My clients who are new to using social media for their businesses often ask me for advice on what is and is not appropriate to say online, how often they should interact and with whom they should interact. My high level answer is this. Interact online socially the same way you would at a cocktail party. If you wouldn’t rush into the room screaming the name of your business, or running around passing out business cards without getting to know people or offer interesting stories and insights, then you shouldn’t do the equivalent online. Deliver 80-90% value – tips, advice, experience, interesting insights and THEN, when you have built credibility, offer 10-20% subtle sales incentives – contests, special offers, early notice of upcoming sales etc. With this in mind, here are my recommended social media do’s and don’ts for small business owners:
- DO maintain your accounts. Update daily, if possible. (But DON’T update so frequently that your posts become white noise.)
- DO share articles, videos, blog posts and other content that people in your target industry, or at your target organization(s), will find useful.
- DO promote yourself. Share your accomplishments, articles you’ve written, professional challenges you’ve overcome, etc. (But DON’T come across as a braggart. It’s a fine line.)
- DO engage your peers, both current and future. Ask and answer questions, join conversations and groups, comment on others’ updates, retweet, etc.
- DO remember to whom you are “talking”. On Facebook, for example, you are sharing information with everyone that has “Liked” your page (assuming Facebook includes your update in their stream), or in the case of a promoted post, with everyone in your target market. On Twitter you are sharing information with everyone… Twitter is a public network.
- DO check – and be sure you completely understand – privacy settings.
- DO present yourself with consistency. Ensure your LinkedIn profile, Twitter bio and Facebook page show the same history and expertise. Consistency is a critical cornerstone to your brand.
- DO “network in fertile soil,” said Dale Kramer Cohen, co-founder of IvyLife, a business networking community for Ivy League-affiliated professionals. That is, make sure you are interacting in trusted communities.
- DO share information from others in the industry that you believe your readers would find valuable. This is called content curation and similar to the way in which an art gallery curates a collection, as an industry expert you should position yourself as a focal point of knowledge on your topic.
- DO be genuine and truthful. Remember that social media is about forming relationships and expressing your brand personality. You do have a brand personality don’t you?
- DON’T share too much information (TMI), especially information of a personal nature. As a business owner, your audience may be interested in your reflections on business trends in Europe, but may not need to hear about that crazy night you spent in a bar with a stranger.
- DON’T neglect to proofread your social media posts as carefully as you would your resume. The care you take in creating your posts reflects the image of your brand. Repeated typos appear unprofessional and hasty which makes the reader wonder if that is how you deliver your service.
- DON’T forget that people may have a different sense of humor. “What you may think is funny may sound obnoxious to others,” said Karina Goldrajch, CMO and co-founder of GenMobi Technologies. DON’T tell or share jokes. The only generally safe humor is self-deprecating humor, but whether you engage will depend entirely upon your brand.
Many business owners become a bit overwhelmed by the time demands of social media. A great way to handle this is to partner with someone who can help with content curation so that you can focus on responding to post comments and direct messages, and interacting with others in your target market and industry. For more info on how this type of partnership can work, check out ZenChange Social Media Marketing Packages. Meanwhile, look for ways to implement these social media do’s and don’t in your small business.