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The dos and don’ts of social media for business

Social media provides a great opportunity to promote your business, build brand recognition and engage with existing customers.

However, it’s important to work out your objectives. Do you want to make new contacts, increase your customer base, sell more products or communicate with customers? The target market you choose will affect which social media sites you use. LinkedIn is ideal for business to business contact whereas for customer engagement try Facebook or Twitter and for design and image-led communication then Instagram, Pinterest and Vine work well.

Once you’ve decided who you want to communicate with, it’s good to explore the sites to get a feel for how they work, how your competitors are using them, what works best and what doesn’t. Many businesses dive in and start using social media without a considered strategy, which can have a detrimental effect on business and in the worst case, can alienate potential customers.

So before you begin, here are five dos and don’ts to consider:

Do – have a strategy
Decide which sites to use, who to target, how often, what type of content and how to measure your success, e.g. aim for ten new followers a week.

Do – be interesting
Try to educate and entertain your followers by blogging, retweeting or sharing interesting or industry relevant information. Use social media to find out what your customers want, engaging with your audience will widen your network and increase brand recognition.

Do – be consistent
Decide what messages you want to send and in what tone of voice, then make sure your staff are briefed. That way you’ll avoid sending mixed messages to customers.

Do – let your business’ personality shine through
Business doesn’t have to be boring. When your personality comes through, you can really engage with your customers.

Do – update often
Keep your followers interested by maintaining a regular presence. Using, for example, Hootsuite or Tweetdeck you can schedule posts to multiple sites at once in advance, and measure how many people you are reaching.


Don’t – bombard your audience
It is important to have a regular presence but don’t go overboard. People will soon switch off or ‘block’ you if you constantly update.

Don’t – be political
You might have strong opinions on a subject but that doesn’t mean your business should. Keep your personal views for your own social media account and avoid alienating your customers with a controversial comment.

Don’t – try to sell sell sell
Social media users are savvy and they don’t appreciate being sold to. Save traditional sales pitches for traditional media.

Don’t – be negative
Customers may use social media in order to make a complaint about your product or service. Don’t ignore it or respond negatively. The way you handle feedback can change perceptions of your business.

Don’t – forget this is business
Your customers don’t want to know what you had for breakfast or if you are stuck in traffic. Avoid being too personal and keep content business relevant and interesting.

With more and more people accessing the internet from a mobile or tablet, social media is quickly becoming a focus for interaction with customers, prospects, suppliers and even employees. Make sure your business isn’t left behind by getting to grips with social media now and making it part of your marketing routine.

Featured photo credit: Twin Design / Shutterstock.com

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