It seems like everywhere a person looks anymore, there’s some celebrity or business getting backlash for something they said which caught attention from their Twitter feed, or from an interview which went viral on social media. These people have had to publicly apologize and in some instances, they’ve even lost customers and future business from their mistake; in worst case scenarios they’ve had to close their doors for good. Using best practices with social media and always being aware of some golden rules is the easiest way to avoid social media blunders and to ensure that you are always using it the most effective ways possible.

Here’s our 11 immediate tips to guide your social media strategy:

1. The customer really IS always right.

It doesn’t matter if they’re actually wrong and you know it, and so does anyone else in your industry. The moment they get on social media to complain about the quality of your product or service, wrong or right, your excuses for why it happened and why the customer has mud on their face won’t get you any loyalty from their sympathizers. People are quick to band together when it appears someone has been wronged, and often it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in business or how many happy customers you have. People will remember the one perceived time you did something wrong over all the hundreds you did something right.

How do you fix something like this when you get a complaint? Don’t argue with the customer because it’s a fight you cannot and should not win on that platform. Just do what you can to make them happy and post on your own social media platform in response to their complaint. You can ask them to inbox you their phone number or address so you can mail them some small compensatory object that will make them feel better, or you can simply give them a call and find out what they’d like to see happen within reason.  End a call like this by thanking them for helping to strengthen your customer service quality. Direct your conversation away from your social media platform into private messaging and phone calls, having left your attention to the customer as the last word on your page.

2. Quality Over Quantity Every Time

Any amount of followers or likes on your social media platform are a treasure to be protected, and never to be taken for granted. These people are fickle and could leave at any moment unless they’re always being treated in the way they expect, and are getting some benefit by being there. Loyalty comes with time and trust, so build it by publishing quality content and not skimping on valuable information. People want to know something that they feel they cannot get anywhere else, and while it’s tempting to try to bond with your virtual family by giving them personal information about your family or things of that nature, avoid it.

People aren’t looking to gain a new virtual friend, they ultimately are there for themselves, so if you’re looking to get personal – opt instead for making a very small listing of the things you have done for your community like donating to a homeless drive or sponsoring a little league team. You can also post events your business is holding for charity or other events that would interest them to learn about. Don’t spend a lot of time on those kinds of posts because the followers’ attention spans are limited and they’ll only be scanning it anyway.

3. Exposure Through Advertising

Google Ads and Facebook Ads exist for a great reason, so don’t limit yourself by only advertising locally or relying on word of mouth. It’s always a great idea to advertise on social media, because nearly everyone worldwide spends a great deal of time on social media platforms and your reach can only expand by doing so. You can advertise for any variety of purposes; gaining followers, promotion of content or an event, driving direct sales or to create authority. Don’t assume that one advertising platform is better than another however, be sure you try out each of them and give them enough time to perform with measurable results (more on analytics later) so you gain valuable data with which to measure performance and decide which advertising platforms are the way to go for your niche.

4. Knowing The Right People in the Right Places

You have probably heard the old saying, “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer” and while your competitors are not enemies in the strictest sense, they ARE a threat to your daily operation and potential sales, so why not befriend them? This is a big key point that so many people miss out on doing because they feel they should have as little as possible to do with their competitors for fear of losing customers. The opposite is true however, because the more you pay homage to those in your field who have already become big success stories by tagging them in your posts, replying to their tweets and updates, the more they’ll do for you in return.

If your business is in marketing, so much the better because other marketers know the value of “you scratch my back – I scratch yours” and have done so themselves to grow into the superpower they became. If you’re looking to become influential in your sphere, there is little better you can do to grow your brand than to be humble and thankful  to others in your field who have already established themselves. You’ll find they help your social media presence and your business grow far more than you think.

5. Put on Your Happy Face

Anyone who has used Facebook for any amount of time will be able to identify with the pain that is reading a news-feed full of depressing images or people complaining about their lives. People scroll past these as their mood continues to worsen until they’re sneering at the screen and get off Facebook altogether having been made ill by what they saw, hoping for joy and getting jaded instead. When you look at it from a purely human to human interactionist stance it’s easy to see how to proceed with people on social media. Be positive always, and highlight all the things that are good and eliminate anything negative like challenges your business is facing in favor of success stories. The idea is to leave your followers with a smile on their face and the desire to return again.

6. Give and You Shall Receive

This is one of those golden rules like “treat others as you would like to be treated” where what you give is given in return. It might seem counter-intuitive to give something of value away for free, but when you give people something of quality that they don’t have to pay for they’re giving you back something worth far more than money. Loyalty is something which cannot be measured in dollar signs. You don’t have to give a product away for free to make this work however, you can do something like paying a content writer to create a valuable document giving tips or insider knowledge in your field in the form of a whitepaper that others can be given simply for being followers of yours. That is the kind of quality information people need and seek, and when it’s free instead of a small fee – they’ll thank you by coming back for more when it DOES cost something later.

7. Analytics Matter

We said we’d get back to analytics on the tip regarding advertising and now we’ll show you why they matter so much. Do you know how many people you reached with your posts for the week? How about for the month? Are you able to measure your Tweet impressions or how many people engaged versus actually clicked through to buy something on your site from their social media starting point? Most people have no idea what people are actually doing on their social media page, much less what they do once they leave it or if they’ve left it for their website. Facebook and Google and a few others offer analytic tools so you can see what’s going on behind the scenes anytime you make a post, but there’s services out there like Magi.Social which do even more by consolidating it all into a dashboard so it can be viewed at a quick glance, posts can be scheduled and monitored so that when changes need to be made based on customer traffic or lack thereof, it’s made easier and more streamlined. This means more uptime for your business since you won’t have to change things as a major overhaul every few months because things aren’t working and you don’t know why.

8. Social Media Learns, So Should You

Recall the earliest days of computing? It took overnight to defragment a computer and most of a day. Turning it off was a process that took nearly 45 minutes, and startup wasn’t much better. To install a program you needed an entire stack of disks which you had to babysit to ensure you put in the next one in the sequence. At some point though, all this old tech changed into a bullet train running faster than any of us can feasibly keep up with. Now all our technology is getting smaller, faster and more efficient, it’s getting intuitive and making lives easier, and social media is a massive player on the field. It has changed from the days of MySpace into apps and platforms today which are used for keeping in touch with friends and family as well as marketing and advertising potential. The rules seem to change on a daily basis, so yearly training just doesn’t cut it. Be sure to subscribe to authority social media news sites to keep up with the latest trends that social media is reacting to so you can always be on par with what’s hottest and working currently because we all know it can and might change tomorrow.

9. Consistency is Key

If you waffle about posting and cannot find time to do it because you’re too busy handling things you feel are more important to your daily business operations, you’ll lose any followers you manage to gain due to inconsistency. In situations like this when you know you don’t have time to devote to this on a regular basis, sites like Magi.Social exist to streamline the process for you doing things like managing your posts that go out on every platform you choose to operate from as well as offering content writing so your words can go out to your followers on a regular and dependable basis which brings trust and more traffic as people flock to your social media page to see what you have to say next. The posts made should reflect your industry and the times your followers are paying attention (before or after work hours) and should always happen at minimum, once a day.

10. Jack of All Trades, Master of None

There are as many social media platforms as you wish to look for, the largest of them and most notorious being Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, YouTube and Reddit. All of these sites are potential places for marketing, but if you don’t have an unlimited budget and time, which most of us don’t have, then you must choose a handful to market with and leave the rest or use an incredible social media manager. Research which platforms are most used by your target audience, and if you don’t know what your target audience is – you need to define it. Use the platform your largest potential follower pool uses, and limit it to two or three big social media sites and create a strong presence. If you try to market on all the platforms with a limited amount of money and time, you will find yourself stretched too thin and wasting precious resources to get nearly nowhere – think of a mouse running in a wheel. If you really want to get somewhere you cannot focus on more than a few things at one time, no matter how much promise you think those other things have. Choose the most important and most immediate of the sites in terms of potential and scrap the rest until a later date or if your customer base changes. You can then become a specialist in marketing on these few platforms and will see the fruits of your labor in massive ways instead of being substandard on all of them.

11. Review, Review, Review

Whether you choose to do it yourself, or to employ a social media post manager like Magi.Social you should always make time to review what is going out to the public when it has your name on it. Also be sure to check your old posts to make sure you’re not posting repeat photos or content which has already been said recently. If a previous photo or post has been mentioned more than 6 months ago however, it might be alright to refresh it with a re-write and updated photo for reuse. Also be sure that if you’re converting a personal account for business use, like a freelancer might – that you erase all personal aspects like posts and photos from when you represented yourself for family and friends before you try to market yourself for business purposes.  Since social media sites may cause you to miss erasing something however, it’s always a better idea to just make a whole new page for yourself and your business instead of taking the shortcut and augmenting an existing page. Page creation is easy and keeps you from making embarrassing mistakes.  By constantly reviewing what is going out to the public, you’re able to ensure your brand stays at a level of quality you can be proud of.