Social media is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to creating a good online presence for your business and building up a good reputation.

Most companies these days set up an account on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even Pinterest, but knowing how to manage these accounts can either enhance your reputation or destroy it.

While you may be excited to promote your brand, here are a few things to avoid.

Don’t spam

There’s a fine line between keeping your customers informed, and annoying them with too many messages. For Facebook and Linkedin you only need one post per day, although for Twitter the optimum number of tweets is 3-5 per day. Instagram should be 1-2 posts a day and Pinterest up to 3 pins.

If you send out too many messages, your customer base will start to mute your comments or even stop following you. You need to make sure you keep your online presence going just enough to keep people interested.

You obviously don’t need to be on all of these social media sites, so do your research and find the best outlet for your kind of business.

Don’t repeat

There’s nothing worse than seeing the same post over and over again. It gives the impression that the business isn’t really interested and quite simply doesn’t have anything interesting to say.

Social media may seem to be an unnecessary use of your time, but you can spend some time once a week putting together all the posts you want to make the following week so that you don’t have to suddenly send out a repeat of a previous message. If you mix your messages up so there is a variety of product information, news items and general discussion it will make your pages much more interesting to read.

Don’t ignore comments

If you want people to interact with you, you have to interact with them. Your social media pages should be used to encourage people to talk about your products and company. If they do comment and you totally ignore them they may well not bother commenting again. A simple acknowledgement of a positive comment is all that is needed.

Complaints should also be responded to. If someone isn’t happy with the product or service which you have delivered, and they post on one of your social media pages, always acknowledge this and ask how you can help them. If it is a particularly complex issue or it requires them to supply personal information you may prefer to ask them to take it a private message.

If your customers ever take time to interact with you, you should never be too busy to reply.

Keep it relevant

If you take a look at some of the social media posts on your timelines you will see exactly what this means.

Anything you post should either have some relevance to what you do or be of general public interest.

If you start posting lots of pictures of cat memes and your business has absolutely nothing to do with cats, you may find your customers starting to query what it is you do. They have liked and followed your pages because they are interested in you as a business not because of your ability to repost memes.

Don’t get political

In the current political climate, this one is particularly important.

If you hold particularly strong views on any political situation, keep it away from your social media pages. Many of your customers may hold opposing views and if you post articles or comments which annoy them you may find you lose them.

You can of course post an article and invite your customers to comment. This is a great way to get a discussion going, but be on hand in case the situation gets too heated to make sure that arguments among your customers don’t begin. If they do, always remain impartial.

Don’t use bad language or insult people

The customer is always right, even when they’re wrong. Some customers often refuse to accept that they’re in the wrong and these kind of complaints must always be handled tactfully.

If your customer starts to use foul language or insult you on your social media pages, never rise to the bait. Never swear back, never use insults and always try to remain calm and professional at all times.

While you will only be thinking about pacifying this particular customer your other followers will be watching the argument with interest and their opinion of you will be based on how you respond.

Keep it professional

If you maintain a professional appearance you will find it much easier to keep your reputation on social media.

Try not to be tempted into using text speak or popular chat abbreviations. Always write clearly and properly. Check your spelling and grammar as even though the posts may seem to be fun, maintaining your professional reputation should always be at the forefront of your mind.

Don’t knock the competition

If you have a competitor, and you probably will, don’t be tempted to use any of your social media pages as a way to discredit them.

If you post negative reports of them, post negative reviews and comments about any of their products, then this will be seen as nothing short of sour grapes.

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition – it’s what keeps all businesses on their toes. If one of your competitors has gained a large contract or has come up with a new product, post it on your page. This shows that you are more willing to work together with your competitors and that you are following what happens within your industry with interest.