As I stated in Part I, by now you’ve probably heard plenty of social media “best practices.” As promised, here are ten practices, or online behaviors, to avoid in social media:

1. Don’t intrude

  • By and large consumers are straying from reliance upon traditional marketing and advertising tactics. They value excellent content from organizations and testimonials from satisfied customers, rather than in-your-face advertising and product pushing. It’s ok to reach out and introduce yourself, but don’t be a pest.

2. Don’t use too many big words

  • Eloquence is important, but clear communication is most important. Make sure your writing is polished, but simple enough for the average reader to grasp and comprehend. Talk (write) like a human.

3. Don’t just write for writing’s sake

  • What are you trying to achieve with what you are writing online? Make sure all of the content you post online supports your goals and assists in the growth of your business.

4. Don’t limit yourself to text

  • Our culture is image-driven. Many people in your audience don’t particularly enjoy reading, and it is important to accommodate to them. If your only (or even primary) means of communication is the written word, you will not reach a large percentage of prospective customers. Publish with variety: consider incorporating video, audio, photos, funny comic strips, infographics, etc.

5. Don’t ignore questions

  • Although a social media platform like Facebook or Twitter is not a customer service center, customers will post questions and even complaints on your page. Don’t ignore them; promptly and kindly address any customer issue that may arise.

6. Don’t purchase “followers”

  • You may have received a proposition to pay for followers on Twitter or “likes” on Facebook. The pitch usually goes like this: “Pay [X amount of dollars] and get 1,000 unique followers!” Don’t do it. Basically, what you’d be paying for is 1,000 fake accounts created by some person in a foreign country who knows nothing about you or your business. Quality conversation and interaction is much more valuable than quantity of followers – especially if most of those followers are decoys.

7. Don’t SHOUT LOUDER!!! to get attention

  • You have an important announcement or promotion and want to make sure that word gets out. As tempting as it may be, refrain from using all caps and an excessive amount of exclamation points.

8. Don’t merely push your product or service

  • It’s good to blog, post and tweet about your product or service, and promotions are fair game in social media. Just be sure that you are not merely producing content you think your audience needs, but – most importantly – discovering and producing the type of content your audience wants.

9. Don’t talk without actively listening

  • If you’re not exactly sure what kind of content your audience wants from you, take some time to “listen” to what is out there. Browse the pages of other organizations in the social space, see what is working for them and do something similar, but in your own, unique way.

10. Avoid dishonesty

  • In every piece of content you post and in every conversation you have online, make sure that you are being 100% honest about what you are saying and promoting. It would be much worse to be caught in a lie – even a little white one – than to tell the absolute truth and not profit from it.

Just be yourself. Be authentic. Be as kind and courteous as you are in person, and you will do social media well.

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