Much of the business world has finally caught on to the power of social media marketing. They’re tweeting and making connections on Facebook and LinkedIn, and some are even posting videos on YouTube. But judging from the amount of spam-like messages I see in many of these business postings, one thing they haven’t yet caught on to is how to use social media appropriately for business. You see, in the social media world there are a few unwritten rules regarding the etiquette of appropriate networking. If you’re not following these rules then, you’ll quite likely to get ‘un-followed’.

Don’t Oversell

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is over-selling. When a typical networker is deciding whether or not to make a connection with you, the first thing they are going to do is visit your profile page and look at what you’ve been posting. If all of your posts are variants of “Click this link to buy my product”, you won’t be gaining many followers. Think about it. When you take a trip to the store to find a particular product, if the sales person were to follow you around saying “buy this, buy this, buy this…” over and over again, would you buy it? Not likely. You’re more liable to run from the store and never look back. The general rule is to write at least 4 or 5 useful posts for every 1 that attempts to sell a product.

Offer Value

Now, about those 4 or 5 useful posts: useful means helpful. It is not helpful to tell people that you are eating a peanut butter and tuna fish sandwich for lunch, or that you’ve got gum stuck to your shoe. Your posts should be of value to your target audience (i.e. your potential clients), so you need to find out who these people are and what information you can post that would benefit them. Are there tips relating to your area of expertise that you can share? Can you make some good recommendations that your target market would appreciate? Can you share some links to some great articles, or non-competing websites? This doesn’t mean you are forbidden from posting anything personal, but what you’re wearing to the supermarket isn’t really that interesting …unless you’re wearing Bermuda shorts and a tiara, but I digress.

Build Relationships

Social Media Marketing is not about standing on your soapbox and yelling to the masses, it’s about demonstrating your expertise and through that, building relationships. Read what others are posting, compliment them if they post something cool, if they ask a question that you know the answer to, answer. Look at some of the top social media marketers out there. These people are communicating with their connections and offering value.

Have Fun

Last, but certainly not least, is the fun factor. Social media can be fun if you make it so. Make some great connections for your business, and get to know some other people in your field. You’ll be surprised how much fun you can have with social media and how much business you can gain, if you’re doing it the right way.