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So your business has decided to voyage into the social media landscape in search of additional channels of delivery and custom. Great decision!

Although the barriers to entry are low, the barriers to success are high – this is already one aspect businesses seem to overlook. With such vast numbers being boasted by the social media domains, effectively utilising this space to meet your business objectives is becoming increasing more difficult.

A simple comparison to use in demonstrating these difficulties is when a business relocates. There are new laws, codes of conduct, etiquette, morals and cultures.

As you begin to undertake your journey into social media, take note of my top 5 thoughts on the unwritten rules of social media and how they can affect your business:

1. Value

Creating valuable content, directed at your target audience, is key to achieving a successful social media strategy. Less can be more – it is all about quality.

Make sure your business has recognised this importance or you could end up becoming noncompetitive or obsolete very quickly. With so much choice given to the huge amounts of traffic available, your content must really capture your customer’s attention and drive them to want more.

2. Self-promotion

Many businesses start their social media campaigns by continuously writing about themselves or their products. Ask yourself one question: “If I was following a Twitter account and all I saw were promotional statements, would they really keep my interest?”

Some social media domains, such as Facebook, have underlying behavioural etiquette that must be addressed. Highlighting lots of branding messages on a customers personal Facebook stream would actually be detrimental to your business – the customer would get annoyed and stop following your company, in turn, telling their friends about your inconsiderate techniques.

Be careful, it is easy to fall into routines that deter from your marketing vision or objectives.

3. Reciprocation

A common mistake businesses make is to think that because they have shared a message, someone should share theirs. Users generally only share messages that offer value to them or their audience, so make sure you are designing your content around what your customer’s want or need.

Strong customer analysis can shape your marketing activities, especially with content creation and content strategies. I think you would agree that it would be a waste of time writing about the latest sporting news if you are trying to sell a management consultancy service. Thinking your potential customers would reciprocate this type of message is a mistake.

4. Connecting

There is a general understanding on Twitter that if you follow a user and you appear to provide their account with value, they will follow you back. This does not mean that a channel has been opened to start direct selling or marketing, it merely means that a mutual understanding has been reached and that you may both benefit from the connection.

This is a widely overlooked practice and one that in my opinion, is undertaken by people who are trying to take the short-cut and achieve quick sales or short-term traffic. If you use Twitter a lot, you would have come across people using auto-response software to promote their website or blog when you follow their account.

I hate this and really think the conversion rate is too low to even consider. Couple this with the fact that the first impression and messages received from someone who you deemed as relevant and valuable to follow is a prewritten, generic message that promotes their products or sites, then I believe it has a negative overall impact.

Use the short, sharp posts to create eye-catching and quality messages that will make the user want to know more about you or your business. Build lasting and meaningful relationships that can develop overtime and provide additional channels of opportunity.

5. Reaching the Verge

With most business practices, there is a drop-off point in the time spent on an activity and the quality of the results. The same can be true to an extent in social media, yet generally not enough time is spent on the right activities for the specific business.

More activity of lesser quality is not as effective or successful as less activity of higher quality. Take the time to sample how much time needs to be allocated to particular sections of your social media strategy and how sustainable each activity is in meeting your marketing objectives.

I am aware that there are other unwritten rules of social media that can affect your business but these are most significant rules that you must understand and act accordingly to.

Have you come across any situations where knowing about the unwritten rules of social media could have benefited you?

What do you think is the most important rule for your business?