5 Basic Etiquette Rules for Social Media Marketing

Perk up your pinkies and slide your elbows off the table; it’s time to talk social marketing etiquette—good manners for when you’re interacting with fans online.

They can be as obvious as “Don’t take sides in an Internet argument” (it never ends well) or the more subtle “Don’t ‘like’ your own posts on Facebook” (it doesn’t hurt anyone, but it looks vain and desperate). The key is to act like a decent human being whose real-world manners translate accordingly to the virtual world.

DON’T ignore comments or questions. If you were at a networking event and someone struck up a conversation with you, would you walk away? Don’t let comments or tweets slip through the cracks. Thank your fans for their input, “like” or “favorite” their comments, and don’t be afraid to engage in questions, no matter how tough or critical.

DO give credit where it’s due. If you see a great image, quote or blog post that you’d like to post because it’s relevant to your brand, don’t give the impression of plagiarism. On Facebook use the “Share” button or clearly give a hat tip to the fan or business that created the engaging content. On Twitter use the “Retweet” function or tag the rightful owner’s Twitter handle.

DON’T hijack threads. Burger King wouldn’t hand out flyers in front of a Chipotle, so why would you want to hawk your business on an unrelated Facebook thread, no matter how virally hot it is? Fans are smart and can see right through that spam-like behavior. Likewise, don’t hijack another company’s branded hashtag on Twitter. “When you see companies create well-performing hashtags, don’t hop on their hashtag train to promote irrelevant content,” says Maggie Hibma, who is HubSpot’s product marketing manager. “It devalues their hashtag and, as a result, your brand.”

DO shine a light on your fans. It’s not polite to always talk about yourself, so find ways to applaud your fans. A CrossFit studio might give kudos to a client’s weight-loss journey, or a beauty salon could share how stunning a loyal customer looks with her new blond highlights. But regardless of how well you know your fans, DO ask for permission before you snap a picture or share  information.

DON’T use disreputable ways to gain fans. Buying followers or using bots or trickery to gain new fans is about as useful and impressive as paying people to stand around your brick-and-mortar store to make it look busy. “Instead of manipulating people, crank up your compelling content and be proud that those who follow you have voluntarily chosen to do so,” Hibma says. “[Fans] who will take action on your content are much more valuable to your business’s bottom line.”

Check out 3 smart ways to engage your social media fans.


Jennifer Chang is the former associate editor for SUCCESS. She has a corgi puppy who has more Instagram followers than a dog should have. Tweet or follow her thoughts and favorite links at @jenzchang.

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