A Primer on Social Media for Business

Social media is where people go to relax, chat, gossip, and form casual relationships. Sure, a lot of other things go on on social media platforms as well ranging from political movements to whirlwind romances but as a business, it’s important to understand the kind of world you’re stepping into. Opening your first social media account is like stepping into a nightclub in a buttoned-up business suit. You’re overdressed, overly formal, and not sure where the line is between being cool and becoming unprofessional.

Every business struggles to balance their hip social media reputation with the reliable and business-like brand but in the age of inbound marketing, this is what is required of every company that wants to stay competitive. Whether you’re trying to connect to everyone, a niche, or even other businesses, it helps to know your social media etiquette.

1) Don’t Be a Robot

The number one rule on social media is that everyone is a person. Not being a person, or worse, treating someone else as if they are not a person is considered rude beyond belief. Keep your messages genuine, personable, and not machine-generated (even if they are) and never post identical content.

2) Answer Comments and Complaints Quickly

Social media messages can go by quickly, but that’s what your management software is for. Customers expect to be heard even if they contact you through social media and most expect a response within the hour. Keep tabs on comments send to your social media account(s) and always be ready to respond in a friendly, helpful fashion.

3) Avoid Negative Messages

Do not bash the competition. People come to social media to hang out, relax, and enjoy some fun shared content. If they do get involved in drama, let it be their own. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to start dirty campaign policies by badmouthing your competition. Keep the game clean and your public will like you more.

4) Courteous Hashtag Use

Hashtags are a great way to jump into lively discussions or try to start a popular discussion of your own. They are a fantastic tool but over-use can look desperate or fake-trendy. Only jump onto hashtags that your business has some legitimate relation to or that you have a lot of great content or commentary for. Only start one or two hashtags and don’t push them too hard.

5) Always Double-Check Content

What you post once is posted forever. Even if you realize a mistake, delete the post quickly, and re-post with corrected content, someone could still have a screenshot of the mistake. Don’t let this happen. Double and triple check any content you schedule or post by hand to ensure that you don’t accidentally create a public relations gaffe.

6) Credit Where Credit’s Due

If you use someone else’s content, whether it’s a member of your community, a famous artist, or someone no one has ever heard of before, always give credit. Online copyrights are a delicate topic and you want to be on the right side of that line at all times. If you’re not sure about permission but really want to share something, credit is often the best way to show that you didn’t intend to ‘steal’ their content.

7) Avoid Chat Speak

Chatspeak is something that came into existence back when most people still texted with their thumbs on actual push-button number keyboards and we haven’t escaped from it since. Remember that no matter how informal or nearly intelligible your online community messages become, the company always speaks in whole, spelled-out sentences.

8) Promote Strategically

Our final word of advice is to be careful about when and how you promote. The occasional sale announcement or special social-media discount code shared can be great for the community but a feed filled with nothing but impersonal commercials isn’t going to win you any friends. Strategically choose when to promote while sticking mainly with inbound marketing content tactics.

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