shutterstock_95135899_smYour company has finally blossomed into more than just a “good idea” in your head, and things are up and running. Maybe you’re still in your best friends’ garage, maybe you’ve got an office, maybe you’ve even got an entire office building. Doesn’t matter, because these days, your company’s appearance is all online.

Welcome to the world of social media, where everything is all about the presentation. While there are several resources around the web that describe the value of social networking for business, this overload of information can make it difficult to determine exactly what small businesses should and shouldn’t do when engaging in social media for their brand. Let’s take a look at some social media dos and don’ts for your small business:

Get fancy with Facebook…but in moderation

Every website has its own personality. Facebook is one of the more casual outlets, but don’t abuse its light-heartedness. With 757 million daily users, Facebook is pretty evenly divided between male and female users, so there’s no need to be gender-specific when targeting certain clientele.

Although it is an extremely global company, Canada actually has the highest following of Facebook users. It’s okay to post frequently on Facebook, but make sure you space out posts every few hours, and respond to all comments – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Hashtagging is newer to Facebook, try and keep it to a maximum of one post per day. Always follow the 80/20 rule: entertain and inform first, sell second. Speak in the first person plural when advertising your brand and stay engaged with fans on a personal level – make them feel special!

Tweet your heart out… but don’t share too much

Twitter, on the other hand, caters a little more to mass-audience posts and mass-audience followings. It’s less popular than Facebook with 46% of users using Twitter only once a day, but it is the mecca for hashtags. Just remember #too #many #are #really #annoying #and #way #too #distracting. Don’t use Twitter for personal information. No one cares what you ate for lunch. But use it to personalize your company. Try not to use all 140 characters. Give people some room to retweet you and respond. Keep your conversations short, and your responses even shorter.

Tip a hat to Google Plus

Google Plus is even more formal, but also more exclusive. You can write a post only for targeted groups you are trying to reach, but make sure that you +mention who you want to include first. Use “hat tips” H/T when sharing other people’s work, and if you share a post, always add your own opinion first. Share valuable information, and keep people included always.

Sport your professionalism on Linkedin

Even more formal than Google Plus is LinkedIn, the “professional” network for both businesses and individuals. When using LinkedIn, you definitely want to keep your posts professional and industry-related. Whenever you’re adding someone, personalize the connection with a note telling them why you’re connecting. Once connected, send a carefully written “welcome” message to solidify the relationship. Make sure never to send mass requests, and never add people you don’t know. Don’t accept people who seem to be doing this either – you don’t want a pesky fish in your pool. Use groups as a place to transmit information about your company, but don’t promote.

Pique interest with pictures

And finally, the last two that never get as much attention as they should: Pinterest and Instagram. They are equally casual, but very different. With Instagram, use hashtags with photos, but don’t be too pushy when asking people to follow your hashtag campaign. Let them come to you. Don’t overdose on photos, one or two a day is plenty. Keep your posts clean and appropriate. With Pinterest, always link back to the original source and make sure to give credit. For both: don’t use images that are irrelevant or ugly. You want to be eye-catching, attention-grabbing and aesthetically pleasing. Tell your company’s narrative.

So before you start posting your company’s success online, keep these important tips in mind!

Hilary Smith is an online writer and business journalist from Chicago, Illinois. In addition to covering the many aspects that make a successful brand, her writing also covers entrepreneurship, small business, unified communications, and globalization. Connect with her on Google Plus today.