Dos And Don’ts Of Social Media For Businesses

StrattonHaving a strong, positive online presence is essential for business success. But what you put “out there” in the big, wide world of social media needs to be as carefully done as any other promotional avenue. Social media can be great for business – as long as the message is thoughtfully crafted and targeted to the proper audience.

Here are a few of the top rules to remember when using social media channels:

Avoid “I” statements. Unless you are the sole member of your business, speak in the third person (they) or second person (we) when posting online. An example of this would be a business page Facebook post announcing a new employee recently added to the team – “We are proud to announce Jane Doe as our new sales associate! Welcome aboard!” Substitute your business name for the “We are…” portion. This same rule applies to responding to comments on business pages. Always respond with “we”; never respond with “I,” “me,” or “my.”

Follower quality is more important than quantity. It is better to have 100 followers who found your business on Facebook out of genuine interest and patronage, than to have 1,000 followers who “liked” your business page because they were called on to do so. Posting a status such as, “Help us reach 2,000 fans by Monday!” will only bring quantity. It is very likely that the people cultivated using this method will not look at, nor be active on, your page after this “call to action.” A strong social media following will grow from positive word of mouth at your storefront and from customer referrals.

It’s not all about you. Business pages are most successful when they are used as a community hub for information, rather than as a soapbox to promote your business. Three well-spaced posts throughout the day are more than sufficient to give online presence. No one wants a newsfeed that is clogged with business ads and promotions. Use a 1:2 ratio when posting status updates. This means post one status update about your business for every two updates you post that are of other subject matter. Letting followers know about upcoming community events, contests, “fun facts,” or polls are great for bringing online traffic to your page. Don’t forget to utilize photos every now and again so that your page is not visually bogged down and text heavy.

Actively participate with Facebook fans. Nothing is more satisfying to a page follower than to receive recognition by the business whose page they are following. When fans leave comments or questions on a status update, thank them (tag them!) and then answer the question or comment back. Show some love to fans that post positive reviews and photos or videos of your business by clicking the “like” button.

Address complaints in a timely fashion. When addressing a person who has posted a complaint or a negative review, handle your business’ response quickly and professionally. Thank them for taking the time to contact you, apologize, and redirect them to a private message with your business to discuss the complaint further. Positive handling of these situations when posted publicly on your page show other followers that you are prompt, courteous and more than willing to address the situation.

As an added bonus to doing your own social media marketing, Facebook allows businesses to geo-target their statuses by selecting gender, age, location, and interests when “promoting” posts. Statistics are also provided under the “Insights” tab, which delivers helpful graphs tracking page activity. No matter which way you look at it, social media marketing allows businesses to generate traffic, customers, and referrals in a cost effective manner. Making sure that you are handling your business page in the most efficient ways will guarantee a win-win marketing scenario.

Marsha Stratton is the owner of Idea Stream in downtown Traverse City, a full service marketing firm that specializes in marketing, website design, public relations and media strategy.