Now that you have been using images more liberally, learning the best times to post, monitoring and responding , and spending some quality time with the experts, let’s get to the next two tips.

First I want to add to the “learning” tip from the last post. There I told you about keeping up with trends and changes in social media, and gave you the names of some experts in the field that can help you. Now we’ll make sure you don’t look foolish in your posts. Then I’ll tell you how to mix the human and the software parts of a good social media strategy.

5. Speak the Language

Terminology

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Undoubtedly you’ve heard this old adage. The meaning of this is simple: if you want to be accepted and fit in somewhere, adjust yourself to the customs, habits, and communication style of those who live there.

The people you are trying to reach and communicate with live on social media. They spend time there. They know the terminology. They know the accepted  norms of the site. If you want to connect with them, you have to speak their language.

The basic language includes the terms that describe the usage of the site. Tweet, retweet, post, share, like, friend, follow, pin – these and other terms are like “and”, “the”, and “or” in English. You can’t carry on a conversation if you don’t understand them. This is not to say that you use them in all of your posts, but you have to understand them intimately.

These aren’t difficult, and you probably already know most of them – but make sure you do. You also need to know the acronyms that are thrown around, such as RT for retweet. On Twitter, hashtags are used constantly. A hashtag is a phrase or word with a “#” in front, such as #thisisahashtag or #trendingtopic.

I may be telling you what you already know, but it’s that important. Go play golf with a regular golfer without understanding “par” or “stroke” and you’ll see what I mean. They want to play, not teach you about the game for 18 holes.

Grammar and Spelling

Although the sad fact is that less and less people seem to have any kind of grasp of proper English, most will still get annoyed quickly when reading others’ poor writing. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s reality.

A great and glaring example of this can be seen in the ever-growing trend of self-published books. Today anyone can write (term used loosely) a book and upload it to Amazon.com using the CreateSpace platform. This is both awesome and horrible – awesome because it encourages new talent to emerge and opens doors previously guarded by a few big publishing houses, and horrible because some people don’t seem to understand the value of good editing and proofreading.

If you go and download 10 random books from the daily batch of free offerings on Amazon (there are hundreds every day), you will find errors that are almost intolerable in probably 7 of them. And they will probably have reviews reflecting this fact if anyone else has downloaded it.

Use a spell checker. Please. If you can’t put words together in a compelling (or coherent) way, get someone else to compose your posts. You can hire freelance writers to do this if you don’t have anyone in-house to rely on (more on this in part 4). You may be the most intelligent and informed person in the world on the subject matter you are speaking about, but that information will be lost – along with your credibility – if you communicate it poorly to the reader.

6. Be a Cyborg

For those who aren’t science fiction fans or science geeks that studies artificial intelligence, a cyborg is basically a half-organic, half-cybernetic being (that’s half man, half-robot to use the simplest terms). If you are a business using social media (read: want to stay in business), you need to be a cyborg.

Before you think that I’ve completely lost my mind, let me explain.

Social media is a human activity. It’s a conversation. Things like virtual assistants on your smartphone (Siri, if you’re an iPhone user) may claim to be able to have a conversation with you, but vary the script a bit and you’ll see how useful it really is.

Don’t be Siri. Have a real conversation with your audience. Pat answers and standardized responses get under peoples’ collective skin. Not everyone would go this far, but I even get slightly annoyed when, after following someone new on Twitter, I get an auto-responder message of “Thanks for following me! I look forward to the conversation!”.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with an auto-response like that, particularly if you have thousands upon thousands of followers. It’s not realistic that you can personally thank that many people and still sleep or eat. However, I would rather have no response than an automated response. But that’s just me. For a business that is garnering the kind of following that would require and auto-responder, I actually recommend it, but only if it is unique and interesting.

This leads me to the other side of the cyborg coin, which is that you absolutely need to be using a solid piece of social media management software. Automation is not the key to success on these sites necessarily, but it is an essential piece of the equation if you want to do it right. As I discussed in tip 4 (Timing, remember?), composing posts and scheduling them for the week is a huge time saver.

Having a digital dashboard does more than just scheduling, though. It will help you with sentiment analysis, monitoring and tracking, measuring ROI, and managing multiple accounts from one place. Like I said, it’s essential.

Learn it, Get it

Before next week, I expect you to put these into action. If you don’t, I’m not going to fuss or chastise you, but you will have wasted yet another week that could have been a huge boost to your online endeavors. Your choice.

Wally Peterson

Christ follower, freelance writer, entrepreneur, Android lover, family man, political conservative, generally nice guy.

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