In my workshops and other social gatherings, many top business executives frequently ask me questions like how they should use social media, from where to start, how much time to spend and what are the best practices. Being extensive user of social media tools, I believe the new comers must be guided. I have been using facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging for the last three years and I must confess that use of social media has played a significant role in my personal brand building journey. Yet, it is just a beginning; a long way to move forward.

Being social media evangelist, I am issuing the 10 Commandments that must guide new and old social media users.

1. Thou shalt make social media a vital part of thy communication.

No matter if you are running your own business or you are a business executive or a celebrity or TV anchor  or simply a house wife or doctor or lawyer, the importance of social media cannot be underestimated. You can shout to the world free of charge with the help of social media tools. Marketing these days is not the carte blanche of companies with big budgets. Any body can open a business page at facebook and start communicating with potential clients.

2. Thou shalt start blogging without wasting a minute.

You may be having awesome ideas in your heart, but unless you share with people they are of no use. Blogs are free platform to establish you as an authority on the subject. They are easy; they are dynamic and they are social media tools friendly. If you are a company and don’t have your blog, you have already wasted many years. Ask your marketing team to construct blog today and start communicating with the world. You will get immediate feedback in the form of comments.

3. Thou shalt upload photographs on social media sites.

Uploading photos of your meetings and marketing activities at your facebook page, blog, flickr and picasa increases your searchability in search engines. There is a saying that a picture is equivalent of thousand words. But at social media, pictures can help your brand go viral in hours.

4. Thou shalt leverage the power of YouTube

After google, YouTube is the second biggest search engine. Millions of videos are uploaded and watched daily. YouTube if used creatively can play a very critical role in the brand building journey. You can open your own channel. Videos are sharable at social media sites. So far, if your company has not uploaded your archive videos on YouTube, now is the time to start leveraging the power of this marvelous video sharing site.

5. Thou shalt set alerts.

In virtual world, people are constantly chattering about you. They are giving feedback on your company’s customer service. Haters are spitting out muck and venom. How can you know that in other corner of the world, someone is talking about you? This is now possible to get email alerts within minutes of publishing of stories about you.  Google provides an excellent tool with the name of ‘alerts’, subscribe to it today and get immediate notifications on your brands and on competition.

6. Thou shalt save cost and time on head-hunting through social media tools.

You want to recruit brand manager or brand activation manager? No need to design a job advertisement and place in the newspapers and wait for a week and then receive thousands of job applications, 99% irrelevant. Save your time and headache. Just search in LinkedIn. You will get hundreds of leads. Inbox them your message and lo! the best talent is within your reach without wasting time and money.

7. Thou shalt tweet 24×7

Your organization has so much to say; has many achievements to share. Today, this is possible with the wonderful tool of Twitter. In 140 characters, say what you want to say. If your content and message is of substance, people will retweet you. Always use hashtags (#) before key words so that you are easily searchable in Twitter feed.

8. Thou shalt integrate social media

To leverage the ginormous power of social media, the various tools must be integrated. Your communication mix must be well integrated and similar on all social media tools otherwise essence of the message will fizzle out.

9. Thou shalt use third party apps to automate updates.

Do you still want your message be run on social media when you are sleeping or having an important meeting with clients or you are conducting 9 to 5 sessions? Yes, this is possible. You can schedule your updates/tweets on apps like hootsuite.com, bufferapp.com or hellotxt.com etc. These applications are simple and free to use. These applications have made life much easier. You once fill them and schedule them, they will relay your message dutifully while you are sleeping or busy in the meeting deadlines.

10. Thou shalt study social media for half an hour daily.

Social media is not a static thing. It is evolving crazily. Every day, there are new tools and new apps. To keep pace with the new developments, you need to study social media trends and applications at least 30 minutes daily.

Ashraf Chaudhry writes a regular column on Social Media for Synergyzer, Pakistan’s leading marketing and advertising magazine.

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