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Social media is a tool we can all access from our pockets, and as such it’s a great resource for on-the-go entrepreneurs and executives. It’s also a space where brand identity can be easily compromised, so read our tips to make sure to avoid common social media pitfalls that can do harm when you’re simply trying to help!

Personal Account

Everybody needs a biggest fan, and when it comes to your business, nobody is a bigger advocate than you. So, naturally, in the year or few since starting your company, you have blown up the twittersphere—blogosphere, and Instagramosphere if that’s a thing—with brand promo information, brand events, and everything else you could think of to get your friends to be as excited about your brand as you are. You’re invested in your brand’s social media presence, and that’s great.  

But maybe you’ve also been sharing images of your breakfast table incidentally featuring a competitor’s products, and “liking” or sharing your own company’s paid Facebook ads. Should you be making different online choices?

1. Don’t Comment On, React To, or Share Your Company’s Paid Facebook Ads

It’ll cost you. Each time a Facebook ad is engaged with, it counts this as a “click,” and charges the ad account. Obviously, this is a waste of budget you could be using to reach new audience members and potential customers or clients.

Sharing it with folks who already follow your company’s channels or see your own posts about your business are usually equally poor uses of ad budget—they are likely already loyal customers, and if they’re not, you already have access to them on your own page. Why not create your own peer-to peer posts about your new products, or even download the creatives and copy you’re using for your ad, and share those elements for free on your own page?

No reason to pay for advertisement you can already do for free, so the bottom line is: always scroll past your business’ paid ads if you see them in your feed—they’ll say “Sponsored” at the top, so be sure to ignore them, even if they have a great creative or fun information! If you do see these ads, send a friendly reminder to the person running them that they can manipulate targeting settings to try to avoid showing them to you in the first place.

2. Avoid Broadcasting Any Actions or Purchasing Behaviors That Actively Compete With Your Brand

Your personal profiles should probably be set to “private” in the first place, but if they’re not, or if you want the added comfort of knowing there aren’t brand-compromising pictures floating around out there, don’t share them.

It’s probably clear that if you own a sustainably-sourced cereal company you should avoid sharing a picture of your breakfast with boxes of non-sustainably-sourced cereal in the background. But you may not always remember that your company has an overarching brand identity, one with its own real and perceived values. So, for example, if you sell reusable coffee mugs, you probably don’t want to share a picture where you’re using a single-use plastic bag.

In the end, you have autonomy over your voice, and what you say—or share—usually does not legally reflect the views of your business. But customers respect—and expect—authenticity, so whenever possible, try to share that you live according to your brand’s values.

Brand Account

Your brand account is a communication channel between you and your current and potential customers. This is where they will learn about your brand story, this is where they will go when they have questions and comments, and this is how they will become a part of your greater network by sharing your story with their friends.

So it’s important to treat brand social channels as the delicately balanced public forum they are, being sure to maintain the page in such a way that promotes openness and makes your customers feel welcome.

1. Don’t Forget To Respond

Lines of communication are always open online, so it’s important to be just as engaged as your audience.

Have they sent you a message? Respond as immediately as possible, and never leave messages in the inbox without being the last one to respond—failing to respond this hurts response rate, which shows up on the Facebook brand page and can give audience members the impression that you’re not available to them. Sometimes this seems silly—their last message may have ended the conversation and you may not want to add ”Thanks for your support,” but you should.

2. Don’t Share From Politically Touchy News Sources

It’s never a good idea to alienate members of your audience for no good reason.

So if it’s important to you and your brand to share some politically touchy news content, that’s up to you, but just make sure it’s from as neutral a source as possible. That way, you can maintain a brand image as a good resource, or sharer of resources, and political affinity or questions of legitimacy won’t get in the way.