Social media provides us with a wonderful set of tools to connect and stay connected with people. In its early years, some businesses were a little slow to jump onto the social media bandwagon. However, as they recognized the potential it had to reach large audiences for little to no money, businesses embraced it.

The thing is that as use has grown, some business professionals could use a primer on social media for business. There is a pretty big difference in how you should use these platforms on a personal level, versus how you should manage any business presence. I’m finding that, on a business level, messages are getting a little too “spammy” for my liking, especially on Facebook. It’s all well and good to use Facebook as a sort of LinkedIn network that is a tad more social, to connect with peers, colleagues and others within your industry. However, be careful and mindful of a few faux pas that seem to be trendy but, at the same time, are actually pretty irritating.

What am I talking about? The misuse of tags.

Facebook allows individuals to tag others in posts. The primary use of this feature is designed to include and share content that is relevant to that individual. Let’s say you take a picture of someone and post it to social media. As long as the picture is flattering and isn’t inappropriate, there is probably nothing wrong with tagging that person. Now, if you don’t understand the consequences of tagging people on Facebook, let me explain.

Depending on an individual’s personal settings, tagging someone will typically automatically show that picture on the tagged individual’s Facebook wall. This action also inserts this image into the network of the tagged person’s News Feed.

It seems as if all too often people are using this tag feature to self-promote and/or share memes, quotes or other messages that really have no direct connection to a tagged individual, but are to shamelessly promote some business venture. You’ve seen it. A post that has 99 people tagged in it. While your intent may (or may not) be innocent. And, while you may simply wish to ensure that these tagged individuals see the post. Chances are good that, despite your intentions, you’re actually alienating some of these people. I know that personally, when I am tagged in a post or image that I’m not included in, it makes me feel as if I am endorsing the content without my consent.

Of course, relationships – especially business ones – can be tricky to manage. On the one hand, I may like and even be friends with the person. But, on the other hand, I may not be too thrilled that they would tag me in a post without my consent, especially when it’s not something I 100% support.

I realize that I can set my personal profile up so as to moderate what shows on my Facebook profile. I also understand that I can remove the tag from the photo. However, I am a sensitive soul and care about how the person who tagged me might feel once they see that I removed the tag.

There’s nothing wrong with leveraging the networks of your friends. And it may very well be that they support everything you do and don’t mind you tagging them in photos. All I’m saying is that if this is a practice that you regularly use, you might want to ensure that you have these individual’s permission to do that on a regular basis. And being “spammy” is not such a great practice to regularly use on social media anyway.

Social media can be a wonderful place to interact, both as an individual and as a business. By misusing it, or by taking advantage of your friends, you can easily find yourself losing an audience and irritating them, rather than gaining their support.  Be conscious of how you include your friends in your posts. They will appreciate it more.And, when it comes time, may be more willing to help you spread a message. To your success!

Sara Callahan | Carter West Public Relations