Business Rules for social media

Use social media the right way, and you can attract new customers and boost your business. Use it the wrong way, and you can spark a backlash that’ll melt your reputation to a sticky puddle.

“In the past the local dry cleaner could mumble whatever he wanted behind the register, ” says Shama Kabani, author of “The Zen of Social Media Marketing” and CEO of Web marketing firm Marketing Zen Group. “But online the repercussions can be so much greater. Anything can go viral.”

For small businesses, social media marketing is essential; but it’s a double-edged tool. Done poorly, social media marketing can hurt your business. Here, courtesy of Kabani, are some basic social media don’ts.

Don’t mix up personal and business accounts. KitchenAid made this mistake during the first presidential debate, when President Obama brought up the Affordable Care Act and mentioned his grandmother and her health care problems as she neared death. A member of the KitchenAid Twitter team leapt to the Web with a tweet that read, “Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! She died 3 days b4 he became president.” But the KitchenAid employee had used the KitchenAid Twitter account. Oops. The company quickly found itself issuing abject apologies. The employee was fired within hours.

Don’t post on Facebook Timelines. “That’s akin to throwing flyers in someone’s yard, ” Kabani says. “There’s an unspoken ‘no solicitations on personal profiles’ rule that small businesses don’t seem to understand.” In the best-case scenario, the person whose page you post to will be annoyed. In the worst-case scenario, the person will spread word of your trespass and you’ll look clumsy and rude.

Don’t share too much. Kabani says she was surprised at the number of small-business owners who declaimed their political opinions during the last election. “Immediately they alienated half their customers, ” she points out. She saw several owners share the false Donald Trump meme that Obama was born in Kenya. “Small businesses didn’t think twice about it because they didn’t write it, they were only sharing it. But what you share is a reflection of you and your business, so you have to be very careful.”

Don’t blog other people’s stuff. Blogging is a good way to draw visitors to your website. But it takes time, so you may be tempted to, ahem, borrow material from other places. Bad idea. “Don’t copy and paste other articles in their entirety, ” Kabani says. “It can get you in trouble legally and from a search perspective. Search engines know you’re copying content and will penalize you for it.”

Don’t send invites to everyone. Holding an event at your new location? Don’t invite people you know can’t make it. “If you have a launch party in Dallas and you invite people in New York, for the New Yorkers that’s just spam, ” Kabani says.

social media concept

5 social tips to try: agency dos and don'ts  — Hotelier Middle East
.. to outsource your entire social media activities to an agency. Often, a hybrid approach is far more suitable.

Popular Q&A

What are the golden rules of a social media strategy?

-Always present correct and recent information
-Aim to maximize the value of the shared info
-Participate in the info stream.
-Be flexible

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