Social media is now integrally intertwined with business. CEOs of major Calgary companies that were once comfortably ensconced in glass towers away from the hoi polloi are now finding themselves counting characters for their Tweets, “Liking” Facebook pages and posts and discovering the benefits of LinkedIn for hiring new employees.
But as easy as it is to promote your inventory’s newest arrival, announce your latest blog or alert your followers of incentives, it’s just as easy to accidentally send out misinformation, cause confusion and even offend your audience. In order to avoid potential social media embarrassment and the loss of friends and followers, there are a few simple rules you can follow.
1. Never allow yourself to argue.
It can be easy to get agitated by comments on social media – whether or not they have anything to do with you. A good guideline is to always be positive when commenting on or adding to another person’s posts. If you don’t have anything nice to say… And if you are being specifically targeted by negativity on the part of a customer, client, acquaintance, or even a former employee, don’t allow yourself to get dragged into an online tête-à-tête. Invite the aggressor by personal message to call or email you to see what you can do about fixing your relationship.
2. Always be yourself…or not.
A personal social media account is a lot different than a business one. If you are using social media on behalf of your employer, always keep it professional. Your personal opinions are meant to be expressed in your personal accounts. But never “hide” behind an account name, either. If you are Tweeting, using Facebook or searching prospects on LinkedIn as a business owner or senior management figure, it should be made clear who you are and what your position is.
3. Be diligent and discrete.
Plan ahead and think carefully before publishing anything business-related online. If you are at all unsure of the content of a social media post, ask someone else to look it over and ensure it’s appropriate. If there is even the slightest chance your words could be misconstrued, it’s probably a good idea to move on to a different concept. Discuss social media content well in advance with your colleagues, and be secure in that you are providing useful and relevant information to your audience. And never allow several people access to the same account at once. Ideally, only one person should implement your social media strategies.
4. Don’t overdo it.
Some companies seem to think that in order to perform well on social media they have to rival news agencies, celebrities and Calgary’s Mayor Nenshi for usage. Not so. In fact, often less is more. You should always have something to talk about – whether it’s a super-saver sale or tips for your clients. But take care not to fall into a social media rut. If something interesting comes up that you think others should know about, go for it! Social media users appreciate originality.
5. Fess up (and keep a thick skin)!
If you make a mistake, be honest! Apologies are pretty common on the Internet, especially when there are misunderstandings. Don’t be afraid to face the music. You may take some hits initially, but your honesty will be noted and remembered.