When I was in my first year at university, one of my professors told us that the future was all about social media. He wasn’t suggesting, of course, that we should all run out and start planning the creation of the next Facebook! Rather that we start understanding the importance of social media for business. He very successfully predicted that over the years to follow, the rise in companies providing social media services for business, and the increase in business presence across most social media platforms would be exponential.

So with this in mind you would expect that by now businesses would have mastered their use of social media. Unfortunately, this is not the case and the same mistakes continue to be made over and over again.

1.       Being Spread Too Thinly Across Networks

The most obvious mistake to me is choosing the wrong (or too many) social media platforms to be on. In order to make social media work for your business, and to have social media play a positive role in its growth, you must understand your audience and you must choose social media platforms based on this. Research is important so that businesses can find out who their customers are and which networks they are likely to be on.

So, what if your customers are varied and across all networks? Does that mean that you should be too? Think about this way; a company provides social media services to other businesses. They are DEFINITELY going to want a Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and probably a Google+ account too. Platforms you aren’t going to need to be on are Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube (unless you can create some really great, helpful content relevant to your niche).

Companies such as cosmetics brands or interior designers would be missing out greatly if they were not on these networks. That’s because these types of businesses rely on and benefit from visual aid.

There does need to be limit. Just because your customers can be found on all networks and just because you COULD provide interesting content on all of them it doesn’t mean you should. You need to think about what is realistic and whether opening accounts on every network will leave you neglecting some followers. This is just as bad as, if not worse, than not having a presence at all. And if you’re going to be on more than one network consistency in profile set up is important in order to prevent brand confusion.

2.       Me, Me, Me, Me, Me…Sorry…Did You Say Something?

The next big mistake is not engaging in the right way with their audience. There are actually a few ways that businesses can go wrong with this so I’ll try to keep each point short and sweet.

  • Not engaging or ignoring audience – Don’t make the mistake of only replying to negative feedback. I’ve lost track of the amount of times someone has said to me “I tweeted XXXXX the other day and they retweeted it!”  Show your fans/followers some love and they won’t forget it and are more likely to mention you to people they know.
Urban Decay Facebook

I love Urban Decay but their social media skills leave a lot to be desired. They hardly engage with fans on their Facebook page and leave fans to help each other out.

  • Only talking about company products and services – Nobody wants to see 10 tweets a day about how great your newest product is. Sure tell us about it once or twice! Just don’t push it because it does get boring and you can be gone from our feed with the simple click of a button. One of Boom’s directors, Rob, has written a post on this with a great analogy that might make it a little easier to understand.
Yves Saint Laurent Twitter

Yves Saint Laurent: Could you BE more boring? After a few of these tweets I’m skipping past them and not bothering to give a second glance.

  • Only sharing content that is relevant to the area of your business – It’s not the worst thing you could do as long as you’re not only posting about yourself. But fans and followers do like to see other content now and then. It might be a funny video or photo or even a great movie you’ve seen.  It’s a great way to get people to interact and lets them see that you are in fact human! In this blog post, by Amy Fowler, she talks about why it’s ok to let the guard down and give fans a look behind the scenes.

 3.       Ostracizing Fans/Followers

Ok, the word “ostracizing” might seem a little dramatic, but that’s how we feel! This is something that I have experienced personally and it does make me quite upset.

I am a fan of quite a few international companies, companies that are based in countries such as the USA and Australia. Now, I find it really annoying when they have special offers or competitions available only to their specific country. “Why shouldn’t they?” I hear you ask. Well the reason that I find this annoying is because they have no problem selling their products to people that live across the pond. If you can accept my money, surely you can accept my competition entry!

Not only does it make the followers feel left out, but also cheated and angry! If they are as much a loyal customer as anyone, why should their location make a difference? It’s important to show that you care about your fans/followers! Not just about their money or gaining more likes and follows.

Marchesa Facebook competition

If you go through to the competition page, you have to input a US address in order to enter.

Setting up a competition is all good and well, but by only limiting it to certain groups; you will make those that are left out see it as a business move rather than a way of treating or thanking them for being loyal customers.

Sabo Skirt Facebook

Sabo Skirt excels at social media and they frequently engage with their fans. Just a quick look at their page, and the massive amount of interaction that takes place, proves that their fans appreciate it.

The truth is this post could be thousands of words long because the mistakes that businesses make in social media are endless. So this blog post can be seen as a few of the pet peeves that I have, about businesses in social media, as someone who both works in social media and also enjoys being a “fan girl”.