From keyboard warriors to trolls on a mission, customers with an axe to grind and harmless comments that actually do offend, how do you navigate the murky, ever-changing world of social media whilst maintaining your dignity, but more importantly your professionalism and business ethic? How you behave on social media is a reflection of your business, brand and ethics. Perhaps you need to polish up on your social media etiquette?

We talk about setting a tone, managing and replying to comments and an online conflict management…

Social media for business is very different to using social media personally, and while some believe there is no difference, I’m here to tell you otherwise. They way you interact with friends and family on social media is not how you ideally want to be interacting with your customers. Yes, sometimes your customers are people you know but even still it’s important to differentiate between the two and always, always maintain that level of professionalism.

You see, etiquette on social media goes far beyond being polite. It is a web of crisis planning, interaction, setting a tone and keeping it consistent across all platforms.

It is a web of crisis planning, interaction, setting a tone and keeping it consistent across all platforms. And remaining authentic, genuine and transparent in the process. While each platform is unique in nature and purpose, the underlying essence is the same.

Yes, it sounds like juggling multiple balls in the air but really it comes down to one important element — your tribe. That’s right. Your people. Community. Fans. Customers. Supporters. Whatever it is you call them, your tribe is who matters when it comes to etiquette and the way you as a business interact on social media.

Anything you post on any platform — be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest etc — should be relevant to them. After all, these are the people you are trying to connect with in your business.

Are you still with me?

☕ Be Social

Social media is all about being social, right? So it’s easy to identify this as being a key element of your social media presence. It’s not a time to be shy or play coy. But rather, embracing who you are as a business, entrepreneur AND most importantly, person. And then sharing this all with your tribe who are you and engage with them. You don’t have to air your dirty laundry for the world to see; be dignified in the content you choose to make public. Because once you hit Publish, it’s out there and you can’t ever take it back. No matter how many times you hit Delete.

Nobody likes to wait around waiting for something to happen either. You wouldn’t appreciate a sales clerk telling you to come back in 48 hours when you call to ask if a product is in stock, so why would you expect the same of your customers? If you receive a comment or message at 9pm, by all means, it can wait until 9am the following day because it’s also about setting boundaries. But taking a week to reply to a comment that might only take you two minutes to acknowledge is not on. It’s totally uncool and gives the impression that you don’t value your business or your customers. So what’s the balance and how do you set those boundaries.

Answer?

✨  Reply within 24-48 hours of receiving a comment and/or messages. No one (except insomniacs) expects you to be on social media at all hours of the night, so stop replying to those late night messages and early morning questions.Set a daily recurring appointment in your calendar dedicated to replying to messages and comments on all your social media platforms. It might be ideal to set two different times each day.

Set a daily recurring appointment in your calendar dedicated to replying to messages and comments on all your social media platforms. It might be ideal to set two different times each day.

Make your “social media business hours” visible on your platforms. Pin a post to the top of your Facebook page, add them to your Instagram bio or create a cover photo for Twitter/Facebook.

Always say thank you and acknowledge the person’s question/enquiry/feedback. Good or bad. Always try for a personalised response by addressing their initial comment/message and expressing an appreciation for their business. People just want to be heard.

⚠️  Don’t feed the wildlife

‘Don’t feed the Trolls’ is often a misnomer. How you set your initial message and consequential comments will set the tone for how people will interact with your business in the digital sphere. I can think of so many examples where, when faced with a barrage of negative comments, a business refutes by closing down its comments and either deletes or just hides all negative commentary. Sometimes this is the only appropriate response to putting out a fire, but for the most part, people just want to be acknowledged. Be polite, be empathetic and most importantly don’t argue. The old epithet ‘treat people how you wish to be treated’ rings true for businesses on social media too.

Copycat, dirty rat…

Plagiarism is rife on social media. Those wonderful people who create content we want to share, don’t like finding their work uncredited. So credit them and tag them if you know their handles (@). You’ll be hard pressed to find an original, unique idea out there but when you do credit the talented, creative, amazing, incredible person who came up with it.

If you attribute the author/photographer/creator/influencer, it has a flow on effect and consequently helps you increase your reach to include their customers, which is good for you and them.

Send love to anyone whose content you use, or plan to use. By sending love I mean comment. Tell them their work is great in the comments or via a private message (PM). Be active in their community and they’ll likely return the favour too. Communicating with those whose content you share is the best kind of social media karma…

Crediting someone doesn’t have to be boring. Use emojis, symbols or play with uppercase letters…

Written in collaboration by Jessica Schumann (Rambling Ranga) and Emily Clarke (social media intern). 

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