“If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Despite how many of us heard this popular adage growing up, a quick look around the internet will tell you some of us didn’t listen very well.

What not to do on social media, exhibit A:


Kenneth Cole may have learned its lesson since, but this tweet still stands as an icon of poor social media choices. Don’t make light of tragedies for self-promotion on social media or otherwise. Ever.

What not to do on social media, exhibit B:


Even worse than the above is trying to act sincere while slipping in a promotional hashtag.

What not to do on social media, exhibit C:


Disrespecting your own customers? Seems pretty self-explanatory.

There are plenty of wrong ways to use social media as a brand. In fact, we’ve already compiled a list of seven things your brand should stop doing on social media. Without any sort of guidelines in place, it’s easy to bust your brand’s image on social media and get swept up in bad publicity.



But what about the right ways your brand can use social media? It isn’t all doom and gloom, after all. There are powerful and beneficial ways to use social media to bolster your brand’s public image.



What Social Media Guidelines Does Your Brand Need to Succeed?

Here are five of the best social media guidelines for brands looking to stand out from the crowd (for the right reasons):

1. Be Helpful

All sales are inherently built on trust.

We trust that Nike hires good manufacturers and uses good materials to produce quality shoes. So we buy Nikes.

But trust isn’t built by announcing your latest product line. Trust is built by helping your potential customers.

Don’t use your social media for endless self-promotion. Use it to foster a relationship and earn trust by helping your target market.

What does your audience need? What are their interests? How can you help them today, regardless of whether it’s a direct sale or not?

2. Be Relatable

Boring, generic social media posts aren’t going to connect with anyone. Take the time to develop your brand voice with a tone that captivates. (Or just be Taco Bell and occasionally say funny stuff.)

People want to know that there’s a person, not a bot, behind your voice on social media. The more you engage authentically, the better the impact will be.

3. Pretend You’re Face to Face

Red Medicine (above) would be the first to tell you that projecting frustrations via social media is never a good choice. It became a national headline and buried the restaurant in bad Yelp reviews.

You wouldn’t criticize your customers or clients if you were sitting across from them, would you? So before you post, ask yourself: Would I engage with my audience like this if we were in person? Running your content through this filter helps preserve your brand’s positive reputation.

4. Make It a Conversation

Company updates aren’t social media. They’re just media, and they’re often boring and irrelevant to your followers.

Consider your posts as the greeting in a two-way conversation. Be social, comment back, even converse with competitors. In the end, ask yourself: Who wants to be friends with someone who only talks “at” you?

5. Focus on Quality

Yes, you can newshack, like our friend Kenneth Cole (above), or try to get retweeted based on shock value. However, you do so at your own risk.

The better (and safer) way to win fans and get the right kind of attention is to consistently create quality content. It takes time, but trust me — it’s the way you want people talking about you online.

Brands That Follow Social Media Guidelines: Honorable Mentions

A handful of brands out there seem to play according to these social media guidelines. Here are a couple of our favorites:

Taco Bell is personable, conversational, and always doing things online worth reading.

Taco Bell’s social media voice is full of humor and truly entertaining. This may or may not be the voice for your brand, but the key is that they consistently engage with their audience and provide quality content.

Buffer App posts content that’s thought out and well researched, but that doesn’t necessarily promote their brand. They publish content to help their target market, and therefore create brand advocates and fans. (They also get an average rate of 2000+ shares per article.)

7 Things to Stop Doing on Social Media-6

5 Social Media Guidelines Your Brand Needs: Final Thoughts

Are you putting out a positive brand image on social media? Or are you at risk of becoming a cautionary tale?

It’s time for your brand to make the best use of all social media has to offer. Don’t be the next example of what not to do. Use social media the right way, and let these guidelines help your brand rise to the surface in a sea of not-so-great examples.

Need help getting started but don’t know where to begin? Reach out any time. Our award-winning team is always here to help.


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