One of the first places a new or small business goes to get the word out regarding their venture is Facebook or another social media channel. It’s great that we live in a time when we, as business owners, have access to such an inexpensive and effective way to promote our brand. However, as with everything, there are a few unspoken expectations that most people have when interacting on social media. Remember these are simply tips for social media etiquette and not hard-and-fast rules.

1. Remember that when on social media, you are engaged in relationship marketing.

This is as close as you are going to get to in-person interactions. Keep in mind that the relationship comes first when commenting and joining in on pages and groups. Don’t over promote your business. Instead, make the focus on YOU (or them) and why you do what you do vs promoting. [To learn how to create intrigue in a quick conversation, follow Sam Horn]

2. If you create a page or profile, people will not just come or follow.

Sometimes we think we can start a profile or page, post some images and then sit back and wait. However, with social media, the expectation is that you will be….well….social. That means, spend time on those social channels to understand how it works. Then learn where to find the people who you want to follow you. For example, on Instagram, understand how hashtags work and then search for people who use the hashtag that fits your business. Then follow those people and genuinely like/comment on their photos. (Avoid using bots to get fake followers).

3. Take time to INTERACT with people.

If you want people to like your page/profile and interact with you, then you need to do so yourself. Make sure you ALWAYS respond to comments. Invite conversation. Start conversations and be the one to finish it. Even if it’s a thumbs up or smiley face.

4. Like other businesses and create a network of like-minded business owners. Share their content.

This is the biggest one that most people forget about but is the greatest avenue for creating visibility. Find business pages that are like yours. Whether it is the same industry, city, or related to your work. Like the page and engage with them. Comment on their posts and SHARE their posts. Social media is a COMMUNITY and not an island.

5. If someone you are acquainted with likes your page or comments, RESPOND in like kind.

Let’s say another business owner in your community likes your page, shares something of yours, or tags you in a post. ACKNOWLEDGE THEM! Then respond in like by saying thank you, liking their page back, sharing, etc.

This is very basic, but so often ignored. I don’t care if you don’t like them. Show courtesy by responding to them because other people are watching. (But feel free to ignore or block haters!)

When we help each other in business we all succeed! Especially if a page highlights your business or shares one of your posts…THANK THEM! Comment in the post and say, “thank you for sharing”. Plus…lots of people are always watching. They know if you are active on social media or if you’re just throwing up a post and then getting off and forgetting about it.

These are just a few QUICK tips on basic social media etiquette. This can certainly be far more detailed and there is a lot to consider to maximize your visibility on social media. Each channel also has its own idiosyncrasies. (Also, be careful about posting personal stuff or opinions. It depends on the situation and this topic is an entire post on its own.)

However, the point is: do unto others as you would have them to do you. In other words, if you want people to engage with your page or profile, like your posts and pictures, and want engagement…then do the same for others first.