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15 Entrepreneurs Share Smart Tips on Social Media Etiquette

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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 for the having the right etiquette on social media.

#1 – Brand Consistency

Photo Credit: Laurence J. Stybel

Photo Credit: Laurence J. Stybel

George Washington the man was highly emotional. For example he twice threw his aid Alexander Hamilton down the stairs. The abuse was so bad, Hamilton resigned. And Washington had to ask Hamilton to return. The personal George Washington had a temper! The public George Washington, on the other hand, was created by the private George Washington. And this public image was stoic, unemotional. This is the image on the dollar bill and the image we have of President Washington. George Washington lived in an era where there could be a discrepancy between public and private and the two selves could be maintained. That world is dead. You have a public brand. And all you say and do should be consistent with that brand. That includes social media. It is naive to assume that highly personal reaction to friends on Facebook are confidential. Your secure messages can be tapped. Friends can resend your messages and you have no control over them. George Washington lived in a time where you could have a private and a public self. The two selves could be kept separate. Welcome to the 21st Century.

Thanks to Laurence J. Stybel, Ed.D., Stybel Peabody Associates, Inc.

#2 – Assertive Communication

Photo Credit: Daniela Arango

Photo Credit: Daniela Arango

The best social media etiquette tip is to always keep assertive communication flowing between the brand and your followers. Respond to their comments or questions in a polite and close language, speaking in positive terms. There is no greater mistake than ignoring someone that’s speaking to you directly. Always ask yourself this question: How would I respond if the follower was standing in front of me? The “online factor” makes us forget that at the other side of the screen there is an actual human being that needs to be treated with respect.

Thanks to Daniela Arango, DoItWiser

#3 – Think Twice

Photo Credit: Alexander Grosu

Photo Credit: Alexander Grosu

The most important tip of advice I would share with anyone looking to improve their social media presence is to think twice (and even three times) before posting anything online. Does it really bring a benefit to your brand? Is it moral? Is it something you want to post just for the sake of the “shock factor”? Most importantly, is it in line with the values your company believes in? Except for some extreme situations, there is no “right” or “wrong” in terms of what you post on the social media. Keep it moral, keep it within the limits of what your target audience would be interested in and keep it genuinely valuable for your business’ purpose!

Thanks to Alexander Grosu, inSegment

#4 – Offer Value

job daily. There are so many do’s and don’ts to when it comes to Facebook for a business to list. However, CardioTech are retailers of treadmills and other home gym equipment so the best tip I could give in regards to social media etiquette for an ecommerce business is that you shouldn’t just blast your fans with ads and promotions for your products! Yes give them a post about a great deal once in a while but if you want to sell, posting on your timeline is not the way to do it. My other tip would be to ask yourself ‘does this offer value?” Be it a post on your own timeline, something you share or commenting on another person’s or business page. Again don’t just stalk social media platforms on the hunt for somewhere you can place a link back to your products or own business. You need to be real and engaging, give your fans something that might help them. For example, engage in the conversation on other business pages, people will see this and are likely to head over and check you out.

Thanks to Anna Johnson, CardioTech

#5 – Dedicated Engagement

Photo Credit: Hillary Bamont

Photo Credit: Hillary Bamont

I am always looking at business Websites or social media pages and I think the biggest mistake businesses make is that they do not have a dedicated person consistently engaging with their customers. If someone has a question, or even if they leave a compliment people want to feel heard and they want to feel important and that their business is valued. I also think content needs to be constantly updated (at least every other day). If it’s not then businesses fall into what we call the social media graveyard which is a perception that businesses don’t care about their image or they aren’t innovative.

Thanks to Hillary Bamont, HBeYou

#6 – Honesty is the Best Policy

Photo Credit: Brittany Taylor

Photo Credit: Brittany Taylor

Nobody wants to do business with a dishonest brand–nobody! To gain the support of your audience, earn a role as a big player in your community, and not run afoul of copyright laws (and PO’ed content creators), resist the urge to repost images without first asking for permission from the creator and tagging, mentioning, or linking that person or business in your post. Reposting on Instagram in particular has become a huge trend–and, in some circles–a big no-no–in online business circles. Avoid a mess of bad PR by doing your due diligence and offering a hat-tip to the original source.

Thanks to Brittany Taylor, SeeBrittWrite

#7 – Inward Focus

Photo Credit: Roxanne Roark

Photo Credit: Roxanne Roark

The one thing I still see businesses doing that is also *terrible* etiquette on social media is starting their accounts by talking about themselves first. If you start your Twitter account, for example, and the first thing you start talking about is your sales or products and services, no one will care. There will be an inward (or even outward, behind that computer screen) UGH! and no one will want to talk to you. My best tip is to reach out to others first, and make a network for yourself. Find other accounts to talk to and converse with. Even if they are other companies you know, or people in the industry you already have relationships with. Talking to them will help people see that you aren’t just another sales bot on social media and it will help you build the account easier.

Thanks to Roxanne Roark, Heroic Search

#8 – A Personal Touch

As a small business owner you have to paint the picture for your potential clients. They need to understand why it is better for them to shop to with you instead of a big box brand. Customers want to feel that they are more than just a number or just another dollar made. The key is to show them a level of service that seems more personal than the big box brand – a level of transparency if you will. This translates into utilizing the key word in social media…social. Businesses must be social and interact with their client base. Providing customers with a behind the scenes look at what’s going on or actually responding to their concerns shows that you listen to your customers and you actually care. On a larger scale, the same can be achieved. Accepting and thanking them for their praises and acknowledging and resolving their issues will help the customers actually connect with the brand.

Thanks to Brittany Nevels, BE Different Designs

#9 – Cut Out Consecutive Posts

Photo Credit: Megan Morreale

Photo Credit: Megan Morreale

1) It is one of the biggest social media faux pas to post several times consecutively. Nothing pinpoints a ‘newbie’ – especially on Twitter and Instagram – like an account that logs on once a day, quickly shares ten posts that they feel are relevant to them, and then logs off and is unresponsive. My tip – invest in some sort of social scheduling platform like Buffer or Hootsuite to avoid annoying your followers with consecutive posts. You’ll retain your following and reach more members of your audience by slowly releasing posts throughout the day. 2) Chances are, your brand has several social media platforms dedicated to pushing out company information, content and news. My tip – don’t just post about your business. Your own social media platforms should be more personal. They should contain your points of view on certain aspects of your industry, appropriate personal posts that may showcase your personality, and helpful pieces of content that you find valuable from somewhere other than your organization.

Thanks to Megan Morreale, Storyteller

#10 – Build Relationships

Photo Credit: Shana Haynie

Photo Credit: Shana Haynie

My best social media etiquette tip is to use social media for building relationships, not for direct sales. You don’t want to be “that guy” who walks into a networking event and automatically shoves a business card into your hand as he starts talking about himself. Social media is not about broadcasting your company to the world. It’s about cultivating friendships with your potential customers, providing value to them, and finding out what their biggest problems are so that you can turn around and solve them with your product or service. In terms of building a positive online reputation for you and your business, it is always best to think of how you can help others before attempting to help yourself.

Thanks to Shana Haynie, SplashOPM

#11 – Avoid Confrontation

Photo Credit: Shem Szot

Photo Credit: Shem Szot

1) Don’t use social media to self-promote. Know your audience and use social media as a tool to provide relevant and helpful information to them. It is bad practice to use social media to blast customers with strictly sales information.This is cheap advertising, and more often than not it is ineffective and will result in loss of engagement. If businesses actually want to reach their customers on social media, they should provide valuable information and inspire their customers with new/fun ideas. 2) Don’t avoid confrontations and instead create conversations. More and more consumers take to social media to request support with their orders. Business owners should acknowledge this and respond to customer requests and complaints. Use social media as channels for customer service/support.

Thanks to Shem Szot, StickerYou 

#12 – Keep Business and Personal Separate

Photo Credit: Grainne Kelly

Photo Credit: Grainne Kelly

Keep your personal profile and posts separate from your business FB page. Your customers or clients don’t want or need to know how you spent your weekend or where you ate dinner. Write strategic posts that are in line with your brand messaging. Keep your posts on your company social media sites professional. Do not mix your personal opinions on social issues on your business page. Focus on your services and industry news. Avoid focusing on sales on your social media accounts. Make an effort to build community among your followers. While your page is to share information about your business, it should not be solely dedicated to talking about yourself and your company. Value your followers’ time. Resist sending time wasters like gaming requests to your tribe.

Thanks to Grainne Kelly, BubbleBum

#13 – When in Doubt…

Photo Credit: Adam Binder

Photo Credit: Adam Binder

The best advice I can give regarding social media etiquette is WHEN IN DOUBT, DON’T POST! As a whole, social media is an extremely effective platform to use your voice to promote a cause or idea. However, as a business owner you need to handle sensitive social media posts like a fragile box with mindful care. If you find yourself questioning whether or not to post something on social media, it’s better to take the cautious route and not post. Social media has a way of coming back to haunt your business and one harmful post can damage a business’s reputation.

Thanks to Adam Binder, Creative Click Media

#14 – Respond to Comments

Photo Credit: Susan Richards

Photo Credit: Susan Richards

My #1 tip for other business owners using social media is to always respond to your customers’ comments – and respond in a timely manner. Your followers will expect a response to a comment or message within a few hours (especially if they left a message during normal work hours), and by 24 hours at the absolute maximum. If you pass this time frame, your online presence will appear to be one-sided and lacking authenticity. Even if you receive a negative comment, reply with a professional, genuine apology for their negative experience and provide contact information to continue the conversation offline. Creating this timely and consistent two-way dialogue is an important step in increase audience engagement and brand loyalty.

Thanks to Susan Richards, Givopoly

 #15 – Engage Directly

My top-most tip for businesses in context of social media would be Engage regularly and at the right frequency with intimate knowledge of your audience and the social media channel you are using Businesses need to recognize that different social media channels have different posting frequency requirements in order to drive business success and higher ROI. A very simple example of this can be seen by comparing Facebook & Twitter. While Twitter as a channel works very well with a high volume of posts, Facebook is better for fewer high quality ones. Businesses need to adjust their short and long term strategies basis the channel that they are using. In addition to this, variations also exist based on the audience that is being targeted. You need to have knowledge of when your target audience is the most active on your choice of social media channel and then accordingly adjust the timing of your posts so you can reach them effectively. For example, if you make posts targeting students on Facebook in the morning, you are unlikely to get much engagement. But on the other hand, posting the same content towards late afternoon will give your posts better exposure and your audience will also appreciate the proper timings of the information. Remember that the right information served at the wrong time is as good as spam! Beyond this, businesses need to be regular with their social media activity so that their audiences can get accustomed to hearing from them at regular intervals. While you can obviously run larger social media campaigns around festivals & occasions, it is still important to keep in touch with your audience through the rest of the year. This not only keeps your audience hooks but also shows that you care to keep in touch with them even when they might not be generating sales for you directly.

Thanks to Abhishek Lal, VedSutra

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