By now, it’s clear social media offers an unprecedented opportunity for businesses to engage with their current customer base, connect with potential new customers and greatly enhance brand awareness. At the same time, those without much experience in social media may encounter a landscape crowded with potential minefields that can—if you’re not careful—inflict significant damage on your brand.
Here are five social media mistakes your business should avoid:
1. Too many postings and too much self-promotion. Bombarding followers with an avalanche of daily postings is a surefire way to turn people off. Generally speaking, one or two posts a day (on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) is sufficient to maintain the interest of your followers.
Also, make sure to keep postings about the great products or services you offer to a strict minimum. Social media for business isn’t about self-promotion or a hard sell. The goal is to connect with and steadily build a community of loyal followers. (For service-oriented businesses like restaurants and the like, it’s OK to post more frequently and alert followers to special deals or limited-time offerings—just don’t overdo it.)
2. A lack of photos or videos. A cursory look at Twitter, Facebook and Instagram will alert you to the popularity of photos and videos designed to draw and hold attention. Don’t rely on text alone to get buzz going. Instead, think about posting “videos of your employees talking about the kind of work they do, customer testimonials, or your business helping out at a local charity or organization.” Just remember—keep these videos short, as in no more than 2-3 minutes.
3. Inconsistent brand messaging. For brand-building to succeed on social media, it’s critically important to ensure consistency in all of your messaging. Whatever brand standard guidelines you adhere to—with respect to logos, colors, imagery, etc.—trying something different on a social media platform will likely lead to confusion among followers and prospective customers. Keep the look and feel of your brand identity the same across different media.
And, while it may seem obvious, restrain yourself and others in the company who post online from sharing either their own political views or retweeting/reposting what others have to say. In these turbulent times, there’s no quicker way to alienate people than by using your social media platform to promote ideological messages.
4. Being all things to all people. All too often, small businesses jump on the bandwagon by attempting to reach out across every platform they can find. A more successful approach involves tailoring your content and messaging to your desired audience. PR and social media expert Kris Ruby advises businesses to “pick the [social platforms] that your target demographic uses” and to intelligently focus your resources in order to “target your customer more effectively.”
5. Wrong use of hashtags. On Twitter, hashtags are a key element in starting a conversation and building buzz around a given topic. The problem, says Kris Ruby, is that the “majority of business owners misuse hashtags” by targeting people within their own industry, rather than new prospects. Consider the words or phrases that would most likely appeal to prospective customers. Also, “hide the hashtags in the comment section instead of including all of them in the caption.” It makes for a stronger aesthetic look.
6. Know what you want your reader to do. Blogs posts can drive traffic to your website for many years. The last thing you want is your blog to attract traffic, have people read it and then disappear without sharing your article on their social channels or submitting an inquiry with your company about your products or services.
It is definitely acceptable to have a short 2–3 sentence pitch at the end of your article. For example, "If you liked this post on X, you might be interested in Y." Another example might be, "If you enjoyed this post on X, download our whitepaper on Y here." Blogs have many purposes including helping with your Search Engine Optimization goals, helping position you as an expert on a particular industry or subject, and helping drive traffic to your site through organic search or social sharing so new visitors look at your company or brand further. But let’s be honest, you spent time writing the blog so you can raise awareness about your brand and to encourage inquiry or even sales from your website.
With the right approach and strategy, social media can dramatically increase brand awareness and spur sales. Here’s advice on how to use Twitter for prospecting and the best way to frame your LinkedIn profile.
Want to learn more about harnessing the power of social media? Check out TAB's PULSE Survey on Social Media.