Social media is a minefield – and it can sometimes do more harm than good. But it is possible to utilise social media platforms to increase both your market power and consumer brand loyalty. Tread carefully, get it right and you could be quids in.

Here are 4 social media tips from Hotcow to make sure that you’re a social media success and not a forum flop:

1. Less is more.

Keep it brief and you’ll hold people’s attention. In a digital space people have about a 7-second attention span, so capitalise on this and don’t be boring. By simply putting up a press release, it’s about as impactful as your mum announcing to the world that she’s just off to do the weekly shop. Make sure your message has a human touch and make sure it’s about something that people are interested in. You’ve only got 107 characters on Twitter (23 are for the actual link), so that’s a good place to start if you need to train yourself to rein in the waffle. Be imaginative, use images, knock up a video for YouTube or Vine. Just get creative and give people what they want to hear or see, rather than what you want to say. An image on Pinterest or Instagram is another great way to capture peoples’ imaginations (and much easier on the eye than pure text).

2. Have something worth saying.

Why not blog about what you think or feel about something in the news? How does it impact your business? Tweet it using an established hashtag, or maybe try and build up a debate? Speed and relevance is key to reaching out and affecting people, so make sure you’re always ahead of the game. Digital media expert David Meerman Scott (he wrote ‘The New Rules of Marketing & PR’) recommends what he calls ‘newsjacking’. That’s “the art and science of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story to reach buyers directly and generate tons of media coverage”.

3. Make the most of video.

There’s a reason why YouTube has more than 1billion unique user visits each month. And to give you even more context, over 6billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth. So make sure you’re utilising this format and connecting with people on a visual level. One of the reasons that many people enjoy and interact frequently with video is because it enables them to consume more information without much effort. So again, keep it short. The last thing you want to do is spend countless hours creating a video that will simply be skipped over. Give a top-level overview and stick to the topics and tactics that’ll have the largest impact on your audience. Video is an opportunity to promote branded content that is both entertaining and engaging. With sharing widgets embedded, videos can be shared with multiple social networks in a few clicks.  The easier you can make it for your audience to share your content, the broader the reach your video will have. Why not embed YouTube videos on your website to improve ease of viewing and sharing for your audience?

4. Be 24/7.

The world doesn’t stand still, and nowhere is this more obvious than on real-time social media platforms where you really have to be ‘in it to win it’. People want a human response as soon as possible when they’re posting a comment – if they feel strong enough to comment then they’re looking for timely feedback. Social media is public, and everyone has a right to negative comments so you need to be able to turn them around and defend yourself to turn a negative into a positive. The faster you respond the better your customer service will look. If needs be, let people contact you directly for more in-deyth discussions. On Twitter, make sure you follow the customer so that he/she can direct a message at you. On Facebook fan pages, you must share a personal profile that the customer can send a message to. Even on YouTube customers can visit your business channel and send a message.

Brands that get it right.

Need more persuasion that social media is key to positive PR? Check out this video from Three –  it illustrates a brand that sits in a potentially boring, techie world, but has changed its tone of voice in recent years and really ‘gets’ how to market social media. Talk about utilising the digital space…

Hotcow is a non-traditional creative agency that specialises in experiential marketing that goes viral. Our campaigns generate buzz through crowd participation, PR and content sharing. Contact us on 0207 5030442 or email us on