Social media engagement is something that many small businesses new to social media marketing get badly wrong. As a result you can alienate the very people you want to attract and could end up doing serious damage to your online reputation.
Follow the 10 golden rules of social media engagement to avoid common pitfalls that await social media newbies (and sometimes veterans as well!)
1. Social media engagement is all about a two way communication and just as in the real world, the more you show a genuine interest in what others have to say, the more receptive they will be to your messages. So the first and most important of the golden rules is to remember that you have 2 ears, but only one mouth and listen before you engage.
2. No one likes fakes and phonies and if you pretend to be something you're not, people will spot it a mile away. So be authentic, honest and transparent in all your social media interactions, open the kimono a little to show people you are a real human being and above all, find your own voice.
3. Be consistent about the information in your profile and the content you share. People only do business with other people they know, like and trust so if you appear slippery you are likely to have them running for the hills!
4. Applaud and share the good work of others – social media is not a platform for just talking about you and you really don't want to be the bore who pins his victims to the wall at parties.
5. Disclose any interests including your company info in your bio and make it clear if you are an affiliate or promoting on behalf of a client. This will help to build trust.
6. Don’t share confidential information. It undermines your integrity and could land you in legal hot water.
7. Don’t criticise your company, clients, colleagues or competitors - no-one likes someone who bad-mouths others and it's unprofessional.
8. Don’t misrepresent yourself or your company – be accurate and honest. It's easy to be caught out by even small white lies and will cause lasting damage to your online reputation.
9. Don’t use social media to just to push your sales message. That's the fastest way to have your followers and fans deserting you in droves. Instead try to offer useful information and resources and interesting insights and comments. People will be more receptive to your promotional messages if they are less frequent and you've earned some respect by giving genuine value.
10. Lighten up! Social media is social so it’s OK and even expected that the tone of your interactions will be different from normal business communications. A little light hearted fun goes a long way in social media engagement.