Which of these 17 essential social media guidelines do you follow?

This is the perfect time of year to reflect back and figure out what the previous 12 months yielded in the way of insights and perspective.

I decided to break out this analysis into several different categories for 2012, including the most relevant social media concepts I either adopted or believed in more strongly. I consider these essential social media guidelines, for clients and for myself.

As it is with life, in general, the more I think I know about social media, the more I discover there is to know. That’s humbling. But that’s how learning goes.


The point is to stay open and aware — especially in an area as rapidly changing as this one. I’ll just keep recalibrating the social media compass I consult for this journey.

While no one can offer short cuts that render hands-on experience unnecessary, everyone can benefit from seeing others’ tips and advice — especially when there’s more than one right path.

So, I’ve decided to share the main social media concepts that guided my work over the past 12 months or so. Some of these were already among my go-to guidelines when advising clients or blogging or posting. Others, I adopted more recently. See how many you follow…or whether you agree or not.

My social media guidelines gleaned or reinforced last year

  1. A social media policy needs to have more Dos than Don’ts to be effective

  2. Automatic posts, including Tweets, are fine sometimes: If not scheduled more than a day or so ahead; if turned off quickly after unexpected events that might make them seem insensitive or out-of-touch; and if monitored regularly for responses, questions or conversations

  3. Otherwise, auto-posting leads to one-way communication instead of social conversation

  4. Engagement takes work and an actual human presence

  5. Social influence is real and very powerful

  6. Social media is a direct line to customers, clients and valuable relationships

  7. No one social media tool or channel is essential for a brand to use…

  8. …but if choosing to use a particular social site don’t be AWOL

  9. Visuals, headlines and design all count when posting content…

  10. …but if you’re not offering insight or lessons that are pretty useful, no amount of pretty-ing up will fix that flaw

  11. Social media is a vital part of any business; smart leaders of any age can get this

  12. Measurement is key and can include qualitative and quantitative data…

  13. …but measurement in social media is still evolving; there’s not really one best way

  14. Brands should keep some control of, and say so over, their social media presence and “voice”– outsourcing this is risky and short-sighted

  15. Social media takes practice and time

  16. Tools can help make managing social media easier; but they can also overwhelm

  17. It’s hard to know every tool; follow trends, though, and tools with rabid fans*

I kept this list quite broad. And I could’ve added many more. I’m planning to build on these concepts and see where the learning goes in 2013. So much of my learning comes from the amazing talent I follow on Twitter and other sites. Some of them are here.

Let me know what you think and which concepts you’d include as essential social media guidelines. Also, which ones you follow…or which ones you think are bunk!

*Listly is a wonderful example of tools easing management (and of having rabid fans!) It’s kind of like crowd sourcing on social media steroids. I started one based on this blog post: 

View List on List.ly

site image: © Mimohe | Dreamstime.com


Written by


  1. Which of these 17 essential social media guidelines do you follow?

    Great post Becky – I especially like #1 – I see so many traditional companies approach Social Media from a fear based perspective. And I’m 100% with you on auto posting.  I use it, of course, but very sparingly and only for days and hours that we aren’t ON.

    • Which of these 17 essential social media guidelines do you follow?

      @AmyMccTobin Thanks, Amy! @Buffferapp and @Triberr make auto posting and scheduling easy, but it’s so important that both can be turned off or paused. It makes such tools convenient but not rigid or constraining. (Kind of like cell phones…although some folks seem not to realize this, answering is *not* required, especially when at dinner or a movie ; )
      A real life example with posts set up through Triberr and Buffer: After the horrendous tradegy at Sandy Hook school, I canceled all scheduled posts for half a week or so. It just seemed wrong to be posting anything besides links or thoughts related to the families and mourners.

  2. Which of these 17 essential social media guidelines do you follow?

    For sure, Becky — social media is tough to do and there are no shortcuts, but the benefits are potentially tremendous!

  3. Which of these 17 essential social media guidelines do you follow?

    Love #7. Far too many brands threw themselves onto Facebook a few years ago, and then Twitter, then Google+, Pinterest…and so on. They now have multiple profiles, 90% of which are simply placeholders for the brand name and have never/rarely been used.
    We’re bombarded with so many blog posts and thought leaders saying “be on this platform because…”, that many business owners dive right in. The reality really is that not all platforms are right for all businesses, and the more we reinforce this the better. Saves businesses both time and money!
    Great post Becky, all the best for 2013!

    • Which of these 17 essential social media guidelines do you follow?

      @willrussellmktg Thanks, Will. Some companies do seem to think they *have* to be one this site, or that one. But sending a query and getting no response (because they’re “on” the site, but not using it or monitoring it) is so much worse, from a PR and customer relations perspective. I actually blogged about just idea here: http://www.gaylordllc.com/brands-on-social-media-are-like-movie-directors/ 
      The fact is, many brands are too small to have a broad, active social presence. And a targeted active social presence is much better than faking it. 

  4. Which of these 17 essential social media guidelines do you follow?

    Thanks so much for sharing this list. The biggest challenge I’m facing right now is #4. I’m working with a client who thinks that their business will increase immediately just by having a presence on social media. They are forgetting that they need to have actual conversations and engage with their customers in order to build a strong reputation online. I might have to share this list with them :)

    • Which of these 17 essential social media guidelines do you follow?

      @courtneyburgwyn Yes, the belief that social media is magic (as in, effortless) is, unfortunately, pretty common. With persistent diplomacy, though, we can guide clients through the fog. The way I see it, that’s a big part of my role when working with clients, whether they are really savvy — or not so much. And for those who are really new to the social web and how it works, it’s up to me to break the news that, “Well, no you can’t just put sharing buttons on the website, open a Twitter account and then think, ‘Okay, now we can cross Social Media off the to-do list.’”
      Good luck!

Leave a Comment