Social Media I learned From My CatI'm pretty sure my cat was a cantankerous codger in a past life. If you believe in that sort of thing. I just mean his particular method of communication leads me to believe he's got a lot to say and there will be hell to pay if I don't listen. In general my cat's opinions tend to cover important cat-related subject matter such as canned food, catnip-drenched toys, and laser pointers, he couldn't care less about fuzzy mice. My cat seems to lead a particularly satisfied life, so I've applied his decidedly finicky approach to my social media efforts. It's been working out so far.

For a novice social marketer trying to hit the ground running with Facebook and Twitter it can be tempting to like and share every last thing that's mildly related to your business.  Frequent updates work for Twitter, provided you operate with some finesse, but less is more when it comes to Facebook. Aside from this being a whole lot of extra work, failing to make this distinction can result in hurting your sales. Have a clear business model and goal for your brand, this will make it easier to decide what to post and what to avoid. Online bootcamps and social media management firms are just a Google search away if you need some help getting started.

Social Networking Starts at Home

Don't discount the power of your friends and family when building a social following for your business.  Inviting them to like your business page through Facebook is simple, and following you on Twitter is equally easy. As extended friends and family see this activity they will be inclined to follow as well, making your social network grow and grow. I can't give my cat full credit for this insight, but he sure does reinforce it every time I see him snuggled up with a collection of stuffed animals.

The Fat Cat Approach to Social Media

  • Be Honest - From time to time you may want to give a shout out to one of your cohorts in the field, that's great! If you've been asked to endorse a product, do so honestly.  Be clear in your connection to the company and any compensation you receive as a result of backing them. My cat may not hold stock in canned cat food, but he should.
  • Regular Maintenance is a Must - Building a facebook business page then updating it once with grand claims of a new, happy life isn't going to lead you down the path to financial success. Social marketing requires the same patient steps as the building of any relationship. In other words, you have to do a little grooming every day to keep your brand looking its best.
  • Be Selective - It's tempting to want to connect your name to every last product and service of interest to you, but this just equals extra work and more headaches in the long run.  Didn't you get into this field with the hope of working smarter instead of harder? Pick a few key areas that define your business, and leave everything else alone.  
  • Approach Twitter With Caution - Because FTC guidelines require full disclosure about your connection to a business or product, it can get pretty tricky when working with the limited character allowance of Twitter. Some folks have gotten creative with this, and with practice you can too.
  • Nap Regularly - Ideally you should be spending just a few hours per day on your social media efforts.  If your social marketing has turned into a full-time scale you may be spreading yourself too thin, or across too many fields.  Consider outsourcing where you can, or use a media management tool like Hootsuite to consolidate your media outlets into one convenient location.

In All Seriousness

Keeping up to date with the ever-changing demands of social marketing can seem like a full time job in itself.  That's no excuse to ignore the regulations set in place by the FTC. Less honest social marketers have found themselves in need of a criminal defense attorney as a result of failing to comply with guidelines. My cat gets annoyed when I don't share the beef jerky, that's nothing compared to a ticked off FTC.

Rachel Cook is a freelance writer who enjoys the great outdoors so much she moved to Hawaii to have the beach as her home office. Being successful means being smart and keeping tabs on the laws pertaining to your business, so Rachel stumbled on http://www.bgs.com/ while researching for this topic.