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The dos and don'ts of social media

We say ‘Thank you’ and greet other people when we meet. It’s a natural reflex for most of us. In actual fact, how brands behave on social media channels doesn’t need to be any more complicated.

Nowadays, the concept of netiquette is commonplace, and can be defined as a set of rules on how to behave across (various) social media. It’s actually possible to draw lessons from our regular lives and how we behave offline for communicating in the digital world.

Perhaps, as a child, you learned to count to ten when you felt angry. It’s the same thing online. Avoid writing things in haste - it is not unusual that people regret that email or tweet; all you need to do is reflect before responding a little bit too quickly. There are some things that differ across the range of social media channels out there. Always adapt to the media channel or platform you’re using; think of it as the subtlety between behaving at a football match and a church service.

What you do on social media, whether you are there as a private individual or on your company or organisation's behalf, aim to leave an impression. Engaging a well-developed tool to monitor social media is a surefire method for preventing your content from fading into the noise.

Some tips on what to consider when using social media:

  1. Consider what you’re putting out there. Be careful when publishing images, especially when sourcing other people's photos. Provide credit and research possible copyright issues.

  2. Don’t embarrass other people with what you write or post. Don’t post images or share material which is malicious.

  3. Be mindful when tagging photos. Not everyone wants to appear in every social media context.

  4. Adapt your behaviour to the kind of media you’re active in. For example, there are different ways to relate to users on Twitter and Facebook. In most markets, Twitter is primarily a media influenced by journalists and thought leaders, while Facebook caters to consumer networks of friends, customers and fans from the general public. In this sense, Twitter often resembles a neverending press conference where brands are always on camera - there is no room for misunderstandings, and you should be aware of irony if you're a public figure. Facebook, while a B2C platform, is more closed and a space for personal reflections.

  5. Photos of sunsets in all their glory; if your biggest channel is Instagram, this may make you more relevant to fans - and more appreciated. But will this work on all your social accounts? This also depends on how you want to use your digital presence; is it purely for fun, or does your brand need to reflect a more corporate tone?

  6. Be prepared to answer and respond promptly. This is a must with regard to your company's Facebook page, for example. It will serve as an extension of your customer service.

  7. Ensure that you have a policy for how to communicate on your website, your Twitter account, your Facebook page, and any other social platforms. Educate your team on the policy, as well as informing your visitors where relevant, in a simple and clear manner.

  8. If anything goes wrong, you should still be wary of deleting posts. It can bring about even more mistrust - not to mention online post activity being traceable. Should you make the choice to erase content, explain why it was deleted.

  9. Be transparent with sources and quotes. It costs nothing to give credit, and you gain respect in doing so genuinely.

  10. Expect that everything you write or publish has the potential to gain traction. A private Facebook group is never completely private.

The overall impression of social media activity creates an image of ourselves and our personal brand. For companies and organisations, social media is a key tool for building influence - but must be used strategically at all times.

How do you behave? Discover easily through brand analysis.

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