Since social media exploded, PR on social networks brought owners and visitors closer than ever, creating the need for a new level of etiquette in public relations.
As a website owner or blogger, you probably have already seen to setting up a Facebook account as another strategy to promote your own spot on the Internet. This is practically S.O.P. (standard operating procedure) for both seasoned and fledgling bloggers and site owners. However, not everyone is aware of certain rules or codes of conduct for the use of Facebook. While there is an overarching set of rules for everyone, there are some important guidelines that will pertain to site owners and bloggers in particular.
Your Facebook Account = Your Self
More than first impressions, it is all the little yet consistent details about your actions on Facebook that will shape other people’s perception about your brand or blog – and the face or person behind that.
- Don’t use Facebook to share too personal information with others. There’s a big chance that there is more to you than what people pad your character out with through your blog or brand, but it doesn’t mean you should show them all of that through your blog or brand’s Facebook page. Keeping things professional yet lighthearted does not include sharing a picture of the growing pile of dishes you need to wash or that selfie you took during your cousin’s graduation party. If you are dead set on building your online persona, it is always best to reserve your personal information for your personal (and private) account.
- Do not use your Facebook account to bash other bloggers or brands. You are out to promote yourself and not bring others down. Remember, Facebook (and all of social media, as it happens) is all about connecting people, widening your network, establishing partnerships and supporting other burgeoning groups or individuals such as yourself. Just think about it: Will people think highly of someone who says negative things about others?
- Choose your ‘likes’. One mildly annoying habit of some overzealous brands or bloggers is ‘serial liking’ – which simply means liking practically anything and everything shared by contacts. While liking posts is an effective way to show other people that you also pay attention to what they post or share on social media, going overboard can send the message that you just don’t seem to have any filter and you’re bordering on the ‘like for likes’ mentality. And when you do like something, you can also add a comment to help show a deeper sense of appreciation for the tidbit that you liked in the first place.
Manners Matter – A Whole Lot
Social media might seem like a big pool of casual friendliness, but at the end of the day the right kind of people will appreciate (or even expect!) manners from a respectable brand or blogger.
- Always respond to PMs [definition: Private Message] and inquiries in good time. Promptness is part and parcel of having manners. How many times have you seen exasperated comments from users when they ask a brand about something and they get ignored or are responded to after ages? If you are not seeing a hundred queries trickling in on a daily basis, then you have enough time to answer each one promptly. It helps if you have standard comments for recurring topics or queries so it doesn’t take so much of your time to respond. Just edit the standard response to address a specific concern, and do so in good time. When you let PMs sit for a very long time, you risk losing customers or followers who will eventually think of you as all talk and no action.
- Be respectful when replying to others. Always start your replies with greetings, then address the concern and end your message with a closing line. It does not have to be on an outrageously formal note; a respectful tone can still be noted over a friendly composition. Extend your helpfulness by being thorough in describing products or offer alternatives if necessary – now that’s a mark of true respectful professionalism!
Permissions and Property Rights
Believe it or not, people get sued over or complained about due to seemingly harmless reposts. The Internet may seem like a treasure chest filled with golden information that you wish to share, but do remember to give credit when credit is due.
- If you are going to tag someone, always ask for his or her permission. If you hosted or attended an event, chances are you’ve got choice pictures that are worth posting online for marketing purposes. Make sure you get the OK to post pictures that include other persons, who may or may not be amenable to such an action even if you think it is commonplace to do so. Just be on the safe side and get their go signal so you don’t run the risk of offending someone or having someone demand that you take down a picture with them in it. This is especially true for people who can get overly sensitive about how they look in pictures!
- Respect intellectual property. Always cite where you got something and acknowledge authors and writers, especially if they too are on Facebook. The worst thing that some do is to post something and let other people assume it was borne out of their own genius. While they don’t exactly claim ownership of it, they are basking in undeserved praise or admiration for something that they nipped off somewhere. It might go undetected at first, but some people have a knack for finding out the truth – and then plastering that truth out there, for your exposure, and for everyone to witness.
- Don’t make groups and automatically add people to these thinking they will appreciate it. The allure of liking so many pages and joining so many groups usually wears off fast, so people end up trimming down their connections to a more manageable quantity. It won’t really do others a favor to automatically add them to something that you think they will find useful. Instead of bringing the mountain to Mohammed, simply give Mohammed a decent map to the mountain and let him get there all in his good time. Also, do not play games using your account! These days, nothing spells annoying like receiving countless invites or wall posts about online games.
Creating a schedule for posting and acting on important matters online make up the lifeblood of healthy social media activity. It also keeps you, the blog or brand owner, relaxed and in control since you can prepare everything in advance and just wait for the right time to publish it – and in the right manner, too!
- Have a respectable time for engaging others in chats about your blog or business. Some people prefer real-time responses and back-and-forths, but try to keep these within office hours. It might seem good at first to automatically answer queries 24/7, but then people might expect that you are indeed running a round-the-clock operation and set unrealistic expectations about response time. Even the biggest brands out there – the ones with a global reach and a team of experts moderating and operating their Facebook page – will sometimes take a few hours to respond, and that’s an okay thing. Nobody expects you to provide swift responses each time and all the time. The best thing about getting to your messages at a more responsible time is you have an opportunity to edit or improve your initial draft since you are not overly pressured to type out a response within seconds.
- Moderate your posts. Facebook is indeed a great venue for sharing what you know and love, but hold your horses! It is better to keep your posts to a decent number on a daily basis so people do not get fatigued over your presence or have a “What? You’re posting for the nth time today!” opinion about your brand or blog. Even if you have so many good things to post, people will tire of your blog or business if you keep posting every half hour. Some will commit to posting something once a day; for those who have more in their arsenal than that, three times a day should be enough. This way, you are hitting your target markets at the three times they usually have short breaks to check social media – during lazy breakfasts before work, those few precious minutes left over from lunch, and the downtime at home after a long day’s work.
- Post witty or cute pictures every now and then, but try to make it related to your business or blog. Finding a gem of a meme online and then sharing it on social media could give you the likes that you think it deserves, but does it have something to do about your brand? If you are going to post something worth sharing or you think will generate laughs or “oohs and aahs”, then align it to your product or service. Add your own words to it to show that you do not just automatically repost anything remotely connected to your topic.
As you probably realize by now…
… it takes more than just having a sincere desire to connect and share with your beloved customers or followers on Facebook. Your enthusiasm for being active on social media is indeed commendable, but keeping these etiquette guidelines in mind will be to the benefit of your page and reputation – which are two things that you want to be regarded as highly as possible!