Social-Media Etiquette for Your Start-Up Business

Have you ever gotten an annoying stream of re-tweets on your Twitter page from friends following a political issue? Or have you gotten fed up by all the “pokes” from another friend on your Facebook page? These are examples of bad social-media etiquette, and they can be annoyances that will make you consider blocking or hiding those friends. When you start a social-media profile for your business, making these missteps in etiquette can cost you potential customers. Learning some basic social-media etiquette will help you maximize your networking strategy to promote your start-up business and get started on the right foot. Here are a few rules to keep in mind:

Don’t Just Talk about Yourself and Your Company

Your intention may be to promote your product and your company, but even the most loyal fans will become turned off by your message if all they hear from you is self-promotion. You need to give your customers a reason to follow you and to remain active subscribers. Share value-added content with your readers that informs or entertains, such as relevant news stories or studies, tips they can use or project ideas. Knowing that content like this is available will make customers more likely to frequent your profile and to engage with your company.

Interact with Fans

Customers know when they are being seen as dollar signs — and they don’t like it. Show that you value your relationship with your customers and make an effort to engage with them. Respond to comments, post polls and encourage discussion on your profile. Ask for their opinions and respond in a thoughtful manner. Hold customer-appreciation promotions such as recognizing birthdays and other special events, highlighting fan profiles or offering random giveaways.

Control Spam

Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of viewing their social-networking profiles as an extension of their mailing list or ad campaign. In so thinking, these business owners are more likely to send out a lot of spam, including repeated mass e-mails or wall posts about events or promotions. Whether these are sent in a private message, posted on your profile or posted on your fans’ profiles, your customers will view them as spam. Remember to establish an opt-in e-mail list for these kinds of notifications so that only customers interested in receiving the information will get it. For all others, a few posts on your own profile will suffice to get the word out.

Also, be cognizant of monitoring spam that others may post on your wall. If you allow readers to share their own events or information on your profile, be sure that this is kept to a reasonable amount. If your profile is full of posts that are advertising a promotion or trying to sell a product or service — whether it’s your own or another’s — your customers will not be likely to remain subscribers to your profile.

Watch Your Posts

The number of posts that you should share in any given day varies, and there is no real formula for how much is too much and how much is too little. However, you should avoid the appearance of posting too often lest customers become annoyed, and you should avoid the appearance of posting too infrequently lest customers become bored. How do you know if your posts are appearing too often or too little? Monitoring interactivity from your customers is a good indication. If you are getting a lot of feedback, you are likely offering just the right amount of posts. If you aren’t getting any feedback, you’re either boring them or annoying them — either by the frequency or the content of your posts.

Remember that You’re a Business

There are plenty of ways for people to interact personally on social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Avoid these pitfalls and remember that you are a business promoting your brand, not a person trying to share your personality and opinions or to make friends. Don’t send out invites to games and other apps. Don’t use foul language. Don’t post links to political or religious items (unless that is what your business is about). Always maintain a professional demeanor and leave your personal preferences for your personal profile.

Social media is a powerful marketing platform for small businesses and corporations alike. However, young entrepreneurs must remember these and other important rules of etiquette in order to properly leverage the power of these platforms to attract and not alienate new clients.

Amanda Tradwick is a grant researcher and writer for She has a Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Delaware, and has recently finished research on college grants for married students and north dakota education grants.

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