Etiquette may seem a tad old-fashioned, but it's never been more important now people are allowing big brands directly into their homes and lives via social media.
Whether you look after an official brand social media account or use a personal account to broadcast professional information, it's important to get it right. Execute it correctly and people will support you and your brand and share their love with others. Get it wrong and it could have a detrimental effect.
However, it's super important to have a presence. CEOs who are active on social media, for example, are graded more highly on leadership attributes than those who don't have a presence. They are seen as being good communicators, accessible, inspiring and technologically savvy.
Here are seven rules to ensure you're not 'that guy' on social media.
There's a fine line between sharing the odd personal insight and revealing #TMI (that's too much information for the uninitiated!). Show character or offer a point of view, however, sharing anything too specific and personal is a no-no and also pretty boring for the majority of people who are following you. We all know that person who posts pictures of their lunch every day - #Fail.
Think of the bigger story that you and your brand represents. For example, that same lunch repeat offender could be representing a brand who believes in local trade and supporting the surrounding community. That same lunch post could then highlight a fabulous new baker who supplies the bread from a café, which sells Fairtrade produce.
Use hashtags wisely
Hijacking hashtags - using a hashtag that is trending or very popular - is frowned upon on Twitter and has resulted in a lot of bad press for organisations in the past when the 'rules of Twitter' were still being defined. Furniture brand, Habitat, learnt the hard way, using trending hashtags such as #Iran. When they are relevant, use them, otherwise steer clear or better still, create your own!
Don't be a robot
Automation is a wonderful thing. The right software can help you manage and analyse your social presence, allowing you to post 24/7 and can help you find conversations to listen to. However, know when to use the tool and when to step away.
Social media may exist due to advances in technology but it has only become the phenomenon it has because of people wanting to make connections with others. Make real-time connections whenever you can and use the tools when you really cannot be there to hit the send button. Even one of the biggest social networks in the world can't get this right all the time. Twitter were recently voted 8th of the nation's least empathetic brands due to its "boring, repetitive and robotic" tweeted responses.
Quality - not quantity
You may have read various studies that say you need to post several times a day to increase engagement but the truth is if your updates aren't of a high quality, they'll just be ignored. It's a competitive market. 500 million tweets are sent each day, while approximately 70 million photos are shared on Instagram daily, so your post really needs to stand out. Put thought into everything you post and double check it for simple things like spelling mistakes.
Don't make it a one way street
It's fairly easy to update your social media profiles. However, being a social media guru requires more than a few characters and hitting the submit button. It's a conversation, so people will get bored if it's all about you or if your only activity is to retweet or like a post. Engage with your community. Ask questions and respond to questions directed at you in a timely manner - 38% of people feel negatively about a brand if they don't get a Twitter response quickly.
Talk first, sell later
While it may be a professional account, it doesn't mean you have to constantly promote the business you are involved in. Most people on social media are savvy to promotional tweets and have a fairly low tolerance. Instead, they want you to reward their follow with insights into your business, including sneak previews of new products or services. You're an expert in your field, a valuable commodity- share this knowledge as it will be something those following you will really appreciate.
Ensure you're speaking the right language
You can post exactly the same thing on all social media networks, right? Wrong! While it's slightly more time consuming, it's important to ensure you adapt your posts to each network. That 140 character tweet using acronyms and hashtags won't cut it on the very professional LinkedIn, while the more formal language appropriate there would sound a little Downton Abbey on Facebook.
Think about what the big story is that you want to tell on social media - keep this in mind with everything you post.
Understand your social media network. What works on Twitter doesn't work on Facebook.
Share your knowledge. It will make your followers feel valued.
Ensure your posts have personality, but know what the limits are and don't overstep these.
Ready to lead your organization in becoming a socially enabled enterprise? Discover 'The Six Stages of Social Business Maturity' in the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Social Marketing