Social Networking Tips & Etiquette (Social Media, part 4)

Social Networking Tips & Etiquette (Social Media, part 4)

Social networking is changing the way customers and businesses interact; and the way you conduct yourself through your social networking accounts directly reflects on your brand.

Here are some basic etiquette tips:

  • Fill out your online profiles completely with information about you/your business. Use your real name and your own photo. Your cat may be adorable, but unless you are a veterinarian specialising in the care and treatment of felines, don’t get cute
  • Be honest but be professional. Social media and any mentions of your brand name on any social media platforms are indexed by search engines. If your brand appears unprofessional at any time, it can damage your credibility with potential customers and strategic partners searching for potential providers of your product/service
  • Use a different profile or account for your personal connections. Business and pleasure do not mix in this medium
  • Create a section on your main profile detailing who you are seeking to befriend and network with and ask that visitors abide by that information. It’s important both for your brand and for practical reasons that your audience be the right one. Don’t be afraid to lay out your stall. Everyone need not apply
  • Offer information of value. Don’t talk just about yourself and your company. Your aim is to educate, entertain or enhance
  • Don’t approach strangers and ask them to be friends with you just so you can then try to sell them on your products or services. You will quickly lose credibility and your so-called ‘friends’
  • Pick a screen name that represents you and your company well. Don’t call yourself ‘Loser1′ unless you want to be known by that name
  • Don’t send out requests for birthdays, invitations to play games or other timewasters for those using the site
  • Check out the people who want to follow you or be your friend. Your mother was right when she said that people will judge you by the company you keep
  • If someone does not want to be your friend, accept their decision gracefully. They have the right to make that choice and you have to accept it
  • Use a Word document. Always compose your posts, updates or tweets in a word processing document so you can check grammar and spelling before you send them. Also (it should go without saying) never use bad language or offensive comments
  • Never Discriminate! Do not discriminate in any of your posts, updates or tweets. This includes (but not limited to) prejudice, ageism, racism, sexism, heterosexism, homophobia, generalisations or regionalism. Publish content responsibly
  • Show respect. Speak or write with respect for the person you are conversing with. If you gossip or complain about your clients on Facebook or Twitter, it may very well get back to them. Even if you don’t use their names, people are savvy. No matter how difficult a client is, there is no reason to complain about them on social media sites. Remember the mantra, “Treat others like you would like to be treated”
  • Reciprocate. If someone comments on your blog, leave a comment on his or her blog. If someone retweets one of your tweets, find one of theirs to retweet. If someone likes one of your Facebook comments, like one of theirs. The same goes if they comment on a Facebook post. It is not only good social media etiquette, but it also gets your name, blog or business in front of new people. Therefore, it is mutually beneficial to reciprocate
  • Leave real comments. When reciprocating, don’t just leave one-word comments. Leave a qualifying comment related to the post and if you retweet something interesting, always give credit for who found it first
  • Say what you mean and mean what you say. Everyone is busy, but if you say you will get back to someone by a certain time do your best to keep your word. This goes for contests, giveaways, advertising, guest posts etc. If you fail, apologise. It is common courtesy
  • Update and Promote Accordingly. Constantly asking someone to retweet something you posted on Twitter or sharing it on their Facebook wall should not be overdone. If your content is good, it will be shared. You can blog, tweet, or update your Facebook page as often as you want, but you should note that people “unfollow” noisy tweeters/Facebookers. It’s probably okay to promote something 4x a day on a social network, so that you hit all the time zones appropriately
  • Help and Promote Others. If you help and promote someone else, chances are they are more likely to do the same for you! Social media isn’t a solitary endeavour. It’s about the community and paying-it-forward. Sharing is Caring! It’s also ok to follow and like your competition on social media sites & its a good way to keep up to date on what they’re doing
  • Share interesting Blog posts. Most Blogs have a share/like/tweet/stumble button at the bottom. They are there for a reason. If you like the article, pushing those buttons is a “tip jar” for the author. If you really like something, comment on the article. Comments in Twitter are temporary moments in a stream. However comments on a Blog last forever
  • Vary your content. Providing different types of multimedia has been proven to engage audiences more effectively. So even if you haven’t produced videos yourself consider adding some relevant YouTube or StumbleUpon content too
  • Treat your Social Media Networks separately. You can link Facebook to Twitter, so you can send the exact same message to both, but that can be a turnoff. Most people use those networks differently, therefore they should be treated differently. Plus a Tweet of 140 characters isn’t going to cut it for a Facebook status update
  • Try to plan topics and/or messages. Rather than spending valuable time pondering the content of every next tweet, update or message, try to set some milestones, standard messages and/or topics that you would like to cover. Any ‘ad hoc’ extras can always take precedence, but it is always better to have to pick from many meaningful messages rather than not having enough to say!
  • One final thing to remember – Tie it all in with other marketing/promotional activities. How will people know unless they are told? Include images/tags/addresses of your social media presence in your email signatures, business cards, printed marketing material and where possible on your website. The more people who operate in your industry that know you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin etc the better

Our next and final installment in the Social Media series will give you some pointers on that last one – integrating social media into wider marketing strategies.