Many companies thrive, thanks to strong web presence. However, some struggle as a result of costly mistakes made during the online marketing process. Thus, before you began marketing your business it is advisable to brush up on your social media skills.
Better yet, read on for a crash course on the ten most common social networking mistakes and how you can avoid making them yourself.
The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing for Business
#1. No Clear Social Marketing Strategy
Forbes columnist Pamela Springer notes that many business owners fail to properly budget their resources. “Even though many social media applications are free,” she writes, “they still cost small businesses time – and time equals money.” She suggests a formal online marketing plan, with a clear goal for each step of the process.
#2. The Media is Inconsistent
With a marketing plan in place, every Tweet and Facebook post should be planned in advance to avoid inconsistency. Terri Seymour, of Site Pro News, advises company marketers to draw up a weekly social media schedule—and then follow it. “Choose a couple of the best sites and give them the time and attention they need to work their magic,” she writes.
#3. No one Monitors the Site
BusinessWeek columnist Mike Proulx says inattentive site management can lead to a PR nightmare. Every site on the Internet is vulnerable to hacking viruses and other online malfeasances. As a result, web programmers must remain one step ahead of violators by continuously checking up on all company sites.
#4. The Material isn’t Proofread
“Bad grammar and spelling can make a good page go bad,” Seymour notes. All blogs, posts and tweets should be professional in appearance, even though social media sites are generally informal in nature. Authors should read posts as they are writing them, and have a co-worker look over the copy before it is uploaded online.
#5. Missed Branding Opportunities
Springer notes that most social media sites include multiple fields for profile owners to personify their page—but many business owners leave them blank. “Your company information, logo, and any other links or images on your profile are the sales tools you have to pique a potential customer’s interest in your business,” she writes. “If your profile is half complete it reflects poorly on your company.”
#6. Accounts aren’t Linked
Businesses with multiple sites should install a mechanism to link them together—and connect various users of these sites in the process. Seymour advises business owners to link social sites on their official homepage using widgets. Additionally, posts on the homepage should be automatically uploaded to all social sites simultaneously, rather than one at a time.
#7. Profiles aren’t Claimed
Springer reminds business owners that, whether or not they choose to participate in social media, their sites are part of the public domain. Yelp!, Google Places and other services create company profiles for owners who have not done so themselves—and this is a great opportunity to build web presence. “All of these services give you the option to control what’s shown about your company and how it’s shown,” she says.
#8. Responses aren’t Timely
In the event of bad publicity, Proulx warns that waiting too long can result in further disaster. When businesses err, he says immediate, humble acknowledgment of wrongdoing on social media platforms is the best route to take. “Taking the time to craft a perfect corporate response with layers of bureaucratic approvals will only cause more damage to your brand’s social reputation,” he says.
#9. No “Likes” or “Follows”
Seymour notes these seemingly arbitrary terms are highly relevant in the age of Facebook and Twitter, because they can greatly increase social activity on a business site. Company owners should include a request in their email signature, print a URL on their business cards and post links whenever possible. Many companies offer customer incentives to those who “like” or “follow” them—and these are typically the businesses with the most active sites.
#10. The Scope is Limited
A social media campaign should be continuous, says Proulx, since a cardinal goal of networking is to reach new clientele. Furthermore, new platforms emerge every year, and web users will often cast aside “old-fashioned” brands for those who acclimate to current trends. “While campaigns that have a social media extension may come and go,” he writes, “you must maintain an “always on” approach and outlook.”
Company owners today must contend with all the nuts and bolts associated with social media, for it has become a standard of modern business practices. Brands that embrace the social networking phenomenon are much likelier to draw in new customers—and their money.
However, firmly understanding how various platforms work, what their limitations are and how people use them is a fundamental first step.
Guest Author: Kate Manning didn’t expect to find herself at the intersection of business, marketing, and the Internet, but with sound writing and editing skills, she makes the most of it. She’s worked under others’ supervision and on her own for herself.
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