7 Deadly Sins of Social Media

We all need to be on social media, right?  At least that's what everyone is telling us. And I wouldn't argue with that. Social media is a hugely useful tool for the vast majority of businesses but just being on social media is not going to make your business an overnight success. Especially if you engage in any of the following:

1. Setting up a personal profile on Facebook for your business.

I see this so often. Business owners who either don't realise there is such a thing as a Business Page or do but choose to take what they see as the easy option by using a personal profile. Even if your business is you as an individual and you know people will search for you by name,  you should still set up a Business Page and select the Public Figure option. That way, people can 'Like' you and follow you, but you don't have to like them back!

Using a personal profile means you will have to become friends with everyone who wants to follow you and you will struggle to transfer your audience onto a business page at a later date. In short, it's against Facebook terms and conditions so don't do it.

2. Using Twitter solely to broadcast.

Social media gets its name from the act of being social and that's expected from all its users. I see so many businesses using social media to broadcast sales messages constantly without taking the time to stop and listen to the conversation and engage in a more social manner. It happens a lot during networking hours where some twitter users think this is the place to shout about what they do and how great they are. Perhaps if we liken networking hours on twitter to networking events off line you'll get a better idea why I think this is the wrong approach.

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If you went along to a networking event and stood in the middle of the room shouting about your products and services, throwing business cards in people's faces, what kind of reaction do you think you'd get?

Would you want to approach someone,  let alone do business with someone, who behaved like this? Probably not.

Normal behaviour at a networking event would involve introducing yourself,  for sure, but you would never assume the person you are speaking to would be interested in your products. You would listen to what they had to say, engage in conversation and get to know each other.

Most of us know that people do business with people they know, like and trust and building up that kind of relationship takes an investment in time. You cannot gain that from sending a few tweets.

Apply the 80:20 principle and keep any promotional tweets to 20% of your shared content or less.

3. Setting up a LinkedIn personal profile for your company.

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LinkedIn has a separate feature for companies to have a presence on its platform. It's completely free to use and allows you to post company updates and showcase projects. You can even get recommendations as a company too. So it baffles me why people set up a personal page for their company.

It may have something to do with the mystery around how to attract new followers to a company page and perhaps some people think it is easier to attract connections as an individual. Who knows. It's certainly not the way to go about promoting your business on LinkedIn. People buy from people, not faceless organisations, so don't do it.

4. Sending unimaginative automated DMs

I hate DMs (direct messages) on Twitter. My Twitter inbox is something I rarely look at, mainly because there's rarely anything in there worth looking at. Just a list of unimaginative DMs, usually along the lines of 'Thanks for following! Have you liked our Facebook page?' or 'Thanks for following. Visit our website for [insert standard sales pitch here]'. They stink of cold automation, no effort and just downright annoying.

If you have to send DMs to new followers, make them engaging, make them imaginative and please respond if someone replies (even if they are automated, you can at least pretend they aren't by replying as a human being when required!).

A great example here from @MichaelGBrett

Twitter DM example
Twitter DM example

5. #Overusing #hashtags #on #Instagram

Seriously, what's wrong with just choosing a couple of well targeted, relevant hashtags? It's clear the motivation behind using as many hashtags as possible on Instagram is to get as many people as possible to stumble across your content and follow you.

The reality is that it kinda screams of desperation. Post content that's awesome with relevant hashtags, but don't list all the hastags you've ever heard of in the hope someone new will see your post. It's just annoying.

6. Posting trivial time wasters on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a professional platform. It's great for connecting with other people in business, networking, finding jobs, recruiting new staff and reading the latest industry news, but it's not the place to post mundane updates that have nothing whatsoever to do with business.

The one I see way too much is the 'word search update' with 'what word do you see first?', asking people to comment below the update. Seriously? Not got much work on, people? Save it for Facebook.

Same goes for the supposedly inspirational quotes. There's so much of that on Facebook, do we need it on LinkedIn too?

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7. Going AWOL on any platform

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Consistency is so important when it comes to marketing in all its forms, but especially on social media platforms. You can't expect to build a following and retain it if you post daily for 3 months then disappear off the radar for 6 months. People soon lose interest and will unfollow you with a click of a button if they don't see any value in being one of your followers.

It also looks odd for prospective customers if you've suddenly stopped posting to social media. Have you decided to take an extended holiday? Have you gone out of business? Have you died? (OK, that's a bit harsh, I know, we all have things that crop up and take our attention away from social media, but is it down to bad planning?)

When you take on a social media platform, it's important you're able to commit to maintaining it long term. It's difficult if you're a business owner trying to wear many hats (believe me, I know!). I wrote an article a couple of months back on choosing the right social media platforms for your business which is worth a read if you're struggling with too many to maintain.

Over to you...

I found it hard to limit this article to 7 sins! What social media bugbears do you have? Leave a comment below and get it off your chest!