Social media offers an excellent way to generate leads — especially if you develop a strong voice that leverages your brand.

Engaging your audience is key, so it’s important to learn the rules of the trade, or else you risk turning away prospective clients, says Maggie Crowley, marketing manager with Advisor Websites in Vancouver.

Much like any other marketing or networking endeavour, you want to be careful with your language. Here are three tips for minding your manners online:

> Don’t get caught up in self-promotion

Think of social media as a cocktail party, Crowley says. If you’re at a cocktail party, you don’t meander around the room shouting at everyone to read up on your business.

“The people that go to a cocktail party and only talk about themselves don’t really have a lot of luck in terms of networking or building relationships,” she says. “The same goes for social media.”

The biggest mistake advisors make is creating a social media account and spending all of their energy on self-promotion. Often, these are the advisors that never receive traffic or conversions. It’s key to engage with conversations happening online so that you’re contributing to the “social” aspect of social media.

> Keep your branding consistent

Advisors with a business page usually follow all the rules and best practices set out by their firm, but may ignore those same guidelines on their personal pages. 

“It’s really easy to cross the line of politeness, or get too personal on those accounts,” Crowley says. “Just because it’s your personal Facebook page, doesn’t mean it’s not easy to find.”

So, make sure that you’re still representing your company, whether it’s in a business or a personal page.

> Follow the “Grandma rule”

You don’t want to post anything professionally or personally that you would be embarrassed if your grandmother read it.

“This may sound like a no-brainer,” Crowley says, “but it’s nice to give a little thought to content before you press publish or send.”

What’s funny to you and your friends may not translate well online to strangers, Crowley adds. As well, if you spend time chatting about politics and religion, be sure to have a caveat that opinions are your own. 

One way to guarantee that you won’t step on anyone’s toes is to hold a sit-down meeting with your marketing team and agree on a set of terms for posting on social media.

This article is part of an occasional series on business etiquette for advisors.