It can be difficult and a little scary for small business to initially jump into social media. Luckily, for the businesses who are just starting in social media now, there are many other companies who have done it already. These businesses have already made mistakes that you can learn and benefit from.
I came across a blog post on typepad that discussed the 5 most common social media mistakes that business have done, and I’ve highlighted them below. These mistakes are easy to avoid and will make your journey into social media much easier and more successful.
Here's a list of the biggest mistakes I've seen business owners make with social media and how to avoid them.
1. Talking One-Way: Many business owners start posting status updates because they think that is all they need to do to grow their company online. But the way they do it cuts off any chance of having a two-way conversation. In today's messaging marketplace, consumers want to be heard. If you are just talking to customers but not letting them to talk back and engage with you, then you are wasting considerable time and effort online.
When you go online and post in a status update area, do not just talk at or to people; speak with them. Tag people in a post and ask them a question. Tagging simple means that you write directly to a person on their facebook wall or on their Twitter feed. On Facebook you put the "@" sign in front of their profile name, for Twitter this sign would go in front of their username.
2. Not training employees. Social media may look easy, but it really isn’t. How your employees behave can have a big impact on your company’s social media reputation. For companies that are actively involved with social media, setting expectations and creating policies for employees is the best way to ensure that they help your reputation, not hurt it.
3. Publishing first, thinking later. In the world of social media, everything you say can and will be held against you. Unfortunately, the real-time nature of many social media websites encourages a ‘publish first, think later‘ dynamic. Companies have far too much to lose, however, and need to ensure that what’s being published is accurate, honest and in line with the company’s values. Sometimes, it’s better not to publish
4. Poor Messaging: A consumer can become overwhelmed by dealing with all the wrong messages that are crowding the Internet lately. Company owners are projecting the wrong image through what they say online. In some cases, their posts have absolutely nothing to do with their company, brand, or personality.
Too many entrepreneurs do what I call panic posting -- just posting for the sake of posting and sharing ideas that do not highlight their overall brand image. If you have a serious company, don't post jokes and funny videos; instead post statistics and updates about your company's team members. If your business has a relaxed image, inject humor into your posts; a funny YouTube video can go a long way.
5. Sales Faux Pas: Writing how much your product or services cost in a status update or post is not only a time waste; it is plain wrong. Would you walk up to someone before you have even introduced yourself and say that your latest product is now available at a certain price for a limited time? If so, you would probably end up not only talking to yourself (the person would walk away), but also you likely would lose the entire room of people as customers just from their overhearing your sales introduction.
Instead, try sharing the pros and cons about your industry or product category and ask people to provide feedback and participate. This is a great way to bridge the distance between you and your prospects and get them involved with your company's brand. Ultimately newfound fans will promote you without being asked because they feel included; the fact that you asked and listened goes a long way.
By avoiding these mistakes and being aware of the common issues of social media before your business gets involved, you’ll already be set up for success.