Wednesday, May 23, 2012

5 Tips to Enhance Your Social Media Presence

After analyzing the presence of social media in more than 50 cooperate and non-profit organizations for my job at Northwestern Alumni Office, I feel a strong impulse to share my learning and give some advice. I know most people, no matter how much they are into the social media business, would not like to read almost each single post from 50 Facebook pages. My wild guess is…if you are not the person who writes every Facebook post or Twitter tweet of your company, you probably have never read all of these posts of your own business. OK. You can’t wait, can you? Here you go:

Post beautiful pictures about your products, animals who need to be adopted or your campus! Your posts are for humans, and humans are visual animals! (Don’t ask why Pinterest is getting popular anymore…) If you want your followers to know that your company has a new CSR initiative of helping children in the inner cities, please don’t post the first paragraph of your press release on your social media pages! Give your readers a picture of a smiling kid with an introduction of less than 140 characters (The Twitter rule applies to every social media platform). Trust me, the child’s smile would work much better than a bunch of rhetorical words.

Be personal. Again, Facebook is not somewhere to release your press release. It’s true that you represent an organization; it is also true that social media began with interpersonal communication. If you, as an organization, want to leverage social media magnetism, follow the rule and talk like a PERSON. If you are a fashion brand, “talk” like a young lady who tries to make herself beautiful everyday. If you are a college, “talk” about what college students care about: finals, commencement, or a new coffee shop where they would like to spend their afternoons.You’d better never talk like you are “offering” something great and your followers should pay for it with both money and gratitude. It’s you who should show gratitude for all the attention and followers you get. So, make your audience’s lives happier,prettier and easier with your posts.

Be consistent over your different social media platforms. I’ve seen organizations act like two totally different people on Facebook and Twitter: one is charming and intelligent, the other one is like a loser who has lost all  interest in life. Brands should always act like a woman in love, who tries to show the best side of her to her crush. So dress up for every occasion because you never know when your customers will be viewing your page. Don’t go out, or open your account on a new social media platform, if you are not ready to show your best side.

No more than 10 posts or tweets a day. Even if you are an attractive and sexy 20 something, do not walk around your secret crush’s window more than 10 times a day. It will lead to beauty fatigue and it only takes his one click on “unlike” or “unfollow”, and you are gone forever.  Less than 5 Facebook posts and 10 tweets is a good limit. After all, you don’t have so much information to share, do you? Too many posts or tweets are as annoying as spam emails.

Be a listener. There is a lot of advice telling you how to “talk” on social media platforms, but not how to “listen”.  If you go to some top brands’ Facebook or Twitter pages, you will find that they spent a lot of time answering questions or replying to posts from their followers. In a word, they listen. There was a famous case about how Chipotle avoided a PR disaster by quickly responding to a tweet about its failure to inform consumers about some of its ingredients. Don’t just re-tweet or “like” posts that mention you, please. When your followers bother to type your name in their posts, they don’t expect you to make them “famous” by retweeting their post; they did that to start a conversation with you, and you should feel grateful for their interest and efforts. If you are popular, like Starbucks, it may take you a long time to reply to every mention. So missing one or two may not matter too much for you. But it matters to that particular customer. 

     Some of my advice may not seem new to you; but this insight is generated from comprehensive research. As a Master’s student, who concentrates on Internet Marketing and Market Research, conclusion from data analysis is vital for me. I cannot accept people who just walk into the conference room and exclaim, “You know what? I am gonna trust my gut to initiate a new social media strategy and spend the 100,000 dollars!” Thanks to MedillIMC, who did a good job shape me from  a “free spirited” person to a data-driven, consumer centered marketing professional.

Katie Li is a current graduate student in the Northwestern Medill IMC marketing program, with 5 year work experience for Microsoft and Ogilvy in China. Katie decided to move to the U.S., when the death of her lifetime icon Michael Jackson revived her long-time dream of living in the U.S. Katie aims to find a job in the Internet Marketing and Global Marketing industries after graduation. She shares her learning, interest and passion towards her profession and life through @iamkatieli on Twitter and on LinkedIn. 


  1. Utilizing various social media channels is a make or break decision for your brand. You can basically 'overdo' it by posting too often with content that are somehow irrelevant. These tips are handy for business owners who plan to tap on social media as a marketing tool. But if I may add, use social media not only to promote your brand; take advantage of these platforms to build a genuine relationship with your clients, first hand. :)

    -Darryl Tay


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