Social Media Marketing is an incredibly powerful tool for small business, especially if you don’t have the budget to compete for airtime with traditional media. But to make it work effectively, you need to ensure you come across with a voice of authority by building your credibility or online presence. Creating a website, social media platforms and an online network of followers takes time, patience and a lot of work. Like the offline world, there are also rules that you should note before venturing out. But with a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-the-job-done attitude, the payoff can be rewarding! Here are my

10 Social Media Do’s and Don’ts for Small Business:

  1. Do – set up your accounts completely. The first thing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or LinkedIn asks is for some key information, so people can get to know you a little better. Remember, social media is just that, SOCIAL. People want to meet YOU. Make sure you add your photo, location, contact information, including your other social platforms and of course, your website, and a little bit about yourself in addition to all the wonderful things your business does. The more information you provide, the easier it will be for someone to connect with you and bring business your way.
  2. Do – brand yourself across all platforms. When engaging on social media you want people to recognize you quickly. One way to do this is to ensure your “look” or brand is consistent on all the platforms. Ensure your photo, logo, tagline, title and contact links are the same on all your accounts.
  3. Do – engage. After all, social media is about joining the conversation. If your post receives a comment, send a reply back. If you think one of your followers wrote an excellent article, tell them so. And make it personal. People what to know what you think, so don’t use corporate jargon. This also applies if the conversation doesn’t go in your favour. If a customer has something negative to say about your product, move the conversation to private messaging or offline, but not before you acknowledge receipt of their comment. Your other customers will be monitoring how you handle things when the situation gets prickly.
  4. Do – schedule your posts. If you’re not careful, you may find social media marketing eating up huge portions of your day, to the detriment of your business. Like any meeting, schedule your time dedicated to social media. It’s an effective way of getting your message out there. There are several programs available that allow you to schedule your posts throughout the day including Sprout Social, HootSuite, Buffer and TweetDeck. But also note that part of social media is to engage in the moment, so ensure some of your posts are “live.”
  5. Do – think strategically about your messaging. Who is your audience? What are you trying to achieve? Direct your message to the medium where you will reach your audience most effectively and note what time of day is the best time to reach them.
  6. Do – read, read, and read some more. Twitter, Facebook, newspapers, blogs, websites, etc. Read up on today’s latest trends. Monitor tech pages and blogs. Stay on top of what’s out there. If there is something you find particularly interesting, retweet or like the message. It’s all about conversation. Retweet the good stories and converse with your followers and those you are following.
  7. Do – cross platforms and tag. If you write a great article on your blog, tell people about it on the other social media platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook. Involved with a great social group on Facebook? Tell your other followers about it, and they may just join in the conversation. Use hashtags to enable your posts to be found more easily when people search using keywords.

Most of the don’ts on social media reflect the don’ts of social behaviour in the outside world. What is not acceptable offline is not acceptable online. Use your common sense before adding anything to your platforms.

  1. Don’t – spread yourself too thin. Direct your message to the platform where you will reach your audience most effectively. Don’t feel you have to cover all social media platforms. Many businesses find there are one or two accounts where they reach their clients most effectively. For most small businesses it is Facebook and Instagram. If that’s the case in your market, focus your attention there.
  2. Don’t – do something foolish that you’ll regret later. It is now standard practice for prospects to Google your name online. Is that frat party photo still there? Did you rant about a colleague to others on your Facebook page? Whether personal or business, think twice before you post.
  3. Don’t – use vulgar language. Use standard business practices when writing a post. You may not be face-to-face with someone as you write, but you should assume you are. Use of profane language is not acceptable. If you have a rant, be very careful before you hit the ‘send’ button. You may regret your words down the road.

Finally, do what works for you, your business and your audience. Watch how others use social media, but do what makes you comfortable. Your personality will likely shine through when you do! While social media is a great means of communication, remember to network offline as well. Face-to-face meetings are still key to your business success.

Do you have other do’s and don’ts? I love to hear about them. Add a comment below.

I’m Diana Cape, and I’ve been writing for businesses large and small for over 25 years. I specialize in creating content for websites, social media, blogs and traditional marketing material for Canadian small businesses. Let me help you choose the content that will reassure your prospects that your industry know-how and skills will make their dream a reality.

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