Mind Your Manners: Social Media Etiquette for Your Business

 

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Social media; whether you love it or hate it on a personal level, its positive advertising potential is undeniable. A large majority of people, businesses, and organizations utilize at least one social media site; many take advantage of multiple platforms to get the most visibility. As with any advertising opportunity, one of the most important things to consider when you are in the public eye is your etiquette.

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“Did you see Ye Olde Shoppe’s awful response to my inquiry on their Facebook page? #Rude.”

Etiquette (or when referring to online behavior, netiquette)  is relative to the situation, but manners have changed quite a bit over the past few decades. Businesses are expected to put forth a professional and polite image at all times; even if they may think the customer is wrong. Where interactions between customer and business were primarily face to face before, now, some of your only interactions with your customers will be online. Because social media is public, this poses interesting opportunities; both the opportunity to spread the word positively about your business, and opportunity to lose dozens, if not hundreds, of current and potential buyers with a single post.

Following a few common sense rules of etiquette for your social media presence will help you to avoid situations where negative customer feedback or misunderstood posts could jeopardize your business. So, let’s talk manners!

 

Building a Positive Presence

 Before you’re ready to create your very first post, you must set up your business account on whichever social media platform(s) you have chosen. Avoid using your personaetiquette2l account to promote your business; having a separate page that your friends can choose to like and follow will be much easier down the road when others who may not be friends with you personally would like to check out your business. Once you’ve set up your business’ page, you’re not done. Resist the temptation to set a profile picture and begin posting. Set up your page completely and with all pertinent information filled out. An empty page will tell people that you are not ready to sell, are not organized, or are a spam page; all things which will deter potential customers.

Let’s Talk About Grammar

etiquette3 As a business, one of the most important things you can do on social media is make sure that you are spelling your posts correctly, using correct grammar, and utilizing proper punctuation. It is more common to write posts on our mobile devices now, and even though that’s convenient, autocorrect is not always our friend. Double and triple check your post to make sure that it reads properly. Also, avoid posting in all caps; this looks very unprofessional if used through an entire post.

 

On the subject of proper language use, let’s talk about hashtags! Hashtags are a marvelous tool that, when used properly, will allow your post to be organized with other like posts. There are a few things to remember when using hashtags, however:

-#Do #Not #Make #Your #Entire #Post #Hashtags. That wasn’t fun to read, was it? It won’t be fun for your customers either; in fact, they will most likely disregard your post completely. A proper hashtag would be: Do not make your entire post hashtags. #properhashtag #socialmediaetiquette. Easy, right?

Search your hashtag first. Recently, several large companies used hashtags to promote their product that were actually associated with serious issues such as domestic violence. Make sure that you search whatever hashtag you intend to use first so that you can avoid any social blunders when you post.

 

Consistency vs. Repetition

 In social media marketing, it is important to be consistent without become repetitive. For example, you’ve just begun selling a fantastic holiday scented soap; great! Your buyers will love to hear about this; but they will not love to hear about it over, and over, and over again via a copied and pasted post. If you have a new product or event that you’d like to promote, find inventive ways to do it. Avoid being repetitive by writing a new post each time with different wording. Is it snowing? Mention how wonderful a holiday scented soap would smell in the shower. Two weeks until Thanksgiving? Holiday scented soap makes a perfect gift for whoever is hosting your meal. By tying the item or event you’d like to market in with different posts, you will appeal to a wider audience without losing followers because of perceived spam.

Consistency is also key. Try to post once per day in order to stay relevant, but no more than three times per day (two should be your maximum goal). Try not to post too close together, or your previous post may get lost in the shuffle; posting once in the morning and once in the afternoon is a great way to get more views.  A common rule when it comes to posting on social media is the 80/20 rule: post 80% information and entertainment posts, 20% marketing posts for your business. In this aggressive era of internet marketing, those who follow your page have likely trained themselves to skip past posts aimed at marketing to them. Make your page likable and relatable by posting funny, industry related memes, thought provoking, industry related questions, and interesting, industry related news. You’ll notice there’s a common denominator there; industry related. 

 

Draw the Appropriate Line

 Let’s talk about the content of your posts. There are many things in the news now that spark differing and sometimes angry opinions; before you share that political meme or article to your business page, take a moment to consider the following;

Does this article teach my followers about my business or the industry I’m a part of?

-Is this meme relatable without making any of my followers feel targeted?

-Is this post detracting from the point of my page?

 

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Avoid giving your followers a reason to make this face at their phone.

It’s nearly impossible to please everyone, but it is possible to keep your business image separate from your personal beliefs to represent your product; this is why it is imperative to keep your business and personal pages separate. Try posting things to engage your customers; for example, try something simple like “What is your favorite fall scent?” or “What products would you like to see in the future?” Asking open ended questions will start a dialogue between you and your customers and can also give you valuable insight into your customer base. Now that you have people talking on your page, let’s move on to the next topic-replying to your customers.

 

To Reply or Not to Reply

 Have you asked an open-ended question and gotten some great feedback? Wonderful! Reply to it. Even if it’s something as simple as “Thank you for your input”, people like to know that they’ve been heard. It makes them feel appreciated for supporting your business, and let’s face it; without their input or loyalty, your business wouldn’t exist. On the flip-side, have you asked an open ended question and gotten a complaint? The uncomfortable news is, you still need to answer it. The better news is, you can decide how to do that.

If the complaint is constructive and polite, answer it publicly, and then follow up privately . If someone points out that they have waited additional days to receive product, or that a product didn’t arrive to their liking, don’t ignore it, and definitely don’t delete it. Respond honestly. “I’m so sorry that our service wasn’t up to our usual standards. Please check your inbox, we’ll be sending you a message in a few moments to get more feedback and your information! Thank you for giving us a chance to correct this.” Something along these lines will show others that you take complaints seriously, and handle them politely. Once you’ve posted this, proceed to send the person either an email or a direct message through whichever social media platform you are using. If you don’t follow up, there is a chance they will post publicly again, and the second time it might not be as polite.

If the complaint is rude, and/or uses obscene or derogatory language, remove it. You do not have to tolerate rude and abusive posts on your business’ page. In this case, it would be wise to remove the offending post and then reach out to the person directly to solve the issue.

In any communication that you have, it is important to reply quickly and professionally. Doing this shows your buyers that you truly care about their business, and it will help to build a stronger relationship; most people now would rather send a quick message than make a phone call, and making that option available and reliable is a good business practice.

Don’t Spam.

 No one likes a spammer! Don’t go to other business’ pages (unless of course you’ve been specifically asked to) and post your business information. If you find a brilliant status and you want to use it, give credit where it’s due; giving this kind of of recognition will help you to build respectful relationships with other business pages or customers. Lastly, don’t retaliate. This one can be difficult, especially if another business is taking the moral low-ground against your business on social media. Resist the urge to fight back; your customers will respect you more for not engaging in social media battles. If this is an ongoing issue and you feel it must be addressed, issue a polite, professionally worded public statement clearing up any misunderstandings about your company without name-calling or derogatory hate-speak.

 

Final Thoughts

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 Social media is an amazing tool that can help you spread the word about your business and products and can connect you with thousands of potential buyers. However, it is also important to remember that written communication such as emails, social media posts, text messages or even letters, can be easily taken out of context. Be mindful of what you post so that you can give others the best possible impression of your business!

Why I Love Instagram for You!

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Why I Love Instagram for You!

I’ve tried my hand at all the social media options that are out there and it’s safe to say I am in love with Instagram. Being a visual person and short on attention span lends the photo-based platform to fit me perfectly, but I am here to tell you why I think it’s perfect for you too!

Handmade soaps and cosmetics is something that appeals to a large and ever growing audience concerned with environmental impact, responsible sourcing and little to no chemical intervention. The creation process is also something that has visual appeal and is generally an interesting thing for people who don’t know what goes into the creation of handmade products.

You already know how cool your creation process is, so how does that translate to Instagram? Instagram allows you the opportunity to show your consumer base where the ingredients are coming from, who’s making them, and what actually goes into the final product! Allowing consumers to peek behind the curtain and meet the makers a bit is something people are interested in now, everyone is concerned about transparency and honesty and if you’re making something by hand people care!

Instagram followers don’t check your feed to make a purchase, so why are they there and how can you use that to your advantage?

  • Intrigue: If someone’s curiosity has been peaked by your product line they will check out your IG. You should have captivating product shots with descriptions similar to what would go on a label, but also describe the scent(if any) or what some of the ingredients are. (remember to not make any claims though)

 

  • Health: Perhaps someone has sensitive skin or is just sensitive to what they put or use on their bodies. Your IG account gives you the opportunity to illustrate your ingredients and discuss each one giving your consumers a better understanding of not only your products but what sets you apart from your mass produced counterparts.

 

  • All Access Pass: Your consumers are people you’re connecting with face-to-face at farmers markets and various vendor sites, so keep that relationship engaged on your most visual platform. Give them some of those behind the scenes looks at what makes you, you!

People are not on instagram to make a purchase but don’t let the opportunity of an impulse purchase slip through your shopping cart!! Your page should have a link in the description to your website or at least your online store to browse and buy!

Utilize hashtags unique to your industry and if you’re an HSCG member please always remember to use #HSCGMaker in your posts so that we can easily find them and share them with the community.

Get creative with your shots and post things relative to your business and watch your followers grow!!

Getting started on Instagram: https://help.instagram.com/454502981253053/?ref=hc_fnav

Instagram for Business: https://business.instagram.com/

How to Use Instagram from CheatSheet.com: http://www.cheatsheet.com/technology/how-to-use-instagram.html/?a=viewall

Facebook Marketing

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Getting the most from your Facebook Business Page

Marketing on Facebook is easy in the sense that it’s free (we’ll talk paid ads later) and you can do it as soon as you’ve created your page, but getting results is a bit more difficult. I want to highlight a few things that I think are relevant and intentional when it comes to self-promotion on Facebook.

 

Branding Consistency

Your fans, followers and customers should be able to easily identify your company’s social media outlets because you’re consistent. This should be followed as a rule of thumb for all social identities your company maintains (i.e. Instagram, Twitter, Google+, etc.). What I’m saying here is, you have a logo, you like it, you thought it was cool enough to be your logo now put that thing everywhere!

  • Your logo should be somewhere near the top of your website, it should be your profile picture for Facebook as well!
  • You should have a color pallet that is also specific to your business and the visual design nerd in me wants you to know and utilize a specific 2-3 fonts! (This may just be a pet peeve of mine, but if I notice it someone else probably does too!)

You do not have 382 fonts pre-installed on your computer with a challenge to use everyone in your marketing! Your fonts and color scheme should also flow from your website to your printed materials and into your cover photos on Facebook.

Enough of the visual consistency, what about your brand connectivity?

You should have a link to and from everything!! If you have a website and various social media profiles I should be able to find all of them from each other! Your Facebook page should have your website link filled in and tested to ensure proper functionality. Furthermore, your Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Blog should also have corresponding tabs linking users to all of them on your Facebook page. Subsequently, your website should list and link to all social media and blogs as well. You following me!? It’s like we’re playing 7 Degrees of Kevin Bacon but everyone is Kevin Bacon!!

Organic Growth

Organic growth, isn’t a reference to anything you may be adding to your products, dinner recipes or front lawn, I’m talking the natural way you build your ‘likes’. Facebook knows and tracks EVERYTHING and by doing so ranks you against every other page people follow. Your rank and interactions matter the better your scored the more people you will reach (even if they already like you).

Your first line of advertising and interaction with members should be easiest, because these should be the people who liked your page simply because they know and support you. That’s right Mom, Dad, Grandma no matter how embarrassing it may be when they ask you questions on your wall instead of through direct messaging, they’re doing you a favor!! Respond back to them on your wall! Trust me it matters, you will ultimately be asking them to share your posts and encourage their friends to like your page too! These interactions with your new fans matters to Facebook, because unlike your grandmother, Facebook does not care how you know her it simply cares about who she likes(your business) and whether or not you respond to your “fans” in a timely manner, and if she shares your stuff frequently, likes your posts and interacts with your page. The more back and forth you can generate on your page the higher your score is to Facebook. This encourages Facebook to not limit your views because to it you’re someone who is relevant and enjoyed by your followers.

Overlapping point one and two for a second, you should be promoting your Facebook presence everywhere and should be encouraging people to like your page everywhere you go! Organic growth is really the key to looking like a golden child to the Facebook algorithm. Printed materials should list the Social outlets you are on, and should use some sort of call to action(Like Us, Follow Us, etc…) to encourage fandom!

Customers & Messaging

The first thing you should have done when you were in the planning phase of creating your business is identifying your target market. Depending on how specific you got with that description will hopefully make it easy for you to label your customer based on their defining characteristics like age, sex, income, hobbies etc. With a mental image in place of the perfect customer for your business, you need to speak to that person, speak like that person and relate to that person. Follow this practice whenever you are delivering a message to your audience.

People want to be able to relate to your products and feel like you relate to them as an individual. So keep a few simple things in mind when communicating:

  • Highlight and speak to your customers about how your product is going to benefit them.
  • You’re a small business, act like it! People want you to be relate-able, give behind the scenes that are professional and still relevant to your business and audience. Avoid over-sharing personal information on your business page, no one cares what your kids/cats are doing(sorry!).
  • Encourage customer feedback in the form of product usage photos, pioneer a #hashtag of your own and use it always. Tell your customers to use it too, it’s easy to search for you that way!
  • Choose a time to post and try to stick to it. This will require some trial and error and would really be the best idea to use an app to help you scheduling posts. (Hootsuite, Buffer)
  • Over-or-Under Whelm – Avoid flooding your fans news feed with multiple posts consecutively and also, being forgotten about because your last post is a stagnant 3 week old ad.
  • Pay Attention – Utilize the Facebook analytics to track your posts reach and success. Figure out what works and doesn’t work. Recommendations are to use visuals and open ended questions to encourage feedback. More trial and error!

This certainly isn’t everything you need to do in order to create a successful social media presence and ultimately a successful business, but these will definitely get you headed in the right direction.

 

Send us a message and let us know we should now be following you!! Do the same thing when you join Instagram(@thesoapguild) and Twitter(@TheSoapGuild) too!!