Whether you like social media or it makes you cringe, it’s not going anywhere. In fact, participation on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram has done nothing but increase.
And it’s not a select portion of the population who’s getting on board. (Sorry x-geners, social media isn’t a millennial trend.) The digital presence of real-life people — aka your potential clients — spans all ages, locations, genders, beliefs, and ethnicities.
But that doesn’t mean that you should take to the digital streets to rant about anything and everything that comes to mind. In fact, ranting on platforms like Twitter can have severe consequences for you personally and professionally.
Rather, you want to make sure you’re using social media responsibly. Because at its best, social media is a way for you to strengthen relationships, attract leads, and market your business. But at its worst, social media can alienate potential customers and cost you business. Use the following tips to help you and your business stay on track with your social media presence.
9 Tips to Help You Use Social Media Responsibly
1. Friend Your Parents (and Your Grandparents)
Mom and dad (and grandma and grandpa) are probably the last people you want to share sexy selfies and angry rants with. Which is exactly why you should be friends with them on all your social platforms. It gives you an increased level of accountability.
A good rule of thumb when it comes to social media is that if you don’t want your parents reading your post, you shouldn’t be sharing it.
Even when your profile is set to private, it’s important to remember your privacy can be breached. Your content can still be shared. And the content you thought was for ‘select eyes only’ can be blasted to the world at large.
2. Remember the Internet Never Forgets
Even deleted social posts live on, stored in gigantic backup servers you’ll never be able to breach. Which means when it comes to the internet, there are no take-backs. Whatever you publish will be out there, ready to be drummed up at a moment’s notice. So before you publish ask yourself, "Is it something I want to stick with me forever?"
3. Give Your Emotions a Moment
It’s easy to see an inflammatory comment or a post you vehemently disagree with and have more than a little something to say. When you find yourself ready to respond in anger, step away from your device. Let your emotions simmer down and carefully consider what you want to accomplish by responding and how to achieve it.
Whether you’re using social media personally or professionally, how you respond ultimately reflects on your business. Heated responses generally exasperate whatever issue you’re facing. It’s better to mitigate issues and take the conversation outside of the public eye as quickly as possible.
Everything you post online is a reflection of you and your business. And while spelling errors are unlikely to be career-ending — they can make you feel pretty foolish.
Luckily, one of the upsides of modern technology is how easy-to-use and good spell-check has become. Even just running your post through Microsoft Word’s spell checker can help you catch a majority of mistakes.
More advanced spell-checkers, like Grammarly, are even better. And depending on your resources, you might also consider having an editor review your posts before you publish.
Bonus Spell-Check Tip Let your post sit for a few minutes. While it can be hard to catch your own mistakes, even just a five-minute breather from your work can do wonders for helping you identify errors.
5. Get Clear About Your Goals
No matter how you slice it, social media can become an addictive time suck. It’s easy to get “lost in the scroll” — which isn’t good for your business or your health.
One of the best ways to avoid getting caught up in a social media black hole is to be clear about your goals, this includes:
Why are you using social media?
How do you want social media to benefit your business?
What time and resources are you willing to dedicate to social media?
6. Track Your Performance
It’s not just enough to set goals, you also need to make sure you’re on track with trying to achieve them. You can only do this by monitoring your performance. Details you might track can include:
Conversion rates (such as sales, newsletter opt-ins, and leads generated)
Resources used (such as time and money spent)
7. Be Social
When using social media as a means to promote your business, it’s easy to make it all about promotions. But, that’s not why social media was created. Nor is it how social media works best.
By only posting promotions and advertisements, your followers will quickly develop banner blindness — a state in which even if they see your posts, they won’t absorb what you’re sharing. Rather, practice the 80-20 rule — 80% value and engagement and 20% promotion.
By using social media to actually be social — sharing things your fans think are interesting — you can build brand loyalty and strengthen relationships. This way when you do share a promotional message, your fans are likely to be much more interested and receptive.
8. Clearly Define Rules and Expectations in Your Employee Handbook
While you certainly want to trust your employees and give them the benefit of the doubt, giving your employees free, undefined reign over your social media can have dire consequences.
In the worst of circumstances, an employee could take to your company account and completely violate your mission statement, putting you potentially in a litigious situation. On a smaller scale, an employee may simply badmouth a company policy or a fellow co-worker.
Any or all of these instances are best avoided by clearly defining your rules and expectations from day one. Without this documentation in writing, it’s very hard to mitigate any pitfalls or taking any disciplinary action — should they happen.
9. Avoid Oversharing
Just like in casual conversation, oversharing on social media comes in a lot of different forms. One of the best ways to navigate what to share and what not to share is to put yourself in your fans’ shoes.
It’s unlikely the people who follow you want a full recap of every meal you and your crew eats, every stage of every project or minute-by-minute updates about how the concrete is drying on your new sidewalk.
While there may be times when you show a detailed, ‘behind the scenes’ or ‘day in the life,’ these shares should be done with intention. They aren’t an all-the-time phenomenon.
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