One of the most-requested topics from our recent blog survey was social media.

Social media will continue to be a topic discussed in these blogs in 2017. There are a lot of social media sites, and most companies aren’t using them as well as they could be. But for now, we’re going to focus on the big ones: Facebook and Twitter.

The truth is, what you should post is unique to your industry, your business, your staff and your customers. There is no “one size fits all” strategy when it comes to social media. So we’re going to focus on what people are less comfortable saying: what not to post, business edition.  

What Not To Post

Don’t post about politics. Don’t post about divisive political issues (unless they are relevant to your business. Joe’s Gun Shack can post about your right to bear arms. Pizza Hut cannot). Example?

You don’t buy Kitchen Aid products because of their political aptitude. You buy them because their stand mixers last for-ev-er and you can’t believe you ever tried to make meringue without one, can you have the last two decades of your life back, please.

Do post about office pets. Animals are cute and everyone loves them. If they don’t love them, do you really want them as a customer, anyway? (Yes. You do.) Office pet posts must be accompanied by photos or videos. Here’s a photo of a TQS office pet. Her name is Ke$ha.

Don’t post medical details about your staff. That’s probably against the law, and it’s gross. Keep it relevant to the business – you want to be personable, not too personal.

Do post company news, events or new staff. Did you guys just have a great company picnic? Post some photos! Did someone win an award? Let your fans know. Did an impromptu food fight break out in the lunchroom? Tell us what kind of pudding made the best weapon.

Don’t plagiarize. Don’t post things you didn’t create and pretend that you did. Don’t paste this blog post onto your website and say, “look what I wrote about social media posting!” Our writer doesn’t like that.

Do share content from industry experts and influencers. We’d love for you to share this blog (or any others) with fans and followers.

Do follow industry experts and influencers on social media so that you can easily discover and share any interesting content. It’s okay to share – that’s what social media is all about! Just don’t pretend you created something that you didn’t.

Don’t respond to negative customer reviews by blaming the customer for the bad experience. This is very tempting. It sounds easy, until you get a really bad review. Human nature compels you to defend yourself. Don’t fall into this trap. Don’t! We mean it – don’t do it! I recently sent a private message to a local bakery to let them know the cupcakes I purchased were stale – really, really stale. They responded and politely let me know that the cupcakes only tasted stale because they are baked fresh and never frozen, and I was probably just used to cupcakes that had been frozen and re-baked. It’s possible they’re right (unlikely, but possible). It’s possible my expectations were off and what I thought was stale was exactly the flavor they were going for. But they lost me as a customer anyway; because all they did was tell me I was wrong.

Do respond to negative customer reviews with empathy and optimism. How could the cupcake company have turned my negative experience into a positive one? “We’re so sorry you purchased cupcakes that were so disappointing. That’s not the experience we want any of our customers to have, and we certainly strive for each and every item we bake and sell to exceed expectations. We’d love the opportunity to fix this – please come back into our store for a refund and replacement cupcakes.” It’s easy to blame the customer. But it’s better to turn a negative review into an opportunity to showcase your great customer service and turn a bad experience into a great one.

Don’t respond to negative customer reviews by blaming the customer. Oh, we said that one already? We can’t say it enough. It makes people angry. It makes already angry people angrier. And angry customers are dangerous to your business.

Do post solutions to common issues your customers might be facing. If you run a home improvement company, create and post a short video teaching people how to change the filters in their air conditioners. If you sell knives, create a post or graphic that helps people figure out when their knives need sharpening. If you run a marketing/PR company, post about why you shouldn’t respond to negative reviews by blaming the customer.

Don’t only post about yourself. This is going to hurt a little, but you’re just not that special. Unless you’re Beyoncé. If you are, thank you for reading this blog, I’ll die happy now. Also, do you regret any of the outfits you wore in Destiny’s Child, but you’re afraid to say it because your mom designed them? Share relevant articles, blogs and info graphics, share great stuff your customers are doing, share things that benefit your customers. Don’t just brag about yourself. Not you, Beyoncé. You do what you want.

Do develop some regular features. “Discount of the week.” “Pro-tip Tuesday.” “Dog of the Month.” “The More You Know Monday.” Be creative. Be helpful. Be consistent.

Don’t hijack hashtags. This is a tough one, because sometimes this can be brilliant, but those examples are usually from personal accounts. Usually, companies regret it. Ask DiGiorno Pizza about this one.

Someone didn’t do their research. #WhyIStayed was a hashtag developed to start a conversation about domestic violence, to empower women to tell their stories and to strip the stigma that surrounds abuse victims.

Do use your social media accounts as a quick way to do some market research, or just to engage your audience in relevant discussion. Quick polls, contests or giveaways are a great way to compel followers to action.

When it comes to posting on social media, the key is to find what works for your company and customers, and stick with it. And if you don’t find anything that works, consider hiring an expert to figure it out for you – you’d never assume you’ll just “figure out” how to read the tax code when April rolls around, right?   Happy posting!

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