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5 common social media mistakes businesses make

by Guest on February 19, 2014

“I’m on my social media accounts all the time – where are my sales?”  is a cry often heard from many businesses.  With limited time, we need to see return from our marketing efforts.  However, all too often the effort we put into social media shows little, if any return.

It’s possible your business is making one (or all!) of the common social media mistakes below.

1.     Ineffective Targeting

Have you gone through the exercise of making sure you are targeting the market you seek?  Social media can’t be general – there is far too much traffic and far too many others trying to be heard to make general social media effective.

 Look for groups that will be receptive to your message

Instead, look for groups that will be receptive to your message.  Make sure the social media channels you are on are those favoured by your target market.

Don’t know exactly who your target market is?  You need to stop all your social media efforts right now, and work that out before you waste another minute.

 2.    Failure to Engage

Do you post content that is interesting and valuable to your audience?  Boring content that simply regurgitates ideas that are already out there is a sure-fire way to disengage your audience.

As the specialist in your field, you have information and knowledge that your target market doesn’t.  Don’t be afraid of putting too much information out there – consider the example of the computer repair company Geek Squad.  They have hundreds of videos on YouTube showing people how to repair their own computers and configure things correctly.  Why on earth would a company whose business is to repair and configure computers put all that information out there?  Robert Stephens, the founder of Geek Squad, said that their best customers are those who can do a little for themselves, then go to Geek Squad when it all gets too difficult.

Social media… is… about interaction and mutual benefit. 

Engagement also means speaking to the people who respond to your posts.  Social media, by definition, is social.  It’s about interaction and mutual benefit.  A simple ‘thank you for your comment’ can go a long way toward creating positive feeling around you and your company – which puts you front-of-mind when the person decides they need the services your company offers.

3.    Failure to use Leverage

Once you have built up some trust with your audience, you need to leverage the relationships you have built.  As with all relationships, if you don’t stay in contact, the relationship slips away.  A regular email with a short message giving good information will always be well received.

As with all relationships, if you don’t stay in contact, the relationship slips away.

A master at this type of leverage-using is Phil Frost from MainStreetROI.  He provides useful tips for social media usage in a regular email and always includes a little bit of personal information as well – about new staff members, or how he took his daughter to swimming lessons, or how he and his wife managed to get some time off to go to the movies.

Personalisation of your business messages to those you have already started to build a relationship with means they will engage with you as a person – and they are much more likely to read an email they get from a person they ‘know’ than a faceless company.

Every now and then Phil sends a sales message – but since most of his posts are interesting and informative, his readers aren’t irritated at receiving the sales pitch – in fact, they have such a good opinion of Phil (and they feel like they ‘know’ him) that they seriously consider his pitches when he sends them.

4.    Not Enough Automation

As small business owners, we have limited time.  Keeping up with what needs to be posted on your social media channels can suck up loads of your time.  This is where you can use automation to relieve your load.

I certainly don’t advocate doing this instead of posting your own content.  You need to show that you are a thought leader in your industry and niche.   And I don’t advocate posting any old thing to your channels.  All this will do is lead to poor targeting of your efforts.  But I do advocate using the tools available to you to make your job easier.  And for this reason, I suggest that instead of always writing your own articles, you can curate posts by others, and schedule them to go up on your sites at regular times.

You need to show that you are a thought leader in your industry and niche.

First, sign up to Buffer.  Buffer can be used free to schedule up to ten items to post to your social media accounts at a time.  If you choose to post daily, that means you can load ten days of content at a time.  If, like me, you like to post several times a day, you can schedule 2 to 3 days-worth of content.  The paid version allows you to schedule with no limitations.

On Buffer you set up the social media accounts you wish to post to (your Facebook, LinkedIn, GooglePlus, Twitter accounts are all that are supported), then create a schedule for each account you wish to post to.  Once Buffer is loaded on to your computer, you will see the Buffer icon has been added to the top right hand corner of your internet page.  That is where you schedule from.

Second, find a good blog aggregation site that has information that will be relevant to your audience.  These are also called news aggregators, RSS feeds and blog directories.  There are plenty of them to choose from – bloglines.com, technorati.com and blogarama.com are just a few.  My favourite is a relatively new one called Alltop.com – it sorts blogs into subject matter, making it easy to find what you are looking for.

Once you have found an article that will be of interest to your target audience, click on the Buffer icon.  You will be given options to post now, or to schedule, and all of the social media accounts you signed up to Buffer will be shown.   Select the one(s) you want to post the content to, and it’s done.

5.    Too Much Automation

 If the only things you post are curated content, you will lose audience engagement.

You do need to be very careful with automation though.  If the only things you post are curated content, you will lose audience engagement.  And if you make no responses to your audience when they respond to your posts, or automated responses that are not well executed, you will come across as faceless and corporate – instead of personable and social, which is expected on social media.

An example of too much automation comes from the Twitter account of Bank of America – a robot noticed a comment by a person who was issued a move along notice while he was chalk drawing on the pavement outside Bank of America.  The first automatic response made no sense given the content of the original tweet, but after that, regardless of the tweets’ content, the account offered to “review your account with you to discuss any concerns.”


The bottom line is, think through the strategies you are going to use to control your social media accounts.  Know what you want to accomplish, and know how you are going to accomplish it.  Know the pitfalls, and keep your social media clear of them.  That way, you will be seen as a knowledgeable, friendly and –most importantly – social member of your communities.

Featured image: kdonovan_gaddy

Bree Vreedenburgh

Bree runs a company, BV International, which offers Franchisees and Small Business owners the opportunity to gain professional coaching that is designed especially for them. When she’s not working, Bree can often be found writing plays, and treading the boards at her local community theatre.  She has also written several short business books and is currently in the processes of publishing her first full-length business book.

Bree can be contacted on 08 6365 5405 or by emailing [email protected]

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