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Top Tips for Social Media Etiquette

By Jeffrey Barnhart

Social media users grew by 121 million between Q2 2017 and Q3 2017. That works out to a new social media user every 15 seconds. In addition, 81 percent of all small and medium businesses use social platforms for growth. These overwhelming statistics illustrate the importance of your business using proper etiquette, when engaging with users on social media.

Loosely defined as the conventional, unwritten practices followed by members of a certain behavior or activity, etiquette now applies to the virtual world and is strongly practiced by avid and professional social media users. Rather than freely posting anything and everything onto sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn—there’s an unspoken “code of conduct” driving the way professionals act and react to matters on social sites.

When a business doesn’t respond to conversations on social media, especially if it’s a negative comment, it reflects badly and shows poor etiquette. According to Econsultancy, 53 percent of customers who ask a business a question on Twitter expect a response within one hour. If a customer makes a complaint, however, that figure goes up to 72 percent. This is one of the most challenging aspects to a social media marketing campaign, as many businesses don’t have the bandwidth to handle this time-consuming process. It’s critical to be well informed, on an ongoing basis, about what’s being said about your brand on social media. By doing this, you will get ahead of the chatter, especially if it’s negative. When you address an issue immediately, with a neutral comment or one that drives to resolve an issue offline, you not only will show that you’re paying attention and care about what’s being said about your brand, but you also will have an opportunity to stop that person from spreading more negative information. This also is a good way to build customer loyalty and stay engaged with your target audiences.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most commonly used social media channels and how you can employ proper etiquette, while using them:

Facebook – Created to connect friends through wall posts and photo sharing, Facebook’s vast user base has become a primary target for individuals of businesses to solicit and advertise their ideas and products. Flooding Facebook’s newsfeed, however, with constant posts and status updates is unfavorable and out-of-place to many Facebook users, who are simply on the site to stay in touch with friends.

LinkedIn – This social media platform differs from Facebook and Twitter, in that it is a professional based site first and used for social reasons, second. As a professional site, LinkedIn provides scripted templates for testimonial, endorsement and connection requests. However, users should still add in a personal touch for the exchange to make an impact. For people who have over 500+ connections, it’s easy for a scripted message to get lost in the bunch!

Twitter – This brief message communication tool enables users to send out messages (tweets) up to 280 characters long to people who follow you. Your tweets can include a link to any web content, photograph or video. Now what’s the deal with retweeting or “RT”, as it’s recognized by many? The idea of retweeting comes with a two-pronged etiquette custom. One: Understand that not every tweet is RT-able.  Two: If someone does RT you—it is polite to thank them for sharing your ideas. In addition, think about when to use hashtags and how many. Although hashtags are a great way to give your social media messaging higher visibility and greater reach, use them sparingly so you don’t detract from your key messaging.

Social media and its importance in business is going to continue to grow and have a prominent place in the integrated marketing communications mix. A report by Pew Research indicates that 65 percent of American adults and 76 percent of all online Americans have joined a social network. At some point, either through a campaign you implement or a reactive comment, your brand will appear on social media. Therefore, be sure you’re proactive and on your best behavior when engaging on social media, so your visitors feel important and heard – which in turn will continue to build loyalty to your brand.

Is your business using proper etiquette, when interacting with your users on social media? Do you have an interesting story tell on this topic? Please share it in the comments below.

Jeffrey Barnhart is president and CEO of CMA, an award-winning, full service marketing agency that builds reputation, relationships and return on investment. To ensure that you are successfully managing brand, it would benefit you to work with professionals who are experts in marketing. CMA can help! Contact us at 800-852-4269 or email us at