I’m not here to tell you how to run your personal social media accounts. You can say what you want, share what you want, and “Like” and “Retweet” and “Share” whatever posts you want. You can also do the same on your business social media accounts … if, that is, you’d like to offend people, lose customers, go out of business, and enter bankruptcy. OK, that may be a bit over-the-top — but it can happen and sometimes does. One errant Facebook post or Tweet and a business is in the news for all the wrong reasons and their reputation is ruined.
10 Things You Shouldn’t Post on Business Social Media
I’m about to give you my best recommendations — as a professional communicator for 20+ years, and a social media aficionado for the past decade — for things that you as a business owner should never post on social media.
But first, the Golden Rules of Social Media …
I go by two Golden Rules for social media posting. Each has been attributed to many people, but whoever said them isn’t what’s important here — their messages are:
- Post on social media as if your grandma is reading.
Just take a moment to think about that sweet old lady (and all the sweet old ladies with internet access). Would you be OK with her reading that stuff you’re about to post?
- The things you post can live forever on the internet — even if you delete it.
People can take a screenshot of your post before you get the chance to remove it, and if it’s been up long enough, the various web archive sites might even capture your post for all eternity. Is that post going to be a proud part of your company’s reputation and legacy?
And now …
As promised, my list of 10 things business owners should never post on social media.
1. No Politics
If we learned nothing else from 2016, we learned that a LOT of our country is polarized. With so many people on extreme ends of the political spectrum, alienating potential customers is more common than ever. But just because you disagree on politics doesn’t mean you can’t do business with each other.
2. No Religious Posts
Religion is a deeply personal thing, and while you might find strong support among others who share your faith, you probably wouldn’t start talking about religion in a face-to-face sales pitch (unless it was pitching a religious organization).
3. No Overly Silly Stuff
While humor has its place and everyone loves a good LOL on social media, there’s a fine line between “here’s a witty look at our industry” and “here’s a guy passing gas to the tune of We Will Rock You.” We all have different tastes when it comes to comedy, and what’s funny to you might have a potential customer unfollowing you, unfriending you, and seeking out your competition.
4. Nothing Too Personal
OK, the occasional happy news is fine. But your personal stuff belongs on your personal account. So, share a photo of your new baby or grandchild visiting you at your office, but draw the line at posting that pic of the big salad you had for lunch or that selfie of you with the giant beer at the 4th of July BBQ.
5. No Negative Posts About Customers/Clients
Keep it classy. Even if your business relationship is over (and it wasn’t amicable), it’s simply not worth making public statements or arguing online. Of course, if they’re posting about you, dealing with that is a whole other Rocks Digital article.
6. Too Much About You and Your Business and Your Products/Services
That’s a lot of “you” and “your” right there, which is more of a monologue and less of a conversation engaging with your friends and followers. (Which is, by and large, the point of social media.) So, break up all of those posts about you, you and you by sharing blogs from other industry leaders or big thinkers, news from industry websites and publications, etc.
7. Posts with Typos and Errors
Seriously, run a spellcheck. It takes like a minute. But remember that the spellcheck function doesn’t catch everything. For example, if you bear your soul and peak someone’s interest, you might realize that those two verbs I just used are the wrong words. (“Bare” and “pique” for you kids playing at home.) If you can’t re-read your post, find someone with “a good eye” and bribe them with coffee or snacks or free red markers to review it.
8. Scheduled Posts
While I understand them from a practical standpoint, I loathe scheduled posts — mostly because I’ve seen what can happen when they go wrong. (Spoiler Alert: It ain’t pretty.) You never know when a clever Tweet about your new organic weed killer product that you scheduled for Wednesday morning will go out right after Tuesday night’s news report that organic weed killers don’t work and are actually destroying the planet.
9. NSFW Posts
If it’s “Not Safe For Work”, it sure Isn’t safe for your business social media account.
10. Anything That Might Make You Look Unprofessional, Ignorant, or Insensitive.
This pretty much encapsulates the two Golden Rules above. Just think of Grandma, and remember that once you click Send or Share or Post or Tweet, it’s out there — potentially forever. Your business social media accounts need to be taken seriously as your business itself.
So Finally, When Posting on Social Media …
Let common sense prevail. Treat your business social media accounts as important communications vehicles that can be just as essential to your sales and marketing efforts as any other media.
Have a happy New Year — and safe posting!
Do you have any “Don’t Post This” ideas or stories? Feel free to share in the comments below. And please share this blog with your social networks if you found it interesting!