Your Reputation is your Brand
Your reputation is your brand, and that encompasses your company’s philosophy, its unique story, and its causes. So your content marketing (advertising materials, media ads, press releases, your blog, your website, and your social media) reinforce that brand. Are your messages consistent and cohesive to the brand you are striving for? In regards to your social media, do you have a well-thought out plan of action? Or in another words, do you think before you post?
Most businesses have their own page on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and so on, so you would do well to use guides on social media etiquette when you post, tweet, pin, etc. And if you are the face (owner/manager/sales director) of your company, it would be wise to use these same guidelines on your personal profile as well. If users associate you personally with your business, then you should continue that professional persona and consistent branding on your own page as well.
So what are some guidelines on social media etiquette?
1. Its best to stay politically and religiously neutral on your business pages. To avoid offending, it would be best to use another forum to express your opinions. But if you feel inclined to post something on either rather controversial genre, keep it neutral, positive and unlikely to offend customers on either side of the argument. For example, if your customer base is diverse when it comes to their belief systems, your comments may alienate a large percentage of your audience and in turn, erode the positive branding you had thus far achieved.
“Friends who post religious or politically-charged status updates are the most likely to be unfriended, according to two studies released by the University of Colorado Denver.”
2. You can be funny, without being offensive or raunchy. When sharing or posting humorous graphics, jokes or photos (i.e. e-cards), make sure they are not demeaning to either sex or any particular race and ethnicity, are appropriate for all ages, and not making light of any tragic events or sobering social issues. What you find personally funny may in turn upset some of your target audience; which in turn, depending on the sensitivity of your audience, may cause them to reconsider buying your products/services in the future.
3. Avoid over-sharing. A recent study showed those who over-share on Facebook, are looking for acceptance and an outlet to show their “true self” (a side of their personality they’re hesitant to show in real life). But instead of getting the attention they crave, their friends are more apt to “cringe, roll their eyes, and mute an annoying friend on Facebook for oversharing”.
“The new study found that people who felt that they were more truly themselves online were more likely to communicate with others on Facebook, disclose things about themselves, and post emotional updates about frustrations or ‘drama.’ ” – The Atlantic.com
The study showed that their oversharing of their feelings, frustrations and their daily thoughts made their readers uncomfortable and were perceived as self-oriented. If you have a need to express yourself, that can be a positive, but it would be better to keep a daily journal or call a close friend, partner or relative. Remember, everything you put up on social media is public, regardless of your privacy settings, and for permanent record, even if deleted later.
4. Stay positive and avoid ranting or complaining. We all get mad, we all deal with rude customers or colleagues, and we all understand the frustrations of work/life balance for business owners. We also have enough of our own irritations that we don’t need to read others’ negative thoughts or complaints, as its proven that reading negative posts can affect our own mood.
“Facebook feelings are contagious”, according to a recent study of the University of California, San Diego. “In short, negative posts begot more negative ones, and positive posts increased positive ones. Interestingly, the positive updates were more powerful.”
So the opposite is also true, if your posts are positive, inspiring and motivating, your fans & followers will feel the same. Showcasing a positive outlook on life and business will also enhance your brand, instead of becoming known as a Debbie Downer.
5. Use the 80/20 Rule when it comes to your post topics. In simple terms, 20% of your posts should be about your brand (your company, services or products, and sales/events); and 80% should be relationship building content that is informative, engaging and shareable for your target audience. If you only talk about your business, your posts will become a monotonous, endless commercial that will lead to increased “unlikes” rather than increased sales. Instead find ways to inform, entertain and help your customer base.
For example, if your business is a women’s fashion and accessory boutique, you could post about seasonal fashion trends, the best outfits for various body types, how to dress for success, or pictures or stories of inspiring women, or even share women’s non-profits or social events in your area.
6. Don’t overpost. How often is too often? Posting more than three times a day or ten times per week can be considered excessive considering the social media platform. Just as its rude to dominate the conversation in social situations, it is just as important to “listen” (read, comment and share other’s posts), as it is to “talk” (post, tweet, or pin).
Before you Post, Think & Analyze
To sum it up, use the following checklist before you post: (from Forbes.com)
- Should I target a speciﬁc audience with this message?
- Will anyone really care about this content besides me?
- Will I offend anyone with this content?
- Is this appropriate for a social portal, or would it best be communicated another way?
- How many times have I already posted something today? (More than three can be excessive.)
- Will I be okay with absolutely anyone seeing this?
- Is this post too vague? Will everyone understand what I’m saying?
- Am I using this as an emotional dumping ground? If so, why? Is a different outlet better for these purposes?
- Is this reactive communication or is it well thought-out?
- Is this really something I want to share, or is it just me venting?
- Will this post engage my target audience?