Going for the Likes: 4 Social Media Rules Businesses Have to Abide by in 2019
What I’m about to say might surprise but there are indeed rules you have to abide by on the internet. I know that sounds ridiculous given the depths of depravity the dark corners of Reddit and 4chan are capable of but I do believe that there are still lines you should never cross online. I get that the veil of anonymity provided by the internet provides you with a degree of freedom you might not have in real life, I admit I’m considerably more spoken when I’m writing online, but that doesn’t mean you could just say nor do whatever you want.
This is especially true in the professional realm as more and more businesses and professionals use social media as a way to connect with the public. It’s important for businesses to be authentic as possible, reneging their stiff upper lip in favor of a relaxed demeanor but at the same time, they still have to maintain a semblance of professionalism because they’re not here just for the sake of it. It might seem small and irrelevant but your social media conduct is actually something that would be heavily scrutinized in the world we currently live in.
The things you would never do in public
We all have our specific beefs when it comes to public conduct. I’m very much a bus/train person and when I see people doing things they should never ever do on public transportation; such as watching something on their phones on speaker or standing near the exit even though there’s still space inside, I’d instantly have a very bad impression on the people doing those things, even if they’re actually very nice people outside of public transportation.
Social media is the same; there’s the proper, and improper, way of doing things and for the sake of professionalism, if nothing else, it is advisable for businesses to abide by these rules. If you’re an outspoken proponent for human right issues and the plethora of injustices that are still commonly found all over the world, great, but when you’re speaking on behalf of a company, you need to be mindful of the line between the personal and the professional. To help you navigate this thorny landscape, here are 4 rules you should always take into account when it comes to social media.
Listen before you talk
When it comes to social media, there’s this propensity for public to try and give their hot takes before everybody else’s. I understand this need to be the first to everything but knee-jerk reactions are rarely thoughtful or well-researched and you can easily get in hot water when it turns out that your hot takes are simply full of hot air. If your business is pushed for a reaction but you still feel you lack the appropriate information, then come right out and say so. You might have to suffer from some negative reaction in the short term but you also don’t have to worry about your hot takes being put under the microscope as the conversation develops.
Hot takes are like a gamble in that way. If your take proved to be the more acceptable option, you’ll gain some respect but if it turns out to be bad, you’re going to have to figure out a way to save face and trying to recover from a scandal can be insanely hard. Take the case of Justine Sacco, whose story became a viral sensation way back in 2013. She made one lapse of judgment by tweeting an insensitive joke five years ago and yet, that story is still what came up when you Google her name. The internet never forgets.
Respond to questions and negative reviews as fast as possible
The one thing you should never allow to happen is to make people feel as if they’re not being heard. This isn’t something we want in a relationship and this also isn’t something we want when it comes to businesses. I once had dealings with an event management company that couldn’t even provide customers with some logistic information. I DMed the company and they never answered my question. I had to literally ask another customer for the information I was looking for and when the event it question turned out to be a bust, it didn’t surprise me in the slightest.
Not every question lobbed your way deserves to be answered, trolls are abound in all corners of the internet after all, but for genuine questions, businesses have to strive to answer them as soon as possible, even if the information they’re looking is something you’ve made public. Negative reviews should also be responded quickly, especially if they relate to something that’s out of the ordinary. Trust me when I say you don’t want your business to be the centerpiece of a viral hit piece.
Show some respect to your competitors
Some light ribbing is fine but I always have problem with businesses that are excessively snarky on social media. When Uncharted 4, the conclusion to the highly popular series of action video games that started in 2007, came out in 2016 for the PlayStation 4, Phil Spencer, the head of the Xbox brand that serves as the direct competitor of Sony’s PlayStation division, was quick to praise Sony and Naughty Dog, the team behind the Uncharted series, for their work on the game.
It was well deserved of course, and I admit that I may be slightly biased in this given my affection for the entire series, but it shows that even if you might be technically competing with each other, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t applaud them for their good work. It doesn’t have to be either Star Wars or Star Trek and it doesn’t have to be either Marvel or DC. It’s pointless to draw a line in the sand like this and bad-mouthing your competitors can also make you seem petty, something that should always be avoided.
Give credits where they’re due
Being on social media means that at some point, you’re going to be reduced to reposting what other people have posted before. They can be jokes or cute pictures or even photos of your products being used by your customers and it really doesn’t matter what is being reposted as long as you make sure that the original poster was credited. Don’t be like The Fat Jew and Fuck Jerry, two Instagram accounts that’s been in hot water for reusing other people’s jokes without crediting them.