The constant evolution of social networks can make it difficult to stay on top of social media etiquette best practices. Business owners who only occasionally log into these social networks may find it hard to fully understand all of the nuances that act as unwritten usage rules.
When it comes to social media etiquette for business, behavior and what to do or not do, it takes practice to fully understand how these tips apply to your day-to-day behavior. Here are 25 do’s and don’ts when it comes to social media etiquette for business:
1. DO: Complete & Update Your Social Media Profiles
First impressions are important and lasting. Think of your social media accounts as your digital first impression. Social media accounts that are only partially completed automatically appear less professional. Take a few minutes to thoughtfully fill out all your profile information – including contact information.
2. DO: Separate Business & Personal Accounts
When building a business brand, it helps to keep your personal and professional pages separate on social media. By being consistent with the types of content you share via your business profile, your clients know which account to follow. You also avoid spamming friends and family that follow you for personal updates.
For example, a link to your latest blog post should come from your business page and a video of your dog in the backyard should come from your personal page.
3. DO: Share Thoughtfully
What you post becomes a representation of you and your business. Be proud of who you are and what you represent as a business while staying aware of the image you’re crafting as a result of the content you share.
Use this infographic from HootSuite as a guide if you’re unsure your content is a fit.
4. DO: Post Regularly
This boils down to the big question: how often should you engage with your online community? This can vary depending on your business and industry, but it should be at a minimum at least once or twice a week. OutboundEngine posts about 2-3 times a week on behalf of customers. This keeps fresh content front and center while freeing up our clients’ time. Clients are able to post on their own and are encouraged to do so.
5. DO: Prioritize Your Networks
It may be tempting to try every new social media platform that sprouts up, but it’s dangerous to spread yourself too thin. To start, focus on the social networks where you know your customers are. More than likely, that’s Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, maybe Twitter. Providing quality content via these outlets is worth your time and effort, no matter your industry.
6. DO: Interact With Your Audience
Providing helpful content is nice, but it’s not all social media has to offer. Interacting with your followers is also key.
- See a question or comment on Twitter that you can answer? Send the person a friendly reply.
- Looking for recommendations? Ask your Facebook audience.
- Did you write a helpful, industry-specific post on your blog? Share it with your LinkedIn network.
Build connections online just like you would in person.
For example, here’s a Twitter exchange between OutboundEngine and Startup Games:
Neither company is promoting anything particular but simply having a friendly exchange. When you think about your approach to social media etiquette for business, this is an easy way to weave it into your brand and strategy.
7. DON’T: Be Needy
Don’t constantly ask your Twitter followers to “please retweet,” or beg your Facebook friends to “like” your page every week. It’s perfectly acceptable to let your followers on personal accounts know that you have business pages and what they can expect if they follow you. But be strategic. Instead, get creative. You can still accomplish those tasks, but you’re better off earning them with helpful, shareworthy content.
8. DON’T: Be a Spammer
This is a quick way to social media etiquette for business. Retweeting, liking, commenting, posting, and sharing all day long is a quick way to watch your engagement drop. Nobody wants their social media feeds to be filled by a single account. For example, don’t join 20 groups on LinkedIn and post the same self-promotional message in all of them, and then never interact with members again. That’s not the impression you want to leave.
9. DO: Be Transparent to Gain Trust
Should you run into an issue that causes a flurry of criticism on social media, the worst thing you can do is try and hide from it. Try and respond the best you can, and don’t become defensive. Work to remedy the issue and let those who cared about it online know when it’s resolved.
10. DON’T: Complain
This is an important part of social media etiquette for business. All businesses see their ups and downs, but complaining about customer interactions or when a business transaction didn’t go as planned should not be part of your social media strategy. Remember, you’re trying to distinguish yourself from competitors. This can be a way to stand out in a less than ideal way. If potential customers see how you talk about others, they may think twice about wanting to do business with you.
11. DO: Help More Than You Sell
Though you’re in business to make money, that shouldn’t be the focus of the vast majority of your social media posts. Keep the 80/20 rule in mind here: 80 percent of the content you post or share should be entertaining or informative, while no more than 20 percent of your social media communication should directly relate to the goods or services you provide.
12. DO: Match the Right Content to the Right Network
Each social media network has its own intended purpose and audience. Understanding this and matching your content and tone to the proper social media outlet is imperative for success.
Here’s a breakdown:
- The casual community of Facebook makes engagement with others feel natural.
- The industry-focused messaging of LinkedIn offers the perfect place to reach business professionals.
- Twitter handles rapid-fire conversation between both businesses and individuals, making it a useful platform regardless of the intended audience.
- Instagram is the perfect place to share something visual, such as a real estate agent’s house listing or a baker’s custom treats.
Perhaps another outlet like YouTube is perfect for you if your business requires a visual element to be best understood, such as an auto mechanic giving car tips and answering frequently asked questions.
13. DO: Avoid Poor Grammar and Spelling
Few things hurt your credibility as quickly as grammar mistakes and spelling errors can. To help avoid them, prep your social media updates in a document or spreadsheet with spell check. You can also ask a colleague to proofread before you share.
Pro tip: read your post out loud before sharing to catch any missing words or tough to understand sentences.
14. DO: Be Visual
Photos and videos can boost your social media strategy. Tweets that feature images earn 150 percent more retweets are favorited 89 percent more and lead to 18 percent more clicks. If your industry relies heavily on visuals (like real estate or interior design), consider adding social media platforms based on visual engagement, like Instagram, to your marketing repertoire.
15. DON’T: WRITE IN ALL CAPS
ARE YOU MAD AT ME? DID I DO SOMETHING WRONG? Stop with the all caps! Not only are they visually alarming, but they also communicate that you’re upset (and yelling) about something. No caps should definitely be on your social media etiquette checklist.
16. DO: Location Tag Other Businesses
Social media is all about sharing. This means favorite restaurants, businesses, and other stops while you’re out and about. Be sure you add your location to your Instagram photo or Facebook status so people know where you were and, more importantly, how they can get there. This is an all-around good move to support other business owners and raise your brand awareness within the community.
17. DON’T: #Abuse #Hashtags
Adding appropriate hashtags connects your post to all other posts on that topic and with that hashtag. It’s a convenient way to categorize and search content on social media networks. That said, don’t turn every word in a post (or a full sentence!) into a hashtag. When used correctly, hashtags will increase your online visibility and followers. When used in excess, it looks spammy and becomes ineffective.
18. DON’T: Share the Exact Same Message Again and Again
Put yourself in the place of your followers. Would you want to read the same message from people or pages you follow every day? It’s lazy and in poor taste to take the same social post and continue to share it over and over again on the same networks. If you want to revisit previous content, get creative with your delivery. Try rewording it or using a new image rather than reposting the same exact message.
19. DON’T: Share Without Researching First
Social media networks make it super easy to quickly share content from another account. With the tidal wave of content and information coming at you at all times, it’s easy to forget that some of this content comes from bots or is autogenerated.
Before you click share or retweet, first check out the account that shared the information to be sure you’re comfortable being associated with using them as a source. Many businesses have mistakenly shared information that hadn’t been properly vetted and turned out to be untrue or were shared by a business or person with a shady past.
20. DO: Share Without Expectations
Consistency and patience will pay off. Once you start putting time and effort into social media doesn’t mean you’ll see big results right away. You might, and that’s excellent. Similar to starting your business, your reach may be slow at first. Then you’ll make connections, build a reputation, and develop a strategy.
21. DO: Give Credit When Credit Is Due
This is especially true on Twitter and Instagram. Stay on the right side of social media etiquette for business by attributing the author or photographer when you share an interesting tweet or a gorgeous image. Take the time to find the Twitter handle responsible for the original post and include it in your tweet.
Also, send out thank you tweets to those who mention or retweet you. You can make some great connections when you play well with others on social media.
22. DON’T: Automate Without Thought
If you’re using the same content across your social channels (and you can!), take the time to change the voice of the message to match the network. Though most social media platforms feature the time-saving option of posting on multiple-channels at once, steer clear of it. Take the extra time to write an original message for each social media network based on its intended purpose and audience.
23. DO: Think Before Tagging
Tagging others in photos is a great way to introduce your business to their friends, but before you do, think through it. Are you tagging everyone you can think of because you’re hoping some of them will follow you or promote your business? Or are you tagging businesses and people to create a dialogue or to highlight something you admire about them? Unexpected tagging can be a fun way to surprise and delight someone or could cost you friends, fans or followers.
24. DON’T: Obsess on the Numbers
It’s important to remember that brand awareness and growing your network is a long-term strategy. We know it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers game, but try not to. While having lots of Facebook fans and Twitter followers can be good, it’s quality over quantity.
If you have 1,000 Twitter followers and half of them are spam accounts, your tweets are being delivered to an audience that doesn’t truly exist. So stress less about your follower count and concentrate on providing thoughtful content for your audience.
25. DO: Have Fun!
Using social media for your business doesn’t mean you should stop having fun with it! Have fun trying new ideas. Try live videos or interactive polls and keep your messages professional and conversational. You’ll see that you can enjoy this part of your business instead of dreading it.
With the social media landscape constantly evolving, the do’s and don’ts of social media etiquette for business owners will also continue to change. Staying aware of current best practices and incorporating them into your social media strategy will keep your marketing efforts fresh and effective and your business top of mind.
Still feeling like it’s too much? We understand. OutboundEngine can take over the bulk of your social media strategy by posting to professionally written content to your social platforms as well as helping with paid social ads.
Last Updated: February 2020