The Social Media Manual of Style

The Social Media Manual of Style - Small Business Advice

Written by TalkLocal Co-Founder, Manpreet Singh

Remember the good old days when broadening communicative reach in business meant learning Spanish? Now, in the brave new world of digital marketing, there’s a new language taking over business… and it’s not Chinese.

Well, maybe it’s sometimes Chinese. However, the biggest players are HTML, Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP — the programming languages that form the basis of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and other social media sites.

But, don’t worry – you don’t have to learn a whole new language. The platforms will pack your ideas in binary code and ship them to as many homes as you can reach, whether in English, Spanish, Chinese, or Punjabi. But, reaching homes is different from reaching hearts and minds. For that, you do need to learn new grammar: speaking your language in a new way.

Learning the Lingo

It’s like cursive; you know, that ancient, hieroglyphic manual font in which each letter in a word connects seamlessly to the next. The first time you wrote it, you just mimicked the swirling loops and squiggles you watched your parents etch onto legal documents and personal notes. Later, some of your classmates were better at cursive than you, and you felt a twinge of envy. Even now that you’ve learned to glean meaning from those intricate lines, you sometimes write U’s as you should W’s.

Some of your competitors know the social media version of cursive. That’s why they communicate more seamlessly, clearly, and beautifully online. Plus, they never get Rickrolled — whatever that means. (If you don’t know, click here for the definition).

So, here are 10 tips from the secret Social Media Manual of Style that your competitors have been using. Take notes even if your handwriting is like chicken scratch. These best practices will make your profile communicate more effectively and compellingly than Shakespeare after calligraphy classes.

The Social Media Manual of Style

1. Gain an understanding of each platform, including terms of service and Facebook’s Edgerank.

2. Choose an eye-catching profile picture, cover image, and About blurb that clearly illustrates your product/service at a glance.

3. Enter company name, description, address, phone number, and email address in the About section of all profile pages. You’d be surprised how often this is forgotten.

4. Include an engaging statement along with your company website or preferred contact info in the description box of each image  uploaded to any albums.

5. Avoid using acronyms and shorthand to post longer thoughts on Twitter. If the idea cannot be sufficiently trimmed down through word choice, opt to post on Facebook or another site.

6. Find your Goldilocks zone for post frequency and stay consistent. Sporadic social media engagement on major sites like Twitter and Facebook is a turn off to visitors.  But,  if followers start to leave, alter the type or frequency of posts.

7. Talk to, rather than at, your audience. Ask questions, give answers, and post otherwise engaging content.

8. Follow the 80/20 Rule. Social media content should be 80%  informational or entertainment related and only 20% promotional.

9. Respond to comments within 24 hours. Only 30% of businesses do so … ever.  That’s according to

10. Recognize holidays, community events, and other significant happenings via social media to join the common discourse. Use established and popular hashtags on twitter to make your comments searchable.

And, I almost forgot this one: Have Fun!

Reaching social fluency means finding your own voice after years of yelling through promotional flyers and ads which read like you’re a 1930’s newspaper boy. Sure, your voice will be a bit hoarse at first because it has been under-used or abused until now. But, don’t worry.

Social media is inbound marketing — a medium designed to draw people in. By relating to consumers, no matter how small your initial online network, you’ll draw your audience in with even the faintest whisper. And, like a game of telephone, your whispers can be shared to reach innumerable ears.

And, before your next post: make sure you read these step-by-step instructions for designing your online strategy.

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