16 Terrible Social Media Mistakes You're Making

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“What are the biggest mistakes that you find small business leaders make when using social media?”

Marvin Powell, a Small Business Growth Consultant in Washington DC, posted that question on LinkedIn and 97 people responded.

Here are the most common complaints.

'I find most expect social media to be a sprint not a marathon. They get really into it and then let it fall by the wayside by not posting regularly and not engaging with others. Also they don't use the ability to advertise on Facebook and LinkedIn.

'As my partner says 'its a marathon not a sprint'. You must give it time, you are building relationships. I tell people that they have to commit to 12-24 mos of engaging and posting with advertising.'

- Debbie Harris, Speaker and Trainer for Facebook and LinkedIn

Source: LinkedIn Q&A

'I think the biggest mistake is not having a clear strategy around why they are using it that aligns with a strategy of what they want out of it.

'This is closely followed but not measuring if they are on track. Which is closely followed by not having what they need in place from a holistic perspective to support the totality of their effort or at least a roll-out plan of how and when so that what they are doing is not disjointed or kludgey.'

- Noreen Poli, Manager Social Enterprise Implementations

Source: LinkedIn Q&A

'They need to talk less and listen more. Social media is all about making connections and, just like in the real (rather than virtual) world, people will be more drawn to you if you actually listen to what they're saying than if you try to force your message upon them.'

- Jessica Routier, Head of social media and community relations at IAC-EZ

Source: LinkedIn Q&A

'I think the biggest mistake is airing bad feelings / arguments over sites like Twitter. I watched a CEO debate rather childishly with a PR guy - going so far as to use derogatory and inappropriate language.'

- Pamela Hazelton, Ecommerce Shopability Consultant / Designer

Source: LinkedIn Q&A

'Expecting social media to be the only way to get results and trying to do everything themselves. This goes for other tools as well.

'In addition, having unrealistic expectations of what it can do.'

- Yok SooHoo, Business Development at JRS Recovery

Source: LinkedIn Q&A

'I don't want to get 10 tweets a day hearing about YOU. I want to hear things that are valuable for me and my life ... and they need to be fast.

'And not too frequent: I don't want to incessantly hear about your business. It won't make me think of you more, it'll just make me annoyed with you.

'So: short, sweet, pertinent, and valuable to me.'

Source: LinkedIn Q&A

- Laura Kowalski, Business Consultant for Business Owners and Senior Executives

'Biggest mistakes:

1. Not listening to customers.
2. Not responding to customers, especially if there is a legitimate problem.
3. Stopped updating.
4. Using social profiles only for promotional purposes.
5. Poor branding / design'

- Aanarav Sareen, Executive Producer - Digital Media

Source: LinkedIn Q&A

'They blur the line between personal and professional. IE - if you are using Facebook, use it only for personal or business not both. Same applies to Twitter. I think LinkedIn is ideal in that it is all business/professional.'

- George F Franks III, Global Technology Executive, Management Consultant, Executive Career Marketing Professional

Source: LinkedIn Q&A

'There is one word that sticks out in my head: ASSUMPTIONS.

'False assumptions most of the time are responsible for failure in social media and marketing as they are in many other cases. A few assumptions you should highlight and instruct your class to stay away from are:

  1. Research and monitoring isn't necessary. (It is extremely important to understand how your market is using the web, if at all.)
  2. Social networks are the preferred way of initiating customer engagement. (Social networks are a good way engaging your customer but may not be necessary for your business, depending on your customers behaviour.)
  3. Measuring ROI isn't possible (Measuring social media ROI is possible. Here is a really cool slide on measuring ROI in social media: http://bit.ly/x8YYc)

'There are many other assumptions, but hopefully these three help you get the point across.'

- Omar Ead, Digitus Marketing

Source: LinkedIn Q&A

'They make their profiles appear as their company portals, trimmed with lot of information sans value addition. It results in increasing bounce rates. Professional visits the profile, but flip to another profile without scrolling down the entire profile. You should create an interesting profile first, engage people, and then propagate your message.'

- Gerry Brown, Editor @Architectural Evangelist, BIM Consultant and IPD Consultant

Source: LinkedIn Q&A

'The number one mistake I've seen is a serious underestimation of the amount of resources required to engage and maintain a social program.'

- Marc Aniballi, Technology Literate Strategic Consultant

Source: LinkedIn Q&A

'Expecting Social Media to do all the work for them.

'You can't just blast the world with your ideas, products, and services, then sit back and expect everyone to think you're so wonderful. That is unrealistic.'

- Lisa Cash Hanson, CEO Blueberry Baboon, Author, Small Business Consulting, Motivational Speaker

Source: LinkedIn Q&A

  1. 'Not engaging with their audience. You need to ask questions, share some humour, provide motivational quotes and ask for their opinions about products or services in your industry. I do a random, 'fun question of the day' to get them involved.
  2. Shamelessly posting only about their products or services. In social media and in life it's 'give to get'. A great book to recommend for developing good Social Media skills is 'How to win friends and influence people' by Dale Carnegie.
  3. Not providing helpful content. They need to provide content that truly 'helps' their audience. Satisfy the WIIFM by always being the place they can go to get answers to their questions and find ways to solve their problems - become the expert and gain their trust.
  4. Not offering a free product or service. For fun I provide a free Social Media Score so I can learn more about my potential customers skill level, build a relationship, demonstrate my knowledge, while providing free valuable feedback to help their business. It's a win-win as this builds trust, helps me learn more about my customers needs, creates good word of mouth and offers me the potential to up-sell my services.'

- Michelle Hummel, CEO of WebMediaExpert.com, Social Media and Internet Marketing Mentor

Source: LinkedIn Q&A

'Very simple: the biggest mistake is Lack of a Plan. The biggest 'what NOT to do' is to go in bull-in-china-shop mode without knowing what you're there to do, what your goal is, why you've selected the channel, etc.

'I see many businesses getting on social media because 'everyone else is' or 'we just have to' but without clear purpose or a plan.

'One wouldn't open a new store, address a new market, or open a new sales region without extensive planning, goals, organisation and thought. And yet, many small businesses (especially sole proprietors) just up and register for Twitter, etc. one night and wade right in.

'Give it the same planning, investigation, research and forethought you give any other new endeavour for your business, and you'll reap the commensurate rewards. Treat it casually and you'll get 'casual' results (or worse, reputational/brand damage).'

- Kristian Chronister, President at Jewelry.com

Source: LinkedIn Q&A

'What I see so often is that a business decides to jump into social media because they're afraid they might be left behind, but then they fail to put a well thought out strategy in place. They end up throwing a bunch of profiles on the internet, trying to market and sell to everyone, and basically failing.

'If a business would just understand that it is all in the relationship building and that it takes time...

'You wouldn't suddenly decide that door-to-door sales was the latest approach and go around knocking on people's doors...(at least I hope not)'

- Spencer Tyler, Co-Founder / Head of Production at CPofA

Source: LinkedIn Q&A

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