In this internet fueled era, maintaining social media profiles has become a necessity for any business looking to stay above the competition. Sites like Twitter and Facebook have allowed CEO’s to talk directly to their customers, and create a welcoming public image to draw in a larger clientele.
Companies from small catering businesses to massive corporations like Disney utilize social media as a way to keep the public informed, connect with their customers, and promote exciting new ideas and projects. Though social media can certainly make a company, the wrong behavior on social media can ruin an entrepreneurs public image and cause huge problems for their business. Much like a face to face meeting, social media puts you in the public eye and offers potential customers and partners a
representation of what your company is about. It is just as crucial to put your best foot forward online as it is in the boardroom. Avoiding these six social media faux paus will ensure that you keep the best face possible, and create an image that represents both you and your business well.
1. Avoid Getting Too Personal
Your professional profiles should be just that- professional. Posting status updates about annoying neighbors, marital and relationship issues, or personal crises is completely inappropriate; and yet it does happen. If you feel the need to talk about your day to day life on the internet, have a separate (and hidden) profile to post directly to non-work friends. Clients and customers do not want their news feed crowded with irrelevant nonsense, nor should they ever know that the person they’re investing their time and money in is falling apart in private.Maintain your work and personal spaces separately.
2. Competitor Bashing
Another thing that doesn’t belong on your professional social media: your distaste for whatever x celebrity did. Even if it’s a popular opinion, keep negative views of pop culture, public figures, and direct competitors away from your profile. There’s nothing wrong with promoting someone or something that you think your followers will also find value in, but posting hatred about other events and figures can alienate customers that may share a different opinion.
Professional spaces do not thrive on negativity, and being openly negative and judgmental will make your competitors seem like a better option. Unless it directly involves your business, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything.
3. If You Want to Lose Potential Customers, Talk Politics.
This goes hand in hand with don’t be negative. Especially in election years like this one, it seems like everyone with access to a computer feels the need to openly rant and about various political candidates. Unless politics is directly involved in your company, it would be wise to stay away from promoting or berating either side. Your followers likely do not all share the same views as you, and publicly taking a side can lose both the respect and business of those followers.
That being said, you may have a company that publicly endorses specific political candidates. If that’s true, then try to do so in the most respectful and non-alienating way. Believe it or not, there are ways to discuss political opinions without being offensive, but if you really have a burning rant to make, a private profile is a much better platform.
4. Avoid Alienating an Audience
Your professional social media is not the place to use vulgar or racy language, unless of course you are a network like Adult Swim. If vulgarity is not a part of your company’s public image (which is an extremely rare case), it should not be part of your public profiles. Treat your updates as though you’re talking to a potential customer for the first time, and avoid any vulgar or demeaning language. Try looking at the FCC guidelines for what shouldn’t be said on air as a reference if you have trouble deciding what is and is not appropriate language.
These profiles are public, which means that anyone can look at the things you post and take them whatever way they want. The last thing your business needs is to become the public face of a campaign against accidentally racist or sexist comments. Watch what you say, and how you say it. The golden rule for professional social media: if you’re not certain you should say it, just don’t.
5. Not Being Mindful of Pictures Shared
Photos showing excessive drinking, too much skin, or messy, unprofessional looking office spaces are all things to avoid when uploading pictures to your profile. You may want to appear approachable and fun to potential customers, but there are important lines to avoid crossing even while cultivating that image. It is possible to create a laid back image for your company without going into too much detail about how many beers you have during your happy hour meetings. Furthermore, there are certain industry events that prohibit photos being taken and shared.
One seemingly harmless Instagram photo could accidentally reveal plans and designs that were not meant for public eyes. Check, double check, and triple check every photo you take to ensure that they display exactly what you want, and nothing damaging or embarrassing in the background. Once again, less is more applies to photo sharing as well. If you find yourself questioning whether or not a picture is okay to post, don’t post it.
6. Avoid Sending Without Checking
Double check every update, caption, and comment for proper spelling and grammar. Potential customers and other industry professionals will make judgments on your company based on the professionalism of what you say and how put together it looks. Consider every update like a mini professional email- spelling mistakes and poor word usage can make or break you. Don’t be afraid to break out the dictionary or thesaurus. Using clear and eloquent language can be the difference between having a so-so social profile, and a stand out account that draws in new business.