Those of us with a blog or a business know that a good social media presence can be incredibly important in driving traffic and raising our profiles. But how do we make the most of our social media? And how do we avoid alienating people or damaging our reputations?
Here are ten social media mistakes to avoid…
1. Thinking it’s supposed to make you money
So many people set up their social media accounts with a sort of if you build it they will come mentality. They set up a Twitter account; they send a few tweets, and they wonder why they haven’t made their first million yet.
The thing about social media is… well, the clue is in the name here. It’s about being social. These days the general public is not happy just to be broadcasted to. The days of the few broadcasting to the many are long gone. These days it’s more of a two-way conversation between you and your customers or readers. And if you’re not having that conversation, people will go and find someone else who does what you do, but is prepared to chat about it.
The best way to get traffic and customers through social media is to ignore that side of it. Connect with your audience; interact with them. Occasionally tell them what you do and where they can find you. The rest will take care of itself.
2. Thinking it’s a game where the person with the most followers wins
I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again. If you’re on social media just to collect followers like Pokemon… go back to school and collect Pokemon.
It’s easy to buy followers on Facebook and Twitter these days, or to find other ways to get any-old-person to like or follow you. The problem is they won’t be engaged. They’ll either be fake accounts set up to follow people who have paid, or they’ll be people who don’t care what you have to say and aren’t listening when you speak. Neither is worth anything at all as a follower.
The thing about social media is that you really need to have an engaged following or there’s no point in bothering. It’s the difference between standing in the middle of a crowd of thousands and shouting your message while people keep on walking past, versus standing in front of a hundred people who are hanging on your every word and answering every question you ask. You want the second one.
You only get 140 characters on Twitter, and so a certain amount of word shortening is accepted. Poor spelling and grammar is forgiven by a lot of people too; they either don’t know or don’t care. What I will say is that if you are using social media to promote your business or blog you need to pay attention to the image you are presenting. People will forgive the odd mistake, but persistently spelling key words wrongly makes you look careless at best, stupid at worst.
4. Using it only for promotion
As I mentioned above in point 2, social media is about being sociable. The best way to think of social media – especially Twitter – is like a big pub. When you walk up to the bar you might strike up a conversation with the person next to you. You might talk about a news story, the weather, something that’s been on TV lately. You would never walk up to someone in a bar and say “hey, come and visit my website it’s great.”
Doing that on Facebook and Twitter will get you some hits on your site – but it won’t get you engaged followers who come back week after week to see what you’ve posted. Only people who happen to notice your tweet in a sea of advertising tweets who will click your link, make a snap decision as to whether they want to stay and then mostly leave and never come back.
5. Forgetting it’s meant to be fun
The best networking events are the ones where you can have fun and a good chat, as well as improving your profile and handing out business cards. The same is true for social media. If you’re set on tweeting a certain number of times each day in order to promote yourself, with a list of hashtags to be used and links to share, it becomes a chore rather than something to be enjoyed. You can present a professional image and promote yourself or your business while still having fun and interacting with people in a friendly manner.
6. Giving up too soon
I saw an interview with Jon Acuff the other day where he said companies will tell him they’re disappointed in their Twitter. He asks what they’ve done and they’ll say, “we tweeted press releases every day for a week and they didn’t go viral.” His response? “wow, a whole week? That’s almost eight days!”
Social media is rarely about the instant win. You are highly unlikely to put one post on social media that will then drive thousands of people to your site. Instead, it’s about the long game. It’s about engaging your audience, providing them with useful and engaging content so that when you post a link to your site they think “oh, this person is usually interesting; I’ll take a look.” Unless you’re a massive, well-known brand, it takes months if not years to build up a social media following and that’s not something that can be hacked!
7. Not using tools to help
Yes, if you follow four thousand people on Twitter and try to keep track of them all just with the Twitter website, it will feel incredibly daunting and hard to keep up with. There are so many tools available to help you with it these days though. You can create lists and use a free service like Tweetdeck to keep an eye on individual lists or hashtags, and there are loads of tools you can use to manage your tweets so that you can send out content throughout the day. Check out Buffer, Hootsuite, Social Oomph or Twuffer and see which one suits you best.
8. Worrying about what others are doing
There are as many different approaches to social media as there are people on social media. People will tell you that you should definitely do this, or definitely not do that – but nobody knows what works for you, until you try it. You might see a person you follow doing something you think is absolutely bonkers but really, who cares? It’s their problem to worry about. It can be fun to try out what other people are doing and see how it works for you – but just because it doesn’t work for you, doesn’t mean it won’t work for them.
9. Mixing personal and business
This is a tricky one. I would always say that the best way to promote your brand is to add a personal touch and be yourself rather than your logo. But whether you like it or not, your social media is a representation of your brand. It’s fine to have an opinion, and I’ve written before about whether we should all be vanilla on social media but one hard and fast rule should be not to bring personal grievances and negativity into the public space. Drunk tweeting, name calling and swearing will all reflect badly on you, whatever you’re trying to promote.
10. Hashtag overload
Lots of people seem to have read that hashtags will help people to find your tweets – #but #hashtagging #every #single #word #is #just #silly. A tweet made up entirely of hashtags looks ugly and very much like you’re just trying to get as many people ont your Twitter as possible. Also hashtagging words like “just” or “every” make you look like you really don’t understand social media at all!
I you have any bugbears when it comes to social media, do leave a comment and let me know!