Are You too Personal on Social?

Connect with buyers without going into the TMI zone.

by Dennis L. Prince
- Jun 23, 2014

You've heard how social media has helped connect customers to businesses in more personal ways. Through careful and caring messaging, businesses big and small have found it possible to truly engage and even relate to their patrons.

They have been able to make their businesses more relevant by offering information about the business and the people who operate it.

While customers definitely respond when a business presents itself on a person-to-person level, sometimes things can get a bit too personal—and even uncomfortable. So how much engagement is just enough and how much is too much?

Followers begin to feel attached and loyal to a business when they better understand all that goes into keeping it alive and vibrant

Here are some guidelines to establish your business as one that's personable without stepping into the TMI (too much information) zone.

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For starters, focus on what works for businesses when they create and maintain a social media presence. Whether you're using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram, it's important you understand what you'll share and why you'll share it.

You can offer plenty of content that creates a personable touch without being overly personal.

Photos: Social media platforms are designed for sharing images. It's what fans and followers expect, so be sure to give it to them. Share photos not only of your products but also of your business facility and the people who work there. Give visual shout outs to your team members so your customers can identify with the folks serving them.

This is how you can introduce your team, reinforce your mission and let customers in on the behind-the-scenes action. And if you have special events or take your business on the road to conventions or gatherings, share some photos of that, too. Your customers might begin to seek you out and the next happening.

Background information and trivia: Customers like reading how your business began and how it's developing week by week. Share your successes (and maybe a few of your challenges) to help customers understand how you do business and how you're working to make your products, services and customer experience the best you can.

Followers begin to feel attached and loyal to a business when they better understand all that goes into keeping it alive and vibrant.

If ever you have a bad encounter with a customer, leave that out of the public eye

Relevant partnerships: If your business works well with or due to the presence of another business, share that. Show you're not obsessed with talking only of your business but that you want your customers to know what else is out there that benefits them.

Customers appreciate when a business can make referrals to goods or services you don't provide. It reinforces that you're committed to your customers' best interests and shows you're a business that gets along well with others.

Don't share this

This could be a long list, but we'll boil it down to the most obvious items to steer away from. You'd be surprised how many businesses stray into these areas even though these seem obvious. Here's where things can become too personal and can quickly and, sometimes irreversibly, harm your business.

Negativity: That's a broad-brushed item and it can incorporate many things: current events, competitors, even the weather. If complain in your social media content, you'll alienate some portion of your customers. Keep it positive at all times, no matter your personal feelings on a matter that's not related to how you do business (but don't complain about that, either).

Personal beliefs: This can be a difficult line to walk because sometimes your personal beliefs can help you connect with customers. Even so, it's tricky to know when you've gone too far and how many following you might have differing viewpoints.

Religion and politics are the most obvious items to avoid, but also avoid sharing your opinions on public policy and international affairs. Keep these things to yourself if they aren't an actual part of your business. You can have these discussions with friends at any time, but it's best to leave the topics there.

Think before you post and, if in doubt, leave it out.

Difficult customer encounters: If ever you have a bad encounter with a customer, leave that out of the public eye.

Even if a customer drags such a situation into the social places, take the high road and avoid a public squabble. It's helpful to publicly proclaim your attention to make a situation right, but leave it at that.

Any more and you'll drag yourself, your business and brand into a mud fight. Yes, people love to watch a rumble, but one or both parties fighting will have something to lose.

It's about common sense

If you were expecting something deeper regarding what's too personal to share in the social spaces, the good news is that it boils down to common sense. If ever you have the urge to share information from your business' perspective but you understand it to be awkward or polarizing, don't do it.

Keep your social content engaging and appropriately personable, but steer clear from making it truly personal. The little you might gain by venting about a certain topic will likely be overrun by potential damage you might do to your business. Be engaging but always careful. Bottom line: Think before you post and, if in doubt, leave it out.

About the Author

Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay…and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues.

Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.

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