Social Media is a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs and business owners. There’s Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Vine and even more popping up. There’s an etiquette for everything: dining etiquette, phone etiquette, business etiquette, and now: social media etiquette. The world of social media is constantly evolving, however, and the boundaries between public and personal have never been more undefined. For businesses, however, there are definitely lines that should not be crossed in order to maintain a well-rounded, professional social media presence.
We asked some entrepreneurs and business owners for tips on etiquette on social media.
What are good and bad things to do on social media for entrepreneurs and business owners? We have a post that will be live 8/31 @ 12 pm with over 30 entrepreneurs. The link will work after it posts: http://rescue.ceoblognation.com/?p=9269 We will also embedded this Instagram post in the story. So let us know your comments below and you’ll be in the story too! #rescueaceo #socialmedia #socialmediaettiquette #ceoblognation #ceo #ceos #entrepreneur #entrepreneurs #business #businessowners #businesses #facebook #instagram #twitter #linkedin #pinterest #tumblr Cc: @hmarketer @richiefrieman @gemadvertising @mycorporation @digitalsurgeons @imaginecommunications
#1 – Handle Negativity
The biggest missteps I see with brands is how they handle negative feedback within social networks (bad Facebook rants, Instagram photos of failed products etc). Every brand’s social network manager needs to be the king/queen of diplomacy: (1) Complaints should be taken seriously, and the customer should be addressed politely. People can generally identify a troll, but they will also watch how you handle a genuinely aggrieved customer. Rudeness on your part will turn ‘trolling’ into ‘valid complaining’ in the public eye. (2) If you have unmerited negative feedback (trolling), sometimes the best thing to do is nothing at all. Dedicated customers will defend your brand, and the beauty of social networking is that things get buried (usually quickly) after a few hours or days anyway. (3) Responding contentiously or deleting negative feedback will certainly add fuel to the fire and typically creates poor perception of the brand. (4) Recognize that negative press is still press – as long as you handle the situation with grace, you’ll likely gain a few more new customers than you lose, simply because of the increased exposure. Take a philosophical view of negative press.
Thanks to Naomi Poe, Better Batter!
#2 – Stay Level Headed
When it comes to social media etiquette, it’s easy to get excited about any compliments you receive. But don’t retweet or repost nice things customers say about you! This will look big-headed and isn’t interesting content for other users. Instead, reply thanking them and ask for actual feedback. Remember, there’s a real person behind the compliment. As for the negative comments: don’t listen to the haters, ignore the trolls, and be selective with the online debates you choose to get into, especially if you’re in a leadership position. And always remember that humour, wit, and great photos count for a lot. Have an interesting and personable brand voice on social media, so that you come across as a likeable human being rather than a corporate drone.
Thanks to Blake Connoy, Helpling!
#3 – Consistency
At InventHelp, we interact with a wide variety of people through different methods of communication, including face-to-face interaction, phone calls, direct mail, email, and social media. A successful strategy we have used is keeping our messaging consistent through social media. We treat our clients the same way on social media as we would through any other form of communication. We like to post lighthearted, engaging content, but when we are interacting directly with clients through social media, our communication is strictly business. It’s easy to be lazy and casual when using social media, but our entire staff knows to use their best etiquette and to avoid emoticons, hashtags, and casual wording when chatting with a client directly.
Thanks to Emily Moorhead, InventHelp(r)!
#4 – Participatory
When it comes to brands and businesses there is a need to be participatory and to be viewed as a valued contributor to the social conversation. This means you need to be part of the ongoing conversation to build engagement and followers and the conversation cannot be simply one-way. Business that only push content – whether it’s promos, sales, PR or facts about themselves – are missing the most valuable part of the conversation, what their customers, consumers and community are saying. While there are multiple tools and vendors who can help make social media strategy easier, these are just platforms and techniques. The real formula for social media success is genuine lasting engagement with your audience – that’s why they value you as a business and organization so you have to build that same relationship in the social space. What’s Good? – Be genuine. Be accurate. Pay attention. Simply put, social media users are people so treat them as such.What’s Bad? – Don’t spam. Don’t just sell – letting people know about your product is fine, but don’t only do that. Don’t call people out for the first time as an attempt to get their attention, build the relationship.
Thanks to Jonathan Cooper, LevLane!
#5 – A Few Things
Much of social media continues to be the great unknown for many users because of its rapid and continuous evolution but along the journey we have learned certain do’s and don’ts that keep our accounts viable and interesting for our audience. It’s not easy to use the term “etiquette” and “social media” in the same sentence without most people assuming it doesn’t exist but it does. Be nice to your audience. If they ask you a question, answer it. If you offend them, explain why or apologize. Be the giver in the relationship and don’t be discouraged by lack of engagement – just keep giving and re-evaluating your purpose on social media. Finally, don’t over-post. Losing a follower because your organization posts too often is the last thing you want.
Thanks to Christian Kendzierski, Mount St. Mary’s University!
#6 – Not Broadcast Platforms
Business owners are often conditioned to look for ways to market their business. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, except when businesses treat all social channels as if they’re broadcast platforms. People are generally on Facebook, to choose one network, to catch up on what their friends are doing or hear the latest news. A business that can spend a little extra time figuring out what is interesting about what they provide will have social updates that are also more interesting to the right people. Save your ad speak for your ads. Add real value in your social media updates and people will respond positively.
Thanks to Jim Tobin, Ignite Social Media!
#7 – Golden Rule Applies to Social Media
Treat others as you would like to be treated – it applies to social media as well. If you want followers, follow people. If you want comments, provide useful comments on other people’s content. Technology may be the method in which we connect, but the way we connect is still human. Basically, people like dealing with people. So, be respectful, give shout-outs, and for goodness sake, if a real person is really interacting with you on social media, return the favor and interact with them. It’s all about building relationships after all. On the “dark side” of social media, you don’t want to be considered a “troll” either; that will completely destroy your credibility. Feel free to debate things if you don’t agree with them, but do so respectfully and with evidence. Also, you need to realize that once you publish a post, whatever you’ve written is on the internet forever. So, if you write something horrible in the heat of the moment, regret what you’ve posted, and then delete it, you may have deleted it from your own feed, but people will have seen it (and taken screenshots for further sharing if it’s really bad). Going viral can be great for your brand, unless it’s for all the wrong reasons. Take some time to listen on social media, see how people are interacting on the platform, and take a second to really think about what you’re posting, before you post it – your brand reputation depends on it.
Thanks to Ashley Orndorff, Visual Impact Group!
#8 – One-Way Channel
The single biggest mistake I see most businesses making on social media is both bad etiquette and also bad marketing. Businesses tend to use social media as a one-way channel to broadcast nothing but sales pitches. The fact is most users on social media don’t want to hear a sales pitch. The quickest way to become irrelevant on social media is to be overtly and obviously self-promotional. Instead, the focus should be on providing value to their target audience. Provide information, news, tips, inspiration, insight. that is how you engage an audience. That doesn’t mean you can’t try to win business through social media, you just can’t do it in a self-serving way. Focus on providing value to your audience. NOT on blasting out your sales pitch ten times per day.
Thanks to Daniel Decker, One Marketing!
#9 – People Are Behind The Profiles
Never forget that there are PEOPLE behind each of the PROFILES. This is more important on platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook where you can network and do business with your clients and customers virtually. But even on a platform like Instagram or Tumblr where you may never really meet the people who share your photos, engaging with others as if they were there with you, in real life (IRL), is always a good idea!
Thanks to LisaMarie Dias, LisaMarie Dias Designs!
#10 – Encourage Dialog
Any successful company will have defenders among its various stake holders, including customers. Provide your supporters with an online space where they can express their views on what the company means to them and how they see the company’s response. By encouraging positive sources of information about your company, you insure that good opinions can far out way any negative information that shows in-surges.
Thanks to Jayme Washington, WashTone Media!
#11 – Any Response
When it comes to responding to customer concerns on social media, some response is always better than nothing. Even if you know you can’t win back a dissatisfied customer, your digital reputation lasts indefinitely and prospective consumers and businesses are aware of how you resolve and respond to each situation. By responding to customer feedback (including positive comments), you enhance the digital opportunity of your brand. Every ‘thanks for the tweet!’ comment is another chance to increase your brand’s reputation in a positive way.”
Thanks to Tara Clapper, SEMrush Blog!
#12 – Don’t Over Post
Don’t over post. No matter how fascinating you, your company, products and services are, don’t overdo it. Especially don’t use HootSuite to schedule updates once an hour. Remember, the all time etiquette expert was Emily Post. It wasn’t Emily Post Post Post.
Thanks to Sharon Geltner, SBDC at Palm Beach State College!
#13 – Would Your Mom or Grandma Approve?
One of the age-old filters for anything is: would you be embarrassed if your grandmother or mom saw your post? Social media can be a great thing for businesses, but it can also do damage. Take Dr. Walter Palmer (who hunted down Cecil The Lion) and his Yelp page. Just how quickly can something go viral? If you kill a beloved animal, you can count on it being faster than a bow arrow can fly. Dr. Palmer is literally all over the web after he hunted down a well-known lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe. Not longer after the news broke, the dentist and his business experienced a firestorm of criticism and threats from people disgusted by his act. The Yelp page of Dr. Palmer’s practice is receiving a constant, massive flood of negative reviews from people disgusted by his behavior. Yelp is systematically trying to delete the overwhelming number of comments. This prompted Palmer to deactivate his personal Facebook page, removed the page for his business and also took down its website. Just about every business talks about wanting to have their content go viral and to get their name out there. But being internet famous isn’t always a good thing. Business owners (and people in general) need to be careful in today’s always-on world because you can be ruined both personally and professionally in a matter of minutes. The internet is a powerful thing. Never underestimate its abilities and always #DoGood.
Thanks to Shaun Walker, HERO|farm Marketing & Public Relations!
#14 – Add Value
If you want the pleasure of sitting in someone’s social feed, add value. In order to add value you need to know your audience. If you want to get to know your audience, engage them. Use listening tools and audience measurement tools. Be relevant to them and try to be human. Keep within the context of the platform and last but not least, sell last. You can’t go in for the kiss when you haven’t dated.
Thanks to David Salinas, Digital Surgeons!
One of the most common mistakes businesses make with their social media is not engaging with their audience in an authentic way. Posts are often written in a dry, robotic tone, or are focused solely on “selling” rather than addressing customers’ needs. There’s often a failure to engage with fans and followers. One of the biggest benefits to social media is that it offers an effective, free-of-charge platform for two-way communication directly with customers (and prospective customers). Ignoring the potential for using it to building real relationships is a tremendous oversight on the part of business owners. To make the most of your social media presence, craft posts that contain valuable information (anything from humorous content to promo codes to sneak peeks of new products/services), and always respond to comments.
Thanks to Jennifer Reitmeyer!
#16 – Natural & Organic
As a entrepreneur and small business owner I am active on all of the major social platforms personally and professionally. Throughout the years I have learned that in order to keep people engaged and grow a community, it is vital that you are natural and organic vs. self-promotional and sales-heavy. People won’t follow you or like your page if you have a stream of updates about your business, services offered or discounts. They want to see informational updates on industry news, lessons learned or tips on how to grow. They want to get motivated and inspired; not turned away because they just see someone trying to push a sale.
Thanks to Nellie Akalp, CorpNet.com!
#17 – Few Things
1) Respond to everything. It’s a social platform after all and when someone talks to you face-to-face you respond. Even if it’s a simple thank you or a thumbs up emoji, responding lets your fans now you are listening and available. 2) Don’t spam your feed. If you are always selling something or posting several times an hour all day, your fans will stop listening. Social media is a chance to show your business or personal brand personality – let it out! Choose 5-7 topics related to but outside of your business to add variety to your news feed. 3) Take your tiffs offline. If you’ve responded to a negative comment or post and the person is engaging with you again, give them a way to reach you “offline.” Whether that’s following them on Twitter so they can send you a DM (direct message) or inviting them to send you a FB message. One-on-one is always a better communication method for negative feedback.
Thanks to Natalie Weakly!
#18 – Build Relationships
Never post messages that promote your blog, your book, your business or your event on another person’s Facebook page. That is spam. It would be like walking into a party that you weren’t invited to and screaming at everyone to buy whatever it is you’re selling. Most of your businesses’ social media posts should be informative or helpful rather than promotional. People will defriend, unfollow or otherwise ostracize you if you treat social media solely as a sales opportunity. You’ll have much more success if you build relationships with your connections and focus on assisting them – whether it’s retweeting their tweets, promoting their blog or commenting on their LinkedIn articles.
Thanks to Arden Clise, Clise Etiquette!
#19 – Learn the Rules
With Facebook Page engagement at an all time low, many solo entrepreneurs are using Facebook Groups to leverage their business online. While these groups are fast becoming a successful source of marketing for many business owners, it’s important to know the group etiquette and rules before jumping in. You’ll find the rules in the group description or pinned in the feed by the moderator. After reading the rules, spend a few days getting to know the group, being helpful, and understanding best marketing practices. I’ve seen a lot of people banned from Facebook Groups because they didn’t take the time to figure these things out!
Thanks to Katie Skow, KLS Projects, LLC!
#20 – Be Present & Show Up
The fundamental rule of social media business etiquette is to be present and show up. Many business leaders still do not have a social media presence or are not active on it. A leader needs to be communicative, transparent and approachable. Social media provides us that opportunity at scale. Social media is another channel of communication (albeit a faster and interactive one) and leaders must remain true to themselves, their values and be as authentic and credible as possible. They should be open to a dialogue, a healthy exchange of opinions and must respect their audience, be it staff, customers or members of the media. The challenge is to maintain an active presence across different channels and maintain the agility and responsiveness demanded by them. Social media listening and notification tools can come in handy; leaders can leverage them to their benefit.
Thanks to Prantik Mazumdar, Happy Marketer!
#21 – Don’t Look Unprofessional
Social media has become an integral part of many businesses nowadays, and understanding its “rules” (whether written or not) should be a priority. Why? Because breaking them will make you and your business look unprofessional. Much can be written on the topic, but I’ll try to be brief and mention a few dos and don’ts: (1) The word ‘social’ in ‘social media’ is not random. It’s what defines it. In other words, be social, communicate, interact, add to the conversation. This also means you should respond to messages and questions addressed to you. (2) Be consistent. It is not a good idea to tweet 25 times one day then go without tweeting for a whole week. Find out what works for you and try to do it consistently. You should also try to be consistent when it comes to your brand image across platforms. (3) Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram etc. – these are all different mediums, with different audiences and different rules, so use them differently. Don’t cross post the same stuff on all, it will alienate your fans. While 10-15 tweets a day are fine, posting them on Facebook is not. (4) Are you frustrated with a client? Don’t vent your anger on social media. Call a friend, go for a coffee and pour your heart out, you’ll feel better. Putting it all out on social media will hurt your business. Potential clients will think you are difficult to deal with, and therefore avoid you. (5) You use social media so people notice you, to get more clients, to connect. But if all you share is all about you, it will have the opposite effect. A self-centred attitude is to be avoided. Of course you need to share things about your business, but promoting others and genuinely be helpful is what will work in your favour. In other words, don’t overdo it with self-promotion.
Thanks to Alina Cincan, Inbox Translation Ltd!
#22 – Stop Selling
Working as an economic/community development officer for a community of 2500 people, social media has been a valuable tool in our repertoire. My best advice to business owners using this venue is: STOP SELLING! I quickly unfollow pages or companies who use social media to constantly shill their wares without tact. Yes, we are all using this medium to promote our business, but use the vehicle to engage customers in different ways to be more subtle. 1) Instead of directly shilling your products and services, share links and video from industry experts that promote the “best practices” that speak to services you provide. 2) Celebrate people and events in your community (put the “social” in your social media) 3) Cross-post positive media coverage about your business to social media to give any newspaper, radio, TV, podcast coverage a longer shelf life and wider reach. 4) Think about the FAQs of your service/products and find creative ways to engage your audiences by sharing those answers via social media. 5) On Facebook, using the service “as” your page, like other local businesses and your own peers, suppliers, industry leaders to increase visibility and promote reciprocal gestures. On Twitter, follow those same contacts.
Thanks to Vern May, Minnedosa & Area Community Development Corp.!
#23 – Inconsistency
The two common mistakes I see from business owners on social media is inconsistent posting and only posting promotional information(sales and the like). Social media is like any relationship: the more you put in, the more you get out. Spend an hour a week planning and scheduling posts and dedicate 15 minutes a day to respond to messages, share other posts and commenting on others business or individual social media accounts.
Thanks to Nadia Zerka, Imagine Communications!
#24 – Mind Your Manners
Minding your manners on social media is important. Here are some of the tips: (1) Give credit where credit is do. User generated content is great, be sure to give a shoutout to users whose Instagram photo you used or a YELP review you feature. This goes for news stories too – be sure to give kudos to the outlet and the journalist. (2) Beware of Hashtag Abuse: Facebook never needs more than one, two are good on Twitter and Instagram can handle a few more but don’t get cray cray. Keep them relevant to the photo posted. Never hashtag for the sake of hashtagging – think before you hashtag. (3) Liking Your Own Facebook Posts: Be careful NOT to like your own page posts. Easy to do when you are an admin on the account. (4) Keep the Selfies to a Minimum: Social media can be very self-serving so there is a fine line to make sure you are giving your users what they want and what they like. It’s not about you.
Thanks to Alex Bimonte, Buzz Agency!
#25 – Promotional Platform
Instagram can be a great resource for businesses, especially if your product or service is visually striking. And although when you start an account it can look empty and devoid of posts, do not post a bunch of pictures in a row. No one likes their Insta feed to blow up with multiple photos from the same person or company, and doing this can often result in a quick unfollow. Instead, post photos relevant to your business, of your people and just things you find interesting. While Instagram is moving towards adding e-commerce elements, it is not an overly promotional platform. People want to feel like they’re getting in behind the scenes, so rather than constantly sharing photos about your product or service, show people the why and who of your company.
Thanks to Keira Rodriguez, TallGrass Public Relations!
#26 – It’s Here Forever
I think the biggest hurdle for people to understand proper social media etiquette is that first, people believe social media is a quick thought that will go away in a matter of seconds, when it can in fact stay with you forever. If you post something on social media, it’s there forever. Maybe not on your feed but always there. As well, a simple screen shot can show what you did before you delete it, on the other end. Another thing is that people get “Keyboard Muscles” when they get on social media, meaning as soon as they sit down behind a computer they are funnier, sexier, wittier, tougher, etc. It’s like that screen is a blockade for you to say whatever you want to whomever you wish. Not true. Social media – although yes, a great place for entertainment – is not your stage to audition. Whatever you post has to be something you would say in person. Bottom line, think of social media as a giant room filled with everyone you know, plus their friends, and there is a giant microphone on a stage. When you post something on social media, it’s as if you stepped up to the mic and shouted it. That’s the echo chamber we’re dealing with on social media. So, always remember that people are watching you and what you say. Lastly, your social media presence is very much a part of your real life. Who you follow, what you retweet, who you endorse, says a lot about you good and bad. So, if you believe something may be a bit too “tricky” for others to handle, I recommend taking step back. Not everything thing in your life needs to be documented with hashtags and photos. Life will go on, my friends.
Thanks to Richie Frieman!
#27 – Take Emotion Away
I think the most important thing for anyone on social media is take the emotion away when you are reading. It’s nearly impossible to tell at times if some is posting something seriously, sarcastically, or as a complete joke. Not all things posted are offensive, sometimes they are just read in a defensive way. I think this is what leads to a lot of those social media arguments where the back and forth in the comment section gets crazy. As a business making a post or responding to a post, this is something that should be remembered.
Thanks to Christina Nicholson, MediaMavenAndMore.com!
#28 – Biggest Misconception
I would say the biggest misconception would be that everyone thinks that all social media platforms speak to the same audiences. They don’t. Each social platform has a different demographic and audience, so the content that is distributed must be adjusted accordingly.
Thanks to Tom Ottaiano, Today’s Business!
#29 – Engage with Customers
I was recently working on a social media campaign for a fine dining restaurant which was receiving a lot of negative feedback from locals in the area. The locals took to social media, particularly Facebook, to air their grievances about the newly opened restaurant. One of the most important rules of etiquette in social media is engaging with your customers, especially when they are reacting negatively to your business. Let customers know that they are being heard – do not just hide negative comments. Keep petty back and forth off of the post’s comment stream by acknowledging the customer’s problem and then suggest they contact or message the company directly through a Facebook message or email to explain the situation so you can do everything you can to resolve the issue.
Thanks to Kierston Anderson, Brolik!
#30 – 4 Things
1) Be social. Businesses need to actually participate on social media rather than just blasting out links. That’s the “social” aspect of social media. They should, of course, share their own content but social media is about connecting with your audience over just link-dropping. 2) Share other people’s content. If a business is going to share links to content, it should be mostly other people’s content to not appear self-absorbed and spammy. Show your audience that you curate valuable content for them from multiple sources. 3) Never ignore complaints, and never lash out at anyone on social media. Often, customers try to communicate with brands through social media when traditional customer service has been inadequate. Those brands should respond rather than ignore questions from customers – especially angry customers. If the complaint was made publicly, then the helpful response should also be public, unless private information (like account numbers) will need to be discussed. In that case, the business should ask for a DM with contact information so they can get the issue cleared up. 4) Beware of scheduling posts. I’m all about scheduling some social media content to save time, but I always schedule for times when I’ll be available to respond if people reach out about it and when I can unscheduled them if necessary, like a national tragedy occurs. You don’t want to be the business tweeting about your product, service or latest blog post when a marathon bombing happens.
Thanks to Tracy Mallette, Content Newsroom!
#31 – No Door-t0-Door Salesmen
Don’t act like a social media door-to-door salesman and post your content all over someone else’s page. There is a difference between engagement and spam. Build a relationship with your audience before you start pushing unsolicited content on them. If you’re on Twitter, strike up a conversation first, and once you have established you have similar interests or they could benefit from some of your information, then share with them. The exception to this rule is when someone asks a question you can answer. Then, by all means, reach out to them and let your expertise shine! People want to be part of a community, but they don’t want to be bombarded by accounts pushing content down their throats.
Thanks to Carolyn Shaffer, C. T. Bauer College of Business, University of Houston!
#32 – Remember It’s Social
The key to proper etiquette and successful social media, is remembering that at its very core, is the word social, what it means to be social, the concept of social, and that as humans, we are social beings. The rules of great live engagement apply here; if you wouldn’t say it or do it in a live one on one, or group setting, do NOT do it(post it/share it) online! At GEM we adhere to 3 simple processes for our social media, and for our clients: strategy, execution, and governance. In addition, be polite, be interesting, and demonstrate that you care about others in all your interactions.
Thanks to Chris Bartlett, GEM Advertising!
#33 – 2 Things
1) Don’t delete negative comments. Whether someone screen shots the comment, or other customers see it before you delete it, there’s no way to completely hide a public comment on the internet. Instead, address it head-on. Give the negative commenter a method to reach you and let them know you’re excited to fix the problem. Once things have been resolved, comment on the interaction saying that you’re glad everything worked out. 2) Be concise, but write professionally. It seems obvious, but too many people use incomplete sentences, poor grammar and inadequate punctuation in social media. Especially in the context of business-related social media, text language should not be used in social media posts. It comes off as unprofessional. Professional posts should be concise and professional and have proper spelling, grammar and punctuation.
Thanks to Deborah Sweeney, My Corporation!
#34 – Respond to Each Comment
Respond to each and every comment you receive, and this is especially true for business owners whose social media presence has expanded a lot. Think back to when you were just beginning – you probably treated each comment that came in like gold. Continue to do the same, even if it’s just a quick response for a comment such as “Nice post.” Be absolutely sure that any post or update you submit will not be viewed as offensive or off-color by anyone. If you’re in doubt at all, do not put it on your social media accounts. Make sure your social media postings are grammatically correct, and if you feel the need to post a rather critical comment on the social media page of another business, make it constructive criticism. You don’t want someone to be overly negative about your company, so don’t do that when you comment on your competitor’s pages.
Thanks to Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers!