May 26, 2016PrevNext Email Share × Share On: So you’re thinking about embarking on a social media campaign for your small business – after all people are talking about your small business on social media whether you are there or not. You’ve been dabbling in the social space for a while with your personal account and have seen some things that shocked you – both in content and how people have acted online.Similar to the etiquette governing everyday interactions in the offline world, there are guidelines for small businesses to follow when participating in online communities.Be YourselfOne of the great things about social communities is they value all personality types. Every kind of personality type has a niche audience amongst the online communities.Find the voice of your small business, be consistent, be genuine, and own it.Listen and EngageTo build a strong connection and relationship with your users, your social media strategy has to be a two-way conversation – meaning simply posting information will not grow a community of engaged brand advocates, and in most cases frustrate users who want to engage with you.Be ThankfulWith our busy lives and the fast pace of business, this can sometimes fall through the cracks. Every single [real] fan, follower or friend, no matter if they have 1 follower or 1000 followers is important. Thank them for their follow, interaction, or when they share your information.Karma is PowerfulSmall businesses will have a hard time being successful with social media and positioning themselves as a true leader in the space, unless they share admiration for other businesses, products, and individuals they respect – even if they are a competitor.It may seem counterproductive to direct community members away from your social media page or website, but keeping all the attention on your business will gain you a stingy reputation, and can hurt your goal of being a leader in your respected field.Give CreditGive credit where credit is due when sharing articles, information, or news updates. If you are not the original author or did not find the information on your own, do not claim it as such.Giving credit is the quickest way to build friendships and open the doors of communication within a community. The best way to give credit is by adding valuable commentary to show you are truly engaged with the social update don’t just hit the Retweet or Share button.Be Level HeadedPart of putting your small business within online communities is that it will, at one time or another, be the victim of negative, accusatory, or rude comments.The key to responding to these is to fight the urge to respond emotionally and defensively. Read the comment through a few times, take a deep breath, and then decide how to respond in a respectful and productive manner that positively represents your small business.Be PositiveDo not be negative, passive aggressive, criticize someone’s work or services, or smear their business or brand throughout your social space. Negative behavior will attract pessimistic followers, tick off the professional ones, and reflect negatively on your small business.Bring the ContextCommunity members have different content and context expectations for each of the social networks they join. If you have more than one social media account (which the majority of businesses do) there is bound to be overlap in regards to community members. Treat each of your social media accounts separately, post accordingly, and give your community variety.For example, Twitter updates are 140 characters so be concise and to the point, while Facebook allows for more in-depth updates; Tumblr users like animated GIFs, while Pinterest users like visuals and how-to content – share information in a way that will showcase best in those mediums and align with how users consume the information.Be humanOne of our guiding principles at Linchpin SEO is to make sure, no matter what channel we are using to help a small business accomplish their goals, that they are acting like humans whenever they engage online.Every individual and business can benefit from showing a human side; stepping outside of your marketing mindset and sharing a joke or talking about the weather creates a connection everyone can relate to. After all, it’s not about B2C or B2B, it’s about H2H (Human to Human) – ultimately it’s a human who will be buying your products or services.There are plenty of ways to build your small businesses community of brand advocates within the social space, but to have long term success you must conduct yourself online as you would in person, by having good social media etiquette.