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What Southern Manners Can Teach You About Growing Your Business on Social Media

Let’s face it. With the economy in the state it is, the ever changing landscape of marketing, and the rising wave of entrepreneurs, the old guard rules to starting and successfully running a business have drastically changed. Social media is playing a role in shaping the changing tactics and processes of how we all do business on a daily basis. There is no cut and dry method to ‘making it work’.

After years of working as an in-house marketer and public relations manager for a number of companies I decided to take my knowledge and the few freelance clients I had and start my own business. As any entrepreneur will tell you, it ain’t always easy. I have picked up a few tricks of the trade along the way however that have helped me build a thriving business of which I am very proud. 

What’s more, I’ve managed to do it all through word of mouth/word of mouse marketing. How’d I do it? I listened to my good Southern mother and grandmothers and applied their time-honored manners to my business model. Here’s your 5 step cheat sheet of good Southern manners for business.

1) Don’t forget to write Thank You cards

When I was little I was taught the proper etiquette of writing Thank You cards. People just want to be validated for their efforts. If I have a client who recommended me to someone, I send them a thank you card (yes, an actual snail mail thank you) AND make sure I mention them in a tweet or Facebook post that helps boost their business’s profile as well. Social media Thank Yous can get you pretty far. I’ve booked two new clients from them seeing my Thank Yous to others. 

2) RSVPing is mandatory 

In the South if you receive a formal invitation requesting you RSVP with your intention to attend or with your regrets NOTHING is ruder than ignoring that request. My great grandmother once scolded me for failing to do so to a family function. “If you don’t acknowledge an invitation, whether you plan to attend or not, people will eventually stop inviting you,” she’d say. Boy was she right.

Facebook and Twitter event invitations are easy to send and therefore it seems like you can sometimes be inundated with requests to attend networking functions, parties and meetings. Even if you cannot attend it’s important to send your regrets. Post a comment on the Facebook invite wall that you will make the next one. Send a regrets tweet. Make yourself heard. Expressing your gratitude for being invited, even if you can’t attend, keeps you fresh in that host’s mind. With any luck, they’ll come back to you later.  

3) First impressions are everything

We all know the joke about Southern women being afraid to leave the house without make-up on. I’m here to tell you it’s still a prevalent philosophy of many a Southern belle, including myself. As my mother once explained it to me “I feel better when I look better. I’m ready for the day and for anything that comes my way.”   

Social media allows for us all to be introduced without actually meeting in person. Between your website, LinkedIn account, Twitter profile and Facebook page, you and your company are being examined and judged at all times, by everyone. As a social media manager for a number of clients, I am constantly evaluating my online appearance. I wouldn’t want to be caught recommending certain practices to clients that I’m not visibly doing myself. Making sure your online persona is presentable is essential to doing business in today’s marketplace.

4) Mind your Ps and Qs

Just because you’re limited to 140 characters in your tweets does not mean that proper grammar, punctuation and spelling go out the window. Sure, abbreviations for texting and tweeting have become standard practice nowadays. That does not however excuse messages such as this monstrosity -  “hey there wut u up to this sat I have some ideas want to run by u” 

This is simply not business appropriate. 140 characters or not, if you can’t take the time to properly craft a message to a client or business partner you’ll find they’ll be hard pressed to take the time to work with you. Proper grammar and punctuation shows the recipient you respect them as an intelligent and formidable business venture. The lackthereof just showcases your laziness. 

5) Everyone is deserving of being your friend

Social media is about people. While Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Pinterest can be useful for B2B and B2C communications, at the end of the day it’s more about P2P, - People to People – relations. I do the bulk of my initial outreach for all my business ventures through Twitter and when I do I don’t send potential clients and business partners a stuffy, boring tweet.

 As my mother says, be nice to everyone as if you’re already their friend. My tweets start off with “Hi hon!”, “Hiya love!”, and “Morning sir!”. Familiar it may be, but social media is not meant to be corporate sounding. Have fun with it!


Join The Conversation

  • Dominique Ellis's picture
    Apr 11 Posted 5 years ago Dominique Ellis

    Hi Tressa!

    Thanks for the feedback. I see your point on proceeding with familiarity cautiously. I tend to only do so after contact has been established and made a few times. As any good Southerner knows, the ability to "read a room" can not be undervalued. 

    Thanks for reading! It is much appreciated. 



  • tressalynne's picture
    Apr 10 Posted 5 years ago tressalynne

    Great post, Dominique! I recently spoke at a regional PRSSA conference (hosted by Belmont University in Nashville) where the theme was "Southern Hospitality" - I talked about traditional and social media relations and gave some tips on how to blend those southern manners. I think all your tips are good ones. The only one I hesitate on is #5. While I agree that social media isn't intended to be 'corp speak,' I'd say to proceed with assumed familiarity cautiously. Not everyone appreciates this southern presumption ;).  

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