Social media etiquette for business is more important than it might seem at first. Just like other social etiquettes, social media etiquette for businesses can help you connect with the people you are talking to by demonstrating that you follow rules of behavior almost everyone can agree with.
Social media business etiquette has been evolving for many years. Just as ordinary people should follow posting etiquette to show respect to others in the online community, business social media etiquette is a sign that businesses value the time and attention of their audience.
This is an indispensable part of portraying a company as its branded social media account.
“Social media manners” might not seem important to some people, but they can make or break a brand. Social networking etiquette helps you avoid embarrassing mistakes that generate negative attention. This is especially crucial since mistakes may be captured by screenshot and used against you – forever.
The rules of social media are always evolving, but there are some basic rules you should never ignore. The ideas that follow are just a start. If your business will be using social media regularly, you should document social media best practices for your brand management team to follow.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the top social media etiquette tips:
1. Always Know What a Hashtag Means Before You Post
Hashtags help surface content by making it easier to search for on social media networks. Many brands have been thoroughly humiliated when they used a hashtag pertaining to domestic violence or other serious subjects to sell their products. Even if a hashtag is trending and bringing in lots of traffic, be sure you fully understand what it is about and know it is relevant to you.
2. Disengage with a Social Media User if “SILENCED”
No matter how friendly your brand behaves, not everyone wants to talk to it. The “Silence, Brand” meme has become a visual shorthand for this sentiment.
If you contact someone and they respond with this meme, or a line that carries the same meaning, disengage and move on. They have made their feelings clear, and it is only polite to respect that. Plus, you never know if they will be act belligerently toward you.
3. If You @ a User, Make Sure It Is a Positive Experience
@ (“at”) is a symbol used on most social media networks to tag an individual user, who will then get a notification. You should only use @ to create positive brand experiences. Remember, all your followers may be watching any given interaction. It is almost always okay to @ a user to express thanks or to draw your audience’s attention to something positive that person did.
4. Do Not Enter a User’s Direct Messages Unless Invited
Even if a user is following your brand, it does not mean they want to receive direct messages. Your promotions should never rely on getting people to respond to direct messages – if you need to get attention from a specific user, tag them with @ instead. Direct messaging should only be used if the individual initiates or consents – for example, when providing customer service.
5. Do Not Argue in Public
Conversely, do not get into fights or arguments with social media users in public. Always try to steer customer service topics to DM quickly so that no personal information will be publicized by accident. Sometimes, a user may have a complaint that they want to draw lots of attention to. They may not be interested in constructive discussion or resolving the problem. In cases like these, pass the matter off to your company’s outreach team. They will have additional options for giving the user an incentive to change their behavior.
6. Be Mindful of Highly Charged Subjects
When handling any type of controversy, be sure your social media is aligned with your Corporate Social Responsibility plan and brand values. Outside the clear bounds of your brand strategy, it is usually best to err on the side of caution and not get involved with disputes that could damage your brand. Always remember that you do not need to respond to every message, even when your account gets an @.
7. Monitor Your Brand Mentions So You Can Respond Proactively
There are many different ways to search for brand mentions. They may come in the form of a hashtag, an @, or an in-text mention of your brand name. Any such mention should be considered consent for you to respond, even if the person is making a complaint or a general observation. Be sure that your social media technology stack includes tools to monitor mentions for you and alert you to new ones. Some examples include Nexalogy, Mentionlytics, and more.
8. Be Polite and Respectful at All Times
Just as Ronald McDonald wouldn’t yell at a child in Playland and Mickey Mouse wouldn’t push someone out of line at the Magic Kingdom, your brand should always remain polite and respectful no matter what. Remember, a brand is not a human being – it is a character. Followers believe they have a relationship with that character, and your behavior is key to maintaining their immersion.
What does social etiquette mean? In the long run, it is a lot simpler than it looks. By being thoughtful in your social media communications, you will attract followers who care about what you have to say. That helps you get real business value from social media instead of just shouting into the void.
Be sure the social media etiquette tips above are available to everyone on your staff who will touch your social media. Make them available in your Slack, Dropbox, or right on the office wall – whatever is most convenient. Even the best etiquette rules are not worth anything unless you follow them!
The article was originally published here.