Social Media can help grow your business

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by Jeremy Willinger for www.etiquetteoutreach.com

While designing and launching an effective social media platform is an exciting venture for any business, it should be approached cautiously, mindful of the rules of social media etiquette. Such awareness can actually help define your brand online, while also increasing the business’s bottom line.

In presenting a brand’s online identity, businesses have to relinquish a certain measure of control over how content can be accessed and reviewed, but the business should control the conversation. This oversight should stay within the realm of established business etiquette (such as keeping language inoffensive), and conform to the laws of social media etiquette, as in avoiding over-posting.

The script should stay true to the values the company was founded on. Business etiquette for social media extends far beyond tasteful, non-risqué profile pictures to the more subtle imperative of preserving the authenticity that customers expect. Online buzz is generated when people feel that the company is being true to its established brand identity — or serious about a recent reinvention.

It is important to launch your social media website with content that is currently available. Videos, photos, events, and other material should be available for users and soon-to-be group members, fans, etc. One tip is that you do not have to accept every friend request if you decide not to. When navigating social media sites, be careful to research any preexisting groups that promote/discuss your business. If yours is a popular company, many times existing fans will take it upon themselves to create a page on Facebook. Conversely, if someone has an unfavorable view of your business, they might create a fake Twitter feed, or one with an unkind title. In this situation, a kind note to the group or page administrators or Twitter users asking them to put up a disclaimer indicating that this isn’t the official page is proper business etiquette.

Social media is not a passive environment. Once your company is established in socialmedia, it must stay in contact with those who have aligned themselves with your business. Proper social media etiquette for contacting people is much like the rules for personal emailing: Try not to bombard, think before sending or posting, and realize the value of time. Do followers need company tweets every 10 minutes? Only if it is the greatest product launch in the history of the company, and even then tweets should be spaced out appropriately.

One benefit of social media is its constant access to customers. This is both a blessing and a curse, because with the ability to inform fans, followers, and friends of new developments and content, these same individuals expect a shortened response time to their queries and complaints. Proper social media etiquette is to respond to any inquiry in a very timely fashion. Many times, people who hear back from a company soon after tweeting a complaint will document their positive experience with that business. This makes social media etiquette a great tool for establishing positive brand association.

This positivity should also inform the tone a business takes in the social media sphere. Brands should convey an attitude frequently assumed in many social and business settings: solicitous and engaging. When users post comments, cast disgruntled votes, or make public their displeasure, good social media etiquette honors all input to smooth feathers and obviate potential problems. Businesses must also consider that what they say is in the public domain: when responding to a posting on your company Facebook wall, to a Twitter follower, or to a LinkedIn message, for example, know that everyone will see it and that it can be reposted other places without a business being aware.

For any service or product, social media is an arena that can pay off when used correctly. In many ways, when a person engages a company, organization, or individual through Facebook (et al), they are already loyal — the job of the business is to enhance that relationship. This relationship must stay professional, even in the world of social media.

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