Social media etiquette is just a digital version of traditional etiquette. The same considerations should be given through social media, as you would when networking and interacting with people offline.
The reasons social media etiquette can get scrambled or forgotten, is that we often forget there are real, living and breathing people, on the other side of the computer screen.
Even if you can’t view their immediate reactions to your postings, through the form of facial expressions or an immediate verbal response, your fans and followers will remember what you post, and they will quickly form an impression of you and your business from your social media profiles. Social media for business is a powerful tool, but for it to work well, you need to understand the platform, the people you are interacting with, and employ good social media etiquette.
Here are some tips, to get you started with social media for business, while maintaining good social media etiquette standards:
Get to know your fans and followers
Treat your fans and followers as real people. Show them respect and respond to them in the same way you would if you were meeting them for the first time at a business breakfast or dinner party. You may not get along with all of them, like best friends, but each person in your social network can contribute to growing your business in a unique way. It is your job to get to know them as real people. Ask questions. Interact. Find out where they work, what their new projects are, and what keeps them excited. Once you get involved in social media, you’ll soon learn how powerful a few comments on a Facebook status can be. Use them to your advantage, to grow your relationships on social media for business.
Realise that direct marketing can be considered spam
Many sales people feel comfortable with the direct marketing approach. Depending on their own career and business background, this may be the area of sales that has shown them the most success. Even business owners, who have no experience with marketing at all, may cling to the concept of a direct and pushy approach, because they believe it is the right thing to do. Also, they may feel like they are putting the most productive energy into their business, when employing this approach.
The problem is, that social media for business works differently. Social media etiquette, and the pathway to growing your business through online connections, relies on the ability to form genuine and authentic relationships with people – not shove your brand or product at them through forty posts a day.
Monitor your language
Language is a diverse topic. In social media for business, it includes your choice of words, your use of correct spelling, the frequency and purpose of your message, and also the relevancy. When you develop a brand, language should be part of this development process.
Many businesses and organisations are creating social media policies, and the choice of language used, in sync with their corporate image, is a key component of these policies. The problem with social media, is that it is instant, and often one designated person is responsible for all the postings and interactions, on behalf of the entire company. This person needs to deeply understand and have the ability to communicate the ‘voice’ of your brand, including appropriate humour, professional wording, and in-depth knowledge of your products and services.
Social media etiquette includes not leaving your profiles to linger, unattended for long periods of time. There is no benefit to starting a Twitter account, earning two followers, and then leaving it unattended without any tweets, interactions, or plan to make it grow. The same applies to a LinkedIn account, with a half-completed profile, and an inbox full of invitations you never accept.
Many business people get curious about social media, start a profile, and then leave disinterested because they didn’t know what to do next. Even if you aren’t active on your profile, others might be. Potential customers and clients will be checking out your empty and dull page, and assume from your profile, that your business is also empty and dull. Make a commitment to grow your account, and keep it active, or if you are no longer interested, delete or deactivate your profile, so others can’t stumble over it and form a negative impression.
Customers and clients, trust real people they can have a laugh with, and share interests with. You have a big job to convey your true self across social media for business. Be comfortable with yourself, know your objectives and beliefs, and communicate a professional but genuine image. Have fun, make friends, but never forget social media etiquette.