11 social media mistakes that will turn your brand into a train wreck

There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to social media marketing. There are plenty of ways to get it right; and wrong. Treat these 11 mistakes as ways to think through your social media tactics. They may even serve as useful guides for your marketing more generally.

Mistake 1 – Don’t listen

Listening is social media skill number one. If you’re not listening to the community chatter about your company, products or industry your making a big mistake. That mistake will lead to a two-fold risk. First, you risk ignoring legitimate complaints about your service and that can really piss people off. Second, there’s the real risk of missing opportunities to create connections that could generate more business opportunities.

Mistake 2 – Don’t respond

Your Google alert has identified a blog post that’s a scathing attack about the quality of your service. Do nothing and you’ll appear ignorant at best or arrogant at worst. A better course of action is to leave a comment on the post. Optus does that regularly.

Mistake 3 – Be overly sensitive

There are other times when it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie. If you see a tweet and it gets your blood boiling don’t respond. Take a day or two. And a chill pill. If you’re thinking of suing someone about a single tweet think again. Just ask Horizon Realty how their “sue first ask questions later” strategy turned out. When it comes to PR on the Internet suing is rarely a wise strategy.

Mistake 4 – Ignore people who help you

Social media thrives on reciprocity. When someone tweets your blog post or shares your content on Facebook say thanks. Or return the favour. It takes no time at all and builds a bank of goodwill. But if you want to annoy the good folk who are trying to help just ignore them. Pretty soon they’ll go away so you can play in the social media sand pit all on your own.

Mistake 5 – Be unclear about with your intentions

Facebook and Twitter are THE places to waste lots of time. And that’s what will happen if you’re not clear about what you want to achieve. To avoid this mistake connect your social media efforts directly with your business goals. Being clear about your intentions will help you avoid wasting time on networks that don’t add value to your business.

Mistake 6 – Be a fake

If you’re faking it you’re going to be found out so don’t try to be something you’re not. Some of the biggest companies in the world have found this out the hard way. Sooner or later your fake “I became a millionaire in 15 minutes a day” blog is going to be exposed as a sham. The ferocity of the community backlash will be in direct proportion to the degree people felt let down.

Mistake 7 – Don’t put social sharing buttons on your site

If you don’t want your blog posts or articles shared or bookmarked don’t put social sharing buttons on your web pages. If you do want people to share your content – and let’s face it, that’s probably the case – then get them on their pronto. And a Twitter and Facebook logo on your home page isn’t what I’m talking about. Share buttons. Every page, Now.

Mistake 8 – Use social media as a broadcast medium

Ever walked into a party and used a megaphone to introduce yourself? Probably not, so why do it on Facebook or Twitter? Let’s face it, advertising is an important part of any marketing budget but please, mix advertising and social media sparingly. If you want to advertise use Google Adwords or Facebook’s advertising platform. Social media works best as a conversation, not a broadcast platform.

Mistake 9 – Focus on the numbers

Anyone can have lots of Facebook friends or Twitter followers. Getting big numbers is easy. Just keep clicking the Add or Follow buttons and soon you’ll have big numbers. But so what? if people aren’t listening. What really counts in social media is relationships. If your message is concealed behind the Hide button or tucked away in a Tweetdeck group what’s the point? Relationships thrive on conversation and deep relationships make good business sense.

Mistake 10 – Be a Lurker

Lurking in social media is like people watching at a party. Sure it may be fun for a while but you’ll be going home alone. That’s no fun. It’s much better fun get known, so get out and start connecting. Say “hi” through a blog comment, the Like button, an @ reply or an email. Whatever you do, don’t lurk.

Mistake 11 – Abandon your Twitter account (or blog or Facebook Page)

Want to look super uncool? Start tweeting, tweet like there’s no tomorrow, then stop. For 6 months. It’s the fastest way to show the world your management team has the attention span of a gnat or they you’re adept at backing the wrong horse. Either way, not a good move.

There they are, the top 10 mistakes to not make in social media marketing. I’ve made several. Be ye not so foolish.

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About Peter Fletcher

Speaker, trainer, and consultant helping real estate agents sort out their online communication strategy.

@peterfletcher - Google+

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