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Social media plays a huge part in our day-to-day lives. It helps us maintain existing relationships and begin new ones. It can even be a great tool for job hunting, as roughly 93% of job recruiters view prospective employees’ social media profiles. But business marketing also relies heavily on social media, since it’s a direct way to connect with new customers and increase web traffic.

If you’re a business owner, you’ll likely do what you can to find new leads and appeal to your target audience. Social media is an excellent way to accomplish those goals — but not if you don’t know what you’re doing. Below are some dos and don’ts for promoting your business through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and similar platforms. Globally, there are about 400 million entrepreneurs. But even if you were motivated to start your own business, you’ll still need to learn how to market yourself effectively on social media. Here’s what you should keep in mind in 2020.

DO: Complete Your Profiles

Before you write your first post, you need to plug in all of the information asked for in your social media profiles. Some sites will take longer than others. Twitter can be quickly set up with a profile photo, a brief bio, and a website link. Facebook’s business pages will take longer to set up, as they have many spaces for specific information about your services or products, your business approach, and other key aspects of your company. Don’t use the same profile description across multiple platforms, but make sure that your brand identity is streamlined.

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DON’T: Post about Hot-Button Issues

It’s best to stay away from sensitive issues like religion, politics, race, and child-rearing practices. Unless it’s highly relevant to your industry and can be presented in an unbiased way, people who don’t agree with your views might look unfavorably on your company. Vendors might turn away from your business just because you shared your opinions. There are exceptions to this rule, of course. But in a highly polarizing time, it’s best to make sure your own personal beliefs don’t play a role in how you post for your business on social media.

DO: Interact Meaningfully with Followers

You could have thousands of followers, but this won’t do you any good if they don’t feel they have a relationship with your company. You’ll have to interact with them if you want them to become loyal customers. The more connections you can make, the more followers you’ll acquire — and the more engaged they’ll be. Reply to every follower who comments on your business. Don’t just hit “like” when they say something positive. Use a positive comment to start a conversation. This is a huge opportunity, so don’t reply with only emojis or leave direct messages unanswered.

DON’T: Come Across as Desperate

People on social media generally dislike businesses that frequently ask for retweets on Twitter or likes and shares on Facebook. These posts will make you seem desperate and may make potential customers think twice about following you. While you can certainly direct your personal followers to interact with your business pages, you won’t want to come across the spammy on your professional channels. Make sure your posts provide helpful tips or interesting facts about your products, services, or industry. These are the kinds of posts people will want to share without your having to ask.

DO: Be Sincere

Don’t make every post sound like ad copy. Being too promotional on social media is a huge red flag to consumers. Talk about your employees. Make engaging videos about topics like how easy and enjoyable it is to connect with your customer service reps. Post high-quality photos that show your employees at work or at play, or customers you’ve spotted using your product. You’re building relationships with customers, so remind them that your company is made up of real people just like them.

DON’T: Use Too Many Hashtags

The benefit of hashtags is that they can help you build your following and allow customers to locate your posts about specific issues or products. But if you overuse hashtags, you might look like you’re trying too hard for attention. A post or tweet that’s loaded with multiple hashtags is less visually appealing, since the viewer has to stop and decipher the words. Make sure all your hashtags are relevant to the post and to each other — and that you’re targeting keywords with the right volume. Although a hashtag may be popular, that doesn’t mean you should use it. Hashtags with millions of uses are often less effective than hashtags with only a thousand, depending on your target demographic. If you’re trying to attract local customers, be sure to use hashtags that are geotagged.

DO: Reply to Negative Comments

You may think that by replying to negative comments, you’re attracting more attention to them. But if you can handle negative posts effectively and without getting defensive, you’ll demonstrate that your company values customers’ opinions. You’ll help build brand loyalty and you can even make unhappy customers into enthusiastic supporters. You need to keep careful track of posts and comments about your products or services since they might not appear on your page. The same goes for negative reviews. Even if you feel the customer is completely in the wrong, how you respond matters to others far more than having one negative review.

DON’T: Use Instagram Only for Promotion

While you should be careful not to promote too much on social media in general, using Instagram requires special caution. Instagram users want to see exceptional, memorable images — not marketing copy. You may be inclined to post several images in a row that show your product. But if product photography is all you have to offer, you’re probably going to see your follower count and engagement rate shrink. Use other photos that will engage Instagram visitors and don’t forget the power of fun and interesting videos. Variety is the spice of life when it comes to Instagram. The idea of connecting to a brand identity, rather than liking a product, should be att the forefront of your strategy.

DO: Write for Your Customers

Your posts should introduce customers to your products or services in a friendly, direct manner. Don’t try too hard for humor and don’t rely on jargon that your customers won’t understand. Use easy-to-comprehend word choices and simple sentences. Create content that will tell customers something new, explain something they might have questions about, and teach them to make the most of what you have to offer.

DON’T: Post Too Much

You might think that posting the most content will gain the most followers. But viewers tend to get turned off when they see multiple posts from the same account all day long. CoSchedule, a company that offers marketing tools, provides the following guidelines for frequency of posting on various sites:

  • Twitter: 15 tweets daily
  • Pinterest: 11 pins daily
  • Instagram: one to two posts daily
  • Facebook: one post daily
  • LinkedIn: one post daily

If you adhere to this schedule and map out your strategy, you won’t have to struggle to come up with content or make posts that don’t resonate with your ideal customer.

These are just some of the dos and don’ts involved in social media marketing. Staying on top of trends is crucial to use social media effectively for your business. While 54% of event planners go to conferences to learn about trends, you could take workshops online or enroll in a class to keep current with social media practices. It may seem overwhelming at first, but with the right information, you can quickly master the art of social media marketing.