Social Networking for Business – 9 Tips for Managing Your Brand and Reputation

Many businesses are recognizing the potential of social networks to market their products and services. They can be an effective way to reach new customers and keep existing customers engaged. Small businesses especially, can engage their local markets very effectively.

A successful social networking campaign can increase the exposure of your brand exponentially through the social multiplier effect.

Each Facebook fan has  "friends" that will see their "likes" and their "friends" have "friends", and so on.

But just as social networking has the awesome ability to increase awareness for your products, it can also  multiply your missteps in the same way. Businesses must be thoughtful, careful and deliberate in their use of social media if they want to avoid mistakes and manage their reputations well.

Following these guidelines will help your business establish and maintain a good reputation while using social networking:

1.)  Post new messages from your a business account, not from your personal account. A separate account for your business will allow you to be yourself with your friends and help you to be more professional with your potential customers.

2.)  If you want to sell products and services to people regardless of their political views, don’t express yours.

3.)  Do not be crude or rude!  Why risk alienating anyone?  Be very careful with attempts at humor. Words on a page, or in an email, cannot convey inflection, body language or facial expressions.

4.)  Do not post to Facebook or Twitter several times a day. You can post to Twitter a little more often than Facebook but, be considerate or your posts will only be annoying.

5.)  If you do not have a blog, start one. A blog article's longer form will give you better ability to define the value of your offerings. A blog can help establish you as an authority in your area of business. A blog will also give you more opportunities to connect with customers on other social networks.

6.)  Keep posts professional and on subject. Your customers will appreciate getting the information they expect from you.

7.)  Do use multiple channels of social networking but, be careful and do not cross business and personal lines between channels. Start and maintain each channel professionally.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and blogging each have unique individual strengths but, when used together in a well planned social media marketing campaign, they can become a powerful advertising strategy. If your professionalism slips on any of them, it may be noticed by your customers that use the others.

8.)  Study how successful businesses similar to yours use social media. If they are using it effectively, they are most likely using several channels in a well orchestrated strategy.

9.)  Engage with your customers. Answer comments and questions. Be social!  After all, that is what your customers expect on a social website. Many business experts believe the opportunity to engage with customers is the real power of social media.

Many of your potential customers may have more experience with social networking than you. They will immediately compare your marketing methods and messages with those of other businesses and judge yours accordingly.

Be professional. 
Well designed and executed social media marketing campaigns will improve your website’s search rankings and bring you more customers.