Social media etiquette 101 for small business owners

Sylvia Pennington

Trending Twitter hashtags and Facebook likes… social media can provide your startup or small business with some of the marketing muscle of your larger competitors, without the high price tag.

Conversely, it can make your budding enterprise appear amateurish and unappealing, if you don’t have the social savvy to manage it to your advantage.

Here are some tips to help your small business or startup shine in the social sphere.

Pick your platforms

Jack of all trades but master of none is rarely a good look. Focus on the platforms where your target market is most likely to be found, rather than stretching yourself thin curating a mediocre presence in multiple places.

For design driven, visual businesses, this could mean going all out on Instagram, while those looking to infiltrate the under-30s market may need to become au fait with Snapchat.

Social is a pipeline that runs two ways, not a free billboard in cyberspace for your products and services.

Keep it coming

Had plenty to say initially but finding inspiration running low as the weeks roll on? Sharing the same old, same old doesn’t cut the mustard but keeping your audience engaged with new and appealing images and stories is no mean feat.

You’ll increase your chances of pulling it off by establishing editorial guidelines on what you’ll post and how often, setting up a content calendar and getting up to speed taking high quality pictures to accompany your posts.

And yes, it takes time – so it may pay to allocate a couple of hours a week, or a day a month, to ensuring you’re all over it, not treating it as an after-thought.

Old school quality

It only takes a second to send something into cyberspace – but slapdash spelling and grammar may leave customers assuming you’ll be equally casual in your dealings with them. Create a professional image by ensuring your posts are error-free before they go live.

Focus on the platforms where your target market is most likely to be found, rather than stretching yourself thin curating a mediocre presence in multiple places.

Back and to

Social is a pipeline that runs two ways, not a free billboard in cyberspace for your products and services. If someone’s bothered to comment on one of your posts, responding gives you the opportunity to start a conversation and learn more about what makes your followers and potential customers tick.

Make lemons into lemonade

And it’s also the soapbox of choice for people looking for an easy, instant way to air a complaint or have a whinge – warranted or otherwise. If it’s your business in the firing line, playing ostrich is unlikely to end well. Replying rapidly and empathetically – ‘fessing up if you’re at fault and making a genuine effort to resolve the issue fairly – can allow you to extract favourable publicity from a bad situation.

Sylvia Pennington

Sylvia Pennington is a Brisbane-based freelance journalist who writes about small business, information technology and personal finance.

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