Social Media Etiquette? You Bet!

A report just out by Forrester’s Research indicates that 51% of Americans who are online have joined a social network, and  73% are consuming some form of social content on a regular basis. Some basic etiquette rules apply to each of them.

Simply because Facebook is currently the largest and most widely used social medium, here are some tips to make sure you’re not crossing any boundaries, especially on a business page.

1. This one may be the one most likely overlooked! Follow Facebook’s rules. You agreed to do so when you created your account/s by clicking on “I Agree” to the Terms of Service, or you would not have been able to activate your account. It might not be a bad idea to go back and actually read them here .  Item 4, number 4  is one that’s most frequently violated.

2. Complete your profile: Facebook allows businesses to provide generous amounts of information, so give visitors a reason to become a fan by telling your company’s story. Update it periodically to keep it fresh. Unfinished appears unprofessional.

3. Hold Off on Self-Promotion: It’s Social Media! Best practice is the 80/20 rule – 80% of your posted content should be designed to educate, inform and entertain. The remaining 20% can be used for promotion, but blatant selling is considered tacky and will drive people away.

4. Don’t Post too Much too Often: Once or twice a day is actually adequate, and if everyone practiced this pattern, you would probably be able to read most of what shows up in your news feed! The exception, of course, is ‘breaking news’ or content that genuinely qualifies as urgent. And please stop sharing minutiae like what you had for breakfast. It’s bad enough on personal profiles, but definitely does not belong on a business page.

5. Use proper grammar: Emoticons and slang are OK among your friends, but on your business page, even though it’s social media, it’s still business. Watch your spelling, punctuation and composition. You’re image is at stake. If you’re not confident in your writing skills, compose in a Word doc first, where you can at least use Spell Check and Grammar Check.

6. Avoid Controversy and Criticism: Business pages should steer clear of sensitive topics like politics and religion. Save those for personal conversations. Stick to safe content, following the 80/20 rule.

7. Give Credit Publicly: Using the share button is one way, but be sure to acknowledge anyone or another site that gave you information or inspiration. This very tip came from an article in Entrepreneur Magazine, and was the catalyst for this article.

8. Answer Questions and Respond to Comments: If someone took the time to pose a question or leave a comment, they deserve a response. It’s especially important to respond to complaints or criticism, and one very effective way is to ask the poster if you can contact them directly to work on a satisfactory resolution. That way the public sees your willingness to address the situation, but the actual process is handled privately.

9. Have Real Conversations:  Remember your Facebook friends and page followers are people. Don’t talk at them; rather, engage with them to have two-way communication.

10. Don’t Publish Anything You Wouldn’t Want Your Boss, Your Clients, Your Pastor or Your Mother to See!  ‘Nuff said.

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About Carole Holden

Carole Gelm Holden is "The Media Fairy," an Eternal Optimist and Believer in Miracles. By day, she is also a Marketing & Advertising Consultant, Strategist, Media Buyer, Writer, Editor, and Author. Connect with her on Facebook and Google+.