There are some basic rules to social media marketing, most of which you probably already know. However, it’s a good idea to review them periodically.
What’s more, these are some great rules of thumb for participating in forums. Hopefully you’ll find them helpful.
Be 100% truthful and open about who you are and what you’re about. This means that you should disclose your business purpose on your social media profile. It doesn’t have to be explicit, just something that shows your affiliation.
Contribute to the community. No one likes to be around a person that only talks about themselves – when you participate in a community, find ways to offer advice, help people, contribute to resources, etc. This is especially critical on forums, where users are wary of anyone with a commercial purpose.
Always be gracious and polite. Online communities are famous for harboring “trolls” – people who have nothing better to do than start trouble and poke holes. “Kill them with kindness” as it were.
Own up to mistakes. When you participate in an online community, you will inevitably have a “run-in” with someone who had a bad experience with your business and is eager to berate you. Rather than engaging in finger pointing, admit that you could have handled the situation better, apologize, and move on. The person with the bad experience may not let it go once you’ve apologized, but the community will recognize your honesty and give you the benefit of the doubt.
Speak with one voice. If you don’t already have an Employee Social Network Policy, now is the time to get one started. It’s very important that your employees comprehend your marketing goals and understand what they can and can not do.
Respect your competitors. If your competition is smart, they’re participating in these communities just like you are. Never denigrate your competitors or their products – it hurts your own image more than it hurts theirs.
Write as if your parents or children are in the room. Imagine that everything you do or write on a social network will be seen by every member of your family. Obviously, foul language, crude innuendo, etc. are unacceptable.
Respect privacy. Don’t make the mistake of disclosing a client relationship in a public forum, ie. don’t blog about “Jane stopping by the shop last week” unless you’re sure that Jane wants you to disclose her business with you to the entire world. The same goes for your employees, vendors, etc.