Just because it’s called social media doesn’t mean it’s a tabloid gossip column. The protocols for using social media as a marketing tool mean that, first and foremost, you keep your personal and business communication strictly separate. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and related media need to express your business brand, not your after-hours alter ego. I’m not saying don’t be you – I’m saying to keep a wall between your professional life and your personal life.
So here’s our Top Ten list of don’ts. If you follow these etiquette guidelines, you can strengthen your electronic marketing strategy and leverage maximum benefits from your social network.
- Don’t post an unprofessional photo or avatar. A snapshot from the office Christmas party or a silly cartoon face is not the image you want your business to have. Go for a professional portrait, if possible, and remember to smile. Do take the time to hire someone to take the photo.
- Don’t write a romance novel. Don’t assume people want to read the story of your life. Keep your profile short and professional. Social networks make it easy to embellish, and you are using these tools to promote yourself, after all. But don’t share too much. Be protective of your family. It’s OK to say you’re married with children, but don’t provide a link to your significant other (unless you’re in business together) and for safety’s sake, don’t post names or photos of your kids.
- Don’t discuss the menu. Unless you are a professional chef, we really don’t want to know what you’re fixing for dinner every night. There’s a difference between expressing personality and getting personal. Recommending a hot new restaurant you just visited is a great idea; it shows you are connected to the community. So is a comment about a seminar you attended or your trip to the county fair. Let personal comments add a little flavor to your post, rather than letting them dominate the conversation.
- Don’t post too much or too often. Unless you’re giving weather reports during a tornado, tweeting every five minutes is overkill. Posting to Facebook once a day is more than adequate, and one or two tweets a day is all you need to keep in touch.
- Don’t tell inside jokes. Business communication should be clear rather than clever. A joke or a funny line about today’s market ups and downs helps lighten the mood. But you run the risk of insulting people if they think you’re making some snarky or coded comment about them. Within most social networks, you can set up private groups where jokes and other personal conversations are appropriate. Sarcastic humor can be dangerous because it is easily misunderstood, so think twice before sharing.
- Don’t gossip about the company. Social media is never private, so keep your opinions about your boss, your office mate, or the company’s finances to yourself. It’s fine to share successes or any other information that is general knowledge and serves to enhance the company’s reputation and image.
- Don’t be fickle. Don’t be an attentive, prolific communicator this week and then disappear for two weeks. Be consistent. Try to post on or near the same days and times, so your fans and followers will expect to hear from you and look forward to it.
- Don’t publish old news. If you’re tweeting or otherwise posting market data, make sure it is the most current you can find. Interest rates, home sales, price trends, and similar data are often updated daily, or at least weekly. As mentioned above it would be most effective to post such status updates every week on the same day and time.
- Don’t be a downer. Like the song says, you’ve got to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. So a client stood you up, you lost a sale to a competitor, your car broke down, your roof is leaking. Life happens. Call up a friend and whine a little if you’re having a bad day. But keep life’s minor (or major) disasters out of your network.
- Don’t get off limits. Leave politics to the pundits. Yes, we all have opinions about the state of the union and the world in general. Join a party, take up a cause, lobby your congressperson. Just don’t tweet your opinions to your followers. Same goes for your thoughts about religious or social issues and even more so for the details of your love life.
Here ia a bonus tip in the form of a do – Do engage others with their posts and tweets – you will receive more interaction with people when you are willing to interact with them. Social Media is not a one way street. Do that, and you’ll have more friends, fans, followers, and fun than you know what to do with. Try it with WinningAgent – make a commitment to comment on every post and start to interact with people when they comment for a full month. You will be surprised by the results.