According to a recent Pew Research report, 65% of adults now use social media – an increase of more than 800% since 2005. Although it’s clear that social media isn’t going anywhere, many businesses continue to underestimate its influence on how we obtain information, how we make purchase decisions and how eager we are to share our experiences and influence others.

The good news for small businesses is that social media is free. An artisan honey merchant can have a Facebook page just like Coca-Cola. Being a worldwide brand does not qualify the Coca-Cola page to have any more bells or whistles than Homer’s Humble Honeypot. I’m not saying that Homer will find it easy to secure 93 million followers, but who knows. I doubt that pharmacist John Pemberton thought his fountain drink concoction would become an iconic brand worth billions. My point is that any business, big or small, can set up a social media page for the same price: nothing.

The bad news for some businesses is that because having a social media presence is free, they treat it as if it has little value. Therefore, they focus their efforts on items with a price tag attached – marketing, inventory, and payroll – neglecting their social media pages and possibly damaging their brands.

So, Electrum Branding has gone to the social media mountain top and has returned with 10 social media commandments to help lead your brand to the promised land.

I. Thou shalt not have a blank cover image.
Unless you’re The Beatles and your content is as brilliant as “The White Album,” you need a cover image. The cover or header image spans your company page and helps communicate what your brand is about and how it benefits your audience. The size of the cover image varies by platform, so follow these social media cover image guidelines:

Facebook:           851 pixels x 315 pixels
Twitter:            1,500 pixels x 500 pixels
LinkedIn:           646 pixels x 220 pixels
Google+:            2,120 pixels x 1,192 pixels

II. Thy logo must fit the profile image.
You wouldn’t make your personal profile image a photo of your nose and a portion of your left eye. So why would you upload a poorly sized logo that doesn’t display properly? Your profile image not only helps identify your page, but it also identifies your comments and posts to other sites so follow these social media profile image guidelines:

Facebook:           180 pixels x 180 pixels
Twitter:            400 pixels x 400 pixels
LinkedIn:           100 pixels x 60 pixels
Google+:            250 pixels x 250 pixels
Instagram:          110 pixels x 110 pixels

III. Thou shalt not make it all about you.
Although individuals may use social media to post duck-face selfies, wish mere acquaintances happy birthday and find out what their goblin, pilgrim or elf name would be, a business should not be so self-absorbed. 80% of your content should be non-promotional and of interest and value to your audience such as industry-related blog posts and new articles. Even your promotional posts should focus on the benefits your audience can expect by using your product or service.

IV. Thou shalt not be anti-social about social media.
You wouldn’t have a party and not invite anyone so why bother setting up a social media page and not asking people to follow you? Unless you plan to throw a lousy party or have a horrific social media page, invite your employees, friends, family, vendors, clients, prospects, and referral sources to follow you.

V. Thou shalt not put thy head in the sand.
Just like in business, you should know what your competition is doing. Your competition may be a great resource for content ideas, but don’t copy what they are doing – improve upon it.
VI. Thou shalt post regularly.
Would you shop in a store whose display windows were empty except for a dusty one-armed mannequin? Probably not. But, that’s the image you are projecting when you set up a Facebook page and never post any updates – uninviting.

VII. Thou shalt engage with thy audience.
If someone takes the time to post a comment to your page, the least you can do is “like” it. It may only take a second, but it shows your followers that you are aware and appreciate them. If a comment happens to be constructive criticism, welcome their feedback and use this open forum to show that you are listening and interested in improving.  If a negative comment is offensive, remove it and offer to address their concern offline while being sure to provide your contact information.

VIII. Thou shalt tag generously.
If you mention another business or follower in your post, do them a favor and tag them. Simply add an @ before their name for the link to their profile or page to appear.  Note: You may have to create the post and then edit it after it is posted for this method to work.

IX. Thou shalt share.
No one is expected to come up with original content all the time. Look to your peers and industry-thought leaders for shareable content. It not only gives you a day off, but shows your followers that you follow industry trends and news.

X. Thou shalt not work independently of marketing.
Make that H.R., community relations and sales, too. Social media is a resource for all departments. Post about career opportunities, new hires and internal promotions. Promote events you are sponsoring or hosting. Post about upcoming sales promotions.

Need help polishing up your business’ social media strategy? Contact the branding professionals at Electrum Branding.