Monday, May 6, 2013

The Marketer's Guide to Proper Social Media Etiquette

by Maggie Hibma

social media etiquetteAs a savvy inbound marketer, you're already sold on the value of using social media. But good social media marketing is about more than engagement, lead generation, and wider reach ... you gotta have some etiquette, man.
Etiquette? Really? Like pinkies-up-at-tea-time stuff?
While social media etiquette might sound like a stuffy practice, this is really just about having good social manners online. How you conduct yourself on your social channels, thinking about how your behavior affects your fans and followers, that kind of thing. Below are the top etiquette tips for you to keep in mind on your favorite social media marketing networks so you can stay proper while building your brand.

Twitter Etiquette

Don’t automatically direct message people that follow you.

Your followers are smart and already interested in you enough to follow you on Twitter, right? So when they see that auto DM in their inbox, they’re going to assume you aren’t interested in them. Your followers recognize auto DMs for the beast that they are: spam.
Tip: If you want to connect with people that follow you, do so by sending them a relevant, engaging tweet to start off a real conversation.

Don’t over-hashtag your tweet.

According to a report by Salesforcetweets with one or two hashtags receive 21% higher engagement than those with three or more hashtags. Why? Because with #tons #of #unnecessary #hashtags, tweets aren’t aesthetically-pleasing or easy to read.
Tip: Use hashtags to help your followers join in a larger discussion or allow potential followers to find content they would enjoy. If a hashtag is relevant and trending, take advantage of it. If not, stick to one or two that best showcase your brand.

Don’t hijack another company's hashtag.

Marketers just like you are coming up with hashtags to create campaigns and expose their brand. When you see companies create well-performing hashtags, don’t hop on their hashtag train to promote irrelevant content -- it devalues their hashtag and, as a result, your brand.
Tip: Use your creativity to come up with your own original hashtags that support your brand and message. If you do want to engage with another company's hashtag because it's relevant to your business, be sure to add value rather than send spam tweets.

Don’t use tricks or bots to get more followers.

Not only is this a fantastic way to get banned from Twitter, but it's also a surefire way to let others know that you're only in the Twitter game for the vanity metrics. Besides straight up buying followers, one of the worst ways to get more followers is by using the follow/unfollow trick. You've probably had it happen to you before -- you get a new follower notification and go to return the favor. Not soon after, you find that the person or company has unfollowed you. Pulling tricks like this are a total turn-off for new followers and can negate the rest of your awesome work on Twitter.
Tip: Instead of manipulating people, crank up your compelling content and be proud that those that follow you have voluntarily chosen to do so. Twitter followers who will take action on your content are much more valuable to your business's bottom line.

Don’t only spew your own stuff.

When your content creation machine is churning, it’s easy to spit it all out on Twitter to help you drive traffic and leads. The more content the better, right? Wrong. Too much self-promotion overwhelms potential followers when they check out your timeline and see no mentions, retweets, or interactions with others. 
Tip: Retweet and share content created by your followers and thought leaders, and interact with followers who engage with you.

Don’t stuff your tweets with keywords.

Don’t get me wrong -- it’s important to make your top keywords more social to influence your SEO. But if your tweets sound like a SEO-robot wrote them instead of a human, it’s time to find a better keyword to non-keyword balance.
Tip: It's okay to use some keywords when tweeting -- you're trying to promote certain concepts and topics that align with your brand, after all -- but always be sure you sound human.

Facebook Etiquette

Don’t Like your own post.

If you’ve posted something on your company Facebook page, you probably like it. But don’t start the engine on the engagement train by liking your own post. It’s implied that you already enjoy the content you share, so liking your own brand post looks like you’re just desperate for more likes. 
Tip: If you keep the content on your page valuable, relevant, and interesting for your audience, the Likes will come. Patience, grasshopper.

Don’t ignore legitimate questions and comments.

Your company is doing big things and generating some seriously awesome content. But when you don’t respond to the engagement that stems from your content, it can be taken as ignoring your fans. Even when you get tough questions, it's important to respond. No one likes to be ignored.
Tip: Talk back and take note of what your fans are saying. They’ll provide you with invaluable insight -- for free.

Don’t post or tag photos of fans, customers, or employees without permission.

Before you post or tag a fan on your company page, consider the following: Is the person an employee? Did she contribute to the post or photo in some way? Would he or she appreciate the public recognition? Do you even know this person? If the answer is “no," step away from the keyboard.
Tip: Better to be safe than sorry. A quick ask for permission -- and an explanation of why -- will go a long way.

Don’t ask for Likes for no reason.

When your posts aren’t getting the Likes you’d like to see, don’t get desperate and start asking for them every single time you post. Though Facebook posts that include the word "like" get more Likes and comments than those that don't, constantly asking for people to Like your content appears desperate.
Tip: Beyond asking for Likes, you can grow your posts' engagement by always asking yourself, “What about this will encourage my fans to engage?” Identifying which elements of the post drive engagement and then replicating your efforts is key to growing your Facebook presence.

LinkedIn Etiquette

Don’t join groups and immediately start selling yourself.

With over 1.5 million groups on LinkedIn, there’s plenty of opportunity to show off your brand and spread your message if you are adding real value to the conversation. But beware of sales-y posts -- they can turn members off to what you have to say and could ultimately cost you potential brand advocates. 
Tip: Sprinkle in some conversation, add in a dash of relevant content, and you’ve got a recipe for success.

Don’t ignore the more professional tone of the network.

According to Bull Horn ReachLinkedIn drives nine times as many applications for employment as Facebook and three times as many as Twitter. So the same content that you’re using on Facebook or Twitter might come off as irrelevant on LinkedIn.
Tip: Stick to posts on your business page about product updates, industry-specific news and thought leadership discussions -- no need to publish photos from your latest company party.

Don’t pester for recommendations.

Recommendations give companies that warm and fuzzy feeling. That kind of feeling that is authentic, and can’t be bought. Bugging people who have just engaged with your company to give you a recommendation might come off as a tit-for-tat situation.
Tip: If you want recommendations, start with customers or professional peers who have used and know your company. This will keep your authenticity intact while still allowing you to bask in the love. 

Pinterest Etiquette

Don’t pin content with broken or incorrect links.

Pinterest is a great medium to engage your audience -- and, it drives more referrals than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined. But when you pin with bad links, the only thing that looks bad is you. It’s frustrating for your audience members when there’s a roadblock to getting what they want.
Tip: Check, check, and check one last time that what you pin leads your audience to where you want them (and they want) to be. Also remember that Pinterest doesn't allow shortened links to be pinned -- always be sure that you are using the full URL.

Don’t spam your followers with too many pins at once.

So you’re armed with tons of great visuals for Pinterest. Kudos to you! But a poorly timed pin overload can clog up the feeds of your followers and leave little to be desired.
Tip: Spread out your pins so your audience remembers you’re there -- and is actually ready to consume something from you again.

Don’t pin just your own material.

If you haven’t read our guide to mastering Pinterest for business, here’s an excerpt: Repinning what your followers are pinning shows you're listening, which is arguably the most important activity a company needs to do on social media.
Tip: Repin material from your followers that resonate with your brand and messaging -- it’ll create “stickiness” with your audience on this channel.

Don’t neglect to provide good descriptions for your pins.

Have you ever looked at a photo and said, “What the heck am I looking at here?” You’re not alone. Not providing a description of your pin can leave your followers confused, and they may ultimately just ignore it.
Tip: In the caption of the pin, add a succinct explanation of what users are looking at and how it’s relevant to them.

Don’t plagiarize when repinning.

As a marketer, you know that content creation takes hard work, research, and, most importantly, time. For that reason, you should treat others’ content like you would want your own to be treated.
Tip: Pinterest etiquette gives you two rules of thumb: Give credit where credit’s due, or nicely let a pinner know when pins aren’t correctly credited. You can read their rules on content sharing in more detail in the Etiquette section of their site.


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