Follow These Social Media Networking Do’s and Don’ts

In the give-and-take on Facebook, be friendly and helpful to others in the industry. But never talk about how you price your services

Follow These Social Media Networking Do’s and Don’ts

Jeff and Terri Wigley

Think back to Y2K. In the year 2000, there was no social media as we know it today. To share information with large numbers of people in your industry, one read magazines or attended conferences and meetings. Facebook did not begin until 2004. Twitter in 2006. Instagram in 2010. These social media platforms can be a great networking tool for the portable restroom industry, but we believe a few rules of the road would be prudent to use them wisely.

Question: I am relatively new to the portable restroom industry and I am unsure about using social media for business. What should I do or not do when networking with others in the portable restroom industry, for example?

Answer: While there is no formal protocol for communicating using industry-specific social media outlets, there are several best practices we should follow to convey professionalism and to improve the image of our industry.

The purpose of your communication on these business-to-business social media sites is to share or to seek information. Social media is an efficient way to get an answer to a question from a large group of PROs from various parts of the country in a relatively short time. Please keep in mind, however, that every member of that social media community can see these comments. For this reason, please consider the following suggestions in your online communication:

DO:

Be polite. Quite often you will not know the person responding to your question. The respondent is doing you a favor by sharing information, ideas or opinions. Treat that person as you would if they were standing before you in person and helping you with your inquiry.   

Be professional. In a portable restroom social media forum, stick to industry-specific topics and ask relevant questions. Remember that other PROs in the social community will be able to observe this online conversation. Your image and consequently your company’s image are always under scrutiny.

Be patient. In our fast-paced world, we need answers instantly. If your question is not immediately addressed by another community member, do not despair. Furthermore, do not accept the first answer that comes across and act on that response. A better answer may be coming in at a later time. If there are several different ideas or opinions given, patiently wait and read all responses. Perhaps you will recognize a consensus.

Be positive. While we all get frustrated on occasion, try to refrain from negativity in framing questions, asking opinions or making comments. People react more favorably to positive communication as opposed to rants and tirades.

Be prepared to help others. As a new operator may have many more questions than answers, an experienced PRO needs to help as much as they seek help. Experience is the best teacher, and sharing your experiences can often help others to avoid a mistake that you may have made in the past.

DON’T:

Don’t discuss the issue of pricing on social media. While most of our list is open to opinion and some interpretation, price discussions among professionals are illegal. The Federal Trade Commission defines price fixing as “an agreement (written, verbal or inferred from conduct) among competitors that raises, lowers, or stabilizes prices or competitive terms.” There is a tremendous risk exposure to all PROs involved in this type of behavior. While you may be interested in what other PROs charge for various services, refrain from taking part in these discussions on social media. We see this quite often, however, on various Facebook sites in particular. Unfortunately, should someone in a position of authority gain access to these discussions, serious legal consequences could occur.

Don’t use derogatory language toward competitors. Keep competitors and their company names out of your communication at all times. As discussed under the “be professional” point above, your image and your company’s image are always under scrutiny. Ask your question or respond with your opinion without contributing your competitor’s name to the discussion.

Don’t use social media to be derogatory toward an employee. Be generic in any inquires or comments that would refer to an employee or an employee situation. Remember, others in the industry are privy to your communication. There is no need to delve into specific employee matters, as this could be construed as violating employee privacy and confidentiality. The best advice is to avoid this topic entirely.

Don’t use foul language. Pretend your mother will be reading your communications. Enough said.

Don’t use language that degrades our industry. The product that we pump is human waste. It is classified as domestic septage and not hazardous waste. Our primary equipment are known as units, portable restrooms or portable toilets. Our drivers are known as route drivers or service technicians. Be proud of the industry we serve, and as our image constantly improves, so will our value to the community.     

In conclusion, be responsible in your use of social media and everyone will benefit. Use this mass communication tool as a way to improve your business and your resources. Your company and our industry will be the beneficiaries of this remarkable communications medium.



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