The 10 Tenets of Social Media for Business (or Anyone)

Social media is a powerful tool. As I’ve mentioned in the past, it’s the most effective way to show your current and prospective clients who you are – that there’s a face and a person behind the business.

But, done wrong, social media use can be disastrous for a company. Try to keep yourself out of trouble. Follow these 10 tenets of social media for businesses.

  1. Speak not of thy religion.

I don’t care if you’re a devout Christian, a zealous Hindu or an ardent atheist. That kind of talk has no place of social media.

Failing to abide by this tenet can alienate people, cause tension between yourself and clients, and can ultimately lead to the failure of your business. You’re not Hobby Lobby. You’re not Chick-fil-A. You simply do not have the capacity to absorb the type of drama that religious talk brings.

The only exception to this is if you solely surround yourself with like-minded people. For example, if you’re a Southern Baptist who would like to work solely for Southern Baptist publications, great. Fly your flag high. Otherwise, zip it.

  1. Don’t talk about politics.

Do you want to build a wall? Guess what? Not everyone does. So, as in the case of religion, keep your yap closed.

Over the course of my career, I’ve been charged countless times with writing pieces which were well out of both my religious and political belief sets. Those, of course, were paying jobs. A great deal of money I’d have missed out on had I been prone to yammering on about Obama or Trump.

Nobody cares about your political preferences – keep that to your personal page.

  1. Don’t overshare.

This is true for the whole dang internet, in fact. And there are many “compartments” which oversharing can fit neatly into. Need a few examples? Okay.

No one wants to hear about your:

  • Dog dying
  • Funeral arrangements for said dog
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Gout
  • Reproductive system – any part of it
  • Children’s personal information (and those who do will not use it for good)
  • Friends’ personal information
  1. Keep the income talk to a minimum.

You want the world, including prospective customers, to know that you’re successful. You want them to understand that you know what you’re doing.

You don’t necessarily need to do that by divulging income information, though.

“I’m excited to have begun a new contract with Such and Such Company – I love what this business is doing!”

… is much better than …

“Such and Such Company is paying me $1,000 for a blog post this week!”

  1. Don’t talk about your clients

For the love of the gods, please don’t talk about your clients online. Never reveal names, and never, ever trash them. It’s not only a great way to lose a contract, it’s also a damn fine way to get sued.

  1. Don’t share too many details about projects.

On the same front, we don’t need to know everything about the specific projects you’re working on. Keep the specs to a minimum to avoid breaking non-disclosure agreements. Again, a great way to get either fired or cast under the long arm of litigation.

  1. Don’t use hate speech.

You shouldn’t do this anyway. Think twice before you bash someone for their:

  • Appearance
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Weight
  • Skin color
  • Religion
  • Anything

Anything at all. Bullying, discrimination and hatred are not okay, ever.

  1. Don’t bombard followers with ads.

Why do you follow your favorite businesses on social media? Chances are, they’re sharing something useful with you. It could be a hotel located in a place you’ve always dreamed of visiting. A restaurant which specializes in non-GMO, vegan Thai cuisine. Or a local hardware store which frequently posts pretty awesome DIY projects.

You don’t mind seeing an advertisement for a special promotion every now and then. Hotel du Jour is offering half off rates over Memorial Day weekend? Count me in!

But you don’t want to be bombarded with these “specials” every time you open your Facebook or Twitter feed. Those specials seem a lot less special when that’s the case.

Your customers and clients don’t want to see your ads, either. Use social media to establish your personal brand. Use it to mark yourself as an expert in your industry. Once your clients fall in love with you – the person and the company – they’ll bite.

  1. Don’t air your grievances.

This is a double-edged sword. Social media is actually quite an effective way to get stuff done. Having problems with your bank? They’re more likely to respond satisfactorily if you threaten to “take it to Twitter.”

But social media shouldn’t be a way to vent your every frustration. There’s a correct way to do that. Proper channels, such as a phone call or private email, should be a first resort if you’ve run into trouble. Social media isn’t a way to air your grievances, and using it as such will only serve to make you look unprofessional.

  1. Do be social!

Social media is social. As they say, “it is what its name implies.”

Use social media to make connections, establish relationships with clients, colleagues, influential people and those who might need your expertise or consultancy.

But don’t limit it to business. Talk about what you’re watching on Netflix, or about the fact that the snow plow still hasn’t made it down your road. Talk about the Olympics or strange celebrity baby names.

Social media is all about breaking down the barriers between you and your prospective clients. Use your good common sense, and don’t take the bait from those who would love to involve you in a 1990s flame war. Keep it professional, and you’ll love what social media can do for you.

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