During discussions about what works and what doesn't, several best practices came up again and again.
1. Demonstrate your expertise.
This is perhaps the most important focus you can have when developing your social brand. If you have knowledge about and insight into cloud-based storage, for example, post tips and tricks, link to relevant white papers you have written and/or recommend, and point people to relevant news stories. This is how you gain loyal friends and followers and how you get your content shared. It may also be how you get that next great job when a company in the market for a cloud storage expert sits up and takes notice of your demonstrated expertise.
2. Avoid split personalities.
Those who have developed a successful social brand have well-developed--and focused--personalities. If you are that cloud storage expert, it's OK to post about other things now and again, but you don't want to confuse or annoy with lots of random, unrelated thoughts. That's a surefire way to dilute your brand and probably to lose fans, friends, and followers. One person I spoke with recommended developing your business persona on platforms such as Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn, and using Facebook for personal updates.
[ Learn how to handle negative comments about your brand on social media. Read 5 Ways To Survive Social Disses. ]
3. Find an update balance.
You want to post enough so that you are on people's radars, but not so much that you clog their news feeds. You also want to make sure that you are posting relevant content, and not posting for the sake of posting. At minimum, you should be posting something once a day. How do you know when you are posting too much or not enough? You won't--not for sure, anyway. But if the number of comments, likes, shares, and retweets you typically get decreases, you should probably adjust your volume up or down.
4. Follow up.
Your work is not done after you post an update. Rather, the work has just begun. When someone asks a question based on something you've posted, answer it if you can or propose a source of information if you can't. Pose your own questions. Develop conversations around content that you have posted. It can be time consuming to keep up with lots of comments, but that's what's known as a good problem to have.
As in life, when it comes to social networking, it's important to remember the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In other words, if you want people to like your content, like theirs. If you want people to share your content, share theirs. That's not to say that you should like or share everything--then those likes and shares mean nothing. The trick is to make sure that you are liking and sharing quality content that will be meaningful to your own fans, friends, and followers.
Do you have some guidelines for effectively building and maintaining your social brand? Please share them in the comments section below.
Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.
Every company needs a social networking policy, but don't stifle creativity and productivity with too much formality. Also in the debut, all-digital Social Media For Grownups issue of The BrainYard: The proper tools help in setting social networking policy for your company and ensure that you'll be able to follow through. (Free with registration.)