We’ve seen it happen before – a company or celebrity meltdown, live on social media. Remember Amy’s Baking Company?

As a business owner, you must conduct yourself much differently than you would as an individual. Everything you post could have ramifications on your business or job.

Is it worth losing a job or client over a rant on Facebook? I didn’t think so.

Not only does poor behavior online hurt your business, it says a lot about your character. Would YOU do business with someone who does nothing but complain online (on either their business or personal account)? I know I wouldn’t.

I’ve put together 7 key ways business owners can behave wisely on social media.

  • Use correct spelling and grammar.

I really shouldn’t have to say this, but many businesses post without using spell check. Worse yet, some even tweet like they text. What u want 2 no? Poor spelling and grammar makes you look like an idiot, not to mention unprofessional. You went to school – show it.

  • Know what topics to avoid.

There is no reason to post your political or religious beliefs on your business social media accounts (unless that IS your business, then post away). I’m a Conservative Christian, yet I know better than to start a firestorm on my Facebook page. That is something that is reserved for personal accounts.

I do have to interject a caution here concerning personal accounts. Right after the 2012 election, a local young white woman posted a racist rant on Facebook about President Obama being re-elected. An African-American woman posted a response to which the white woman went off on her. Ticked off, the African-American woman shared the post and included her employer’s information. Yes, the employer’s information shouldn’t have been posted, but because it was AND the post went viral (well over 2500 shares) the young white woman was let go from her job the next day. THINK before you post on any of your accounts.

  • Stay professional.

If someone rants on your Facebook page, deal with it like a professional would. Don’t stoop to the level of trolls and start a war. Take the high road and keep moving on. A person’s tone is hard to decipher online at times, so make sure you are responding in a level-headed manner.

  • Watch the pictures that are posted of you.

A good rule of thumb is to have your photo settings set to approve any photo tags. Since you are an extension of your company when you are out in public, make sure you’re not having photos taken that would reflect negatively on your company. An example I often give is if you work at Chick-fil-A, don’t be seen with a drink in your hand and the logo on your shirt. That’s not what the company stands for (I worked for them, so I know this firsthand).

  • Be careful who you connect with.

Connecting with others is a wonderful thing. Some may turn into customers. However, people do judge others based on who they surround themselves with. You want to surround yourself with people who are going to help you, not hinder you. True story – I was jaded once by someone in social media and it left me very angry and frustrated. Since I had such a bad experience, if I get a LinkedIn request and they are connected to this person and their “group”, I ignore it. I don’t want to surround myself by people still drinking the scam juice.

  • Know why you are on social media and always be aware of that.

As a business owner, are you using social media to raise awareness of your company? An an individual, are you using it to connect with others in the industry to increase your circle of connections? Everything you do online needs to circle back to why you are using it. Every post, picture, connection made – both professionally and personally – needs to have a purpose. If you stay focused on that, you’ll hardly do wrong.

  • Know when to just turn it all off.

My husband and I are big fans of How I Met Your Mother. There was one episode based around the fact “nothing good happens after 2am.” I’d like to apply that principle here. There are times when it’s in your best interest to turn it all off because nothing good will happen. Date night? Stay off Facebook. Tailgating with your friends? Don’t even think of taking pictures. There are times when it’s okay to turn your devices off (or at least remove the apps short-term) and walk away. Social media and smartphones and tablets have only been around the last 5 or 10 years. We’ve all spent the majority of lives not attached to a mobile device. It’s okay to go back to that every now and then.

As grown adults, we shouldn’t have to be reminded of these things, however it only takes a few to spoil it for the rest of us.

Behaving wisely will lead to respect and success, which is what every business owner wants to achieve.

If YOU had to add to the list, what would you include? Or do you have any “behaving badly” stories to share?