If we learn anything from celebrity social media accounts, we know that social media is not the place to go on rants – ahem, Kanye West. Over the past month, we’ve seen how fast public perception can change based on a few tweets. Celebrities and organizations should know the dos and don’ts of handling their social media, but still we see many forgetting simple etiquette rules.

Whether one person or an entire digital team runs your social media, everyone should follow proper etiquette when it comes to sharing content online. Make sure your social media team knows these rules by heart.

1. Create content for your specific target audience

Sharing engaging content that is geared toward your audience will turn your social media accounts into an interesting conversation platform. Don’t spam your followers’ feeds with content that isn’t relevant to their interests. If you’re unsure of the kind of content you should be posting, follow the graphic below created by Hootsuite.

think-before-you-post-hootsuite-flowchart2. Separate business and personal accounts

Your business account serves a different purpose than your personal account. Keeping your accounts separate will prevent accidentally posting a personal picture to your business account. Aside from that, the messaging and branding of your organization needs to stay consistent when you’re posting on social media.

3. Avoid offensive content

This is a no brainer, but there are still some organizations that miss the mark when sharing content. It’s always a good idea to ask, “Will someone be offended by this post?” If there is any gray area, it might be best to refrain from posting. Something to think about that will help in this situation is to consider the relevance and importance of the content.

4. Plan, schedule and get posts approved in advance

The benefit of planning posts out in advance is it prevents posting irrelevant or negative content on your social media accounts – by accident – without first going through an approval process. A content calendar can help avoid gaps in your social media content.

5. Respond to comments – especially negative ones – in a timely manner

At some point, your organization may face angry or dissatisfied customers who decide to vent their frustration on your social media pages. When this happens, it’s a great opportunity to show your customers how responsive and efficient your customer service team is.

6. Use hashtags sparingly

Hashtags are great for increasing visibility online, but there is a time and a place for them – Twitter and Instagram. Too many hashtags can detract from the message you are trying to share. So, use hashtags sparingly and pick ones that are targeted to your specific audience and relevant to the content of the post. 

7. Don’t oversell

Social media is not meant to be a direct sales tool. It should be used to create brand awareness and grow your reputation. There is nothing wrong with self-promoting your organization online, but don’t make it all about you. Center posts around your brand and your followers.

8. Never speak negatively about a competitor

Connecting with competitors on social media can be a great way to identify trends and opportunities for your organization. Just make sure your social media team is playing nice. Bad mouthing competition on social media can ruin your online reputation. If brands reference you in a negative way, take time to respond to their comments just as you would your customers.

9.Refrain from purchasing likes/followers

While buying likes and followers spikes your numbers on social media, it does not increase business for your organization. The other downside of purchasing fans is it lowers your credibility as an organization. No one may know that you bought your fans, but going from 500 fans to 50,000 fans may look suspicious to your serious customers. Social media is about building a relationship with your customers. If you do that first, the likes and follows will come.

10. Represent your brand in a professional manner

This rule combines all the rules in one. No matter what, always represent your organization in a professional manner. If you do this first, everything else should fall into place.