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There’s no denying that social media is a powerful resource for brands. With 74% of online adults on social media, it’s an effective way to reach and interact with your audience and share information about your brand.

However, social media can also do harm to your business if you don’t understand how to properly manage your social media channels. Check out the examples below to learn more about the pitfalls many business owners run into.

Spam Sandwich

As the co-founder of Buddy Media, Michael Lazerow, told Matthew Bishop on LinkedIn that the goal for marketers on social media is to engage them by discovering “how do you as a brand get into the conversation.” In other words, you need to create content that your audience wants to share and discuss.

Customer Complaints

In years past, it was possible for a business to still thrive despite having a rude owner or poor customer service. The Internet has absolutely changed that game because of the power consumers have to talk about their experiences with a business via online review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. Remember, one bad experience shared on a review site could potentially be seen by hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

The same can be said about social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Remember the whole Amy’s Baking Company fiasco? Instead of addressing consumer complaints and finding out why there were negative reviews, the owners went ballistic. In fact, the debacle has become a classic example of what not to do on social media.

While some would argue that getting your name mentioned is better than being ignored, that’s not an excuse to make it a habit. Customers are likely to forget about a hiccup here or there, but with so much competition in e-commerce, it’s not difficult for customers to turn to brands with better customer service.

And, it’s just not the handling of customer service that is important. It’s how promptly you respond to customers as well. Convince and Convert have found that 42% customers who have a complaint on social media expect a response within 60 minutes. Whether that’s realistic or not isn’t the issue; it’s the fact that customers demand a speedy response.

In short, if you aren’t equipped to handle the questions or concerns from customers, then social media can be a dangerous game to play. Always make sure that you’re helping (and not attacking) customers and that you respond in a timely manner.

Drunk Dialing

The combination of communication and one too many Friday night cocktails can turn a social media presence into an embarrassing situation for the wrong business owner. I’m sure in the ages of physical mail and telephone cold-calls there were minimal opportunities to drunk dial a customer. That’s not always the case nowadays.

With access to mobile devices 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it’s extremely easy to forget when to leave business at the office and not bring it into our social lives. It’s far too easy to let out a few drunk tweets or Facebook statuses while you’re sitting at your favorite watering hole or office party – it even happened with the Red Cross in 2011 and backfired when JCPenney sent out seemingly drunk texts during the Super Bowl.

Sending out a drunk tweet or Facebook status isn’t that uncommon, but it can be damaging for a brand if it becomes a common occurrence. Resist temptation and make sure that you leave your brand’s social media accounts in the hands of responsible team members who won’t make any bad decisions with these technology assets.

Too Much Exposure?

Not only does that phone in your pocket have the ability to ruin your business’ reputation while you’re finishing up your last beer, there also happens to be a camera attached to it – which can visually capture you enjoying your night out as well. Over the last few years we have seen important political figures and sports heroes make fools of themselves with racy pictures on social media.

In case you already forgot, Apple recently ran into a PR issue when it was discovered hundreds of nude celebrity photos were leaked online after someone had hijacked the cloud. Imagine the horror if those pictures had been of well-respected CEOs or faces of a major company or brand. There would be some serious explaining to do.

Unlike a celebrity or well-known CEO, a small business owner doesn’t have the resources to handle such a nightmare. Think of the backlash a local shop owner would face if they sent out inappropriate images.

If for some reason you do snap racy pictures – which is not recommended – keep the pictures to yourself! Furthermore, make sure that you only share content that is PG. Not only do you want to avoid the embarrassment, you don’t want to lose your integrity and customers down the road. Both American Apparel and VietJet have recently dealt with the repercussions of sharing lewd photos on their social media accounts.

Hash Tag Hijack

Who doesn’t love a good hashtag hijack gone awry? If you’re unfamiliar with the practice, it is when companies latch onto trending hashtags on Twitter and Instagram and then see how they can attach marketing messages to that hashtag – often without researching the meaning of the hashtag. It’s actually a great way to get the attention of people while staying up to date with buzzing topics and current events – when done correctly. Oreo perfected this tactic during the blackout at Super Bowl XLVII.

If you perform your due diligence and really understand why a hashtag is trending it’s pretty easy to prevent an embarrassing situation. However, if you don’t understand the meaning behind a trending hashtag, you could face some much-deserved backlash. For example, DiGiorno recently used #WhyIStayed, which was a trending hashtag regarding domestic violence. In DiGiorno’s attempt to stay socially relevant they used an extremely sensitive hashtag to sell frozen pizza. Can you say epic fail?

Always remember to read other tweets so you can understand the origin of a hashtag before you attach it to any marketing or branding messages.


Social media is one of the best ways to spread brand awareness and engage with your audience. However, it can also be detrimental if you treat your brand’s account like that of a college student. Always be professional and avoid scenarios that include anything that is sensitive to your customers.

Featured Image: jurgenfr via Shutterstock

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9 Social Media Mistakes Your Business Must Avoid

Social media has been a boon for businesses small and large, but it’s also becoming a minefield for those unable to manage the increasing complexities of the run-and-gun nature of the beast. On a seemingly daily basis, we suffer through one “Twitter disaster” or another. It’s becoming so commonplace that “Twitter disaster” really doesn’t deserve to be in quotes.

Damage can occur with incredible swiftness. Although tweets and Facebook posts can be deleted, evidence of their existence is invariably captured and collected for posterity within seconds of their going live. Say something wrong on a social network, and it will haunt you for life.

Don’t believe me? Check out these nine all-too-common reasons for failure, all of which involve real businesses being undone by a simple, wayward message on social media.

1. Hand the keys to someone not ready to drive

A sign of an intern gone wild?

It’s understandable that as a small-business owner you might not want to spend your days tending to the Twitter and Facebook pages. It’s a high-effort job that often has minimal bottom-line impact, so it’s very tempting to outsource the task to another company or hand it off to a low-level staffer.

Big mistake.

The Red Cross actually handled the affair well, playing it off as a harmless mistake. Chrysler, however, went with the unfortunate, knee-jerk response (before fessing up): blaming hackers.

Solution: Ensure that your authorized social media users are properly trained and don’t intermingle their personal accounts with corporate ones. Tools such as HootSuite can make managing multiple accounts easy, but they greatly increase the risk of making errors if your authorized tweeters are trigger-happy.

2. Fire the person in charge of social media

At least change your passwords before you fire the social media guru.

Eventually you’re going to have to fire someone. How you handle that termination may well determine the way your business will go from that point on—particularly if one of the people getting the axe has the keys to the social media accounts.

HMV, a global entertainment retailer, learned this lesson the hard way when it began a round of layoffs, resulting in a live-tweeting of the “mass execution” by its social media planner, who was among the fallen. It was sour grapes, to be sure, but the tweets also included allegations that the company’s management had used illegal interns.

Hey, business isn’t always pretty, and sometimes layoffs are the only option. But do yourself a favor and ensure that you’ve changed the passwords to key social media accounts before said layoffs take place. Managing the way such an event is presented to the world is a critical part of ensuring your company’s long-term survival.

3. Confuse a reply with a direct message on Twitter

Don’t act like a Weiner.

This one has actually been with us for decades. The original mistake got its start in email: accidentally “replying to all” instead of just to the original sender. Poof, your snarky remark about the president’s bad breath just went to the whole company.

We’ve all been there, but Twitter has compounded the problem. When you send an @ reply to a message instead of the DM you intended, it doesn’t just go to the whole company, it goes to the entire world…at least until you delete it.

Endless disasters have gone down this way. Charlie Sheen @’ed his phone number to the world. Economist Nouriel Roubini got in hot water when he unintentionally went public with an intended DM calling a reporter a loser.

Of course, the mother of all DM failures remains the tragic case of Congressman Anthony Weiner, who didn’t just send an easily forgotten lewd remark to the universe, but also accidentally distributed a picture of his nether regions.

There’s no tech fix for this mistake: Smart business owners know that the best practice is to never use social media for private messages at all.

4. Commit rank insensitivity

Oh, Kenneth.

Corporate America probably isn’t the best barometer for good taste, and when you add social media to the mix, things only get worse. Leapfrogging onto a trending hashtag (say, #Kardashian) is a popular tactic to nab a few extra followers, but if the topic is one of a sensitive nature, that tactic can backfire, badly.

In recent months, we’ve seen American Apparel and Gap get raked over the coals for suggesting that people do their shopping during Hurricane #Sandy, Celeb Boutique spanked for encouraging people to buy its #Aurora dress, and Kenneth Cole get beaten up for suggesting that riots in #Cairo were due to his new spring collection. (For Cole’s part, the obliviousness appears intentional. He was back at it again last month with a #gunreform tweet that was related to selling shoes.)

Sure, the Internet is hardly a place where common sense and good taste rule the day, but the hive loves nothing more than to jump on someone who tries to profit from the misery of others. Leveraging (or even mentioning) current events that involve human suffering (or death) simply shouldn’t be part of any business’s social media strategy, ever.

5. Fail to understand corporate confidentiality

Here’s a tip: If you’re the CFO of a public company, don’t attend a private board meeting and then tweet “Board meeting. Good numbers=Happy Board.” That’s exactly what Gene Morphis, CFO for women’s clothing retailer Francesca’s, did last year, promptly causing the company’s stock price to spike 15 percent. Such behavior is unfortunately illegal, a practice known as selective disclosure, in which private information is divulged to a few—in this case, Morphis’s 238 Twitter followers—instead of to the world at large. A later investigation (after Morphis got fired) revealed a long history of inappropriate sharing on Facebook and Twitter.

Thinking about going public someday? Make sure that you personally follow all of your financially oriented employees on social networks and conduct regular audits to keep tabs on what they’re telling the world.

6. Ask for potentially hostile users to chime in

It sure sounds like a good idea: Build some Twitter and Facebook juice by asking those who follow you to write something about your company on the network. Sadly, that concept often doesn’t work out—it doesn’t matter how many people love you, because plenty of people out there surely hate you just as much, and they follow your Twitter account, too.

Just ask McDonald’s, which created a hashtag (#McDstories) and encouraged its use among McFanatics to talk up the burger chain. Of course, the McTrolls got there first, with a flood of tweets like “Ordered a McDouble, something in the damn thing chipped my molar. #McDStories.” It’s a problem that keeps cropping up, with hashtag hijacks hitting Qantas’s #QantasLuxury and luxe UK retailer Waitrose with #WaitroseReasons.

The jury is out on whether trying to invent a hashtag is a smart idea, but remember that once you unleash it, you can’t undo it. Ensure that sentiment is squarely in your favor before trying this trick (and perhaps gaming the system a bit by offering a prize to your favorite tweeter).

7. Get political

Never mix chickens with politics.

But that didn’t stop Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy from speaking publicly about his opposition to same-sex marriage last year, which culminated in a war of words across the social media landscape. Chick-fil-A eventually had to distance itself formally from political discourse, but the months-long siege against the company did its damage, with boycotts, lost partnerships, and general ill will that could have been avoided had Cathy simply shut his big mouth.

8. Fail to understand the mechanics of social media

Hashtags, @ replies, tagging—this stuff isn’t necessarily easy or intuitive, and it’s forgivable if you make a mistake once in awhile. That said, the stakes are higher when you’re using social media in a business setting, so it pays to get things right.

Case in point: CVS Pharmacy created a new Twitter account, @CVS_Cares, and asked customers to follow it and provide feedback to the company. The problem: @CVS_Cares was locked, so no one could see its tweets or even follow the account without requesting permission.

Related to item number 4, Entenmann’s found itself looking stupid when it tweeted “Who’s #notguilty about eating all the tasty treats they want?!” in the middle of the Casey Anthony trial. It’s hard to tell whether this post was an intentional attempt to irresponsibly jump on a popular hashtag or just plain stupidity. The company lobbied hard that it was the latter.

Who doesn’t love an all-caps cease-and-desist order?

9. Neglect social media security

When in doubt, claim you got hacked.

Although a lot of terrible social media behavior can be blamed on accidents or publicity stunts (including all those “accidental nudes” celebrities so commonly send out), some of this stuff really is due to hacker involvement. Social media security is a serious issue, and phishing attacks that attempt to abscond with your Twitter and Facebook credentials are unbearably common. Lock your business’s accounts up tight with strong passwords, and ensure that the only people who have access to the accounts are those who truly need it.

Avoid mistakes with commonsense preparation

Social media is a great communication tool for business—until the communication goes awry, and the mistake is there for everyone to see. Setting sensible ground rules and processes will minimize your risk. After all, you wouldn’t want to be the tenth business listed in this article.

Useful Tools You Can Use To Track Your Social Media Analytics

If you are running a business of any size in today’s world, you know that a social media presence is vital for success. But how do you know if what you are doing is successful? Planning for effective social media usage is where the use of social media analytics comes in.

Online analytics for your social media sites gather information from social channels and other online content. This data is designed to help you make informed decisions concerning what works and what doesn’t in your posts.

There are a wide variety of companies and sites out there promising beneficial analytics for you and your company. Their offerings range from the very simple to the extraordinarily complex, and there are price ranges to match. What if you are just getting started with your endeavor and just want something easy at the outset?

Built-in Analytics Tools

First, check out the built-in analytics in each of the social media outlets that you are using. These are designed specifically for the site, and best of all, they are free!

But keeping up with three or four different analytics pages can be time-consuming. If you are using more than one social media site to promote your business, it would be beneficial for you to look at one of the following sites that offer free plans that you can use until you decide if it’s something you want to spend more money on. These sites all work with multiple platforms at one time.


Hootsuite’s free plan offers tracking for three social media profiles, and you can schedule up to thirty posts at a time for those profiles. Choose from your Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, WordPress, and YouTube profiles.

Zoho Social

Zoho Social gathers information from Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, and Instagram. It allows you to make posts through the program but not to schedule. The analytics are a little more complete than some of the other sites, which means if you are not interested in programming your posts through your analytics site, this could be a simple free tool for you to use.


Cyfe displays the analytics you choose in the form of widgets. The free version gives you up to five of these widgets to use as you wish. If you have more than one brand, you can create different dashboards for them and use the widgets you want on each one, up to five total.


Mediatoolkit focuses on keeping track of interactions with your brand across social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and VKontakte) and other online sources such as Web sites, blogs, and forums. You can set up multiple brands. The free version gives you basic analytics along with notifications by email or using Slack when new information is available.


Buffer has options for you to manage three different social media accounts. You can choose from Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest. Unfortunately, if you want the analytics on this site, you need to update to the first paid plan. To Buffer’s credit, the price is less than $10 per month.

The free plan gives you a total of three different social accounts to track. You can schedule posts ahead of time up to ten posts at a time for each of your social accounts. There is no daily limit, so you can keep adding more once previous ones have gone live. There is a browser extension available as well as mobile apps.

If you want analytics, the upgrade you need will also include a calendar, RSS feed, and a higher limit of accounts and scheduling. This plan offers ten social accounts, and you can schedule 100 posts for each of them at a time.

Are you just starting out in social media for your business? Hopefully one of these sites will give you the information you need to improve your presence and make your business a success.

Tracey Rosenberger

Tracey Rosenberger spent 26 years teaching elementary students, using technology to enhance learning. Now she’s excited to share helpful technology with teachers and everyone else who sees tech as intimidating.

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Social Media Marketing Online Training Course

Social Media Marketing Learning Path Use a strategic, data-driven approach to improve the effectiveness of your social media marketing activities How will this Learning Path help me and my business?

This structured e-learning activity will help you or your team use a more structured approach to managing and optimizing social media as a strategic communications technique. Examples and benchmarks are discussed from the main social networks including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

What is a Learning Path?

Smart Insight’s Learning Paths are our unique interactive online training courses which explain concepts, give examples and test understanding.

We appreciate finding time for skills development is a challenge, and so Learning Paths enables training to be bite-sized, engaging and results orientated since they integrate with our templates to plan, manage and optimize your marketing.

Unlike many online e-learning courses, each module is self-contained, so you can rapidly/quickly access guidance to improve the effectiveness of the marketing activities you are working on right now. Common modules are shared between Learning Paths to avoid duplication of learning material. You can also complete the full Learning Path to earn a CPDSO certification.

As you work through each topic, we recommend and explain the most relevant member resources, so you can download templates to plan, manage and optimize improvements to your website.

Accredited learning activities with the Continuing Professional Development Standards Office (CPDSO)

Each Smart Insights Learning Path has been independently assessed and accredited by the CPD Standards Office, so you can be confident that the quality of the learning and assessment experience has been audited and recognized for its quality.

Development Objective

Members who successfully complete this Learning Path have the ability to manage and optimize the strategic implementation of social media platforms for marketing communications.

Once you have completed a Learning Path, send an email to [email protected] to request your CPD certificate.

Learning Objectives

Identify the benefits of a more planned approach to social media marketing then design and implement a social media plan.

Review the effectiveness of your social media marketing against benchmarks and other organizations then identify improvements to how your social media marketing is managed.

Structure a social media strategy to improve customer lifecycle communications that translates into practical actions and improves your goals.

Review the requirements and features of tools for social listening and put in place a reputation management process to respond to complaints or customer service requests.

Identify how to improve your approach to optimizing the effectiveness of your social platforms, both organic and paid, by reviewing your company page to enhance its effectiveness and defining methods to increase follower engagement through optimizing content for each social channel.

Understand different types of insights you can present in a monthly social media report including the business contribution of social media using reports available in Google Analytics including comparing the follower growth and engagement for your company pages on different social networks

How is the Learning Path structured?

The Learning Path is separated into these topics and modules:

Topic 1 – Discover social media opportunities

A planned approach to social media marketing

Audit social media marketing activities

Learn the latest social media developments

Set social media goals

Topic 2 – Planning and governance of social media

Create a social media strategy

Social listening

Customer service and success

Influencer marketing

Topic 3 – Practical social media marketing

Optimize your organic TikTok marketing

Optimize your organic Instagram marketing

Optimize your organic Facebook marketing

Optimize your organic LinkedIn marketing

Using social media to support a marketing campaign

Using social media to amplify linkbait

Optimizing paid social media activity

Reporting on social media effectiveness

Roles who will find this Learning Path useful

Company owners and directors working for smaller businesses

Digital marketing managers, marketing executives or specialists responsible for social media marketing

Consultants or agency account managers

5 Reasons Your Business Needs A Virtual Receptionist

A virtual receptionist, also known as a live receptionist, does more than just answer calls. Virtual receptionist companies offer a variety of services that can improve your business’s ability to manage incoming calls from customers, adding a layer of professionalism to your consumer-facing communications. If you’re considering a virtual receptionist, you should be aware of the benefits one could extend to your business.

Is a virtual receptionist right for you? Here’s what you should consider.

What is a virtual receptionist?

A virtual receptionist serves the same role as an in-house receptionist, such as answering phone calls, taking messages and setting appointments. The difference is that a virtual receptionist is located at a call center facility or other remote location.

“These services allow small businesses to have a receptionist give personalized attention to small or variable call volumes without requiring the business to hire, train and manage a full-time employee, along with all the added expenses and burdens,” said Jason Junge, CEO of PointerTop.

Editor’s note: Looking for the right answering service for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

5 reasons to use a virtual receptionist

Virtual receptionists and answering services can be a huge benefit to your business when you select your partner carefully.

“The main thing you should look for when implementing a virtual answering service is, does it solve your current front-desk phone problems?” said James Harper, founder of AgencyFlare. “Where many small businesses fail is they don’t truly look to see if the virtual answering service can be customized to their phone challenges and needs. You should only implement a service like this if it’s solving a problem. It shouldn’t create more work for your front desk.”

If you’re considering using a virtual receptionist for your business, here are five benefits an answering service should be able to offer you.

1. Free up internal resources

Many small business owners and their employees wear multiple hats, and manning the phone lines can take away from other important tasks. Outsourcing your calls to a virtual receptionist takes the burden of customer service off your in-house team and places the responsibility with an agent trained in boosting customer satisfaction.

2. Improve customer experience

A good virtual receptionist guarantees that your customers’ calls will be answered promptly and handled with professionalism and care. Virtual receptionists are trained customer service professionals who understand the right way to represent your brand. The right answering service can have a positive impact on overall customer experience and, ideally, boost your retention rates.

3. Offer after-hours support

When your small business closes for the day or weekend, who is there to answer your phones? With a virtual receptionist, your callers will still feel as though they are being taken care of, and their messages will be available to you when you open your doors the next morning. If your virtual receptionist can answer common questions on your behalf, your callers might even have their issues resolved then and there. Expanding your customer service hours is yet another way to boost customer satisfaction.

4. Streamline appointment schedules

Setting appointments can be a tedious process, especially if multiple staff members are handling it in multiple systems. Passing off the task to a virtual receptionist unifies the appointment-setting process and keeps every stakeholder up to date with automatic notifications and shared calendars. Some virtual receptionists can even deliver appointment reminders to reduce no-shows and last-minute cancellations.

5. Appear more professional

Maintaining a receptionist gives an appearance of prestige to your business. When a receptionist answers the phone on your behalf, it signals to customers that your business is a formal organization with a refined workflow. In other words, a virtual receptionist can reinforce your brand as a professional business with great customer service.

How does a virtual receptionist work?

Outsourcing to a virtual receptionist allows a business to manage inbound calls in a professional way without requiring in-house staff to stop what they are doing to man the phone lines. Instead, a virtual receptionist will handle inbound calls based on the needs of your business.

“The virtual answering service will answer all of your calls for you,” said Shayne Sherman, CEO of TechLoris. “You will work with the service to determine the script for the representatives to follow so that it’s pertinent to your business. Important calls will be forwarded to you, and messages and prospects will be compiled and sent to you to distribute to your sales team.”

For example, if you know certain types of calls can wait for a response, a live receptionist could be instructed to take down a message and send it along to the relevant parties to address at a later time. If you want certain types of calls to be forwarded to you immediately, a virtual receptionist can be instructed to patch them through. Some virtual receptionists can even answer common questions on your behalf, depending on the sophistication of the service you choose.

The best virtual receptionists are flexible and adaptable to your business needs. They should understand your business well enough to field incoming calls with the knowledge and professionalism to boost customer satisfaction. They should also be willing and able to pivot services as your business’s needs change.

What is the average virtual receptionist pricing?

The precise cost of a virtual receptionist depends on the service you choose and its pricing model. These are the most common pricing models:

Per-minute rate: A per-minute rate is often based on your selection of services and call volume. You’ll be charged the nominal rate based on your monthly call volume and how much time a virtual receptionist is connected with customers on your behalf.

Monthly subscription: Some answering services offer monthly subscriptions, which include a prepaid package of minutes to be used as needed. Generally, these minutes do not expire, though that depends on the terms of the agreement you sign with an individual service. Commonly, there are monthly minimums that specify how many minutes you must use to keep your account active.

Pricing tiers: Other answering services offer tiered pricing, allowing you to prepay for only the services you need. If you just want a simple automated menu to direct customer calls to in-house staff, for example, you might choose a lower tier. More sophisticated services, such as a live agent who can respond to frequently asked questions, might be available at a more expensive tier.

Rates vary by the complexity of services and your business’s expected call volume. Typical per-minute rates range from about 75 to 95 cents.

The answering service industry is known for including fees and behind-the-scenes upcharges, so you should thoroughly examine any agreement before signing. For example, some services charge for what is known as agent work time. This refers to time an agent is not actually on the phone but still performing work related to your account, and it can greatly inflate your monthly bill.

Another common upcharge is incremental billing, which is when companies round your minutes to the nearest increment. A standard increment is the nearest sixth second of a call, but some companies round up by as much as the nearest minute. Incremental billing can also significantly inflate your monthly bill, even though the nominal per-minute rate might seem inexpensive.

To avoid surprises on your bill, request a black-and-white breakdown of every fee and cost that you could incur during the life of your agreement with any answering service or virtual receptionist. A reputable company will be more than happy to provide you that information.

What features are most important in a virtual receptionist service?

The features available from a virtual receptionist depend on the individual answering service you partner with and your specific needs, but here are some of the most important features a virtual receptionist offers.           

Auto attendant: Generally simpler and less expensive than a live virtual receptionist, auto attendants and interactive voice response (IVR) trees can direct callers to the right place the first time. An auto attendant reduces the burden on your internal resources to direct call after call, as well as improving customer satisfaction by helping them resolve their inquiries quickly and easily.

Live answering: Virtual receptionists can give your customers a real person to answer the phones on your behalf, adding a layer of professionalism and personal touch to your customer service. Live receptionist services allow you to customize the greeting agents use when answering calls and to determine how agents should handle each type of call you expect to receive.

Message taking: One of the most basic virtual receptionist services is taking messages, which involves recording caller information and the reason they are calling. Messages can then be passed to the relevant parties you’ve specified.

Patching and call transfer: Virtual receptionists can patch calls directly to the relevant phone number, which you can specify in your agreement with the answering service. Transferring callers who need immediate assistance to your staff members streamlines the answering process and resolves customer inquiries more quickly. 

Appointment scheduling: Many virtual receptionists can integrate your preferred calendar application to schedule appointments on your behalf. You can specify times and locations at which your business is available for appointments, and the virtual receptionist will handle the rest, alerting you when new appointments are added to your calendar.

FAQs: Some virtual receptionists will maintain a list of answers to frequently asked questions about your business so they can help callers who just have common questions. If you provide this list to the answering service, it can reduce the call transfers or messages delivered to your in-house staff.

Response time: It’s important to understand how quickly your customers’ calls will be answered. Some virtual receptionists guarantee a call will be answered before the third ring, for example. Make sure your customers won’t be left waiting. 

Hours of availability: Many answering services offer 24/7 availability, which is important if you want to offer your customers a point of contact after business hours.

When choosing a virtual receptionist or answering service, small businesses should also ask about the organization’s internal processes, including how it hires its staff, said Shawn Breyer, owner of Atlanta House Buyers.

“Make sure that the company you are vetting trains its employees initially and ongoing,” he said. “Ask them to explain their training process in depth with examples. Most times, this individual that you are hiring is the front line for your company. They will be the first impression that your customers have of your company. Nailing this with well-trained individuals will set you up for success, while untrained people will lose you customers and money.” 

Also see how involved you can be in the evolution of how the agents answer the phones on your behalf. You should be able to be an active participant in the way they handle your account, Breyer added.

“It’s easy to think that, since you are hiring out a virtual phone service, you can wash your hands of developing and training that role,” he said. “If you want the money you spend on the virtual phone service to be an investment versus an expense, take responsibility, and spend time training and giving feedback to the person who is taking calls.”   

A virtual receptionist streamlines customer service communications

There is a wide range of reasons you might want to hire virtual receptionists. At their simplest, they offer automated menus to properly direct your customers’ calls. At the more sophisticated end, virtual receptionists answer customer questions and set appointments on behalf of your business. Ultimately, a virtual receptionist serves to streamline your customer service communications and bring an element of professionalism to your brand without costing as much as a full-time, in-house receptionist.

Virtual receptionists to consider

If you are looking for reputable virtual receptionist companies, you should certainly consider the following companies:

Best Pick for Virtual Receptionist

Specialty Answering Services: Founded in 1985, Specialty Answering Service is a call center outsourcing firm that is based in Prussia, Pennsylvania. With a team of 30 employees and a national network of freelance customer support specialists, they provide customer support and non-voice business process outsourcing.

Additional virtual receptionists to consider

According to The Manifest, other top virtual receptionists include:

Nexa: Nexa is a virtual receptionist company that is based in Phoenix. They have a team of over 440 people and focus primarily on voice services.

chúng tôi : Another virtual receptionist company is chúng tôi which is located in Palo Alto, California. Founded in 2024, Smith AI has a staff of over 100 employees. They specialize in website chat, live calls, and working with companies in industries such as law, finance, hospitality, e-commerce, healthcare, and real estate.

Ruby Receptionist: A voice services firm that is based in Portland, Oregon, Ruby Receptionists has a team of over 250 employees. They specialize in voice call support, conventional answering services and appointment management.

Back Office Betties: Founded in 2014, Back Office Betties is a virtual receptionist company that is based in Scottsdale, Arizona. They have 13 employees and specialize in providing receptionist work and voice services for small businesses and law firms.

Unity Communications: Founded in 2009, Unity Communications is a BPO company that is headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, and also has offices in offices in Global City, Philippines; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and San Jose, Costa Rica. They mostly provide non-BPO and back-office services; they also provide IT strategy consulting, cloud consulting, and SI.

Abby Connect Receptionists: A virtual receptionist firm that is stationed in Las Vegas, Abby Connect Receptionists employs a team of 40+ employees. They specialize in helping companies in finance, law and the business services industries.

MoneyPenny: A communications outsourcing firm based in Charleston, South Carolina, MoneyPenny was founded in 2000. They have a team of 750 employees and offer a wide range of services such as switchboard, answering services and customer support.

53 September Social Media Holidays & Ideas To Spice Up Your Fall

“Alexa, play September by Earth, Wind, and Fire!”

That feeling when your business is #winning at September social media marketing.

It’s time for your business to celebrate all the wins you’ve had this year. You’ve officially made it to the tail-end of the year as you enter September! Don’t lose your marketing momentum. Leveraging September social media holidays to inspire your posts can help you consistently push out content as you enter yet another busy season. That’s why we’re covering:

Tips for successful September social media posts.

53 September social media holidays with ideas and examples.

More September social media post ideas to fill your content calendar.

With this post, your business’s September social media growth will soar.

September social media post tips Post purposefully

This first social media tip might not be what it looks like at first glance. While you want your posts to mean something to your audience and align with your brand’s feel, you also need a clear purpose for each post that will relate back to your social media goals.

Use LOCALiQ’s website grader to get actionable tips to improve your website and online presence.

Maintain a regular posting schedule

Not only does posting regularly help to hold you accountable throughout the month of September, but it also helps to maintain brand consistency. When you post according to a schedule, your audience will know exactly what to expect and when to expect it. This will prove to your followers that your brand’s account is one they can rely on for consistent content.

Aside from the brand recognition benefits of a social media holiday schedule, you’ll save time since you’ll have content prepped and ready to go out in a flash throughout the month.

Lastly, certain platforms may have time slots that can be more or less popular for businesses. A posting schedule helps you to strategically put your September posts live throughout the month during times that will maximize your social media marketing ROI. To start, check out these resources on post timing and scheduling:

Investing in an online scheduling tool like this one can help you manage your September social media posts.

Use engaging creative elements

This final September social media tip pulls your strategy together. You have your goals in mind and a set schedule, so now comes the fun part: getting creative! You’ll want to have engaging photos and videos that will appeal to your audience.

To make that easy to achieve, try free design tools like Canva to prep custom social media content.  That way, you can also crop your photos to each platform’s size requirements in a flash.

It’s also recommended to keep your captions as captivating as your creative assets, so try out social media trends like emojis or hashtags. Elements like hashtags achieve two objectives at once: they help your posts get found in feeds while also catching your audience’s eye. Here are some September social media hashtags to help you unleash your inner creative side:

















Related: Avoid these social media mistakes and find out what to do instead!

September social media holidays (with ideas and examples)

Check out these September social media holidays:

Classical Music Month

Create a shareable playlist to enjoy with your brand community. Pick out some of your favorite classical tunes and organize them into a playlist under your business’s name on any free public streaming platform. You can share the playlist on social media and have your followers join in on listening along with you. Plus, you can use the playlist to play in-store or in-office for an added dose of brand recognition.

Highlight an inspiring classical musician from the past or present. There are tons of classical musicians that your followers will love to learn about. This post is sure to be well-received by your followers since over 50% of social media users are on social platforms with the intention to learn something new.


Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15. It’s meant to celebrate the rich history, culture, and contributions Hispanic American citizens have made to their communities. Hispanic Americans have ancestors from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, as well as Central and South America. This September monthly observance acts as an opportunity for your business to have a more inclusive marketing strategy. Here’s how:

Invite a member of the Hispanic American community to do a “social media takeover.” Do you have an employee, family member, or friend of your brand that proudly identifies as Hispanic American? Pass your “mic” off to them throughout September to discuss their favorite traditions, facts, and what it means to be Hispanic American to them. They could do posts or live stories that you can reshare all month long!

Take part in a Hispanic Heritage community event. There are tons of Hispanic Heritage events throughout the days of September and October, so see if you could become a sponsor or vendor at one of them. If you don’t have the marketing budget to do that, volunteering at your local Hispanic American community center can be just as effective. However you choose to give back during Hispanic Heritage month, be sure to take plenty of photos or videos. That way, you can share them on social media to inspire your audience to do their part as well.


Self-Improvement Month

While it’s okay to be content with how things are, there can always be room for improvement. Self-Improvement Month aims to remind us of that, and here are some ways you can improve your social media posts with these ideas:

Do a video walk-through of how your business has evolved. Have you made improvements to your products or services throughout the years? Or, perhaps, your business has improved its processes or workspaces over time. Whatever improvements you may have made, this September social media holiday is a great opportunity to combine your video marketing strategy with your social strategy. An educational video series can promote your business to prospective customers while staying festive for this monthly observance.

Point out ways your product or service offering can play a part in your followers’ own self-improvement journey for a promotional boost.


National Chicken Month

There isn’t a ton of information on how National Chicken Month came to be, but we certainly don’t mind it as a September monthly observance! Use this amusing theme to add a splash of fun to your social media posts:

Post a delicious chicken recipe. Your followers will eat up this type of social media content, especially since more than half of social media users hop onto social platforms to find new recipes.

Share chicken fun facts. Entertain your audience with some little-known facts about chickens to help your business stand out during this September social media holiday. For example, did you know that there are over 25 billion chickens in the world? That means they outnumber humans four to one!

Repost a funny chicken meme or video. It’s a best practice to have a variety of content on your social media pages. In fact, the 4-1-1 rule says that for every self-serving, or “hard sell,” post you have, you’ll also then want to share one other “soft sell” relevant post as well as four other related “entertaining” posts. The set of four posts are often reposts, so resharing a funny chicken meme or video is the perfect opportunity to ease into this best practice.


September 4: National Tailgating Day

Luke Lorick, president of the Tailgating challenge, started National Tailgating Day in 2024 to spread his love for tailgate parties. The purpose of this September social media holiday is to inspire sports fans to load up their trucks or cars with food and friends to go cheer on their favorite teams. Here are our top Tailgating Day ideas:

Post highlights from your own tailgate. Have you had a tailgate with your company, friends, or family before? Provide a recap to your followers to help give them ideas for their own football fun.

Share a go-to tailgate recipe. Fan food is arguably the best food. These days, the food on football Sundays can be as intense as the game! From buffalo chicken dip to the best steak tip marinade, to crispy potato skins, there are plenty of tailgate-related recipes your followers will love to see on your page.


September 5: Labor Day

Labor Day is a major holiday your business definitely won’t want to miss out on. Be sure to check out our entire post on Labor Day social media posts! In the meantime, here are a few Labor Day social media post ideas to get your long weekend social plans started:

Try a sweet and simple “Happy Labor Day” post. Your followers will be eager to get offline and enjoy the long weekend, so saving yourself time with a templated Labor Day social media post will be efficient and effective. When you wish your followers a Happy Labor Day, you’re showing you truly care about how they spend this September holiday, so this post will be greatly appreciated.

Build your employer branding by highlighting how you or your employees are spending the holiday. You could have your employees submit photos or videos of how they spend Labor Day to reshare on your pages.


Related: Get more Labor Day marketing and promotion ideas here.

September 15: Online Learning Day

With all that happened due to the pandemic in the last couple of years, no one is a stranger to online learning these days. In fact, online learning has evolved quite a bit, and here is how your business can capitalize on this September social media holiday:

Create an educational video around your top product or offering. In the spirit of this September social media holiday, people will be eager to learn via social media. Use this as an opportunity to go into all the details of what your product or service offering does to help meet your customers’ needs.

Share out online learning resources. There is always more to learn out there, so help your audience jumpstart their own online learning journey by sharing out links or providing recommendations on online courses you love.


September 25-27: Rosh Hashana

Rosh Hashana is a religious holiday that signifies the Jewish New Year. For people of the Jewish faith, it is a time for reflection, prayer, and enjoying time with friends and family. Don’t miss out on acknowledging this holiday on social media with these ideas:

Wish your followers a Happy New Year! Since Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year, this is a friendly yet simple way to honor the holiday.

Give insight into Rosh Hashana facts. Some of your social media audience may not be as familiar with Rosh Hashana, so take this as an opportunity to introduce them to all the cool history behind the religious holiday. For example, the first morning of Rosh Hashana will always fall on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday. It will never be on a Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday since the Jewish calendar follows a specific rhythm.

Share a traditional recipe. The best part of any holiday is the food, of course! Rosh Hashana holiday feasts usually start with two loaves of round challah bread sweetened with raisins and dipped in honey. Find a similar recipe or other delicious, traditional treats to delight your followers!


September 26: National Family Day

Without family, where would we be? Family is just as important to your followers as it may be for you, so here are some ways your business can show appreciation for family on social media:

Host an event filled with fun for the whole family. Whether your event is in-person or virtual, this is the perfect opportunity to bring your followers’ families together for a special celebration of this September social media holiday. Be sure to share plenty of pictures and videos from the event, as well as tease the event leading up to the day, to squeeze the most out of this post idea.

Post a picture of your family. Your followers will be interested to get an inside look at the family behind your business, so sharing a simple picture of your family will go a long way on social media.


September 29: National Coffee Day

Believe it or not, National Coffee Day falls at the end of September because people historically needed that extra jolt to get them through the busy fall season. Liven up your social media feed with these National Coffee Day ideas:

Promote a coffee-related limited-time offer. Limited-time offers are ideal for social media holidays like this because there are endless ways you can frame it. Whether you partner with a local coffee shop to offer a free gift with purchase, switch product colors to coffee color hues, or do other special promotions, you’re sure to see riveting results.

Post a picture of your own cup of joe. Share with your followers how you start your day with a picture of your favorite cup of coffee, or whatever drink you prefer.


September 30: International Podcast Day

National Podcast Day was first celebrated in 2014, and podcasting has taken off since then! In fact, 55% of the U.S. population ages 12 and above listen to podcasts. There’s no doubt your followers love podcasts, so here’s how your business can take part in this September social media holiday:

Record a podcast for your business. Podcast marketing continues to be on the rise as one of the trendiest strategies for small businesses. Use this September social media holiday as an excuse to ignite your podcasting fire! You can try out podcasting by creating a single episode and promoting it across your social media marketing channels.

Repost a podcast you think your followers might love. If creating your own podcast doesn’t feel feasible, you can always reshare a podcast that’s relevant to your niche market.


Even more September social media holidays

Here are more September social media holidays you can frame your posts around:

Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month

National Blood Cancer Awareness Month

National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

National Mortgage Professional Month

National Self-care Awareness Month

September 1: World Letter Writing Day

September 2: National Food Bank Day

September 3: Skyscraper Day

September 4: International Bacon Day

September 5: Be Late for Something Day

September 5: Cheese Pizza Day

September 7: National Acorn Squash Day

September 7: International Day of Clean Air

September 7: National Beer Lovers Day

September 7: National Grateful Patient Day

September 8: International Literacy Day

September 8: World Physical Therapy Day

September 10: National 401(k) Day

September 11: National Grandparents Day

September 12: National Video Game Day

September 16: National Guacamole Day

September 16: Working Parents Day

September 17: Citizenship Day

September 18: National Cheeseburger Day

September 19: National Dance Day

September 19: National Women’s Friendship Day

September 19: Wife Appreciation Day

September 21: First Day of Fall

September 21: International Day of Peace

September 22: Business Women’s Day

September 22: National Singles Day

September 25: National Daughters Day

September 25: National Hunting and Fishing Day

September 25: National Lobster Day

September 28: National Women’s Health and Fitness Day


September 11 social media posts

A common small business challenge is knowing what to do on social media for memorial holidays, like September 11. Since this September observance is so sensitive, we thought it’d be helpful to do a separate section with a couple of ideas to help businesses navigate this day:

Remember and honor the day

The September 11 tragedy is one America will never forget. You might want to try posting a simple remembrance post that honors and thanks all the first responders who fought to protect the American people that day.

Choose not to post

Unlike all the September social media holidays above, September 11 is a somber occasion. So much so, that many people may find businesses trying to market during this day offensive. It can feel inappropriate to try and promote your brand on such a sensitive day. So, show your followers you respect their time to reflect by not posting at all.


Even more September social media ideas (not about holidays!)

If September social media holidays don’t float your boat, there are plenty of other ideas you can frame your social media content around during this time of year.

Give company updates

September is often a month that people associate with starting fresh. Between a new school year, cooler weather upon us, and holidays coming up, there is lots your followers will be juggling this month. Let them know what they can expect from your brand in the coming months and use this post idea to showcase any new plans for the fall season.


Spice up your product positioning

The best part about September is that we can dive into fun fall flavors, scents, colors, and more. Switch up your product or service offer positioning by making it a fall-themed item to promote on social media throughout the season.

For example, if your dental marketing plans for summer have been pushing summer break appointments, you might want to adjust your posts to talk about flexible school-hour scheduling and any fall treats patients can get for coming in.


Recap your summer highlights

No doubt your business had a great summer—especially if you leveraged our other LOCALiQ summer marketing resources, like our summer promotion ideas!  End on a high note by wrapping up all your business’s best summer moments.

Whether you share a series of photos, a slideshow video, or simply bullet out some of your brand’s summer highlights, this will help your followers get a big picture view of all your accomplishments.


Whether you’re a seasoned pro, or totally new to local social media marketing, these September social media holidays and ideas provide the tools needed to post confidently and get results.

If you still feel like social media is a struggle, you’re not alone! Our experts are here to help and ready to coach you through all your social media hurdles. Plus, be sure to check out our other free social media marketing resources (like our guide to simplified social media marketing) to squeeze the most out of your social strategy.

Susie Marino

Susie is a senior content marketing specialist at LocaliQ where she uses her experience as a PPC consultant to share tips, tactics, and best practices. Outside of work, Susie loves to get outside for some snowboarding or (once the cold weather melts away) hiking!

Other posts by Susie Marino

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