Rules help to make the world a better place, or at least they should. Sometimes, however, you just don’t have the time to stay abreast with all the new practices of your industry, especially when you’re in digital marketing where you have to be quick on your feet.

In certain situations, abandoning protocol is acceptable. Just don’t forget that there are lines that should never be crossed – ever.

While there are rules when it comes to social media and marketing, breaking some of them could mean the difference between a successful marketing campaign and a flop.

With that in mind, we’ve listed some rules we think every company should follow and never break.

1. Don’t be Self-Centered

Companies use social media to expand their network, build awareness for their brand, and start conversations with customers, right? Many marketers think the best way to go about this is to flood social media with posts about their ‘amazing’ products, services, or deals, and wait for the phone or cash register to start ringing non-stop.

Things don’t work that way; the hard truth is: no one cares about you. What users care about is how you can help with their problems or how you can make their lives better – what benefits or value do you bring to them?

Instead of being self-centered and obnoxious, engage your audience in meaningful dialog and share with them the things they want and value. Relating to them first and then telling them how you fit into the picture is a much better way to go. Keep prospective customers at the center of the conversation and they’ll have reason to choose you over your competitors. Social media is about creating trust and relationships, not just sales.

2. Don’t Forget Your “Audience” is made up of People

“Audience” is an overused buzzword, but don’t forget that there are people behind the screens —people who need something.

Treat potential online customers like you would treat a customer walking into your store or office. Everything – your posts, tweets, and replies – should be relevant and know that your audience will always be able to tell the difference between automated replies and sincere responses.

It’s also important to remember not to market to the entire Internet at once. Pick and choose your battles wisely.

3. Don’t Try to Conquer All Channels

Each social media platform is a micro universe of its own, complete with its own set of functionalities, norms, rules and etiquette. While integration is happening in many platforms, Instagram is still unique from Twitter. If you use a social media dashboard, don’t simply replicate messages across channels, tailor your messages to show you care – and understand the nuances of each platform. You’ll find the little extra effort it takes will endear you with others on the platform.

You don’t have to be active on all channels. Instead, divert most of your efforts to the channels that your customers frequent most. Present your content in ways that suit how and why your consumers chose that platform. This will increase your odds for success.

Of course, these are just a few tips. There are other rules you need to follow if you want to succeed in social marketing. The key is knowing what to watch out for.

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