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Social Media is huge – by this point, we all know this. It seems as if everybody is jumping on board and embracing this “new” tool. But are they doing it properly? Yes, it is important to embrace Social Media. But utilizing Social Media correctly is an art and a science. A poorly executed Social Media campaign can do more damage than good for your brand and your reputation online.

Here are ten common Social Media mistakes that companies often make.

Social Media Mistakes

1. Is Social Media Right for my Business?

Before launching your massive Social Media campaign, take a step back and ask yourself – is Social Media right for my business? Social Media, as amazing and popular as it has become, is like any other new technology – it is not right for everyone. So sit back and really think about if Social Media is right for your business. Why do you want to use Social Media? What goals are you trying to accomplish? Who are you targeting?

2. Don’t Spread Yourself too Thin

If you have decided that Social Media is right for you, the next step is determining which platforms you will use. Chances are, it won’t be all of them…not even close. There are literally hundreds of Social Media sites out there, and as tempting as it may be, avoid spreading yourself too thin by signing yourself up for all of them. Do your research, and understand the functions, user base, pros and cons, differences and similarities of all Social Media platforms. Which platform does your target market use? The 60 year old business man probably isn’t in the same space as his teenage daughter is. Facebook is not Twitter, YouTube is not LinkedIn and Flickr is not Vimeo.  Educate yourself, and your chances of Social Media failure will decrease.

3. Incomplete Profiles

This is one of the worst things you can do – and it’s very easy to slip into this trap! Most Social Media sites are free – meaning that it is easy to sign up. But, since there is no monetary tie to the profile, sometimes they can easily be forgotten, and left incomplete. Think about how unprofessional an incomplete profile looks. Is that the image that you want to convey about your brand? Take the time to learn about all of the features and functions of the Social Media platforms you have chosen and use them all to your advantage.

4. Lack of Fresh Content

Social Media is about engaging with others in a conversation by sharing content. If you want to keep your audience engaged, you must have fresh, interesting, and relevant content. If not, people will get bored of , or even forget about you. This may even lead them to stop liking/following/subscribing/connecting – whatever the action is – with you, which in turn will leave the consumer with a sour taste in their mouth when they think of your brand. Think of your Social Media campaign as a local bakery. If you don’t have a fresh variety of baked goods – bread, baguettes, buns, bagels, croissants, muffins, cakes etc., everyday, customers won’t come back. Who wants a 3 week old loaf of rye? Not me. So don’t let your content go stale. Bake some fresh stuff every day!

5. Information Overload

That being said, don’t bombard your customers with too much information. I have un-liked brands on Facebook and stopped following people on Twitter because of the immense amount of updates and tweets that littered my news feed. Know your audience. Post a manageable amount of content that they will enjoy. While tools like Hootsuite and Twitterfeed give users the convenience of scheduling posts, don’t solely rely on this. People are smart. These posts will come across as impersonal and spammy. One of the most wonderful aspects of Social Media is that it allows brands to become human – so take advantage of it and humanize your brand!

6. Consistency vs. Cloning

This is a tough one. Most companies engage in Social Media to improve and manage their brand on the web. So be sure to keep a consistent image of your brand across your Social Media campaign. Most Social Media sites allow you to customize your page, so be consistent with the use of color branding, terminology, logos, images and slogans. This will help solidify your legitimacy and brand identity online. But beware – avoid cloning! The cookie-cutter approach will not work for Social Media. Again, familiarize yourself with the different platforms, and your audiences. What works on Facebook probably won’t work on Twitter. And yes, there is a significant difference between YouTube and Vimeo. A one-size fits all strategy for your Social Media campaign will seriously hinder your chances for success.

7.  It’s a Conversation, not a Sales Pitch

Let’s face it – Social Media was not made to sell products. It was made to connect people. But through those connections, and the conversations that stem from them, we have been able to manage our brands, communicate with our customers and promote ourselves. While selling on Social Media is possible, and certainly acceptable, you need to go about it the right way. Don’t push your products and services onto people right away. Connect with them, and engage in a conversation. Build a meaningful relationship first. If you jump right into Social Media with sales on your mind, people will notice – and they will boycott you. If you do this, your credibility and legitimacy in Social Media will be lost. Relationships first, sales second.

8. Business vs. Personal

Please don’t fall victim to this one. Combining your personal and business accounts is a big Social Media no-no. The photos and stories about your wild Friday night with your old high school buddies should be kept between you and your friends – not shared with your clients and colleagues. Most Social Media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter allow you to create multiple accounts. So do it. One for personal, one for business.

9. Fake Friending

Facebook has over 500 million users. That’s a lot. And as tempting as it is to reach out to as many of them as possible, you shouldn’t dedicate your life towards connecting with all of them. While most people get caught up in the number of Likes their brand has on Facebook, or Followers on Twitter, often times it is the quality of those connections, over the quantity. Following every name you come across on Twitter is the wrong strategy – again, people will notice this, and it will appear spammy. Try to connect with the right people; industry gurus, those with a good reputation, people that others will genuinely listen to. By building real relationships with these powerful people, you increase your own Social Media legitimacy – and who knows, you could become one of those people that others strive to connect with.

10. Failure to Measure and Monitor

This happens way too often in the Social Media space. Companies decide that they need to be there, so they jump in blind, and never look back. First of all, you need to outline your reasoning for using Social Media. Do you want to increase brand awareness? Create buzz? Connect with consumers? Direct traffic to your website? Without clear-cut goals, how do you expect to measure your success? Moreover, are you listening to what is being said about your brand? Did you notice that discussion board on Facebook full of complaints about your poor customer service? Or that your brand name is trending on Twitter due to angry tweeters that are upset with your new return policy? The conversation about your brand is happening on the web, and to address these key issues being discussed, you must listen. And yes, not everything said about your brand online is going to be negative. Much of it may be positive. But the point is that you must listen, and know what is being said. This is essential.

Have you been guilty of committing one, or many of these common Social Media mistakes? Have you noticed any other common Social Media blunders occurring way too frequently? Share them with us!