Social Media Etiquette 101 For Businesses

Social media for business… it’s a brave new world—or is it? Seeing the success of start-ups, the adoption of SM by established brands, and the general acceptance of social marketing, more and more businesses are jumping on board and finding there are rules. The rules for using social media in business aren’t much different than the basic rules of business etiquette. While it may sound romantic to be a rule breaker—break these basic rules, and you may lose the effectiveness of your social media campaign and undermine your organization.

5 Basic Rules For Social Media

Be Polite, Manners Count – Use the same courtesy and show the same respect expected with any other business interaction.

Avoid Controversy – Taking sides may offend those on the opposite side, which includes prospects and customers. Business, and social media used for business, is not usually the wisest place to share controversial opinions. It’s probably not the place to discuss politics or religion. Like most things, there may be exceptions, like industry related politics. For example, I openly opposed SOPA, as it was industry related and a non-partisan issue, and my company voices its opinion on transportation legislation that directly affects our customers.

Don’t Be An Energy Vampire – Don’t suck the life right out of your followers by dwelling on the negative. Is complaining ever a good business practice? Would you begin a sales call being snarky? How about haranguing customers as they wait for service? If not, why would the social media forum be any different?

Don’t Over Promote – Social media marketing is based on attraction not promotion. People have to WANT to follow any call to action. I like the following suggestion from my friends at Roundpeg. They recommend an 80/20 social marketing strategy. 80% sharing and 20% promoting. A non-stop stream of promoting and no engagement isn’t likely to render results, and will be a waste of time and money.

Use Good Grammar – Social media marketing is not the place for text talk (wut up B!?). It should be given the same consideration as any other business correspondence.

While there are times, places, and niches for rule breakers in social media marketing (Scott Wise of Scotty’s Brewhouse comes to mind), communication and conduct should be tendered with common sense. Before jumping into the social media business deep-end, consider how social media strategy will affect your business.