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A short guide to social media etiquette for business

By Alexandra Gavril - May 2, 2015

Social media platforms are fantastic tools for any business looking to engage with their audience. When used right, it can lead to increased exposure for your brand and greater customer service. However, a social faux pas can destroy your reputation and alienate the people you most want to reach.

Maintaining proper etiquette on each social network is essential for promoting your business in the best way possible and for building a brand that people enjoy hearing from. While there are general social media etiquette rules for businesses, some even spelled out by the networks – such as Facebook’s call for less promotional content from brands – others take experience to figure out.

Whether you’re a plumber, a web designer or a travel agency, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the social media etiquette standards as well as the lesser-known gaffs outlined below so you don’t find yourself in very sticky situations you won’t know how to get out of.

Social media etiquette for business

Whether you manage your own social media channels or have a digital team managing it for you, make sure everyone who has access to your social platforms know the following rules by heart.


Want to increase brand awareness and reach your audience on Facebook? Engage your fans with useful, interesting, targeted content. Know what type of information your fans are interested in and give it to them daily.

The etiquette:

  • While it’s ok to share several updates per day, make sure to space them out every few hours.
  • Don’t ignore comments, even if they’re negative. Show your fans that you respect and value their opinions and feedback by replying to all comments. Read this post to learn how to deal with negative comments.
  • You can use hashtags, just don’t make a habit of it, and don’t add more than one. This isn’t Instagram.
  • Focus on valuable content that your fans will find entertaining and informative. Try to refrain from sharing promotional content too often, otherwise you’ll end up being ignored. Remember – you are there to serve and to engage with your fans, not to force them into buying your products.
  • Use Facebook analytics to find out when your fans are most active on Facebook and use that information to schedule your posts accordingly. This will help you reach more fans.
  • You represent a business so only use first person plural like “We’d be happy to help you…”
  • If you’ve ever used CAPITAL LETTERS to grab their attention, stop.


If you want to be successful on Twitter, you need to be there. There’s so much activity there, it’s easy to miss someone mentioning your brand name or a customer complaining about one of your products.

The etiquette:

  • Use your logo as your avatar. People want to be able to quickly reference your brand.
  • Listen to what’s being said about your business and then get in the conversation.
  • Use hashtags well but don’t #overuse #hastags when you #tweet. Stick to only a few that are relevant to your topic, otherwise you’ll look like a spammer.
  • Use tools like socialmention, Topsy or TweetDeck to monitor mentions of your brand and be quick in responding to comments and questions.
  • You only have 140 characters to share your message so keep it concise yet engaging.
  • Don’t over-tweet. Sharing an update every five minutes might get your brand noticed, but not in a positive way. Aim for four to five posts per day, or less.
  • Don’t post too much promotional content. For every link of your own that you share, balance it out with two to three engaging posts written by someone else.
  • Avoid sending automatic Direct Messages to your new followers that say something like “Thanks for following us. Please check out our website!” That’s considered spammy and in very poor taste.


LinkedIn is the largest online professional network and it can be a great tool at finding new business and networking opportunities. Here are a few tips to ensure you’re using it the right way and making the most of it.

The etiquette:

  • Make sure every piece of content you share is relevant to your business and industry.
  • Personalise your connection requests. There’s nothing that says “this brand has zero personality” like the default “let’s connect” message from LinkedIn. Craft a personalised message telling them why you’d like to connect and what’s in it for them.
  • After you connect, always follow-up. It’s the only way to build relationships with prospects or potential business partners.
  • Become a trusted resource for anyone looking for information about your business or industry. Join or create your own groups to contribute information, build a community and raise awareness on your brand.

Want to dig deeper? Check out this post on how to use LinkedIn to connect with new and existing clients.

Google +

As it’s tied to the world’s largest search engine, using Google + to engage with your audience makes perfect sense, especially if that’s where they’re spending time online.

The etiquette:

  • Engage in conversation by mentioning users when you comment or respond.
  • When sharing someone else’s content, make sure you give credit.
  • Group your followers into different circles depending on their interests. This will make it much easier for you to create and share content that’s targeted towards the right audience.
  • Format your posts to make them easy to read and visually appealing. Bold, italicise or underline words and phrases to make your content stand out.


Instagram is changing the way brands share a visual story about their brand. So if you’re trying to amass a strong following, read through these unofficial guidelines governing Instagram etiquette.

  • Don’t ever ask people to follow you. It’s unprofessional.
  • Use relevant hashtags. Instagram is similar to Twitter in that it connects conversations through hashtags. To grow your audience, use hashtags that are relevant to your message. This will help you connect with your target audience and gain more followers.
  • Don’t flood their feeds. Posting too many photos a day will quickly lose you followers. Instead, posting one to two photos a day is a good rule of thumb.
  • Engage with your audience. If you want to build a following on Instagram, you need to get involved. Want people to comment and like your photos? Do to the same with theirs.
  • Post high quality photos. Remember, Instagram is great for telling the visual story of your brand. So whatever photos you share, make sure they’re high quality and reflect your brand’s personality.
  • Always add captions or tag locations that give some context to the photo. This will give your followers some information about what they’re seeing.

Wrapping up

These are the most important social media best practices and etiquette standards but you’ll most likely learn others as you get to grips with these platforms. Don’t know which social media channel to use for your business? Check out this post to find out which social networks best match the needs of your business.

Your turn now. Have any other tips on how to maintain proper etiquette on these social media channels?