It’s really hard nowadays to start a successful business without having some form of online presence. For better or for worse, the internet has become a pervasive force in our society, and knowledge of how to best use it has made or broken businesses. At the forefront of this wave of connectivity is social media, with websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and other networking sites incorporating themselves fully in our modern zeitgeist and enhancing the importance of presenting yourself online properly. We’ve all seen funny images of companies making mistakes on social media, clumsily stumbling around to the ridicule of their customer base.
Here’s how to not be those guys.
Keep your page alive
If you have some sort of social media presence, whether it be a Facebook page or a Twitter account, the onus is on you to keep it going. The first step to properly presenting yourself online is to be present, nothing turns people off more than a dead page. If you’re going to have those accounts, then make an effort to regularly update them (and I mean regularly, make a schedule if you have to). Time flows faster on the internet than it does in real life—if your page has been cold for a month, it’s well out of people’s memory. This doesn’t mean you should spam your social media accounts every five minutes, or even every day, but aim for some kind of update or post every two days, or at least twice a week.
Put your best foot forward
You wouldn’t show up to the office in your pajamas or drunk from last night’s party, so don’t show up to your social media page the same way. Having a social media page necessitates easing up on the privacy settings (a page isn’t going to do you much good if no one can find it), but if your business’s page is linked up to your personal page, you may be setting yourself up for some embarrassment. As much as possible, keep business separated from pleasure. You might be updating your social media page from home in your pajamas, but the beauty of the internet means that no one ever has to know that. When presenting yourself online, put your best foot forward and treat every interaction like it’s an important conversation you’re having in your office (for best effect, picture yourself wearing your best suit). Professionalism can only help you in the long run.
If you’re having trouble configuring your privacy settings to make sure customers can’t go digging through your family vacation pictures, don’t hesitate to ask. There are a lot of tech-savvy people out there, and most of us would be happy to help. Just, again, make sure you know who you’re asking and how to recognize bad advice. I’d hate for your first encounter with the word ‘troll’ to be while asking an innocent question like this.
Don’t make it all about you
This one might be confusing. After all, you’re presenting yourself online, not your customers or everyone else around you, but social media was designed to be interactive. If all you do on your pages is post pictures of what you’re doing with links for people to spend their money and then never actually talk to those people, you’re doing it wrong. If the entirety of your page consists of links to things you’re selling, you’re already setting off a lot of red flags in the minds of people trained to recognize spam. So talk to them. Keep it as professional as possible, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add in a touch of the personal here and there. A funny anecdote from a conference you went to, a little bit of advice, maybe a personal story that relates to the product you’re selling. You don’t want to open your entire life up to the internet and you definitely want to stay professional, but reminding people that you’re human reminds people that you’re approachable, and approachable people do better business.
Keep your content varied
This goes along with the point above—you want to make sure your page has varied content. It can’t all be links or pictures or funny stories or polls, but it should be some combination of all the options you have available. Page getting stale? Throw in a video. Too many links? Put up a story or an image. Not enough back-and-forth? Ask a question and respond to the responses. People love to feel like they’re being heard, and a lot of people go to social media sites to be entertained. If you can stand out in their minds, you might merit more than just being scrolled past as they move on to look at more pictures of cats, or whatever it is people do on the internet.
Hopefully this advice is helpful to you as you start working on presenting yourself online. Remember, everything in moderation. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing anymore, and too many posts or too few posts, too many links or too few links, too personal or too aloof, and you find yourself gravitating to the lonelier ends of the spectrum. You want to find the balance between all of those points, and that balance will be different for every company. I can’t describe what it will look like for you, but start by being smart about your social media usage, and it will all work out. Good luck!