Are You a Social Media Sinner?

by Stephanie Taylor Christensen on July 22, 2013
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A recent Intuit infographic shows that more than 9 million U.S. small businesses maintain some sort of social media presence. Yet, despite its popularity, social media “remains one of the most misunderstood, poorly utilized opportunities in business today,” assert attorney Heather Bussing and Comply Socially CEO Eric Schwartzman in their white paper “7 Deadly Social Media Sins” [PDF].

Are you a social media sinner? You are if you’re guilty of these common mistakes.

1. Letting marketing dictate your social media use. Nearly 50 percent of online users turn to social media when making buying decisions, and 74 percent of marketers say that Facebook is important to their lead-generation strategy, Social Media Today reports. Perhaps you’ve designated a social media manager and honed what and when you post based on various best practices in order to boost your business’s social marketing efforts. However, though social media analytics can help you understand which of your posts generate the most clicks, likes, shares, and retweets, using social media for marketing purposes alone will likely hurt your reputation and cause your audience to tune out.

“When marketers troll for clicks on social networks, too often they over-promise and under-deliver, losing followers and damaging brand credibility,” write Bussing and Schwartzman. Your posts should be relevant to your audience, and you need to remember that social media is inherently about two-way communication, not one-way broadcasts.

2. Determining value from social media analytics. Although a recent survey by Manta indicating that nearly 40 percent of entrepreneurs said they get a return on investment from their social media use may be encouraging for small business owners, Bussing and Schwartzman caution against leaping to conclusions when it comes to drawing a direct correlation between social media use and a meaningful payoff.  They explain that though social media data can empower entrepreneurs to “allocate resources and meet prospects where they already are rather than trying to lure them,” the data alone is insufficient to determine ROI. (It’s worth nothing that just 30 percent of the business owners noted above saw a significant social media ROI of $2,000 or more). To arrive at a truly accurate value, consider social media analytics alongside key performance indicators, such as your company’s sales, customer retention rate, and costs of goods and acquisitions.

3. Thinking “limited employee access” means control.  Social media is a communication tool that’s based on immediacy and broad reach. You miss the opportunity to leverage the real power your online presence can have for your business when you limit how many employees may “talk” about the company.  As Bussing and Schwartzman note, conversations about your company on social media — and elsewhere online — are crucial to your mindshare and search-engine ranking. Instead of limiting the use of your social media channels to a social media manager or marketing department, train and educate staff about what is an appropriate “voice” for speaking with customers, and limit your social media policies to cover potential legal issues like discrimination, defamation, trade-secret disclosure, and copyright violations. Regularly remind employees of what types of posts may break the law.

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