4 Social Media Mistakes Every Business Should Avoid

Lee Polevoi by Lee Polevoi on September 3, 2014
What have I done?! mistakes

As far as your small business is concerned, social media can be a great force for good — attracting prospective customers, boosting sales, being part of the online conversation, and even helping you become a greener business. But when you commit certain rookie mistakes, you risk undoing all of your hard-earned social media achievements.

Here are four of the most common social media mistakes and how to avoid them:

1. Trying to do too much. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+ — it’s tempting to jump in and open an account on every channel. But developing an effective social media presence takes time, something small businesses can ill afford to waste. Instead, focus on one or two platforms that offer the greatest potential for your particular products or services and place your efforts there.

“When it comes to your social media channels, start small,” advises Monique Mansour of Katie Wagner Social Media. “Remember, people prefer quality businesses and products, and having an online reputation for quality both on your website and on your social media channels will help you get noticed.”

2. Making your posts all about you. It’s true that one of the benefits of social media is enhanced awareness of your brand. But some businesses lose sight of the bigger picture, focusing disproportionately on how fabulous their products or services are. Posts that take an approach of “this is the consumer problem and here’s how our product can fix it” are acceptable from time to time, but don’t let this kind of content become unabashed self-promotion — guaranteed to turn off at least some of your followers.

“It’s fine to use targeted posts to highlight new products, deals, or specials, but the majority of your social media activity should aim to inform or engage, not sell,” notes Nancy Lambert, president and co-founder of Xcellimark. Instead, she suggests, offer social media content that has value, such as “tweets of relevant factoids” and “posts promoting high-level content, like white papers and interesting infographics.”

3. Leaving pages or profiles incomplete. Every profile you publish on a social media platform represents a branding opportunity — one that too many small businesses fail to exploit. The majority of social media sites allow users to include a logo, business description, link to your home page, and more. Savvy small businesses provide all the information that fits into these profiles, making it easy for visitors to quickly learn about their venture and reach out to them for more information.

4. Ignoring what others say about your business. It’s time-consuming enough simply to come up with new posts or tweets, let alone monitor or respond to comments others make about your business. But you can’t afford to ignore or disregard what people are saying, either positive or negative. Thank customers who praise your product or service. Turn negative comments into an opportunity to offer an upbeat response or provide additional information that could fix a problem.

“There’s no reason you shouldn’t be the most compelling communicator of your story,” says Mike Brown, founder of The Brainzooming Group. “If a YouTube video search shows nothing but mocking videos and doomsayers about your brand, get busy and share lots of brief, rich stories about what your company and its employees are doing to provide value.”

Developing a vibrant social media presence isn’t quick and easy, but avoiding these mistakes will help make your efforts more focused and productive.

Lee Polevoi

Lee Polevoi is an award-winning business writer specializing in the challenges and opportunities facing small business. He is former Senior Writer at Vistage International, a global membership organization of CEOs.

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