The number one social media no-no for small businesses is ignoring social media marketing and the enormous potential that it offers. The beauty of social media is it can level the playing field for small businesses allowing them to compete with larger corporations. A recent national study reported 8 out of 10 companies, of all sizes, are using Social Media and planning to expand efforts during 2009.
If a business does not have accounts at some of the major social media sites - Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter - then it is missing out on potential sales, free publicity, increased brand awareness and traffic to its website. The social media enthusiasm and obvious business missteps are reminiscent of the mid-1990s and the early days of the world wide web when several major web portals were competing for attention.
Regardless of the obvious opportunity, this does not mean that a business should rush into creating mulitiple social media accounts before it knows what its doing and why it is doing it. Avoid the Fire - Ready - Aim approach where you can.
2. Acting without thinking is the number two social media no-no for business. Before creating a social media account, a business should:
- Decide who is in charge of maintaining and updating the social media account
- Decide on a marketing strategy (hint: Study what successful people in your field are doing.)
- Create your company's written social media communication guidelines/policy and tell your employees about it. Depending upon your company size, coordinate this with HR and Legal.
- Be customized where you can. Examples: Create a custom-designed Twitter background and decide what avatar the business will use - a logo? A picture of a product? A picture of the owner?
3. The third social media business no-no is being too aggressive and self promoting
Social media marketing requires the soft sell. It's important to get your marketing message out there and let people know about your upcoming sales, specials, contests, giveaways, promotions, etc., but it's also important to interact with people on social media sites, have conversations, ask them about themselves and what they're up to, and offer free advice about your area of expertise, if applicable. (See item 4)
It's possible to sell yourself without sounding like a salesman. Instead of singing your own praises, talk about your accomplishments and how they helped someone else. Results can speak for themselves.
4. The fourth social media business no-no is being dishonest.
Integrity is required for long term success. Don't use an avatar of a person that isn't you, such as a scantily clad model. It makes people instantly suspicious when they see those avatars; they assume that it's a spam account. Don't send direct messages, tweets or updates that trick people into clicking on a link, such as saying "This is how I finally started driving traffic to my site!" with a link - which should lead to a blog post, but really leads to a Clickbank product. You will only fool people once.
Be transparent. People are smart. If your company has authorized staff to participate on the company's behalf; they should say so. Goodwill can be generated if they share tips from their area of expertise in accordance with your communications guidelines for social media communications.
5. The fifth social media business no-no is neglecting your accounts.
Don't create multiple accounts, then get bored and abandon them all. If you can not update an account - delete it. It creates a bad impression to create an account and then only update it every few months. It's worse than not having an account at all. It makes it look like you are a business that isn't minding it's store, that it doesn't have enough personnel to actually run the business. While this may be true, you don't want to publicize the fact.
With planning, it only takes about ten minutes, twice or three times a day, to maintain all of your social media accounts and reap huge benefits from it, so there should be no reason to leave those accounts gathering virtual dust. (Social Media Time Management Tips)
6. The sixth social media no-no is breaking the social networking Golden Rule
Genuine appreciation goes a long way. A largely unwritten rule of community and relationship building is thanking people and extending a helping hand or Tweet to the next person. This is part of integrity but it is also simple common courtesy.
-- Long term, Automation will never trump Appreciation.
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Margaret Ross is President and CEO of the Kamaron Institute, a leading business management consulting, marketing research, and staff development firm.
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