10 fatal mistakes of social media marketing

Lack of planning, overextending yourself, failing to engage your audience—all can make your online efforts fizzle.

Social media has been around for only a few years, but in that time marketers and researchers have made some pretty interesting findings.

Before, sites such as MySpace, Friendster, and Facebook merely connected you with friends online. Now, businesses have taken advantage of social networks, integrating social media into their strategies. This approach has yielded phenomenal results, but along with those successes have come the growing pains of learning how to use social media.

Based on trial and error (and, of course, well-funded studies), here are the most common mistakes and misconceptions of social media.

No. 1: Not having a plan

Any business looking into social media must establish a plan. Determine goals for yourself and for each site. Are you trying to get 10 percent more followers each month? How many people would you like to interact with each week? There are so many aspects to a business’ social media strategy, a plan is a must.

No. 2: Thinking that size matters

Size doesn’t matter; activity does. You are better off having an intimate group of engaged followers who continually interact with you than having thousands of passive followers who don’t. More followers and more traffic do not equal more money; you need the right people to engage with your business.

No. 3: Not dedicating time to all your accounts

Each social media account should get a fair share of your attention. If you have time for only Facebook or Twitter, it’s OK. Just be sure to do all you can with those sites. Don’t start accounts on Pinterest, Foursquare, or Tumblr if you don’t have the resources to maintain them.

No. 4: Talking about your business in every post

Vary your posts so you’re not always talking about your business. Sometimes you have to think of your business as if it were a person. Don’t be like those people who constantly talk about how awesome they are. The more you force information into your audience’s faces, the less likely they will be to respond.

No. 5: Making grammar and spelling mistakes

Their is nothing atractive about speling and grammer mistakes. (That deliberately mangled sentence was painful for me to write.) Double-check and proofread your material before you send it out onto the Internet. Not only will errors make you look silly, but they could also harm your credibility.

No. 6: Not tracking your stats

Statistics are important in every marketing campaign. More and more social media networks offer analytics and reports to track page views, post reads, shares, activities, and more. Through these valuable data you can see which posts draw the best audience response so you can offer more of them.

No. 7: Lacking an online personality

Social media gives your business the opportunity have a strong, unique voice. Let your hair down. Be open, insightful, funny-whatever you feel your business should embody, deliver it.

No. 8: Not engaging your audience

Ask questions. Get feedback. Start discussions. Outlets such as Facebook and Twitter give you something no other marketing channel offers: the opportunity to connect directly with your audience. Not only does this strengthen customer relationships, but it also brings more activity to your business.

No. 9: Getting defensive or negative with comments

Let’s face it, the Internet is swimming with people, and unfortunately not all of them are going to be nice or agree with your business. Keep your cool, and handle negative comments graciously. Remember, everything said online is public. It’s always better to be the bigger person in adversarial situations.

No. 10: Giving up.

Building your social media presence takes time. Don’t give up. Stay active. Be patient. Your efforts will pay off; just give them time.

Mistakes are part of the learning process. If you find that you’re guilty of a few of these, don’t sweat it. Just learn from this information. Get out there, and conquer the social media world.

Rona Cerillo, a mobile text campaign aficionado and marketing specialist for Trumpia, an SMS and multi-channel marketing service provider. A version of this article first appeared on LetsBuildWebsites.

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