7 Social Media DOs and DON'Ts for Small Businesses
Due to the large number of people on social media, public profiles, and the vast information that is available to all of us via the Internet, businesses should be wary of mal-informed posts and miscommunications for fear of appearing unprofessional, looking like a spambot, or worse, having a social campaign backfire. Here are our 7 DOs and DON'Ts for Small Businesses on social media:
- DO double-check your grammar
While it may appear obvious, do remember that business profiles on social media are the face of your small business to the world in a public medium (and we really cannot stress that enough). Many out there believe that if you cannot spell or use proper grammar, you are being careless and thus should be shunned from appealing to your target audience. If you overlook your grammar, someone will correct you and strip you of your credibility and professionalism, making a bad impression to the very audience you are trying to market to. Double-check: it takes very little time and is much better than learning the hard way.
- DO search for popular Hashtags to use
Searching for popular Hashtags to use is a smart move for two reasons: 1. Hashtagging too much seems desperate, and 2. You run the risk of accidentally Tweeting under a Hashtag being used for something else. Many would argue that using more than two Hashtags in a Tweet already seems desperate, so be efficient and choose wisely. You can do this by simply going to Twitter and typing in possible Hashtags you would use to see which are being used most often. Before using a Hashtag, go ahead and read what is being said to make sure that it is being used the way you think it is. Do not be like Celeb Boutique and Hashtag #Aurora without knowing about the location of the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, just hours after the incident happened:
Celeb Boutique got a whole lot of hate mail and terrible media attention for this, especially when they later admitted that it was a PR agency outside of the US who was handling their social media accounts. Be smart about how you use Hashtags and you will avoid this.
- DO participate in and with your social media community
Social media is not all about you, and it’s not a once-and-done strategy. If you want to be successful on social media, you must participate. Participation means being active: post media that you know your target audience would like and/or benefit from, and respond to any and all posts on your Facebook page, be they complaints or appraisals. At this point, social media is so advanced and personalized that people expect you to respond to them almost immediately, and even if you cannot get to it right away, you must not ignore them. If you ignore your community, your community will start ignoring you, and eventually you will have no community at all. So thank all compliments, deal with complaints accordingly, and share media that isn’t yours but that your audience will enjoy and interact with. It is also a good strategy to also participate with other, relevant business pages, too.
- DON’T plagiarize
We stated in #3 that you should share media that isn’t necessarily yours but that your audience will enjoy and interact with. This stands true, but be sure to give credit where it’s due and do NOT call yours anything that isn’t. This applies mostly to visual media, since it is the easiest form of media to plagiarize, but the repercussions are similar for written works. Even if you don’t go to court, chances are someone will call you out publicly, so just avoid it at all costs.
- DON’T offend anyone or post negative comments
The last thing you want to do is insult someone in your social media community, or anyone for that matter. Negative reputation echoes faster than positive reputation, so steer away from being mean or unprofessional.
- DON’T post if in doubt
This rule is easy to follow: when in doubt over the possibility of a text, image, or any kind of media being accidentally perceived as unprofessional, rude, or offensive, don’t post it. If you find yourself in this situation, it is best to refrain from posting the media in question and look for other options.
- DON’T take a political stance
You are free to express your personal beliefs however you wish, but your personal social accounts are probably a better place for your ideals than your business’ social media page. We recommend not affiliating your business brand with a specific party, ideal, or stance on any politically charged issue publicly on social media. We reiterate that the goal of having social profiles for your business is to increase awareness, supplement your marketing, and in the end, increase sales. Note that “political campaigning” is not on that list.
Are there any other Do’s and Don’ts for small businesses that you would add to this list?
Álvaro J. Soltero is an Content and Social Media Strategist for Leaf, a Cambridge based tech startup that provides a mobile point-of-sale system and an intuitive business management platform in the Cloud. You can check out Leaf's Small Business Blog here. Álvaro also runs a social media blog for higher education called The Social U, where he writes about privacy and networking using social ...
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