The Social Commandments

social mediaSocial media is still a relatively new topic, field and area of marketing.  But as more time passes there is becoming more and more rules to this diverse field.  These rules are not written but often spoken and unfortunately individual users of social media tend to break these rules.  Even businesses have often fallen short of social media expectations.

Recently, Mashable compiled a list of The 10 Commandments of Social Media and to me they make perfect sense.  I have added my own rules and commentary to these “commandments” and created two lists one for businesses and the other for individuals.

The 10 Commandments for Businesses on Social Media

  1. Thou shalt understand the differences between social media platforms. 
    • There is a huge difference between the social media platforms.  The way a company can speak, the type of content that is posted and the type of responses that are expected all vary by platform.  It is important for companies to learn social media etiquette on each platform, not just assume that the platforms are the same.
  2. Thou shalt keep business and pleasure separate.
    • This is one of Mashable’s commandments.  Business and corporate accounts need to be kept separate for multiple reasons.  This rule is pretty well accepted by large established businesses; however, in the case of start-ups and small businesses, business owners tend to use their personal accounts as the brand promotion account.  Users that are following a business on social media are doing so because they want inside information to the brand and because the have a sense of identification with the brand.  You do not want to confuse your followers of the brand when you post personal information.
  3. Thou shalt not bad mouth competitors.
    • It looks tacky when you are bad mouthing your competitors online.  Promote yourself, there is no need to go after your competitors online.  For me personally, even marketing campaigns that use comparison tactics (that mock other brands) do not work.  Your fans are your fans, they already like your brand, they do not need to hear why they should like your brand over your competition.
  4. Thou shalt proofread before posting.

    • Anyone who has seen a poorly written post on a social media site knowns that you lose some of your credibility when you spell things wrong.  It does not take that much time to proofread something especially if you are working on a corporate account (you are getting paid do write, post or tweet.
  5. Thou shalt honor thy brand’s values.
    • Every brand has a code of conduct and even on social media it should be followed and applied.  A social media voice should have the same values as the overall brand.
  6. Thou shalt share value.
    • Think of every post as a chance to gain a customer.  Whatever you post will be read by your customers and others online.  With the way social media works it is so easy to have tweets retweeted, a Facebook posts shared or promoted by friends, even Instagram has a its own way to find out what pictures your friends are liking or commenting on.
  7. Thou shalt honor thy customer.
    • When a customer asks a question on any social media platform, they should be answered. A customer wants to feel acknowledged.  It does not necessarily matter if a post is positive or negative.  Recognize what the customer has said, create the conversation back with them.  Accept that each post by a customer is a chance to enhance your business, think of it like research and gaining customer insights. Social media offers companies another outlet for customer service and customer relationship management.
  8. Thou shalt not be automated.
    • Fans or followers of brands do not necessarily want to know things are automated.  They like to think that someone is creating that message just for them.  When they see the same information posted on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (or whatever platforms the company is on), the followers are likely to stop following one or more accounts because there is no worth to following the multiple accounts.
  9. Thou shalt understand what platforms meet the business’s needs.
    • Not every platform is fit for every business.  Companies have a tendency to jump on the bandwagon of platforms just to be there. If you are going to be on the platform as an outlet for your fans and followers to connect with you, your company should actually be using it.  As a company looking to go on a social media platform, you will need to evaluate your target audience.  If they are mostly women than your company should be on Pinterest and be actively using the Pinterest features.  If they are primarily businesses than you should have a company LinkedIn page; as well as, a Twitter page.
  10. Thou shalt not covet other’s followers.
    • As a business you have your own fans and should not be jealous because your competitor at one point in time has more followers or fans online than you.

social media networkingThe 10 Commandments for Individuals on Social Media

  1. Thou shalt not bring drama onto social media.
    • Commandment number one is a slight take on Mashable’s thinking before posting commandment.  Social media is a not place to bring drama or bad mouth your friends.  It makes you look stupid to anyone who knows the story.  Bringing drama to social media does not add value to anyone’s world, it just briefly makes you feel better about yourself.
  2. Thou shalt honor thy followers time.
    • As an individual you are typically being followed by your friends, sometimes fans and other times businesses.  It is important to be conscious of their time, do not right essays on Facebook or LinkedIn, that is what a blog is for.  Making your followers think there is some worth to your online rant is misleading and can lead to someone hitting the “unlike” or “unfollow” button.  Think of each of your post as an elevator pitch not as a high school essay.
  3. Thou shalt be true to thyself.
    • Only you truly know who you are.  Do not go out of your way to try and talk about things you have no interest in just to attract new followers (it will show through).   Be confident in what you want to post about not what you think people want to see.
  4. Thou shalt not put private matters online.
    • Social media is not the place to bring drama or fights online, this goes hand-in-hand with commandment number one.  Girls are typically the biggest offenders of this rule.  Trying to get people on your side is immature and will show through. The maturity will shine through when your friends who know the story do not see it blasted online.
  5. Thou shalt respect the hashtag.
    • The hashtag was created in Twitter to be used to generate conversations with people outside of your follower base.  Now a days people tend to over use the hashtag.  Hashtagging key words or phrases is smart, hashtagging every word in a post is annoying.  Hashtags are not just for Twitter anymore, Facebook recently announced they would be incorporating the hashtag into their site as well.  Sadly the announcement did not need to be made for individuals to start using hashtags on Facebook.
  6. Thou shalt think before posting.
    • When you post something you have to reread it, edit it and put time into completing your thoughts.  Do not post statuses that only make sense to you or bring the drama to the web, no one needs to read it.
  7. Thou shalt not complain.
    • No one wants to follow a constant complainer and on the opposite side, no one wants to be the person that people talk about because of their complaining.  Be the person people cannot wait to read their latest post or for their latest content to come up.
  8. Thou shalt not be automated.
    • As a personal social media user, you should never be automated.  If you are going to use a scheduling software make sure your content is varied on the different platforms.  You want to make it seem as personal as possible especially when you think you are typically addressing your friends or industry representatives.
  9. Thou shalt not post images that you would not want your boss to see.
    • You should always use the thought process of, “Would my mom, boss, or grandmother approve?”, before posting a picture. If one of those people should not see the picture than it does not belong on the internet.  Once something is in cyberspace it cannot be removed.  The delete button does not work the way you want it to and ultimately does not exist on the web.
  10. Thou shalt not claim to be an “expert”.
    • Anyone who has seen the people with “social media expert” in their job title and then looks at their LinkedIn and sees they are self-employed or unemployed knows what I mean.  Claiming to be an expert will only dock your credibility if you do not have the credentials to back up your “title”.

Whether you are using social media for personal or business reasons, you need to be conscious of what you say and how you present yourself.  You never know who is looking at your posts and you do not want something you posted to hurt your personal or business brand in the long run.

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