. The real-time nature of social media has made the public expect a rapid response from companies, whether it is a customer service issue or a snarky tweet that was unintentionally sent from a company account. Be prepared for mistakes so you can act quickly should they occur. Have a hierarchy of staff to reach out to should there be an issue (include home numbers in case an issue arises after-hours) and a plan in place as to how a response will be delivered. If you want to take it one-step further, stage a mock crisis to test out your plan.

Track your progress: Look at your objectives and decide what you will measure to evaluate yourself. This will help you see which messages resonate most with your audience and the impact you’re having on the community.

Check Yourself: If you have passed all these steps and are ready to sign up for the newest social site, be sure to think before you post. Ask yourself questions like, “Would I be embarrassed if my grandma or the company CEO saw this?”, “Am I representing myself and my company well?”, “Will this message offend anyone?”, “Would I be annoyed if I saw this message?” and “With whom am I interacting?”

The benefits of social media can be huge but so can the repercussions. As long as you’re prepared, you are ready for all social media has to offer. If you want to learn more about social media management, join Nate Shafer and I for a free 30 minute webinar.

About Lisa Denten

Lisa Denten is the Social Media Manager of Cision U.S., where she leads social strategy, coordinates the blog editorial calendar and manages public relations campaigns. She regularly hosts Cision webinars, was chosen as a #FollowFriday guest on industry blog Spin Sucks, and has spoken on panels for Inbound Marketing Summit and Publicity Club of Chicago. She worked in the newspaper industry before joining Cision in 2008. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter at @lisaml15.

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