What type of actions are best avoided on social media?

The beauty of social media is that it’s open to everyone. It’s a democratic and open medium which every business can use, whether they’re a big spender, or a newly formed start-up. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great platforms for sharing news and publicising and promoting businesses, and generally speaking anything goes. However, there is a caveat to that. There are certain things that are de rigeur: certain types of behaviour or actions that can have negative impact on business reputations. So what are these actions? What type of behaviour is best avoided on social media platforms?

Be personable, but try to keep the your personal and professional sides separate

The fundamental building block of social media is interaction. It’s what platforms like Facebook and Twitter are built on. Because of that it’s natural to share a little of yourself and your personality when you’re trying to project a positive and upbeat impression of your business. That isn’t a problem until the personal starts to intrude on the professional side of the business. Be personal by all means, and occasionally share a picture of you and your family if it’s appropriate, but don’t overdo things. Try to keep your personal and business lives separate. If you don’t, you’ll quickly find that the ‘personal touch’ might start to grate with some of your customers.

If you have ‘controversial’ views, then keep them to yourself

It’s good to share: but some things are best kept private. If you have views about politics, religion and gender that could be perceived to be controversial, then try to avoid sharing your views on your business page. There may be some who might agree with your views, but there will undoubtedly be many who don’t. Sounding off will only alienate these people and damage your business’ reputation.

Engage and interact with your audience, but don’t reply to everything that’s written about your business, particularly the scurrilous stuff

Platforms like Facebook and Twitter rely on interaction and dialogue. By joining in conversations and answering questions, you’ll be able to engage. Sometimes the comments will be negative, and when that happens it’s wise to respond to the comments and endeavour to put right whatever people are saying is wrong. However, don’t always rise to the bait when somebody writes something deeply negative about your business. In cases like that, it’s best to ignore the comments and not get into a slanging match. Other members of your audience will understand why you are choosing not to respond.

Don’t repeat the same things ad naseum

Every reader will at some stage want information about what your business does and what services you offer, but they’ll only need to hear that information once. If you share the same information over and over again, your readers will soon get bored. Social media relies on providing information, but that information needs to be relevant and interesting. So keep your updates diverse, and only post things that you genuinely believe your followers will want to read.

Poorly written content smacks of unprofessionalism

We might live in an age where text speak is acceptable, but from a professional point of view, bad spelling and poor grammar are unacceptable. Check every post before you click on the share button: spell check and, if necessary, get someone else to read it through. Poorly written content makes your business looks unprofessional, and breeds distrust.

Watch out for those dreaded hashtags

Hashtags are useful in the right context. However, you can have too much of a good thing. So don’t overuse them, and always try to make sure you use them appropriately – ie in a context that relates directly to your business. If you use them unthinkingly, your audience will quickly stop following your business page.

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