As a marketing speaker who talks to many audiences, often about social media, a question that I am often asked concerns the do’s and don’ts of social media. There is lots of advice published online about the do’s. You should be listening, be authentic, create great content—these are all the hallmarks of success in social media—and you’ve probably heard about them before.
Perhaps even more important, though, is to understand things you should never ever do. Call them the “kiss of death” in social media—the most crucial errors that companies make while trying to find their voice online. If you can avoid making these errors, you can also avoid generating unwanted negativity for your brand. Most of them tend to be driven by laziness…the less work you want to do, the more likely you are to make one of these mistakes. Here are five common ones that you should immediately try to avoid:
1. Never hide your affiliations
We tend to hear a lot about the importance of transparency, and in practice it is a fairly simple thing to keep in mind. Whenever you post any information, share a comment or participate in a conversation always share your professional affiliation and company information. Not only is this a good thing to get used to doing, it also insures that no one feels that you are hiding any affiliation.
2. Ask for something right away
You wouldn’t walk into a party and promptly announce your arrival by asking everyone there for a favor right away…yet often with social media this is the first inclination of many business owners. Join a forum where potential customers are talking, and then immediately start talking about yourself and your business. It doesn't work at the party and it doesn’t work online.
3. Lose your human voice
The type of language that works best in social media is typically the way that you might speak out loud. Often we unintentionally adopt a more “corporate” voice when communicating online and through social media—even when talking about a small business. Corporate voice does not equal professionalism in social media. What resonates with people is hearing a real person and relating to you and your employees as real people. The voice, therefore, that works best when writing or posting any kinds of videos online is always a natural and human one.
4. Create content graveyards
This is a term that I love for describing what many businesses do with social media. They create a place to post content, and then abandon it because of the time required to update it or because the benefits of it don’t seem to be immediately visible. The problem is, most of these efforts remain findable thanks to search, and there is nothing worse than having a potential customer find your content, start to engage with it and then realize that there is no further communication or content being updated.
5. Buy your friends and followers
Advertising to build an audience is one thing, but there are plenty of unscrupulous offers to buy friends, fans or followers by the thousand. As tempting as they may be, in most cases they are a waste of your time. Sure, you may be able to boast some extra followers, but usually they will be unqualified and relatively useless.