Successful social media is measured relationally. It is a myth that social media instantaneously generates new customers and new business. Rather, social media is an opportunity to extend our real-life relationships by serving the needs of our clients and community. No matter what your industry, here are three tips to start or improve your social media impact.

1).  Follow the Social Media Golden Rule

“Tweet others the way you want to be tweeted.” Simply put, nobody wants to be around a person who only talks about him/herself. Be a good social media citizen and don’t use social media as a platform to talk only about yourself, your company and/or what you do.

2) Listening is Key

50% listening, 25% interacting and 25% creating. Instead of worrying about what to tweet, start by listening to what others are already saying and then respond to them. Find opportunities to respond to specific industry needs that others are voicing in helpful ways via social media. For example, share links and mention other sources and leaders you find helpful and position yourself as a thoughtful leader within your industry.

3) Context before Content

The previous tips are contingent upon knowing your target audience. Start by following and engaging your industry leaders both nationally and locally to understand the context into which your tweets are going out.

And here’s food for thought: don’t limit yourself to following and posting content specific to your industry.  For example, follow and interact with local community advocates who are social media influencers. Use platforms like Twitter and Facebook to highlight individuals and organizations that are doing good for your community, even if it doesn’t pertain to your industry.

When you start by using social media to listen to and highlight your community, the pathways are set up for them to pay attention to your industry insights and postings.

Check out #SMLiveECI: East Central Illinois' Social Media Webcast for more social media tips and to find out what's happening in local social media news.