Social Media Etiquette for Sales

5 ways to avoid turning off customers when using social media to drum up sales

April 2015

Social media is a valuable marketing tool for businesses in nearly every industry. However, like any other forum in which you engage with other people, there are appropriate—and not so appropriate—behaviors. When you use social media to increase sales, the do’s and don’ts may not seem clear. The following five rules will provide a foundation for proper social media etiquette.

1. Inform, don’t sell.

Soft selling is key to social media success. Keep in mind social media activity is referred to as “networking” for a reason. It is a space where you and your prospective customers can get to know each other.

“People want to find and buy; not be sold to,” says Praveen Puri, founder of Puri Consulting LLC. “It is bad etiquette to suddenly pitch your follower on a product or service.” Praveen recommends giving your audience valuable content that informs, helps, or entertains them. If they find your offerings compelling enough, they will take the next steps by exploring your website or reaching out to you directly through the social media platform.

2. Ask, don’t assume.

When someone follows you on Twitter, likes or friends you on Facebook or connects on LinkedIn, you can’t be sure why that person has decided to engage with you. He or she might be interested in your content stream and thought leadership. It could also mean that this person is researching your company's products or services as part of a buying decision. “Because the relationship isn't clear yet, the first step is to explore what types of interest they have in your company,” says Alex Devkar, founder & CEO of Conspire, a professional social networking tool. “Then you can identify which connections have the highest chances of converting to sales.” The fundamentals of sales still apply in social media—establish a relationship, understand the potential customer's problems, and help solve them.

3. Don’t abuse hashtags.

Limit yourself to three hashtags (or less) per post. “Hashtags can be a great tool with which to grow your business; they can help your (posts) get read by people who are following the latest trends,” says Bernard Perrine, CEO and co-founder of SocialCentiv, a Twitter marketing software company. “However, cramming too many hashtags into your Tweets can make it hard to decipher your message.” When you put too many hashtags in your posts, you also run a higher risk of incorrectly tagging, which will frustrate users.

4. Always be original.

In social media, it is in poor taste to share the same status update, Tweet, or LinkedIn post over and over again. Your networks will perceive you as spam and you will quickly lose credibility with the audience. If you are struggling to come up with new posts about your business or you are excited about a new promotion, get creative about ways to keep your products or services top of mind. Post a link to an article related to a problem your company can solve. Share posts made by others in your industry or in your community to keep conversation flowing.

5. Be human.

The most important thing to remember about social media etiquette for sales is to keep it social. Your customers and prospects want to engage with a person, not a robot programmed to increase revenue. Avoid using jargon from your company’s marketing materials and don’t post links to press releases on your website. Instead, use a conversational tone in your posts. When you receive a comment or a mention—positive or negative—respond promptly and personally. If someone in your network posts a question you know the answer to—or know someone else who can help—send a reply or an introduction.



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