I found myself at the airport recently with a delayed flight and a lot of time to kill. I did what most of us inevitably do in that scenario: I scrolled. Once I was caught up on emails, I was deep in the depths of social media, where I saw countless promo businesses promoting their events, products and initiatives while interacting with followers and growing their brands online.

What also struck me, though – as I sat in my terminal waiting to return home – was how many business accounts could be confused with personal accounts, which can work if you’re running a side business selling crafts to neighbors, friends and family, but it can be confusing and ineffective for a legitimate, professional business.

Don’t get me wrong: A casual or informal voice can help a social brand rise above the noise, but it’s a delicate line to walk, and there are so many spots to slip up along the way. I decided to share a few do’s and don’ts for social accounts in the promo world:


Define your brand and develop a style that aligns with your business values. You want to ensure that your posts maintain a cohesive and professional tone.

Engage and respond promptly. This might be the most tedious part of social media, but in some ways it’s the easiest, and it’s sort of the whole point. Social media is about interaction. It channels you directly to the people you are trying to reach. It’s actually great that they are asking questions or leaving comments. Reward them and keep that conversation going.

Use visual content. Talking about a great product only gets you so far. They say “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and no place is it truer than with social media. And please, use a decent-quality picture.

Be authentic. Give them something they can’t see anywhere else. Show some behind-the-scenes glimpses of your business. Before and after images of an event are great ways to tell the story of a project accomplished.

Promote positive interactions. It can be difficult to pull off, but the best thing social media can do is create a positive community. You can do little things that push your account in that direction. Encourage discussions, conduct polls and ask for opinions to create engagement.


Don’t overpromote. Posting the same message six times in a week is the recipe for convincing followers to tune you out. You can annoy a follower to the point of unfollowing. Find a balance of promotional and valuable content.

Don’t feed trolls. Ignore negative feedback unless it’s something you can clearly provide a solution to. We all know that the internet is made up of more than just the good-faith posters we would prefer to interact with. It’s fine to answer a complaint, but you don’t want to validate someone who otherwise wouldn’t be taken seriously. You’d be surprised how many of your followers will read through an argument between a brand and one upset follower if you let it get to that point. Consider taking that discussion to a private message.

Don’t overuse hashtags. A hashtag should be used to build momentum for a marketing initiative, a new project or something you want the world to talk about. Don’t just throw a dozen arbitrary hashtags on a post, unless you want it to be immediately processed as spam.

Don’t neglect regular posting. You know what thought enters the mind of someone who checks a business’s social account and sees the last post was months ago? They wonder if the company went out of business. Create a schedule and stick to it.

Don’t forget to proofread. Social posting can require rapid reactions, but typos are considered a sign of unprofessionalism in pretty much any context.

Don’t overshare. I read some posts in the same way I watch a scary movie: with my fingers slightly parted over my eyes. Remember, you want to give a peek behind the curtain, but don’t give away information that will put your team members in a difficult position. Not everything is for everyone to see.

DiNicola is the digital transformation manager at PPAI.