In light of the broad reach of social media today, many professional service businesses are seeking to engage in a professional manner in the online community for marketing and informational purposes.

While there are no hard rules on how professional service businesses, such as financial advisors, attorneys, or realtors, must approach social media marketing and information sharing, businesses should always develop appropriate guidelines that not only outline online goals, but also establish a base for professional online conduct.

Here are six smart social media solutions that professional service businesses should include in their social media guidelines and follow precisely to make their online experience with social media sources a success.

1. Providing an honest look at the business

Identifying your particular position and role for the company will not only create a sense of authenticity but also establish credibility among other social media users. Business related information posted must be accurate and verifiable to avoid misinterpretations by prospects. Honesty can go a long way when representing your business in social media and misleading statements or facts are oftentimes easily discerned by others.

2. Practicing common courtesy and respect

When posting in social media forums, ensure that only meaningful, appropriate content will be used. When responding to other posts, comments should always reflect the overall integrity and professionalism of the company. Only respectful, insightful comments will cast a positive light on a business and possibly establish a future relationship between the company and prospects. It is important to always handle disagreements with other users politely and abstain from becoming overly defensive or treat the matter in a way that would reflect negatively on the business.

3. Respecting privacy and confidentiality

Prior to posting business-related content in social media forums, it is imperative to ensure that doing so will not violate privacy or confidentiality rights. Many reports, privileged conversations, or client-related matters are not intended for public sharing and may not be legally disclosed. It is best to use common courtesy and ask permission for publishing any content that may be subject to privacy and confidentiality rights. Any content posted in social media forums will be widely available for viewing by users from all over the world.

4. Capitalizing on expertise

Composing unique content about your business that reflects personal expertise and insight will not only give the posts a natural voice, but may also help build a readership of individuals interested in your individualistic perspectives on business happenings and activities. A great way to employ professional expertise in social media is to create a separate website or a business related Facebook page and to post brief insightful tips or opportunities for free consultations. Industry-specific information, events, statistics, and reports also make for great conversation starters. When posting niche-specific content, always ensure that the general public will be able to understand the information provided by avoiding industry lingo and ask for input.

5. Establishing a personal connection

To help build a positive reputation for your business, try to connect with other social media users by displaying your personality in your posts. Sharing personal thoughts, stories, and background may help other users to connect with you on a more personal level. Many professional services businesses, such as financial planning or real estate, may seem rather intimidating to the general public and being able to see the professional as a real person with similar values and life experiences will help prospective clients relate to you more easily.

6. Employ other media tools to relate information

When looking to provide simple overviews of events, activities, or news pertaining to your business, it may be helpful to make use of other online media tools in conjunction with social media to get the message across. Producing short but professional video clips and creating brief blog post that can be advertised on your social media profile to keep online prospects updated on recent happenings can be a great way to increase online viewership and readership.

Regardless of industry, professional service businesses must take a smart approach to social media use to avoid engaging in online activities that may result in violations to privacy and confidentiality or would cast a negative light on the company. In the end, online social media behavior should always reflect the same professionalism, respectfulness, and common courtesy that the business person would demonstrate in person.

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Jon Rognerud is known as the most sought-after SEO, Digital Marketing Consultant and Online Advisor for Finance, Technology, Real-Estate and Health industries. He is famous for building business strategies, mobile websites and integrated marketing solutions that brings process, profits and brand loyalty…without wasting time. Jon Rognerud is the author of the best-selling book (Buy On Amazon), “The Ultimate Guide To Optimizing Your Website” (Entrepreneur Press) and is the Founder of Chaosmap. Get more information about the company here.