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  Comments (10) Total Friday Apr. 18, 2014
Social Media Mistakes Businesses Should Avoid
Commentary: Business is Personal
As promised last week, we're going to discuss a few easy-to-make social media mistakes that small businesses should avoid.

Mistake # 1 - Where's the fire?

This one is the easiest to commit so of course it's one of the mistakes that can make your social media efforts far less effective – and perhaps a total waste of time.

You've heard the saying that it's hard to drink from a fire hose. In the social media world, it's also hard to read from one.

One of the easiest things to do - and most important to avoid - is the temptation to flood the place with automated messages.

For example, there are tools (like twitterfeed.com) that allow you to automatically post on Twitter (etc) when you add new content to your blog.

Using tools like this to send your blog posts to Twitter or Facebook is fine - unless that's the only thing you post.

If you're the Beacon, CNN or The New York Times, you can get away with this because you're a source of news, *but* your followers would still like to see more interaction by your reporters.

Some major media do just that by allowing you to send questions to them via Twitter during a live show. Interaction makes a show sticky. You can't talk with someone live if you record the show on DVR. Likewise, you can't skip the commercials.

Even if you do miss the live show, you can still see the discussion by following that personality on Twitter (etc). That's a smart use of technology – engaging those interested in what you do.

As a small business owner, your job is not to be a fire hose. Interaction is better.

The first word in "social media" is social, after all. It’s not social to stand on a street corner preaching to anyone who will listen, while not listening to or interacting with anyone who does.

Mistake # 2 – I don't kiss on the first date

One of the most common mistakes I see in Twitter is the "Hey, thanks for following, want to buy my product?" direct message (in Twitter lingo, a "DM").

Look at it this way. If we meet for the very first time at a Rotary meeting, the first thing you say face to face after we are introduced is NOT going to be "Hey Mark, great to meet you, want to buy my product? Do ya? Do ya? Well, do ya?"

Sending an automatic DM that tries to sell before you've established a relationship is the same thing. Don’t do it. You will lose them in an instant. Permanently.

Mistake #3 – I don't care about your politics, grandma

Don’t assume that everyone wants to listen to your politics much less the F bomb.

In fact, I guarantee they don't.

While the tone is laid back on these sites, don't assume it's like sitting in a bar talking with your friends. It's not.

Would you discuss the most emotional political issues across the counter with a customer? Would you have them out loud with a friend in your crowded business?

For most, the answer is probably "No".

If that's so, then social media sites are also not the place to have them.

If your politics shouldn't being jammed down the throat of patrons at the counter of your store, then they shouldn't represent your business online.

Still, you'll see it happen and you'll find that all they get done is arguing with their opponents (neither of you will ever change the other's mind). Doing this runs the risk of alienating everyone else who is sick to death of hearing it – no matter what "it" is.

There is one exception: When the discussion directly supports the nature of your business. If you sell guns, gun control / law discussions make sense. If you own a religious bookstore, then that also makes other topics fair game.

Despite this exception, keep it logical and factual. If these discussions become a fire and brimstone rant fest, you'll pay the price because few want to listen to the same old arguments again.

Finally, watch your online "mouth" like you would your real one in a business conversation. Your grandmother is listening.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark's site or contact him via email at mriffey at flatheadbeacon.com.
On 05-31-09, Steven K Williams commented....
Nice job with the comparative analysis on live interaction vs.electronic….the firehose, F-bombing in the bar with your buds, political debates in your crowded buisiness. The reaction for most when they encounter these situations is: (live) they stroll; (electronic) they scroll. Great insight!
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