You know by now that if you want to promote your business online, you can't ignore social media. But using social media to your advantage involves a lot more than just having an account on Facebook and Twitter. There are unwritten rules, and if you don't follow them, you'll be doing your business more harm than good.
Dave Thomas covers these in detail for Search Engine Journal. He also notes a massive increase in businesses using social media. Eighty percent of companies with 100 or more employees expect to be using social media to promote their business this year, compared to about 42 percent in 2008. That's quite a change in just three years.
So what can you do to stand out from the crowd – in a good way? Well, many companies that are new to social media marketing don't possess a good grasp of the way the online community has evolved over time. As a result, they make a lot of beginner's mistakes. You would do well to avoid these mistakes. I'll touch on some of the ones that Thomas covered, but this is by no means a comprehensive list.
First, keep in mind that social media is different from other forms of advertising. Users are there to socialize; they're not there to listen to your commercial message. They get bombarded with plenty of ads elsewhere. This doesn't mean that you can't promote your company, but if you're trying to do so via social media, you need to limit it. As Thomas puts it, “A little self-promotion here and there is fine, but be sure to balance things out so your copy doesn't take on the look of e-mail spam.”
Another common mistake companies make when participating in social media is, well, not participating. More specifically, when they a comment on their account in response to something they posted, they don't answer the comment. While it's possible to go to the other extreme and get caught up in an argument with a commenter, not responding at all is a mistake. It's called social media for a reason. Responding at least briefly to a comment shows that you're interested; it's a major step toward creating a relationship with a customer.
In the same category as not answering customer comments, some companies practically call the job of social media marketing done after they've created the appropriate accounts. Like SEO itself, social media marketing is never “done.” Know who's handling your social media accounts, and exactly what they're dong to promote your company online. If you don't do this, you could lose both followers and customers.
I'll discuss one more social media mistake, but again, please remember that this is far from a comprehensive list. That mistake is not having a particular goal in mind. If you're going to promote your business, whether it's in social media or by more traditional means, you need some kind of goal. You need to know why you're doing what you're doing. Do you want to increase your customer base? Raise general awareness of your business? Project a certain image? Go to where the competition is? You can have more than one goal, of course, but if you're vague about why you're promoting your business in social media, your results will be vague as well.
If you can avoid making these common social media mistakes, you'll have an easier time gracefully getting the word out about what you do and why people should buy your products and/or services. Good luck!
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