Thursday Thirteen: 13 Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

I had a dream the other night that I had to send a very important email to a friend and instead I sent it to a client.  I then woke up out of a deep sleep in a cold sweat.  That would be pretty disastrous, wouldn’t it?  Well it happens more than you think it does, especially in cases where people or organizations have multiple social media accounts and the lines between business and personal becomes faint.  Social media can be a great way to build your brand, but if handled incorrectly, can erode these efforts in a hurry.

In light of this panic, I thought it would be a good time to post this article which had been sitting in my draft folder for over a year.  The 13 Most Common Social Media mistakes which can either damage your brand or cause others to look at it and then move on to someone else.

Back in the day, your handshake was your word, and if you shook someone’s hand and then didn’t follow through or did so with the intent on lying or being deceitful, it was your name that was ruined.  Fast forward, and it’s your brand.

13. Having Incomplete Profile(s)

Having profiles which are not completely filled out, or are filled out in a comical way, or through false credentials is meaningful to the person / organization looking for you.  It means that you are either:

  • Extremely unqualified that you do not have enough background information to fill a profile up.
  • Very lazy because you don’t have one hour to add all the information into your profile.
  • A joker who cannot take anything seriously, or
  • A scammer who has to make things up in order to cover up for something you must be hiding.

12.  Inconsistency among networks

Imagine this.  You are looking to do business / connect with someone and you think you have found them on Facebook, but when you check on Twitter, they have a name and email address, which is different from Linkedin, and from Pinterest.  So now you Google these names and email addresses and all kinds of stuff comes back to you.  What are you thinking now?  Probably that they’re hiding something, or that they are very disorganized.   All these micro-networks that make up your overall network should be as consistent as possible as a consistent image is key to building a memorable, identifiable brand.

11.  Using Social Media to make money after building a significant network.  

For this mistake, I am thinking about the blogging world where bloggers attract a significant following due to their writings, then they realize they can pitch products to their networks which eventually turns their brand into an advertising site.  Those are a dime a dozen, and readers often wonder if the blogger is endorsing a product that they actually use and support, or because they are getting it for free.  The message becomes lost.  There is a fine line between doing what made you popular, and losing credibility among your readership.

10.  Audience participation.

Have you ever wondered why you have invested so much into your brand, and get so little in return?  Could it be that you are not meeting the needs of your readers / customers?  It is important to make sure that you engage your base whenever they take the time to reach out, for whatever reason they have chosen to reach out.  Talk to them, not about them.  Also, have a look through your Twitter feed and see how many of the last 30 tweets engage others, and how many are just random posts to your entire network.  Successful brand-builders don’t just tweet and re-tweet.  They also respond, engage, ask questions, and answer questions.

9.  Not Interlinking Your Profiles

The simplest mistake to fix.  Take 10 minutes, make sure all your social network profiles link to one another because the more touch points that exist to connect with your network, the better.  Your next best connection might be a die-hard Google + user, but you might only use Facebook and Twitter.   Make sure you have all profiles linked.

8.  Being impersonal 

Connections are gold in this day and age, so don’t take a potential connection for granted and allow the service you use to send out a generic stock message when trying to connect.  Linkedin, for example, provides a stock message that reads “I’d like to add you to my professional network on Linkedin.”   Take some time and put some effort into a greeting which makes that person want to connect with you.  Surely you have 30 seconds to include your name and a personal message.

7.  Stay on-topic as much as possible

A first-time visitor to any of your social media outlets should be able to instantly tell “what you are about”.  Don’t mistake frequent posting with relevant posting or think that everyone you are connected to is reading each and every post.  Every once in a while, logout and review your posts as if you were a visitor to see if you messaging is “on-brand” and if it’s not, get back in there and fix it!

6.  Automated Direct Message

The automated direct message on Twitter is the biggest personal branding disaster that seen on a daily basis.  It says, “You’ve just met me, and you want to spam me with your blog or product?”  Epic fail, and a sure way to lose followers quicker than you gain them.  Instead, send them a personalized direct message or @reply with someone’s actual name and a message relevant to their area of interest.  This one message may lead to a lasting connection that might not have occurred otherwise.

5.  Tunnel Vision

Have you focussed your brand-building on you and you only?  The 90/10 rule of social media brand building generally states that

90% of what you share should be made up of personal insights and thoughts along with a heavy dose of helpful links, while 10% should directly benefit you.”

Keep this rule in mind the next time you want to Tweet about your site or product.  I guarantee that the 90% of the time you take to help others will increase the attention paid to the other 10%.

Also keep in mind that a successful social media / brand building campaign takes into consideration the views and opinions of others.  For every organization which has a social media manager, there are probably 10-20 other employees who have ideas, thoughts and suggestions about the business which, if implemented, will help the business grow and get recognized.  To ignore this dedicated internal network is a crucial error that many organizations suffer from.  The silos have to be broken down in all areas of the business in order to improve the brand, and relying on one person to know the ins and outs of every organization is not possible.

4.  Don’t forget the impact of your word

In the age of social media it’s easy to forget that what you say to someone on the phone or in person can still come back to bite you in the ass.  You may not be sending an email to someone because you don’t want what they say to have a living trail, however as much as people save emails and forward emails, people also take what you said and post it on social media, and this negative messaging can mess with your brand.   So make sure when you are dealing with others that you are prepared to be upfront and honest because there is nothing worse than having them erode your credibility over a matter in which you chose a less than professional approach to.

3.  Un-friending, Un-following, Un-linking

All of these connection removals can have disastrous impact on your brand, especially around timing and how seriously the other person takes your connection.  If, for example, a friend from highschool removes you from Facebook, you will certainly get offended and you might even ask why.  If a follower on Twitter removes you, you probably understand that they may have followed you expecting something but got something else, or they disagree with your views, the frequency of posts, or possibly they need to remove people in order to be able to add others.  If, however, someone on Linkedin removes you, the severing of the business network goes much deeper because what that message says is that they never want to use you as a connection in the future ever again and that all those other people who are connected to both of you as 2nd or 3rd degree connections can get caught in the middle.  Imagine if a 3rd degree connection was ready to connect, then found themselves no long part of your network, but choose to reach out using their previous connection as the link, unbeknownst that this connection ended badly.

As well, people forgive and forget, so to remove someone right away may potentially sever that relationship for good, and you never know down the road when you might really need them!  One should never cut off their nose to spite their face in this day and age and to do so without proper thought often comes back to bite someone in the behind.

2.  Keeping your marketing and social media objective quiet – internally and externally

You build a business / brand through communicating internally and externally your message so that not only will your network be engaged, but also your customers, clients, friends, family, colleagues, etc.  Keeping them in the dark, or only focussing on external networks does not take into consideration that employees have lives outside of the office or social networks of their own.  The faster the message gets out and to the greater number of people, the better are the odds that your business / brand will be successful.  To not tap into that network is akin to advertising a businesses services on a telephone pole.  Sure the message gets out but only to those who see it and tell others.  If this was the chosen method to advertise the business, would you not want every employee to post advertising flyers on telephone poles near where they live?  That already increases the network and the chances that your business is going to get customers.  To do otherwise, just doesn’t make any sense.

1.  Not having a Social Media plan

Not having a social media plan, including ways to promote your brand is the biggest mistake that an individual / organization can make.  By just signing up to multiple micro networks and using them here and there demonstrates a poor social media plan just as much as signing up for multiple social media platforms and never using them, or worse, using them to connect with networks outside of your desired market.  In the few seconds that someone checks out your profile, they are deciding whether to stay and browse some more, or go back and look at one of your competitors.  If they choose to stay and see empty networks or random connections they quickly come to a conclusion about your brand and social media plan, that you don’t have one, and they will move on.

Know beforehand what your social media plan is going to be and share it, along with the do’s and please don’t, so they can be on board and help grow the brand.  To not have a plan in this day and age, or to make one up on the fly is going to lead to issues, inconsistency and confusion for everyone involved.

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4 responses

  1. This is excellent. On all points! Thank you!

  2. Perfect! Excellent and insightful points.

  3. Thank you Penny. It’s one of those posts where I had most of the content but could not polish it up until I came across a couple of instances of really poor social media behaviours, which helped me finish it up.

    Appreciate the comment.

  4. Thank you Shaun for the kind message. Hope you are well, and thanks for taking the time to create a profile and follow my blog.

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