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5 Don'ts of Social Media
I had a conversation the other day with one of my friends - an artist, designer, and founder of Sol MaLeU - on how to leverage social media to expand her client base. It is clear that social media is a critical tool in today’s marketing, yet getting started can feel daunting. Perhaps your budget is tight, your human resources are scarce, and you’re just starting to build your brand. The good news? We’ve all been there. No need to reinvent the wheel; just learn from these common mistakes others have already made, and you will be on your way to social media success:
1. Lacking focus - This is one of the most common and drastic mistakes people make. Many tend to just register on every social media site out there - Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, you name it - without a clear marketing strategy or goal in mind and without knowing if they’ll actually reach real prospects. Ask yourself where your customers “live” online; you need to know the answer before you spend your valuable time on any of these sites. For example, after analyzing Pixability’s customer and prospect pool, I’ve learned that about 60% of Pixability customers “live” on LinkedIn, while there are fewer on Facebook. Clearly, my priority is to build a strong presence on LinkedIn. You should still maintain a presence on at least several different sites, but keep in mind that a one-size-fits-all approach will not be successful; every social networking site is different. Browse around to get a feel for the audience and code of conduct on each site, and then develop tactics to properly address each site’s particular audience, while always keeping your overall marketing goal in mind.
2. Presenting a sales pitch instead of quality content - Internet marketing has drastically changed people’s buying habits. Customers can check reviews, investigate companies’ reputations, and easily compare products and services before making a choice. A sales pitch is a turn-off on social media channels; potential customers are looking to learn and make the most educated choice before they commit to buying. Social media is about building relationships, learning about your audience, and providing interesting, engaging content, not bombarding them with sales language. Give your clients and prospects a reason to follow you and listen to you. If you come in selling, you are very likely to be seen as a spammer.
3. Failing to be social and open - Social media is about interaction. So you’ve registered your profile, uploaded a picture and added your interests - that’s a great start. But now you need to get engaged in conversation, not just talking (well, typing!) but also listening to others. It’s important to stay open, even in the face of negative comments. Instead of getting angry or shutting down the lines of communication, learn how you can become better at what you do. Apologize when you mess up, and be genuinely grateful when you do receive comments or constructive criticism. A quick “Thanks for the feedback!” goes a long way.
4. Getting too personal - The lines are blurring: many of us now have our bosses, colleagues and friends all virtually hanging out in the same social media spaces as us. We’re relaxing privacy settings - sometimes without realizing it - and more of our personal details are becoming available to potential clients. It’s important to retain a sense of professionalism in your online presence. Yes, you should be yourself and be honest, and hopefully have a little fun, but social networks are not good places to reveal all the details of your personal life. (Even my closest friends probably don’t care what I ate for breakfast yesterday or what color I’m thinking of painting my living room walls.) Otherwise, you run the risk of damaging your professional brand. Plus, the Internet allows you to reach out to a global audience, so you should keep in mind that some cultures have different ideas of what is appropriate and what is not.
5. Not measuring results - The Internet makes measuring ROI easier than ever. Take advantage of this. Why waste hours promoting your business on a particular network if it’s just not going anywhere? Cut your losses or try out different approaches until you find a strategy that works. Facebook, for example, has a built-in feature called “Insights” that tells you the demographics of the visitors to your Page, what people are clicking on, which of your posts cause people to “unlike” your Page, and other valuable information. Spend a few minutes checking your Insights, and you can save a lot of time overall. LinkedIn and YouTube also provide some basic analytics. Most importantly, you should keep an eye on the traffic your social media efforts are sending to your website. If you’re not already doing so, you should be tracking your website traffic with a free service like Google Analytics or a more robust paid service like HubSpot. When linking back to your website from your social media networks, you can append special tags to the end of your URLs to make tracking easier; these are called UTM tags, and we’ll discuss them in detail in a blog post later this week.
Finally, be patient. It takes time to build your network, but you will be rewarded in the end, and you will meet a lot of interesting people and learn a lot of new things. Please share your stories with us about your experiences building a social media presence! What lessons have you learned? We look forward to your feedback!
Wednesday, 08 June 2011