5 Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

by | Dec 14, 2011 | Blog, Blog Archive, Multi-Channel Marketing | 0 comments

If there are any marketers out there who don’t have social media marketing on their 2012 marketing plan, they’re a definite minority. Nearly everyone agrees that it’s among the most cost-effective tools available to us.  But there are five common social media mistakes that can be quite costly – so make sure that you plan now to avoid them in 2012.
  1. Posting sporadically or inconsistently. Social media, like blogging, is a marathon – not a sprint.  Even if your very first blog post or tweet gets tons of clicks, there’s no guarantee that the next one will do the same.  Measurable results aren’t instant.  So don’t be a drive-by Tweeter or LinkedIn group poster.  You know the type:  they come in and post five or six comments….and then you don’t see them for weeks or months. Plan your day so that you spend a few minutes every single day posting, responding to tweets, thanking new followers (and please don’t bother thanking me if you’re planning on using an auto responder to do it!), and being part of the social media community. No matter how busy you are, on most days you can find 15 minutes to check in on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.  I find that I get an awful lot done while standing in line at the lunch counter, waiting for meetings to start, and while eating lunch at my desk.
  2. Trying to follow every social media guru’s advice. When I was younger, I thought that it wasn’t possible to have too much information.  So I downloaded every white paper, bought shelves full of marketing books, and attended workshops and webinars until I could barely remember the speakers’ names. I honestly think that a new social media book is published every single day.  So now I am a lot more focused.  I pick a handful of blogs and role models, and I take their advice.  And I let the rest just roll right by.  I can’t do it all…so I have to be selective.  You should, too.
  3. Falling into the self-promotion rut. I admit it:  this is the social media pitfall I’m most prone to fall into headfirst.  I use social media primarily to get people to visit my content – content on my website, my blogs, and in publications that have written about my company, my books, or some of the content I’ve published.  But if all I ever do is promote my own content, the people I’m sharing with will soon get tired of reading nothing but marketing hype about me and my products – and they’ll stop paying attention.  Stephen Selby of LIMRA put it this way:  “The concept of generosity – of focusing on the community, and your contacts in the community, and sharing THEIR content, THEIR ideas, and THEIR information – is at the heart of what makes someone a social media success.”  He’s right (as usual):  it really isn’t all about me, and it isn’t all about you, either.  Social media is just that:  social.  So try to share or retweet or reply or comment on other people’s content every day.  It matters.
  4. Failing to plan and track your messages. Don’t mistake social media’s informality for an unplanned, free-form anything-goes environment. Nearly everyone I read about who has gotten in trouble with federal or state regulators, lost a job, or been sued over something they posted online has forgotten that social media isn’t a conversation between friends.  Things you’d say to your friends over a round of drinks down at the local bar after work can wind up being big mistakes if said online.  I plan my social media messages, and track them by category.  I know how many are promoting content, how many are responses to other people’s messages, and how many are my attempt to share ideas and information I’ve learned.  You don’t need to be that formal about it unless you work in a regulated industry (healthcare, education, insurance, financial services, casino gaming, pharmaceuticals are the most regulated).  But think before you hit send….there’s no delete button on Twitter.
  5. Leaving your manners at home. Social media is about connecting, sharing, communicating, and exchanging ideas and opinions.  Yes, we all have opinions.  And yes, we disagree.  And it’s perfectly ok to disagree with someone in a social media setting – just like it’s ok to disagree with a guest at a cocktail party.  But it’s not ok to be snide, offensive, or dismissive of someone else’s opinions or ideas just because you disagree with them.  Remember three things before you start name-calling in social media.  First, Google never forgets.  The flame war you walk into today may show up in search results linked to your name or your company years from now. Second, most people you meet in online forums are sane.  But some aren’t.  Run into one of the crazy Internet trolls out there, and you can find yourself embroiled in a situation that’s nearly impossible to get out of.  Much as we might want one every now and again, there’s no Internet police force that enforces standards of good judgement and good behavior online.  I know people who have abandoned email addresses, Facebook profiles, Twitter handles, and LinkedIn profiles they’ve spent years building after they ran afoul of someone with more time than good sense, when that someone turned a sharp reply or a thoughtless message into cause for a personal vendetta.  It’s just not worth it.  Third, your mother was right: you only get one chance to make the right first impression.  If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all.  And, above all, don’t say it unless you’d be comfortable with everyone you know (your boss, your minister or priest, your mother, your fiancé’s parents – everyone) reading it on the front page of the newspaper.

Avoiding all five of these social media errors is high on my list of New Year’s resolutions.  How about you?