I was scrolling through my personal Facebook feed recently when a post made me pause. A local business page was being used by the owner to laud Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister and his latest Brexit Deal. Firstly, I stopped and checked that it WAS the actual business page and secondly I started to write this post. You see, there are some things you really don’t want to talk about on your business Facebook page, Twitter account or other business social media accounts. Here’s why…
As a business its important to appeal to as many potential customers as possible. You want to sell to people no matter where they live, which football team they support, whatever religion, race, gender or politics. (There may be ethical exceptions, which I appreciate; for instance I could never write content for an extreme group’s website…)
It’s important to remember that people tend to follow your business accounts for one of the following reasons:
- They’re supporting your efforts as a family member or friend.
- They have a business connection with you; either as a customer, supplier, or stakeholder.
- They have an interest in your business, products or services.
- They’re a competitor, keeping an eye on what you’re doing.
- General interest in the content you post.
Generally, people follow or ‘like’ your business on social media because they’re interested in knowing more about it. They want to hear about how you manufacture, or provide the services you offer. Additionally, they may wish to be amongst the first to find out about offers or new products and services. They are also likely to respond favourably to behind-the-scenes glimpses into how you work and in getting to know the team.
These are all great ways to give your business some ‘personality’ and let people know how you operate. It creates trust and familiarity. Potential and existing customers become part of your tribe, because you have created links and a relationship with them.
Your business online footprint is incredibly valuable. It takes time to build it successfully, but it can be demolished in one tweet, one ill-advised post on Facebook, a angry update on LinkedIn, or one dodgy Instagram photo.
Here’s our guide to what NOT to post on your business’ Social Media accounts:
There’s only one place for your dirty laundry and that’s at home. Don’t be tempted to have a rant about your neighbour’s dog, that row you had with the bloke who cut you up on the High Street, or your awkward brother-in-law and the latest family spat. It’s not even a good idea on your personal page to be honest; it won’t make you look good in any case.
Every post on your business page must reflect the professional image you want to promote. It’s too easy to tarnish that image with ill-judged updates. Just don’t do it!
Okay, there are times when this is appropriate. Such as if you are wishing your customers a Merry Christmas or a Happy Easter for example. Of course, if your business is a religious organisation, you’d be posting constantly about this topic, so can disregard this item on the list.
Posting heavy religious views or criticising others for having such views is a no no. Alienating a section of your potential customer base because you’ve offended them is not a great way to increase your bottom line. Even people who don’t hold particularly strong religious views can be massively turned off by this. Simple; steer clear.
The obvious next category for this list. In the current political climate, it’s easy to get drawn into a debate online. Never do this from your business account though. Clearly, the same exclusion applies if your business is politics, but otherwise, just keep it away from the business profile. One clear case and a perfect example for this point, is the UK and Brexit.
Bearing in mind – whatever your views on Brexit – that the result of the referendum was pretty close; you risk making a potential 52% or 48% of potential customers switch off, if you publicly nail your colours to the mast. This is what happened with the company mentioned in the opening paragraph. I unliked the page. Not because of the views, but because I don’t follow them for political commentary or opinion. I stick to news channels and political websites if I ever want that. It’s a common slip up. People will be interested in your updates about services and team news, but will find strong political views off putting.
Criticism of Competitors
This is a fine line. Many large companies get away with a bit of banter, such as that seen between McDonalds and KFC on Twitter. It’s very different to blatant criticism of a competitor though. If you do that, you’ll just look petty and unprofessional. Not the image you’d want a potential customer to have.
On the other hand, comparison of product testing for example, is fine. Showing how your product compares favourably against the competition is okay. Including statistical data also works in adding weight to your claims. Just make sure your overall commentary is focussed on positively promoting your product, rather than criticising .
Negative comments about customers
Posting about your lovely customers is fine. Tell people how Helen from Hightown is a wonderful customer and how George from Grimton always puts a smile on your face. Tag customers and engage them in spreading the word about your wonderful service.
Sometimes, problems occur. Occasionally the customer will be at fault – contrary to the common phrase, the customer isn’t actually always right, sometimes they’re having a bad day and may make a mistake, sometimes that will apply to you, or one of your staff. However, gloating about how you put that customer in his place when he complained about an incorrect order, will gain you no fans. Everyone makes mistakes and ultimately as a business, it’s how you deal with them that shows your true mettle.
Deal with complaints privately. Don’t be tempted to respond to a complaint on social media with anything other than an offer to sort things out. Reply with a request for the customer to send their details privately, so you can investigate and resolve the issue. This is a public demonstration of how you take customer service seriously. Having a public slanging match with a customer will only reflect badly on you.
Retweet with Care
At certain times of the year, businesses want to demonstrate that they care and support relevant causes, such as the Poppy Appeal, Comic Relief, etc.
It’s easy to see a nice post about supporting veterans or the elderly for example and quickly share it to show your support for the message. It’s also very easy to get tripped up by a far-right group hijacking such a campaign to garner support. If you are sharing posts from extreme groups, your followers will assume you follow and support that organisation or page. They may find that influences their decision on whether to do business with you – or not.
Check who you are sharing from, before hitting ‘post’. It literally takes less than thirty seconds and can save you a lot of grief.
Sell, Sell, Sell.
Yes, social media is a good place to promote your latest offers, new products and to remind people of what you do best. If however, you only use it as a tool for self-promotion, it will trip you up. Followers will soon get fed up of a constant barrage of advertising. Make it interesting, use your personality, but most importantly make your posts human.
The same applies to overuse of keywords. Including a target keyword or phrase too many times will make your content harder to read and far less interesting. The same applies to overusing hashtags.
Using social media as a business is very different to using it for personal updates. Our content experts can help you to maximise your social media impact. We can help with strategies that will increase your online footprint without your content feeling forced or fake. You can easily find out more by using the ‘Contact Us’ link above or email on firstname.lastname@example.org. Drop us a line!
This post contains icon artwork by dDara