The Manners Mindset: How To Approach Social Media

A killer vintage Facebook ad created by the Jedi masters at Brazil’s Moma Propaganda ad agency (http://www.momapropaganda.com.br/)

Social networks like Google+, Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest can create conversations between customers and companies that develop into a profitable relationship. It has never before been easier for businesses to share information, insight and intimacy with consumers.

But it has also never been easier for a business to offend consumers. Broadcasting the wrong information or projecting the wrong type of intimacy, like gripes about unfavorable bowel movements or photos of a sloppy Sunday happy hour, creates a story clients feel they need to escape from. One click on the Unfriend/Unlike/Unfollow button is all it takes to banish a brand into the digital darkness.

A photo or status update may seem innocent to the eyes of the employee or exec posting it, but it may be inappropriate for consumers and negatively impact a brand’s image.

(Related: The 10 Commandments of Using Pinterest For Business)

With that said, it’s still important to know that a sense of humor and desire to be dynamic can help consumers connect with a brand, but only if deployed tactfully. So how does a company avoid a social media faux pas fiasco while still being entertaining and engaging?

My common sense advice about social media is this: If you wouldn’t share it during a sober networking function or business meeting, don’t share it on social media.

At some point, a company might develop such strong rapport with its clients so as to be a little more edgy with what it shares through social media, but it’s still a good idea to keep politics, religion and other sensitive subjects out of the conversation (unless, of course, your company’s identity is inextricably tied to those subjects).

If you can’t help yourself from sharing thoughts on sensitive and controversial topics that may ostracize a certain segment of your potential client pool, then consider creating social network accounts specifically for business contacts only.

Just as strangers (which is what prospects are) may not care to know about the symphony in your stomach created by the rib-eye and read bean ragout you had for lunch, your friends and family may be bored to death with tweets about your new customer feedback policy.

Keep things fun, but keep them clean.

Before posting a photo, status update or tweet, ask yourself: If I were a customer, would I want to see this?

(Related: Can You Handle These Truths About Social Media?)

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