How to Lose Friends and Annoy People

Entrepreneurs need to strike a balance when promoting a business.

A record high number of Americans — 14 percent, or 27 million — are currently either running a new business or starting one, according to Babson College’s 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. This explains the growing number of people on Facebook and Twitter touting everything from consulting services and Rodan + Fields skin-care products, to real estate and restaurant ventures.

While it’s easy to get carried away with countless inspirational memes and behind-the-scenes Instagram and Facebook posts — especially during the developmental and launch stages of a company — fledgling entrepreneurs need to take care to rein it in.

The following tips will help you strike the right balance of promotional, informational, neutral and “personal” posts that will enable you to promote your business without annoying friends, loved ones, colleagues and that one guy you met at your sister’s high school graduation party.    

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• Adopt a strict 80/20 rule regarding all promotional or business-related posts on all of your personal social media networks. For example, if you regularly post around 10 times a day about your dog, interesting news articles, funny videos and something hilarious your child said during bath time, maybe cut the personal posts to eight and make two business related. That being said, unless you are in the news business, two posts a day might be overkill, depending on the platform and the type of work you do. Which brings us to frequency.

• Flooding the feed is a social media no-no. It’s of course different for each platform, but no more than once per hour on Twitter and about two times per day on Facebook is the safest bet for businesses. Individual users, however, can and do get away with more, but at what cost? Cute kitten videos are one thing, but 10 posts a day with before-and-after pictures, sale info, team member solicitations and new product announcements is way too much and will come off as spam, even if you are posting to a business page.

• Consider maintaining a separate company page, even if you are your business. Those who run a one-man or one-woman show and companies operating under a separate moniker with multiple employees can benefit from the use of networks dedicated solely to the business. For example, I have a personal page and a “journalist” page on Facebook, which allows me to connect with readers and other people I don’t know directly and to share items that are better suited to the general public than my friends, family and business acquaintances. It serves the opposite purpose too, by keeping the more personal posts off of my professional feed. Readers might enjoy a family recipe for example, but they probably don’t care about a group picture of my cousins and me. My actual cousins are barely interested in it, and they are in the photo.

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Blurring the personal and professional is, however, worth consideration.

A weekly Snapchat video or Periscope session of your dog and cat romping around the living room or your baby digging into birthday cake is a great break in the monotony of business insider tips, articles from the Wall Street Journal and motivational quotes on your professional or company pages, but a little goes a long way. Offering customers, clients and followers a glimpse into your family and social life can make you more relatable, but a front row seat will grow old fast and could damage credibility. On your business-only sites, opt for the 80/20 rule in reverse, with the personal stuff staying in the lower percentage.

Social media is revolutionary for businesses and entrepreneurs, but much like networking at an event or cocktail party, don’t monopolize the conversation, save sales pitches for followup conversations and emails, and always strive to be professional. You wouldn’t walk into a dinner party and shove a sales flier into the hand of the person seated next to you at the table. And if you would, well we have bigger etiquette fish to fry. 

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Melanie Warner Spencer is editor of New Orleans Bride Magazine. Her writing has appeared in the Austin American-Statesman, the Houston Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. Spencer’s ever-expanding library of etiquette books is rivaled only by her ever-ready stash of blank thank-you notes. Submit business etiquette questions to


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