Social media can be tough, and even big brands may have difficulties processing all that is happening around them. Hey, it happens to all of us, and small business owners are under a lot of pressure to navigate these strange waters of social networks, where every move is judged, and can easily be misinterpreted. The constant evolution of trends and social networks themselves makes it even harder, almost impossible, to hit that sweet spot.
On the other hand, becoming too comfortable with your social network accounts may make you forget that you are there to promote your business in the most positive light. There are two extremes, but how can you become friendly, but not too much, and stay professional, but also not too cold, like a robot?
The answer is not an easy one to understand, and it has a lot to do with basic human interaction. You cannot teach someone how to be a better friend, you can only pinpoint some of the more common mistakes, and pray that it doesn’t happen to you. You are interested in sales at the end of the day, and social networks only take away your precious time. So, if you’re interested in your social media etiquette, think about some of these the next time you start composing a tweet.
1. Take Your Page Seriously
Your Page is your home, and you do not want your home to be incomplete? A profile that does not have a profile or background picture can look extremely unprofessional, and will not attract your customers to click anything that you share. You should start with some basics: use your full business name, and create a headline that people will easily remember and recognize. Use underscores if you want it to be more legible. Fill in all the additional info, your working hours, website, about us section, make sure to properly categorize your page. Add a location if you have an office or a brick and mortar store, so that people can easily find you.
2. Separate Private and Business Profiles
Under no circumstances should you ever create a personal account with your business name and try adding people as your friends. Not only is this a bad idea as it will limit your marketing potential (personal pages cannot be advertised), it will probably get your reported, and eventually banned. You should, however, use your personal profile to promote your business, and occasionally post updates about what you do – but do not spam your friends.
3. Share, but Be Careful
It is always a good idea to share things that are from your business niches, new breakthroughs, and new technologies. You can even share insightful articles from other, similar businesses if they are not a direct competition to you. Share topics that matter, and always add a few of your thoughts. If you are not sure how to handle some current situation, it is probably best to avoid it. And, as a golden rule, refrain from talking about topics like religion and politics. Just be proud of what you are, your business, and always be aware of what is happening around you.
4. Be Approachable
Social networks are called like that because, at their core, it’s all about people becoming closer, forming groups (and making money). You should focus on nurturing your existing relationships with current followers, and creating new ones by sharing useful, fun content. Do not try to hide behind your business, and always let other people know that you too are human. Give praise you when praise is deserved, and apologize when needed. We all make mistakes, but admitting that you do will make you even more likable. Use emojis if you feel that the situation is appropriate, and avoid being too professional, social networks are casual, and you should adapt your approach to them.
5. Priorities, Priorities
Trying to handle several large networks at the same time may prove to be a bigger challenge than you initially had imagined. This is why you should focus on only one or two most important ones. It even may be tempting to try out every new social network that comes out, but this might yield no results, and only consume your time. Focus on networks like Facebook and Twitter, but if you work in a niche that is highly visual (or can be made that way – for example, owning a restaurant) then focus on Pinterest. LinkedIn is always good to have, but it is a highly professional network, and it should represent you in that light.
6. Interact with People
While sharing might be the first step, always be ready to help your followers, answer their questions directly, and always take a casual, light approach. This kind of interaction will give your business a boost. Don’t be afraid to give a personal opinion, if asked for, or a recommendation. Connect to people the same way you would with people you just met on the train, and try to be accommodating by providing topics and directing the conversation.
7. Don’t be Pushy
We all know that you opened a Facebook page with the aim of selling products or services, but that is something that will happen; you do not have to constantly remind people of it. It is like being a nice worker in a dress shop – you shouldn’t try and push every single dress onto a customer. State your true opinion, recommend what you think will suit them better, and look for their reaction. Being pushy will only create a shopper that immediately wants to leave.
8. Do not Spam, Ever
Do not think that by constantly posting updates, people will react more positively to your business. It is more likely that people will unfollow you, or even report you. You should also never post stuff that is totally irrelevant to what you do; on the other hand, occasionally posting a funny meme can be a good tactic, but prepare your audience for that, make sure that your jokes are neutral, and always in good taste. If you would tell that joke to your elementary school teacher, then you can use it on social networks as well.
9. Thou Shalt Not Steal
Even though you might be tempted at times, remember; this is the internet, and everything can be checked. Twice. And then you’ll be ridiculed. Always share content and attach appropriate credits. If you do not know who originally posted something, say exactly that. Do not try and prescribe something to yourself, only later to be found out. You do not want to be ridiculed by internet trolls (they will exist, nonetheless, but never feed the trolls).
10. Try and Understand the Other Side
Always remember that the people reading are, well, people, the same as you and me. We all have our bad days when we are simply not in the mood for something. Dismantling the bomb is a much better approach than a full-blown assault. In the end, apologize even when you are not sorry, because usually, the right decision is not the easiest one.
11. Do Not Become a Shopping Channel
People will click what they want to click, and there is no need for you to use clickbait, and to over-promise without being able to deliver. There is no need to underestimate the intelligence of your visitors; quite the contrary, assume that all of them know what you are talking about. The 80/20 rule is always good, 80% of what you share should be fun, informative, and only 20% should focus on your services and products.
12. Mix and Match
Never focus on a single type of content. Make sure you use, well, everything. Use videos, pictures, memes, and gifs, write articles on your blog and then share them, post short updates – whatever you can think of. Then measure the reaction – from that, you can learn a lot, but never limit yourself simply because you are afraid of how people will react. Like we’ve mentioned, some types of content work better on certain networks, but even then, you can try new things out.
13. Be Smart
No, really, be smart. Use proper grammar, punctuation, never use jargon (unless you want to appeal to a younger, more casual audience) but even then, avoid curses and other words that are designed to attract attention like wtf or omg. If you are creating larger posts, ask a friend if he or she can proofread it; that way, you can avoid embarrassing yourself.
14. Use Trends to Your Advantage
Like the Red Lobster example we’ve mentioned in the introductory paragraph, always be aware of what is happening, what is hip and what is cool. React accordingly, and use them in a way that helps you. For example, hashtags are always popular, but even something simple like that can be overused.
15. Respond Personally to Messages
Giving everything a dose of your personal touch is essential. It doesn’t matter if you or your assistant is answering to messages – make sure that you are consistent and depict yourself as an approachable professional. You do not want to sound like Anna Wintour – sounding like Amy Schumer is a much better approach.
16. Do not Expect Anything
Social networks are a tricky mistress. You can do a really good job and have poor results, or you can make a viral post and slay the internet without much effort. Who knows what will happen. Your duty is to give your best, but do not expect anything in return. What will happen, will happen and there is (mostly) nothing you can do about it.
17. Automation is Bad, M’key
Except for scheduling a few posts here and there, automation is bad when it comes to social networks. It is the easiest way of sounding like the proverbial robot from our title. Even instant response messages on Facebook are not recommended, except when you are out of time, or on a vacation. Always try and give your personal touch, anything else will make you look lazy and tacky.
18. Numbers Are Not Everything
Numbers are attractive, but after a while, they can become addictive. While having a lot of Facebook likes and Twitter followers is nice and great, in the end, you are after interactions. You can have a much smaller base of followers, but one that is much more engaged in what you do, and how you do it. Never buy followers; you will lose your money, and eventually, your account.
19. Have Fun
In the end, social networks are fun and they should stay that way. Just because you are trying to act like a proper businessman, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have fun with it. Try out new things, post different stuff, and always keep people engaged. You will quickly discover what approach best suits you, and your audience, and with a little time, and a lot of effort, you will bring it to perfection.