Social media is one part cocktail party, one part conference and one part wild west.
Most importantly, it’s a communication tool like anything else.
Below are the 5 things not to do on social media for your business.
1) Don’t talk about/promote yourself all the time
Have you ever spoken to someone at a cocktail party and all they do is talk about themselves?
Did you quickly start tuning out of the conversation and scanning the room for more interesting people to talk to? Did you start thinking of excuses to end the conversation?
Contrast that to the person who asks about you, your life and your business. Someone who encourages you to talk about yourself and is genuinely interested in what you have to say.
Social media marketing is all about your customers. If you are only talking about yourself, you’re doing it wrong.
Be polite, ask questions, offer value in the form of content and links, and then sure, add a story or two about you and your life (or business). It’s just good etiquette.
2) Don’t use too many hashtags
Hashtags have a functional purpose: to help people find conversations about one specific topic or idea. To see an example, click the following hashtag to see a Twitter conversation on #smallbusiness.
They can also be funny or add subtext to your social media posts. #hashtagsarentsobad
Too many hashtags can seem desperate. It is akin to the person at the aforementioned cocktail party who wears too much makeup and perfume to try to grab anyone‘s attention. Stick to one or two focused hashtags.
In a business social media setting, it’s best to use your hashtags to either add to a conversation and be discovered by people with that same interest, or do add humour or subtext to your posts.
Overdo it, and you risk looking like a sleazy salesperson with the air of desperation around you.
3) Don’t use non-humanlike automation tools
Automation, in small and strategic quantities, can be a powerful tool for your business. Things like IFTTT, Buffer and Hootsuite can make your work a lot easier. They help you do tasks you were going to do anyway.
When you start using tools that automatically favourite any tweet with a certain hashtag, or auto-follows then un-follows people who don’t follow back, you immediately cheapen your brand experience.
4) Don’t be negative or engage with trolls
Social media is a public platform. It’s not professional in any business setting to engage in arguments, confrontations or negativity.
Do your best to guide negative commenters to a private forum, such as emailing or direct messaging you to discuss their concerns.
Do not stoop to the level of your trolls and maintain a high ground when communicating with them (if at all).
5) Don’t buy followers
For many small businesses, it can be tempting to buy followers in order to seem more established.
It goes back to my point about social proof. Sure, it looks great to have 10,000 followers. But what if people discover your followers are fake? How will that impact their trust in your business?
It doesn’t add any credibility to have a ton of fake or untargeted followers, nor does it do anything to help your business.
Focus on doing the work and building your follower base organically. It will pay off in the long run.