Messages are not in a bottle.

One of the challenges with social media, like all your marketing activities, is to stay true to your firm’s brand and message. Because of the ease, immediacy and viral effects of social media it’s all too easy to undo years of brand building with the click of a mouse.

Defining your firm’s message really begins with defining your target market. We emphasize the importance of this with clients every day. It’s easy to miss the boat by forgetting to go beyond talking about your target market to speaking to your target market. Use language and topics which are compelling to them. Write short sentences.

Zeroing in on needs, ditching the technical speak and putting your ideas into words your prospects quickly understand are key success factors in social media.

Also, be mindful of your brand’s equity in the market. Make sure your messages support your competitive differentiation. If timely delivery is one of the key service attributes that differentiates your firm, don’t let a staff person tweet about how busy they are, and how they may never catch up. (Seriously!)

Anyone — and we mean ANYONE — who has the ability to post anything under your firm’s name should have training on the dos and don’ts. And, associate consequences with the latter.

Implement a — second-set-of-eyes — policy to make sure that at least one other person (preferably a marketing professional or other trusted writer) reviews what is posted for grammatical errors or typos. It’s amazing how quickly and decisively those things can erode your firm’s credibility.

Make sure all your professionals understand how your firm wants to be represented in the online world and set up policies and procedures for using social media sites.