There is no escaping social media. There are over 150 active social media sites and over 3-billion people who use social media daily. Whether you’re an avid user of the plethora of applications available or just “don’t get it”, social media is here to stay. The hundreds of social media apps available mean there is a variety of apps to appeal to every taste, preference, industry, style and so much more. What started out as platforms for personal use has evolved into millions of companies relying on social media as a digital marketing tool. Like many things, there are rules on how to use and navigate apps. We’re breaking down social media etiquette and looking at the unspoken social media rules for business.
What Is Social Media?
“Social media” is the collective term used to speak about interactive technologies that drive communication, the sharing of information, ideas, common interests, thoughts, and expression across and through virtual networks. These platforms allow users to create web content and share it with others.
Types Of Social Media Platforms
There are many types of social media like blogs, instant messaging platforms, social networking sites, podcasts, photo-based sharing platforms, video sharing sites and so much more. Often, when you think of social media, the first thought is the social networking sites, but there are more types, each serving a specific function.
Social Media Networks
LinkedIn (primarily for business), Facebook, Twitter, are some of the more popular sites. These all encourage connections, sharing thoughts, ideas, and knowledge with friends, family, and acquaintances. You can create groups within these, have discussions, market your business and through advertising, allow businesses to enlarge their audience reach and discover key metrics through research that allows you to know your customers and cater to their needs.
You can have a conversation anywhere, but forums like Reddit and Quora service a different niche of communication. These discussion sites spark conversations where people can ask questions and attract people with like-minded curiosities within their sub-communities. For a business owner, you can set yourself up as an industry thought-leader by answering questions and use this to drive that audience to your business website.
Sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, HelloPeter are examples of consumer review sites. These allow potential customers to review the experiences of other customers and let them know if that product, place, or service is worth the buy. Businesses can use these to track their customer sentiment, solve problems and improve customer experiences.
Media Sharing Networks
Ever heard the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words”? Snapchat and Instagram are popular examples of these image sharing platforms. Businesses curate content that will attract audiences and customers and use this to sell your product. Through these, businesses can grow their audience organically using inspired content and engage their users, be it with the lifestyle, product offerings or other services shared on the page.
Video Hosting Sites
YouTube has changed the way we think about and consume video content. Where previously, video was limited to skilled professionals, today, anyone can become a ‘YouTuber’. Vimeo is another example of a video hosting site and businesses can optimise these to stream phenomenal business content in a way that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg like you would pay in television advertising.
This list is by no means exhaustive as there are also blogs, bookmarking sites (Pinterest), new platforms like TikTok that businesses are optimising, and sharing economy sites like AirBnB that allow you to share and grow your business.
It’s easy to get lost in the world of social media and try to have accounts for each one. However, this is not always practical, necessary, or beneficial for your business. As a business owner, you need to know which platforms are best suited for your business and will help you achieve your social media marketing strategy goals and objectives.
Without a clear strategy, you can get caught up in the virtual world and end up performing cardinal sins which can be detrimental to your digital reputation.
What Is Social Media Etiquette?
Social media etiquette refers to the set of guidelines that individuals and organisations adhere to maintain their online reputation. In the same way there are rules about which fork to use for dinner, social media etiquette has rules about which platform to use and the best way to do so. This speaks to the often-unspoken set of rulers that govern online behaviour, that is, how we say and do to remain respectful and respectful with fellow users. Being on your best behaviour as a business is as important as maintaining personal etiquette on social media.
Social Media For Business
Should your business be on social media? What should you post, or not post? When should you post it? When should I like, share, or retweet a post? Which platform is best for my business?
Government institutions and businesses, social media plays a key role in communication and keeping their audiences informed about what they’re doing, how they’re doing it and when. Social media allows businesses to achieve four key goals:
- Brings new customers to your business
- Helps you discover new ideas and trends that can grow your business
- Connects you with your existing customers in more meaningful ways
- Enhances your brand
Social Media Etiquette Business Do’s And Don’ts
Whatever you post on the internet will live forever – even if you delete it. In a split second, someone will have seen and “screen grabbed” what was shared and will, despite your best intentions, go on to share that with the rest of the world. If it was negative, it could have a disastrous effect on your business. Therefore, knowing and following social media etiquette will be your company’s saving grace.
- Separate your personal and business accounts. You don’t want to accidentally share memes on your business account that should be from your personal page.
- Fact check. Before posting, be sure of the facts. You don’t want to go viral for sharing fake news as a reputable business.
- Create content suitable for each platform. Research, know and understand which platforms are best fit for your business and tailor all your content for the specific platform and audience. Also learn content management strategies that will help align your business to the platform.
- Have a human touch. There are several social media management tools to help business plan calendars, manage work flows and conversations, measure ROI and get user insights. It’s created to automate some posts, but always leave room for the human touch and live responses and engagements.
- Have a social media guide and policy. This empowers your employees in knowing what to share, online safety, being your business representative, compliance, and best practices for each platform.
- Don’t engage with trolls. These users live to get reactions and a rise out of others. Don’t take the bait and get drawn into a twar (Twitter war).
- Don’t overshare. Too many shares and updates will clog your audience’s timeline. If what you share is irrelevant to your business, you run the risk of losing customers and followers.
- Don’t “overpromote”. Find a healthy balance between organic posts and paid posts across all your platforms.
- Don’t complain, be negative or abuse hashtags (#). These online behaviours won’t endear your audience to further engage with your account or your business. Instead, adopt a positive response and reactions to criticism, post positive news and content and be moderate in your hashtag use.
These are just some of the practices to adopt to ensure you post on the right side of the constantly changing social media landscape.
If the past 10 years is anything to go by, we can be certain that the social media landscape and how we communicate with each other will continue to evolve. You need to keep up with the transformation and adopt social media etiquette practices for your business. Remember, just because you can say it, it doesn’t mean you should.