Social Media Rules: How not to use 

Social networking can be a powerful tool, but it is also dangerous if misdirected. Remember that social media was built to be social.

The best way to engage users and get them to talk about and interact with a company is to be personable, honest, and entertaining. You want your users to be entertained and trust you and then do all the work for you.

Five rules are essential to building trust with users, attracting them to your business, and encouraging them to share their opinions.

Do not be dishonest.

We’ve all been fooled by a fake post at least once. After realizing our fallibility, we were embarrassed and disappointed. We developed a keen awareness of deception: we are always on the lookout and hate it when it is seen. We don’t like overtly dishonest comments, reviews, or posts that are disguised as promotions. Neither do our customers.

Internet users are also opposed to fakery, but they do appreciate honesty and straightforwardness. Instead of responding to a bad review with fake positives, respond publicly to the reviewer. You can offer her a discount or an easy way to fix the issue, and she might be more willing to work with you than a PR manager or reputation manager.

Do not be annoying.

Remember the chain mails of the early 2000s? No one liked them. You wouldn’t send your customers a bunch of useless emails or ads, so don’t bombard their Twitter accounts with mediocre blog posts and promotions. Focus on creating engaging promotional content, and Internet users will do the majority of your advertising for you.

See what other companies do to promote their products and get people talking. Giving away a service for free is a popular strategy these days. What free service can your business offer to those who follow you on Twitter or “Like” you on Facebook? A generous offer can build trust and loyalty among users and encourage them to share your website with their friends.

Don’t fight against the nature of the Internet.

Online promotion of a product or service can be tricky because piracy and theft are common. Try a new approach if the Internet’s openness threatens your product or service.

Take a look at the way the music industry has reacted to the availability of free music. In an attempt to build a fan base and spread their name, musicians have given away their recorded music for free. Their fans are the ones who promote them on social media and bring people to their shows.

Consider this: Some of the largest online companies, including names like Facebook and Yahoo, Google, YouTube, and Pandora, offer their services free. Can you make money from a free service provided? Look for ways to adapt your business model to suit this new model.

Don’t believe social media can solve your problems

Social media is just one of many tools that a business can use. It is a great tool, no doubt: you can use it for advertising, customer feedback, spreading your brand, and much more.

It works best when combined with other initiatives. If you keep promoting the same products and services, consumers will grow tired of them. Encourage creativity in your business – new products, product enhancements, innovative ways to deliver a service, and new markets – then use social media for promotion.

Don’t treat every new social media sensation like the Holy Grail

It’s good to have as many outlets for promotion as possible, but you may end up grabbing more than you need and letting some fall by the side. This could damage your reputation as a customer-focused, active company.

Another danger is to follow the latest social media trend. Focus on what you know works, and only add new channels after you have figured out the best way to use them.

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