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10 takeaways from HubSpot’s Social Media course

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Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on HubSpot’s Social Media course to better understand how to engage with audiences as a brand. Below I have listed some ideas anyone should consider when they are trying to improve their branding on social media.

1. Audiences want authentic conversation. People want to feel like the conversation goes two ways and is symbiotic. Respond to people the way a friend would, but with the brand's voice in mind. 

2. A buyer persona is important to consider when creating posts and media messages. According to a Digital Marketing Institute blog post, a buyer persona is a profile that illustrates the ideal consumer for a brand. For example, the buyer persona for most local restaurants in little towns surrounding Springfield, Missouri, try to reflect rural, southern values. These businesses don’t try to look modern or techy.

3. There’s a difference between voice and tone. Voice is the overall reflection of the brand, while tone shows in individual posts. For example, Wendy’s Twitter voice is quite snarky and playful, but they may make a solemn or serious post if they try to address social or brand issues.

4. Don’t try to cover all social media sites when first starting off. Quantity doesn’t equal quality, and some characteristics of a buyer persona might indicate a brand’s audience doesn’t even use all social media outlets. Brands should stick to two main platforms when first starting off — Facebook and Twitter.

5. You need to trust your influencers. Influencers want to be a part of the brand and should be treated as such by giving them access to things they wouldn’t otherwise have. For example, they should be able to use the brand’s image or likeness to promote it, otherwise, influencers won’t be as motivated.

6. People want to buy from brands or influencers they feel they can connect with. Posts should always reflect a company’s values, and influencers can show how these values carry out into the real world. But also, be aware that some people’s values won’t align, and they may criticize the ideas or products being promoted.

7. Prepare for both internal and external crises and craft a carefully thought response as a way of repairing a brand's reputation. Companies need to know how to respond to embezzlements, scandals, lawsuits — anything that may damage the company’s reputation with their publics. Remember to be transparent and honest in these situations and base actions on the company’s values.

8. Use GIFs and emojis. It helps readers understand the tone of the post. People don’t want to talk to a robot, and it can be hard for people to get the tone of a post based on just words. According to a blog post by Twitter, emojis can add personality to posts.

9. Employees humanize the brand. Their faces and attitudes reflect the company’s values and make consumers feel like they are closer to the brand. Employees are influencers in their own way — they can act in the company’s interest and show how company values are carried out in action.

10. Social media policies for employees and influencers helps people understand what they can and cannot post. It’s best to set ground rules for what is and isn’t acceptable for employees to post but allow some freedom and creativity. Just make sure posts are still reflecting company values.