Five Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make in Social Media
I’ve spent the past five years helping clients develop, manage and measure social media marketing programs. In that time, I’ve seen a recurring theme of social media mistakes made by business owners. I’ve outlined the five most common pitfalls in the hopes that you will avoid them when implementing a social media program in your business:
Aversion and Avoidance: Overall, the single most common mistake made when it comes to social media is not doing it at all. A significant percentage of entrepreneurs do not see the business value of social media, which is short-sighted. Social media platforms host the world’s largest focus group, most affordable customer service and marketing platform, and can be very cost-effective at generating leads and sales.
Similarly, entrepreneurs that do see the value, yet believe they lack the time or resources, tend to outsource management of personal and/or business profiles to social media consultants or agencies. Outsourcing social media is like outsourcing your corporate culture. Nobody is better qualified to represent your business than your employees. As such, consider training your employees to manage various aspects of your company’s social presence, and take
Inadequate Planning: The second social media mistake is doing it incorrectly, which can actually do more harm to your brand than not pursuing social media at all. Instead of building out a program based on platforms or tools, consider building a program around your objectives, industry, audience and internal resources. Target constituents based on platform usage and objectives. Don’t forget to respond to inquiries and comments in a timely manner. Also, ensure you have proper employee guidelines to minimize legal and financial risk. Last but not least, I tell my clients to include a contingency plan for any crisis that may arise. From an online reputation management perspective, setting up basic social profiles can help mitigate negative listings in search results, as they tend to rank well in branded searches.
Crusty Content: The third common mistake, and perhaps the greatest challenge posed by social media, is the ability for an entrepreneur to create compelling content on a regular basis. Too many business owners are eager to jump into social media, yet they do not have a sound content strategy or the ability to commit long term. Content should factor in the overall objective, audience/consumer preferences, platform requirements and the overall marketplace. Ask your target audiences for content ideas and communication preferences. Based on our experience, surveys and contests can be effective when growing your following and engaging your fans.
Imbalanced Opaqueness: The fourth mistake is the entrepreneur’s inability to balance authenticity with professionalism. One business owner I know is prone to over-sharing sensitive corporate strategies or personal foibles in social media, while missing other opportunities to share big wins or otherwise communicate his unique perspective. The ideal balance entrepreneurs need allows them to be honest, interesting and insightful, without compromising their integrity or that of their team.
Unleveraged Potential: The final social media mistake relates to efficiency. Entrepreneurs who use tools like HootSuite or TweetDeck are typically more productive than those who do not. Not only do these tools increase efficiency by allowing posting to multiple profiles from one location, but they also offer basic scheduling and measurement capabilities. Another missed opportunity is integrating various social platforms; i.e., incorporating social profile names and/or URLs in every platform profile bio or wallpaper (e.g., a Twitter background image, promotions for Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn or a blog). Don’t forget to promote your profiles in your marketing collateral, including business cards, Web sites, e-mail signatures, newsletters, advertising and event signage.
Having assisted countless businesses with their social media platforms, I’ve discovered that a few smart decisions today can lead to greater success tomorrow. By avoiding the above mistakes, entrepreneurs are likely to get more out of their current and future social media marketing efforts.
Kent Lewis is president of Anvil Media, Inc.