I confess: I am not an expert on which fork you should use when eating your salad or cutting your steak at a fancy restaurant. Sorry, Mom. However, I do try my darnedest to practice proper etiquette on social media.

There is a certain protocol businesses should follow on social media. If you’re feeling a little confused, consider me your social media savvy Emily Post. I will guide you through the do’s and don’ts of social media etiquette for businesses. White gloves are optional, but please chew with your mouth closed.

Be polite even when you don’t want to

When someone posts a comment or tweets about your business, respond politely. It doesn’t matter if they are saying something truly awful or really nice. Acknowledge what they are saying. Then kill them with kindness.

If someone posts a complaint about your product or service on your company Facebook page or in your Twitter feed, respond to their comment by acknowledging it. Do not try to resolve the issue publicly. Offer your phone number or email address so you can resolve the issue privately.

If someone is negative, do not reciprocate. Don’t start a Twitter war with your customer. History proves that fights never end well for anyone (example: Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro). Once you apologize and try to resolve the issue it is time to move on. You can’t make everyone happy, but you can at least try.

Talk to people, not at them

Posting a steady stream of status updates and links without ever engaging with your audience is like standing in a room shouting when other people are talking. People will ignore you and move away.

Engage by sharing content your customers will actually be interested in. Ask questions and share links from thought leaders. Acknowledge what other professionals in your field are talking about. Have conversations with your peers and colleagues. You might learn something.

Don’t eat salad with a dessert fork

You wouldn’t dare serve a greasy slice of pizza on your fine china at a formal dinner party, would you? Of course not. The two don’t mix. The same goes for posting personal information on your company’s social media pages. Keep religion, politics and how awesome that entire bottle of wine was for your personal Twitter account and off of your company LinkedIn page. Use your judgement. Unlike wearing white after Labor Day, this is a rule that cannot be broken.

Remembering the do’s and don’ts for proper social media etiquette isn’t difficult, it just takes practice and learning from others.

When you see someone at a restaurant with bad manners, you instantly become more aware of your own habits. The same goes for social media. When you see a company using their social media accounts the wrong way or the right way, learn from it. You’ll end up skipping the mistakes.

Still not sure if jeans are appropriate to wear to the Facebook garden party? Give us a call.