Social Media Etiquette for Business by Lesya Liu

What to Do (And Not to Do) In Order For Your Company to Succeed On Social Media

Social media has been around for quite some time; more and more businesses see the value in it. Yet, some businesses still manage to do lots of basic, annoying mistakes and ignore the etiquette completely.

Social media, as any other physical or virtual space, has its own set of rules about what’s acceptable and unacceptable to do in the community. Do you unknowingly make any of these mistakes?

Work on your presentation

First things first: optimize your business profile for each specific network. Ensure everything is correct and links are working. It gets very annoying when a link on official Facebook page appears broken and sends people off straight to 404 page. It also looks bad when a business could not spend 3 minutes of their time to upload a profile image and all we have left to enjoy is the Twitter egg picture. This all gives of a sense of carelessness and you don’t want your professional presentation to give off that vibe.

Use spellchecker

It goes without saying that if there are misspellings in your messages, it gives off the same vibe of carelessness. This hurts your overall reputation. If a business can’t check the spelling of their 140-character message, why would anyone trust a company with their money?

Respond in a professional manner

Sometimes your business can become a target of hateful speech, spam or unsatisfied customers. If a person uses cuss words, hate speech or spam, simply flag that comment or review and be done with it. Don’t engage with these types of people.

However, if a negative review is legitimate and there was a fault on your side, acknowledge and apologize. Better yet, take the resolution offline. Even these days some businesses get too aggressive in responses. Resist the urge. Don’t reply right away, give it an hour or two; think of a good, professional response, draft it a few times and let someone else read it again. The negativity will rub off on your business and hurt your reputation, not the reviewer’s.

Be consistent

Be consistent in your messages. Your overall messaging and image is very important, so consistency is the key. People should know what your brand stands for and what to expect from your brand in the future. If you’re confused on your brand’s identity, chances are your customers will be too. People are on social media to be educated or entertained, not waste their time trying to figure out what your messaging is about. Don’t confuse followers with different promotional details on your social media and your website.

Be humble

If a follower and/or a customer compliments your business on something, politely thank and show your appreciation of their attention. No need to show off and brag about it. Nobody cares about how much money was spent on that clever ad or how long you’ve been working on a new product or any of that staff. Hard work and motivation will show through and speak louder than words.

Be respectful

Before posting anything, ask yourself if it will hurt anyone’s feelings. It’s ok to post occasional humorous posts but be sure everyone will find it funny. Strive to stay as far away from borderline offensive content as possible.

Acknowledge your followers

Show your appreciation for customers and followers. That could be done with an occasional “thank you” post or a special announcement. Also, engaging with their comments and shares is a great way to show your appreciation. Use “please” and “thank you,” use first name if available. You represent a business and should strive to make the best representation possible. So, be polite. The easiest way to acknowledge someone is to use these words.

Don’t ignore questions

When your followers ask you questions, reply to them. Reply politely and don’t put anyone down even if the question is not smart. If you don’t know the answer or are uncomfortable making comments on a subject, find a few good links to point people in the right direction. This will show that you care and try your best to assist your followers.

Check your sources

If you do post a third-party research or opinion, check your sources. You want your sources to be accurate, credible, up-to-date and intelligent. If some obscure blogger with 3 followers said something you agree with, it’s not a credible source and probably more research should be done before sharing it with your audience.

Don’t spam

Find a social posting schedule that works, but don’t overdo it. It will also depend on your company and the type of content you share. Nobody wants to see 10 self-promotional posts a day. Another thing that people still do is to send personal messages to each and every one of their followers. Just don’t. If you’ve identified a few influential followers and want to reach out to them to thank or propose a deal to them, send them one message and wait for an answer. Spend some time crafting your message like you would any other professional pitch -- make it short and to the point and focus on benefits to them, not you.

Don’t use all caps

This just looks cheesy and too promotional. People perceive all caps as screaming at them. I know I personally envision a man who is screaming at me from a cheesy commercial. In general, use caps with caution. You can capitalize a word or two if you really feel like it will add to your message, but ask yourself if it’s really necessary.

What do you find annoying businesses do on social media? Share in the comment section below.

Lesya Liu is a blogger at The Social Media Current (, a photographer and a social media expert. Her passion lies in art and marketing (and combining the two). You can find her on Twitter: @LesyaLiu.