5 social media sins every company should avoid

Blatant self-promotion, not engaging, and more round out this list of mistakes to avoid.

Over the past few years, it’s struck me how often people ask me about the best way to participate on social media. While we are becoming more mature in how we use social media for public relations and marketing, there are still some common mistakes people make.

Here are the top five mistakes that I think a company should avoid when beginning any social media activity:

1. Self-serving comments. There is a fine line between being helpful and being self-promotional, and I think this is the most common mistake you will see. Some companies or individuals research blogs and post comments only as way to promote their content. As a rule of thumb, it’s better to leave out any promotional stuff and only add comments that contribute to the overall discussion.

2. All about me. Many marketers still subscribe to the notion of broadcast media—just sending out updates about themselves. Social media is about conversations and engagement. Listen to the conversations and participate when appropriate (See the first point.).

3. Follow you, follow me. I call these folks the “pied pipers of social media.” You know who I mean: the folks with thousands of friends and followers on Twitter and Facebook with no discrimination. Unless you’re a top personality, be selective with whom you follow.

4. Hit and run. I’ve noticed this trend recently. It’s similar to the first mistake, but in a different way. These individuals join communities, like LinkedIn groups, and only post discussions or responses that relate to their company. I call these folks hit and runners because they run in, post, and run out.

5. Hot-to-trot, then disappear. When individuals or companies begin participating on social media, they tend to be very excited. They join different networks, jump in on Twitter chats and comment everywhere. But after the luster wears off, their participation wanes until they eventually disappear. For corporate brands, it’s important to have a calendar of content and several individuals contributing to your social media channels.

I’ve committed a few of these mistakes, though I won’t tell you which ones. What other mistakes have you seen?

Cece Salomon-Lee is principal of PR Meets Marketing and writes the company blog, where a version of this article originally ran.

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