Getting Started with Social Media: Etiquette Is Key

Social media has been around for a while now.  Maybe you know it as a great way to stay connected with friends from all areas of the country and even around the globe.  What you might not know, though, is that it can really help you establish a business and make you well known.  Navigating social media networks as a means to establishing and expanding your business is somewhat different than the social chitchat you’re probably already comfortable with, however.

In other words, social media has its own ground rules when it comes to establishing your business.  Follow them, and you’ll have a good chance of not just attracting customers, but of becoming well-respected in your field — not just by your customers, but by your professional colleagues, too.  Ignore them, though, and you’ll likely crash and burn quickly.

Rule number one: Don’t spam

The worst thing you can do for yourself is to hop onto one of the social media networks and begin to spam participants with “news” about your business, or about your next great product.  Establishing your business via social networking is a lot more subtle than that, and spamming will just irritate people.  Worse, it’ll probably get you banned from a particular network so that you can’t use it to promote yourself.

Rule number two: Lurk before you leap

Sign up for several of the popular social media network sites (sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are some popular ones) and then just have a look around.  Follow people or join groups that are similar to your business or complementary to it.  Lurk and get a feel for how things are done, notice how people talk to each other, and make note of any rules of etiquette.  For example, you may notice that while anything goes on social media networks when the chat is social and casual between friends and acquaintances (including letting insults fly, in some cases), it’s a lot more respectful, targeted and professional in the business arena.  You’ll notice that people ask pointed questions, and get specific answers from people who have expertise in the area. That’s where you’re going to come in, eventually, which leads us to:

Rule number three: Participate carefully

Your next step is to get involved in the conversation — carefully.  The next time a topic comes up that you can participate in, do so.  However, make sure you participate as an expert in that you talk about the topic related to your business in an advice or information giving posture, not with “sales” in mind.  You can promote your business, product you sell, etc., indirectly by putting your website in your sig. line (below your name) attached to your post, and in your profile.  However, DON’T overtly talk about your business or the products or services you offer.

Rule number four: Organically establish yourself as an expert in your field

Social media can certainly help you promote your business, and your products or services, because it is a great way to get your name out there, fast.  Ideally, though, at this point, you don’t want to “advertise.”  Instead, you’re simply establishing yourself as an expert in your field, which will make people look for your name when they want information about your particular niche.  This ultimately will help you sell your products or services almost effortlessly.

Rule number five: Do some subtle “branding”

Use your name and image whenever you post; by doing so, you’re going to make yourself well known to people.  Whenever they see your name or image, they’ll know they’ll be given some good information about your particular niche — with no “hard sell” tactics.  Establishing this kind of rapport and connection to your potential sales base (customers) will make selling almost effortless.

So what do you think?

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