5 most common mistakes in Social Media

Featured in September’s Chamber of Commerce ‘Business Matters’ magazine

As the saying goes – from those science fiction movies of old – ‘resistance is useless’! No matter what your opinion of social media, if you’re in business and want to stay in business, then a social media presence is not only a good idea, it’s now pretty much expected.

Thankfully, many businesses understand this. A recent seminar at the Lancaster Chambers covering the basics of social media was well attended and it’s clear that there’s a big demand for guidance on the subject.

Jane Binnion – of Jane’s Social Media – is a familiar face on the business networking circuit and has spent the last year or so getting local businesses up to speed with their tweeting, status updates and LinkedIn profiles.

Here, Jane shares the five most common errors that businesses make when they begin their voyage into the unchartered territory of social media

1. Lack of Strategy

Every business differs in their approach to their use of social media. Perhaps you want to appear cutting edge and slightly controversial to get yourself heard. Or you might want to attract a more sober and professional clientele. Whatever, a strategy is important from the start. That way, you don’t waste time posting random tweets or status updates that confuse your followers.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why am I doing this?
  • What do I want to achieve?
  • Who am I trying to communicate with?
  • Where can I find my target audience?
  • How can I reach them effectively?

2. Thinking it’s all free

The good news is that to join facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, etc, you don’t have to spend a single penny. The bad news is that to ensure it brings in a return, you are going to have to invest in a very precious commodity – time. For all of us in business, our time has some monetary value. If you outsource the job, then that will clearly incur a cost too. Nonetheless, it is a worthwhile investment, providing the time is used wisely.

3. Giving the job to the office junior

It may sound like an obvious idea to give the job to someone from the most media-savvy demographic. But remember that your company’s presence on social media is essentially the voice of your company. Would you ask the teaboy to write your press releases? Young people are usually pretty good with social media but it’s best to ensure they have a good knowledge of your company ethos before you let them loose on your Twitter feed.

4. Lack of patience

Unless you are very famous, you’re not going to get thousands of Twitter followers overnight. In essence, social media is largely another form of networking and, like face-to-face networking, it’s all about building relationships and establishing a presence in your community. Word of mouth (virtually speaking!) will help do this but it takes time and effort and patience. It could be – and probably will be – months before you bag your first client directly as a result of your social media strategy. But, if you’ve done your homework, new customers will come eventually and your client list will grow exponentially.

5. Unsociable hours

Once you get going, tweeting your latest news or updating your facebook page with your achievements can become addictive. So addictive, in fact, that you do it out of hours and possibly when you’ve had one too many. Bad idea! What may sound witty and erudite after a few glasses of wine may not sound so to sober eyes. Yes, you can delete it in the morning, but it’s inevitable that some people will have seen your update before you get the chance. And that includes your competitors!

Avoid all these pitfalls from the beginning and you’ll have a much better chance at getting effective results from social media.

If you prefer a bit more hands-on guidance, then you might be interested in a number of short courses – run by Jane Binnion and Neil Stoneham – to be held at Lancaster Chambers of Commerce over the next few of months. 

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