Nothing is scarier than watching people continuing to make social media mistakes. It frightens me to think of all the time, money and effort wasted with ineffective and inefficient approaches to social media marketing. Unfortunately many businesses and business people approach social media in a nonchalant way with no planning or goals. At Corbett Public Relations we see this happening every day.
I offer many workshops: Grow Your Personal Brand and another on using social media to grow business are the most popular ones. Most attendees are eager to use social media, but almost all have no social media or marketing plan. They are also overwhelmed in regards to where to start. Whether you are already using social media, or just getting started, these are some common scary and time wasting mistakes you must avoid:
1) Don’t go in there! – Just like a group of unsuspecting teens who venture into a haunted house, remember you need to have a plan when approaching a social media marketing effort for yourself or your business. Would Van Helsing go vampire hunting without a plan and wooden stakes for their hearts? Start your planning with an assessment of what marketing you are doing now; research the social sites where your customers interact; completely set up your sites; link your social media sites, website and blog; and create goals with methods for measuring them (for a copy of my six week social media start up plan e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
2) Boo! – Using social media to sell or, even worse hard sell, is a major mistake. By doing this you will do the exact opposite of two of the major goals you want to accomplish with your social media activities – attract followers and start conversations. If you try to sell you will scare many people away, probably forever.
3) What was that? – This is a line often heard in scary movies. Freaked out teens in an abandoned building are obviously scared, but what are they doing? They are hypersensitive to their environment and listening for danger. In the case of social media everyone needs to listen to customers, competition and other online influencers. If you do not listen you will never understand your customers, the marketplace or know how to position your business and your messages. Listen and you will avoid the danger of communicating messages nobody is interested in.
4) Scream – Social media is a two- way street with multiple intersections. If you stand on the corner and shout your message at passing cars few will hear you and even fewer will care. Your screaming (touting yourself, your
products or services) will eventually fall on deaf and uninterested ears. People will listen to you if you speak with them and listen. Answer their questions and give them a reason to pull over and listen to you.
5) The Swarm – There have been many scary movies about killer bees. What we learn from these movies is that the saying, “never disturb a bees’ nest” is true. The same goes for getting involved in cyber wars, arguments or discussions of religion and politics online. As part of your social media activity you are seeking to show your expertise and build your brand. Discussing these taboo topics can and will bring unwanted attacks and many negative comments. This will drive people away and potentially hurt your brand and social media efforts.
6) Rotten Eggs – With Halloween comes mischief and unfortunately some destruction. Throwing eggs is part of this tradition and is a practice that should be frowned upon by everyone. Like an unwanted egg, an unwanted direct message or a poorly thought out, error-filled post is equally undesirable. Avoid sending direct messages asking for sales or with direct selling offers. Build relationships before you ask for anything or even attempt to sell something. The same goes for posting; if there is no purpose to it, don’t do it. Posts should have interesting content, photos and videos whenever possible. To build relationships and followers social media users need to be interesting, fun and informative. You may only have one chance to make a good impression, make sure it’s the right one.
7) Trick – Don’t get tricked by high expectations for social media. While social media can be very helpful and for some a strong business driver ROI (Return on Investment), for many, especially in the business to business world, this remains elusive. Create a plan and look at social media as a long term investment in marketing and branding. If you expect immediate gratification then you really have been tricked.
8) Trick or Treating – Did you ever plan out your trick or treating route when you were a kid? Did you know the best blocks or houses for getting the most and best kinds of candy? I bet many of you did. For social media focus
on activities that work, spend time in communities (groups) where you can enhance your brand and attract followers. Complete goals before moving on to new ones or developing new strategies. Track your success with different social media sites and different communities and return to them. Don’t go back or invest too much time on communities that proved to be more of a trick than a treat.
9) The Black Hole – Whether it’s a portal to another dimension or a black hole in space, it is important to avoid them. Social media also has its own black hole – the black hole of time. Social media can be a major time waster for many, like a vampire with a craving to suck blood social media sucks time away. Set specific “time budgets” for social media activities and only add time when you see efforts reap rewards or when they clearly demonstrate they are helping to achieve goals.
10) Your Costume – Have you ever won a costume contest? Why do people win costume contests? The winners are usually creative, visually interesting, memorable and fun. Your online image needs to have the same qualities. Make sure you have a photo of yourself; one that makes you look good. Spend the extra money to get a professional headshot done. This image is important; studies show and social media experts report that without a photo people are less likely to connect with you or a business, follow you, comment on your posts or even read or look at what you post.
11) Zombies – What do zombies do? They roam the earth looking to make a meal out of a live person. In the social media world we also need to avoid zombies. Zombies come to us in the way of viruses, spam and those engaged in fraud to get personal financial information. Thankfully, viruses are less common via a social media but they do happen. If you receive a direct message that looks strange, from someone you do not know or a message that suggests you check out a video or photo with you in it, delete this right away. Knowing your enemy is important, but also be prepared. If you use social media regularly make sure that you change your passwords from time to time, never share information that can be used by others to create accounts, make sure you back up your data remotely and often, and finally be prepared because you eventually will get a virus, malware attack or get hacked. This is scary to think about. Make sure your zombie (virus) protection plan is in place and software updated. Protecting yourself will also help stop the virus from infecting others you are connected with on social media. Spreading a virus is not a good way to attract friends, fans or followers.
12) Your Halloween Party – Who do you invite to your Halloween party? Certainly friends, family and people you think will have a good time. Would you invite people who you know would not wear a costume? In social media you need to know who you have and who you want to have at your party. The wrong people at the party could spoil it for everyone. From people posting inappropriate content on your Facebook wall to LinkedIn “connections” who mine your client base for business, or worse steal your ideas (it’s happened to me), monitoring and carefully analyzing who follows you is important. Take the time to review your followers on all social media sites; don’t let any questionable people into your community. This does not mean preventing people you don’t know in, but do your best to vet them and watch what they are saying to members of your community.
13) Treats – A successful Halloween for me when I was young was all about having fun, maybe getting a little scared, collecting some great candy, and engaging in some harmless mischief. A great costume attracted attention and some extra candy. In addition, friends and family took photos and remembered the best costumes for years. Social media can lead to treats or as I like to call them followers, referrals and business. With a social media plan in place reputation and followers can be built on a growing basis. By listening to followers and others, conversations can be started. This will lead to relationships, real world meetings and eventually referrals and the best treat of all business.
Don’t be scared of social media. For the new user it can be a little frightening but the rewards, both personal and business-related, can be significant.
What scares you about social media? Let me know.