You know people are talking about your small business because every time you open up your Twitter account or go on to your Facebook page there’s another mention of you or your business. Great news right? Not so fast.
Did you know that quite a few North American small businesses have been sued for what they’ve said on social media? While social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter can be great ways to broaden your social circle and communicate with customers they can also land you in legal hot water.
To help make sure your social media presence helps rather than hinders your business follow these five tips:
1. Play nice. Always.
It can be very difficult to remain cordial online, especially if your business has received a scathing review – that isn’t even true!
But it’s important to remain professional online. Remember, other clients or potential customers will be seeing your words. Tone can be difficult to decipher and others may look poorly on unprofessional responses, even if the other person was in the wrong. Personal attacks, insults, and other derogatory language is never okay. You don’t have to agree with a review or like a competitor – but that doesn’t mean you can drag them through the mud.
Aim to stay honest and courteous. Anything you say is public and can have an impact on how your company is perceived.
In fact, if anything you say could negatively impact another business or person’s reputation, you could potentially be sued for libel. If you can’t say something nice – don’t say it at all.
2. Don’t make any private information public.
Privacy laws protect your customers’ information. You must keep customer information offline. For example, you should never share a customer’s contact information or share a specific story without a client’s express permission.
3. Interact with your audience.
Social media is a two-way street. Take the time to engage with your followers and other businesses in your area to build relationships. Like, comment, share and promote others – this helps build a community.
4. Use images and video.
Your images and video don’t have to be professional to be good. Social platforms are largely visual these days and require frequent posting. Simply do the best you can with the technology you have. In fact, some studies suggest people appreciate authenticity!
If you sell a product, make sure you have tons of images and video, including of that product being used. If you sell a service, you may have to be a little more abstract but there are always ways to share the value of what you provide.
5. Develop a strategy and write it down.
You don’t have enough time in the day to get your entire to-do list done but you love the idea of banging off a couple of Tweets; it’s such a great way to market your company, right? Unfortunately, no.
While it may seem time-consuming, you should develop a strategy for promoting your business through social networks. You want to set clear goals and be able to measure results.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What are your goals?
- How can I measure my progress towards meeting my goals?
- Who is my target audience and what matters to them?
- Which social platforms are they on?
- What type of community do I want to have?
- How can I give back to my followers or what problem can I solve for them?
- What type of content should I create?
- Do I have the necessary time, budget and skills?
- How is your brand reflected in your visuals and text?
Social media is just one part of your company’s overall brand and marketing. It can seem overwhelming but just remember that it’s important to just start. You can always improve and change in the future. Also, you don’t have to be on every platform – start with one or two where your target audience is most likely spending their time. There are tons of amazing free resources to help you with social media marketing online but it’s important to jump in and just start doing it.