Social Media: Think Carefully Before You Hit The Share Button.

Whilst social media might be great for getting messages across to an audience, it’s too easy to forget that the impersonal platform you’re communicating on is actually read by others and often misinterpreted.

Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are useful platforms and serve their purpose, but they don’t exist in a bubble. Just because you’re communicating at a distance with your audience doesn’t mean you can throw caution to the wind and say anything that comes into your head. The last thing the world needs are more keyboard warriors.

When you engage on social media, you’re engaging in a conversation even though you’re not making eye contact.

Therefore, there are certain protocols you’ll need to follow: call it social media etiquette for want of a better term. Some things should never be posted; others are best avoided. At the end of the day it’s important to remember that if you want your business to look professional, then you need to take great care and ensure that whatever you post on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is accurate and sympathetic to your brand’s image.

So what sort of social media protocols should you stick to? Well, here are a few things to bear in mind starters:

You are not important – your intended audience is.

The social media offers a great platform for businesses to share their insights and blog posts, but it’s important to remember that it’s not actually about you. In social media etiquette you are not important: your audience is. What you’re aiming to do is build a conversation with your followers and engage with them; not preach to them, or blow your own trumpet. What you should be doing is asking questions of your followers and getting involved. Find out more about them and what makes them tick.

If what you are about to write isn’t engaging – don’t bother writing it.

So your cat’s cute: does that necessarily mean that you should share that with your audience? Probably not. It’s not interesting and it certainly isn’t engaging, anyway, your followers probably have cats that are just as cute. If something is not engaging, it’s not worth posting. Your followers are looking for information and insights they can engage with, so stick to those. Get them excited about following you. It’s worth remembering that whilst they chose to follow you, they can just as easily unfollow you.

Are there better ways to get the message across to your audience?

Before you post to Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, ask yourself this simple question. Is this the right platform to share this content on? If what you want to share is personal or sensitive, then find another way of sharing that. Social media platforms are impersonal places after all. If you’re adamant that you want to share this sensitive information, then find some other means of doing it.

Could your message offend others? If so don’t post it.

If you suspect that what you’ve written might offend others or be misconstrued, then don’t share it. You’ll need to think carefully about what you write as some people will go out of their way to be offended. The chances are you’ll still probably ruffle someone’s feathers no matter how careful you are, but that’s just human nature. If you think your posting might offend someone, or you’re worried that if you share it there’ll be trouble, then just don’t do it.

Read, re-read, and read again before posting.

Before you share your post with your audience read what you’ve written and then re-read it. Then check the spelling because it matters more than you might think. You want your business to be seen as professional and competent – not careless. Don’t forget it’s your business’ professional reputation that’s on the line when you share content on social media platforms, so you have to tread carefully. Think carefully before you hit the share button.

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