As a professional, whether you are online or offline, your use of proper etiquette – or how well you follow established guidelines about how to properly conduct yourself in certain situations and around different people- has a direct impact on how people perceive both you, as an individual, and how they perceive your brand. Therefore, if you are using social media to run and/or promote your business, it is critical that you learn and follow the etiquette rules of each social media network. The following 7 tips will provide you with a crash course in social media etiquette for your business use:
- Use hashtags appropriately
Hashtags can be quite useful, but don’t get carried away. Each social media platform has its own acceptable guidelines for using hashtags. For instance, on Facebook, businesses should limit hashtags to one or two of the most relevant hashtags per post. This guideline would generally apply to networks like Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn as well. Though Twitter is the veritable birthplace of the hashtag, you should still be mindful of your hashtag use and keep it relevant. Remember, you still need to share useful content within those 140 characters. Instagram, on the other hand, is a bit more lenient on the hashtag use, presumably because the network is image-based rather than text-based.
- Don’t flood your friends/fans/followers
While it is important to update regularly, regardless of the social media platform, in order to build your social media presence and promote brand recognition, don’t overdo it. Space out your social media posts and avoid personal, or other extraneous and irrelevant, information. No one wants to hear about what you ate for lunch (unless you are a food critic). You may want to consider the use of a scheduling service to ensure that your posts are spaced appropriately.
- Interact with and respond to your audience
Responding to all comments on your posts, regardless of how negative some may be, should be your goal. Of course, it may not always be an attainable goal in the real world, but it should be your ultimate objective with each post you make. These responses will not only increase engagement on your posts, but they will also make your followers/fans/friends feel that they are valued.
- Remember the Golden Rule
As a professional, and even on your personal social media accounts, you should always be courteous, respectful, and kind. Don’t forget to use the manners that you were taught as a child. Not having to look at a person face to face is no excuse for treating him or her poorly. Also, avoid negativity in your posts if at all possible. If your posts bring your fans down too often, they are not likely to be your fans for very much longer.
- Put a face with a name
People like to feel like they know the person with whom they are doing business. Give your audience this simple peace of mind by adding a profile picture of yourself and completing your online profile with all necessary information about your business and about you, as a professional. But remember to keep it just that- professional. Having a completed and polished online profile with a professional profile photo of you projects an image of reputability, trustworthiness, and professional that potential and returning clients can count on.
- Keep business and pleasure separate
This may seem like common sense, but when your family members and/or real-life friends are also fans of your business page (which is great for word-of-mouth advertising), the lines between personal and business can often become blurry. To avoid appearing unprofessional, always set up two different pages or accounts on each social media network- one for business use and one for personal use. Don’t forget to inform your family members and friends to keep any and all posts and comments to your business page appropriate and relevant to your business only.
- Always keep your professional reputation in mind
Never post anything that you may end up regretting. If you have any worries about your clients or employers reading something you are about to post, err on the side of caution and just don’t post it. Make it a rule to never post in anger, or in any other overly-emotional state; never post when you are under the influence of alcohol or any other substance; and never post when you are jet lagged or excessively tired. As another precaution, always use a word processing program to compose your posts so that you can double check things like spelling and grammar before you post them to your page.
This list is by no means comprehensive, but it should provide you with general guidelines for social media etiquette. Have we left anything out? Let us know!