Although I primarily write about business & marketing, this post can also apply to anyone in general that’s using social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or even Linkedin. The reason why I write this is because there can be a certain amount of naivety or immaturity when it comes to social media, that people think they can (and should) bare all things online without any repercussions, especially when it comes to jeopardising their work opportunities.
The short and long of it is that you should look to maintain a professional image, without being afraid to showcase a bit of your personality too. That being said there are obviously things that we say or do behind closed doors, or with friends, that would be perfectly fine in a private setting however otherwise might be deemed as weird, unprofessional or controversial online.
The sensitivity of content like this could be magnified when coming from a business page, as opposed to being from that one person you always see complaining about everything on your Facebook feed. Over time you will come to understand the ramifications of what you say on social media.
How to conduct yourself on social media
Not only will I be explaining how to conduct yourself on social media, I’ll also be sharing helpful tips that will help you to find potential clients, and convert them into sales. This list contains an equal share of twenty do’s and don’ts of social media, all of which will help you to save yourself embarrassment, and bring in more clientele on a regular basis. Let’s get started…
Do… Optimise your profiles
The very least that you’ll want to do is to update your social media pages & accounts to give a true, professional reflection of who you are as a business or individual. Trust me when I say that I’ve turned away business because of the images or bio’s that people have featured on their accounts.
The minimum I would expect on your profile is the use of correct grammar, although I could usually care less about misspellings (to an extent), there seems to be no shortage of grammar police on the internet, so save yourself the hassle of any typo-backlash and get it right from the start.
Aside from poor choices of imagery and grammar on your profiles, you’ll want to include the use of links (to your website) whenever permitted. On platforms such as Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram, you’ll be allowed to include back-links to your company’s website which can help massively as part of a greater sales funnel.
Don’t… Lie and deceive
The biggest mistake you can make as a business online is to start lying to your followers. The efforts of trying to increase your sales, and revenues, can be increasingly frustrating at times, but you can’t let that deceive you into thinking that it’s okay to start falsifying information. No matter how small the lie may be, sooner or later they will catch up with you and bite you in the ass.
Some posts that I see from ‘entrepreneurs’ go as far as trying to scam the potential buyer into passing over their money with nothing in return – which of course is illegal. Don’t do this. If you’re telling people that they can make $1,000 in 24 hours, then I suggest you just stop.
Do… Help others selflessly
Your primary focus as a business should be to help people. If you can figure out who your ideal customers are, and what their problems might be, then you can work on providing the answers to those problems and in turn – acquiring new clients.
To do that it’s recommended that you start publishing content online with the intention of helping your followers, whether it be by sharing helpful tips, providing some morning motivation or walking them through a tutorial. Whatever you can do to help, it will always go down well.
Don’t… Be stuck on sales-mode
Following on from that last point, it’s worth reiterating the notion that you should be selfless with your content. Continuously looking to make that quick-sale will always appear sleazy and will actually hamper your chances of converting that prospect into a paying client. Think of it this way, have you ever had that person or friend that only ever talks to you when they want something? Yea, being in sales-mode is like that.
Do… Be yourself
Unless you’re a serial killer, or someone on par with one, then you shouldn’t feel afraid to show some personality in your posts. The fact that I’m referring to serial killers in a blog post is a small example of how I might do this myself. The reason being is that if you’re overly formal all the time, you might be perceived as being boring or generic. Instead you want to stand out from the rest of the pack, and the best way to do so is to just be yourself.
This point is never more true than when referring to personal brands. I myself am building my business around my own name, or at least a German-sounding version of my name. That’s why it’s important that I just be myself, because I know that people buy into other people. They like to relate to a certain individual, hence why I drop little parts about my hobbies and interests into my content, such as my love for Football, Dragon Ball Z & Attitude-Era Wrestling. Sure the majority of people might not resonate with this stuff, but it will help build a deeper connection with those that do.
Don’t… Be aggressive
Ever seen a business post that’s gone viral for all the wrong reasons? I know I have. I remember once seeing a post of a hairdresser who publicly shamed one of her clients, after they had been quite short when texting her to book in a trim. In the client’s defence they were simply asking “when are you free?” and had simply forgotten to say “Hi” or just be polite in general. The hairdresser however had screenshotted the text conversation and had outed the client as being a piece of shit, and started referring to herself as a queen, as all sane-women do.
Now, regardless of whether the client was in the wrong or not, it is completely unprofessional to lash out like that towards a paying client, even moreso on a public domain like Facebook. Aside from a few of her ‘sisters’ calling her ‘brave’ and an ‘inspiration’, it was clear to see that the majority of feedback wasn’t kind towards this hairdresser, and in fact had negatively affected her brand. So I urge you not to get into online slagging matches with clients, strangers or competitors.
Talking of competitors, I’ve heard a few ‘entrepreneurs’ mention how they like to go onto their rival’s social media pages and leave negative reviews, to help further their own business. If you’re doing this, or at least thinking of doing this, they I need to urge you to stop. Not only is it a cowardly tactic, it also shows a lack of focus. Instead of focusing on what your competitors are doing, focus on yourself.
Do… Be consistent
Nothing kills post reach and engagement like a lack of consistency. Many social media platforms, and even Google, will punish you if you fail to demonstrate that you can produce regular content for your viewers, and would be far more likely to promote the content of other people & businesses that do show consistency.
My best example of a social media account that really benefits from consistency, is my @unreal.tattoos page on Instagram. On that account I post three quality tattoos each day, and in return it pulls in between 500-1,000 new followers everyday, all without any paid advertising or sleazy marketing tactics. It’s nothing but content and hashtags.
Now I’m not suggesting that you have to post three times a day, but it would be worth posting every other day at a minimum, although daily would be better obviously. The reason for this is that often your demographic can be quite varied as to the time zones that they live in, so there may be times where they completely miss your post you shared in the morning, whereas they might catch one you posted in the afternoon.
Don’t… Sacrifice quality for quantity
Posting more regularly will help you to grow your account faster, however that won’t be the case if you’re just posting piss-poor content. Going back to an earlier point, your focus should be on helping people, so if you can consciously consider that with each post that you write (or record) then you’ll help ensure that your content is at a high-standard each time.
I myself will do plenty of research on the topics that I write about on my blog, even if it’s a subject that I’m well rehearsed in anyway, because I know that I can always improve & it’s foolish to think otherwise. That’s the mentality that you need in order to stay on top of your game, every single time you turn that computer on.
Do… Plan ahead
Something that I’ve had to learn as I’ve started to produce more content, is that it’s crucial to your productivity (and mental health) that you plan ahead. For me I tend to benefit by creating a huge list of blog post ideas, or post content, when I’m in a good mood – ready for the week or month ahead.
The alternative to this is that you instead try to come up with stuff to say, every single day, of which you then end up burning yourself out. Not to also mention that there’s going to be days where you’re busy or you just don’t feel well, which you then have no energy to think anyway.
Check out this post on how to avoid burnout in business and also how you can continuously find new blog or social media post ideas to write about.
It can be so easy to lose focus and end up in the never ending black hole that is YouTube’s recommended videos, but in order to be successful online you’ll need to ensure that you do what needs doing and then you bounce. For this you’ll need laser focus right from the moment that you open up that Facebook tab. Go in with a clear mind of what you need to do, do it and then move on to the next.
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Do… Focus on evergreen content
This is something that many digital marketers might not tell you, but I will. There are certain social media platforms that will work for your business and there are many that won’t. For the least part, not all platforms contain your ideal demographic – hence making any content that you publish on that platform next-to-pointless. Furthermore, there are social media platforms that have short expiry dates on their content, meaning that when you publish a post, it’s only seen for a day or two and then poof – it’s gone.
With that in mind, you may want to consider checking out some of the platforms that promote evergreen content. But, what is it? Evergreen content is content that can be found at any time via a search query, regardless of the date or time it was posted. Platforms that promote evergreen content include Pinterest, YouTube, Quora and Blogging. The latter would be done via a blog on your website, in which the posts are found via the keywords that are used.
This one should be obvious, but I thought it was worth noting as I didn’t want you guessing as to how often you should be posting content, which the answer is… as often as you want. When I refer to spam, I’m talking about mindlessly sending a bunch of people links and content that give them no value, and do nothing more than just annoy the hell out of them.
Instead of personally barraging people’s inboxes with useless content and links, consider posting more quality content to your feed and having people engage with your content organically. Sure if you’ve got a list of people who have mentioned that they’d like to be notified about new content, for instance those that are signed up to your newsletter, then feel free to send them your latest post – otherwise just stick to the feed.
Do… Give credit where credit is due
A problem I see at times online is that people will use content created by others – without crediting them for that work. Not only does it deceive (some of) your followers into thinking that you made that content yourself, it’s also hugely disrespectful to the person who worked hard to create it in the first place. Not to mention, it could be against copyright or trademark laws as well.
Don’t be like Jay Shetty, the motivational speaker who was shamelessly pulling quotes written by other social media users, and posting them as if they were his own, to further his business. After multiple successes, Shetty had been publicly called out on his fraudulent activity and in turn received major backlash from the community. No matter what happens now, he will forever be tainted by this incident. I repeat, don’t be like Jay Shetty.
Don’t… Be too open
There’s nothing more cringey than seeing someone divulge a bit too much information on Facebook, especially when it’s coming from a place full of emotion. That’s why you need to be a personal filter and avoid posting things without any prior thought.
I personally believe that two things in life should be kept private: your relationships and your business. In this case we’ll focus on the former as there’s been occasions where I’ve seen domestic arguments take place online, fighting over a recent breakup, which should just be kept behind closed doors. If your Facebook feed is beginning to look like an episode of the Jeremy Kyle Show, then you know you’re fallen off the path a little.
Do… Ask questions!
One way for your business to build a thriving community on social media, is to get your followers to engage with your content. Much like when you see YouTube videos asking you to subscribe to their channel, you’ll find more success when you ask your followers to interact with your post or page. Asking the community a question might get you next-to-no replies at first, and you may feel like you’re talking to a brick wall, but overtime the level of engagement on your content will grow naturally.
The questions don’t always have to be specific to your business or niche, they could even just be simple questions like “what are you up to this weekend?” or “how do you have your coffee?”. I might say it all the time, but the clue is in the name [Social Media]. You need to be social!
Don’t… Ignore comments
Now why would you ask your followers questions if you’re just going to ignore them when they respond? Huh? Shame on you. You should get in the habit of spending 30 mins to an hour a day, responding to comments that you receive on your posts. Why? Because it builds a connection with your people. Not only does it help you build a long-term business relationship with the user, it also trains them to comment on the next post, and the one after that.
When you build trust with a follower, you create a high-level of trust and respect that is essential when working on projects together, so although they might not have been keen to hire you initially, you might find that they reconsider down the line.
Do… Know when to automate (and when not to)
If you’ve read my other posts then you might know that I’m dead against using bots to further your social media growth, however there is more to automation than just using follow/unfollow strategies. When done right, automation can transcend your business to the next level, saving yourself the time and headaches.
Similar to the suggestion of planning ahead, there are tools that you can use to schedule your content for the future, which gives you the opportunity to create all of your posts in one go, and spread them out of the coming days, weeks or even months. Such examples of these tools include Buffer, Hootsuite and Socialsprout.
Although not technically automation, you can definitely benefit from outsourcing your work to trusty freelancers, and creating a virtual team for your business. This could include mundane tasks that are simply taking up too much of your time, and instead would be best suited in someone else’s hands.
Don’t… Obsess about numbers
So many people get caught up on the amount of likes, comments and followers they get, without first considering that those numbers do not correlate with sales – at all. Just because someone’s got more followers than you have, it doesn’t mean that they’ve got more clients, more money or more success. That’s why I always recommend that people ignore these vanity metrics, and instead count the amount of deep connections that they build with their followers.
Once you start treating social media as an opportunity to connect, and less like a calculator, I guarantee that you’ll begin to grow your business quicker than you would have first imagined. So, how many true connections have you made in the past week, month or year?
Do… Play the long game
Steve Jobs once said that, “If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” And he was right. A lot of people try to chase after that one viral post that’s going to transform their business, but instead they find themselves wasting endless hours perfecting something that’s just going to provide underwhelming results. Instead of looking for short-term gains, you should focus on making long-term success.
Using the information I’ve provided you in this post, you should now begin to publish quality content on a regular basis, and as such should also be looking to continuously improve ones-self with each day that goes by.
Don’t… Give up!
On a final note, I have to tell you not to give up. There are going to be times where you just don’t see any reward for your efforts, and there’ll be days where you just feel like absolute shit. It doesn’t mean that you should quit though. As already mentioned, you’re playing a long game. Building a business isn’t easy, and it’s going to test your worth along the way – but I have full confidence in you that you’re going to pass those tests.
So there you have it, a long-form explanation of your business can use social media, as to not negatively effect your business. The main points to take are that you should focus on yourself and on helping others, as opposed to focusing on your competitors and people who just like to complain. It can be very tempting to get dragged into a slagging match with some people, but at the end of the day – it’s not worth it!
Do you have any additional tips on how to small business can (and should) use social media? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.