16 Terrible Social Media Mistakes You May Be Making

“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.

'Thinking it's a sprint instead of a marathon'

James Ellington, center, is up for sale.

'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

'Not having a plan or strategy'

'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

'Talking too much and not listening enough'

'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

'Airing bad feelings'

Arrington, Huffington, and CrunchFund investor Ron Conway

'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

'Too much time spent on self-promotion'

'One big mistake small business leaders make in social media is to spend a lot of time trying to promote themselves. They also forget to keep an eye on their brand. (Social media changes quickly) and small businesses need to watch their brands (all the time).

'We found during research for a client that there were a number of upset customers posting on forums and social networks. None of these (complaints) had been looked into. Something like that can be actioned very quickly and you can quickly change a negative view into a positive one. Just think, 'It can take 20 years to build a business and watch it be destroyed in 20 minutes!'

- Paul Collin, Business Relationship Manager at Holiday Inn Express Croydon

Source: LinkedIn Q&A

'Having unrealistic expectations'

'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

'Not making it relevant to me'

'I don't want to get ten 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 will 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

'Not responding to customers.'

'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

'Blurring the lines between personal and professional.'

'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

'Making assumptions'

'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 create a business profile first and a personable profile later.'

'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

'A serious underestimation of the amount of resources it takes'

'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'

'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

'Not engaging with the audience'

  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

'Getting on social media just because everyone else is'

'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

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