If your business hasn’t yet sailed on the online social media ship, you’re behind the times. Most consumers now obtain information on products and services through online outlets. As such, if you aren’t yet reaching out to your target market through online channels, you’re missing out on prime profits. While online social media is a great, free way to reach out to potential customers and increase current customer loyalty, it’s also possible to make mistakes with this technology.
Since this technology is still relatively new, many businesses have had to learn as they go and, as a result, have made many mistakes along the way. The good news is you can learn from their mistakes and start out ahead in your online marketing ventures. Here are four tips for how not to use social media for your business:
A common mistake made by businesses new to the online social networking market is an inconsistent branding from one network to another. This inconsistent branding can lead potential customers to think your business pages on certain networks were made by copycat competitors or that you aren’t a serious business person. Either way, it’s not good for business.
If you’re guilty of an inconsistent online business image, it’s time to make some changes. However, if you’re in the start-up phase of building your social network company image, this is the perfect opportunity to do things right the first time.
Here are tips you can follow to build a consistent online image.
- Designate your website or blog as the hub of all online activities.
- Design all social network business pages with an image consistent to that of your main online hub.
- A consistent image should be comprised of not only equally sized logos, but should also include similar tones in your marketing text and consistent graphics.
- If hiring contract workers to maintain your various social network pages, regularly visit these pages to ensure consistency to your intended image.
Broadcasting Rather than Interacting
The second mistake businesses often make with their online social media efforts is broadcasting to current and potential customers instead of interacting with them. Those companies that make this mistake are often more familiar with traditional marketing channels such as advertisements and press releases. As a result, they don’t understand the difference of using social media and how their broadcasting efforts are damaging their credibility.
Here are a few options to begin interacting with your target market online:
- Offer discounts and coupon codes to those customers who comment on your business’s social media pages.
- Join location-based services such as FourSquare to reward those customers who visit your business often and tell others about their experiences through these networks.
- Activate comment threads on your company’s blog to allow opportunities for visitors to discuss their reactions to your information.
- Implement simple polls and questionnaires on your website and blog to learn more about your visitors.
Failure to Update
The number of online social media networks is rapidly expanding. From the traditional networks such as Facebook and Twitter, to video sharing platforms like Vimeo, the possibilities are becoming endless. If you determine it’s beneficial for you to create pages on several of these networks, don’t forget to regularly update each one. You should never let a social media page go dormant for extended time periods. Doing so will result in reduced consumer confidence and questions regarding the stability of your company.
Here are suggestions for avoiding this failure to update:
- Create monthly schedules for when each social media page should be updated.
- Maintain back-stocks of blog posts and other information to use during time crunches.
- Cancel those social media network subscriptions you find aren’t beneficial for reaching your target market.
- Hire an assistant to take over the social media updates if you don’t have the time to keep up with these tasks.
Don’t be Narcissistic
Those companies who go overboard with self-promotion with social media are the first to lose fans and customers. Sure, it’s perfectly acceptable to occasionally list new business specials or personal links relevant to the needs of your customers. However, trying to build website traffic by continually updating your blog and social media pages with pointless self-promotion is a sure way to frustrate users.
Follow these tips to maintain a healthy level of self-promotion:
- Regularly publish blog posts and social media updates with useful resources for your target market not directly related to your products. This will help build their trust in your company and will encourage them to regularly visit your social media pages.
- Before releasing self-promotions, think like a customer and determine if they will value the information.
While social media can be a valuable marketing tool for reaching your target market, it can also be a dangerous weapon. By learning what not to do with social media, you can use this technology more effectively and build consumer confidence in your business.