If you’re a business, you need social media. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ (it might not be as popular as the others but it’s good to setup the page just so you can control what information Google shows about your business), and maybe an Instagram account.
These accounts are the gateway to potential customers, gathering reviews from previous customers, and showing people what you can do.
What is very important, however, is how you treat the accounts. So here’s our quick “how to” guide to get you started.
It’s not your account
Sounds easy enough but remember, no matter how involved you are in the business, it’s not you. You can’t treat the business account like it’s your personal one. So that means no random office selfies, no talking about personal dramas, and absolutely no bitching.
Context is key
“Oh look a really cool looking hashtag is going viral, lets add it to all the tweets!” – marketing person
No. Check if there’s any special meaning behind the tag first. Then decide if its appropriate to use it. We wouldn’t want to end up looking like idiots would we….
Just don’t. Potential customers could be put off using you (or liking your page) if you swear because they don’t want to be associated with it. I swear like I’m in the Navy but I don’t want to have a page I follow popping up with stuff on one of my friend’s timelines filled with swearing, I’ve got family on there (damn you Facebook for allowing that to happen).
Light hearted humor is your friend
Think classic British TV comedy. Everything is implied rather than said. Had to close because your roof leaked? Make a joke about it. Nothing which could be interpreted as offensive, nothing which you couldn’t say around your sainted Granny.
Deal with complaints in private
Yeah, you’re going to get complaints. What’s important is how you publicly deal with them. Don’t post public information about your customer. EVER. Encourage the complainer to contact you privately (Facebook message, DM on Twitter, email, etc) and explain that you can’t deal with their complaint until they do that. Yes, it’s going to look robotic but the last thing you want is for something to do lasting damage to your business reputation because you aired your dirty washing in public.
IT’S NOT YOUR ACCOUNT
So important we listed it twice. You might think that your last customer was a total douchebag, but your business certainly doesn’t.
Respond to nice things people say
When someone leaves you a comment or a post (or tweets about you etc) which is nice, respond to them. A quick thank you or an “it was lovely having you!” can help make people feel like you genuinely care about them and their custom. Think of your social media as your friendly shopkeeper. Always says that it’s been nice to see you, etc. You keep going back to that shop because they’re nice to you. You encourage others to go because well, they’re more than just a faceless shop and they care.
Don’t engage the trolls
It’s a risk of social media. Someone has decided that your company sucks and they’re going to let everyone know about it. Don’t make excuses. They complain that your beer is expensive? One comment reply with your standard “we’re sorry you didn’t enjoy your visit, send us an email and we can discuss”. They keep posting that your beer is expensive and your service sucks? Leave them alone. If it’s a genuine complaint, you’ve given them an avenue to contact you directly. It’s tempting to explain that you pay living wage and import all your beer from Germany and have to pay import tax, oh and business rates are expensive too! But don’t. None of that matters to your customers and it can come across as being petty or making excuses.
Check your spelling and grammar
Yah it sems simpl enouh but u need to come acros as noing what your doin. Evrybody mkes mistaces (or needs to kull sum lettrs to fit a tweet) but givin things a quik once over (esecally for longr posts) is a gud idea to mak sur you dnot ragret it. (That physically hurt me to type out – and hurt even more for the copy editor not to correct).
Yeah, it seems simple enough but you need to come across as knowing what you’re doing. Everybody makes mistakes (or needs to cull some letters to fit into a tweet) but giving things a quick once-over (especially for longer posts) is a good idea to make sure you don’t regret it.
Check it again
Ok so you’ve checked the spelling etc, now check you’re not posting anything dodgy. No naked lady in a mirror visible behind the cat, and you’re not posting something personal from your work account.
Be wary of tone
One of the downsides to social media is that you can’t convey tone. We’ve already written about how getting the tone wrong can damage your online reputation, it’s just something you really need to watch. Face to face you might make a dry comment but online, that might not go so well. You don’t want to be having to explain to everyone “it’s just a joke”.
Rules are made to be broken. There are loads of examples online where you see companies breaking the above rules and it works well for them (hello Buzzfeed). So if you’re confident in what you’re doing, you know your client base, and you know how they’ll react, go for it. Or you make one darker joke but it’s not a pattern, or you put a sweary word in your post about the roof falling down. No one is going to crucify you for it. Just make sure you get the right balance between you and your customers and you’ll be fine.
Go back and read them.
If you follow those, you should be OK while you get yourself started out and get a feeling for your customers and how they behave online.
Also don’t do this (Facebook image gallery link).