Social Media

There has been a lot of buzz about using social media to promote your small business, cause, or organization. Anyone with a Facebook page (and who doesn’t have one of those?) knows the satisfaction of clicking on the “like” button and seeing that little “thumbs up” icon. (I personally enjoy getting an email that someone has read and “liked” one of my blog posts! It makes my day, hint, hint.)

According to the book Social Media Boom! by Jeffery Gitomer, “social media is the new cold call” when it comes to sales and marketing. Social media includes, blogging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and websites like LinkedIn. These different platforms offer easy and inexpensive ways to get the word out about your business.

But small business owner, beware. There is a right way and wrong way to go about marketing yourself and your company through social media. 

An article by Pamela Springer for http://www.forbes.com titled “10 Social Media Mistakes Small Businesses Can Avoid” lists some things to avoid when trying to use social media as a marketing tool. This list provides a great overview of what not to do.

After watching a few TV shows on the pitfalls of social media, I have a few other mistakes to add to that list that I’ve witnessed first-hand. These aren’t going to be earth-shattering ideas, but they are often overlooked by busy people trying to get things done.

Mistake #1: Not proofreading your social media posts. I’ve personally read more blog posts, Facebook updates, and tweets that had grammatical errors, misspelled words, or just poor word choices. (You wouldn’t think a tweet could have grammar mistakes, but they can.) These mistakes reflect poorly on you and your organization. A quick read-through before posting could make all the difference.

Mistake #2: Posting inappropriate content. While in some cases posting personal convictions and stories can help humanize a company and help connect with the public, there are things that should stay private. I’ve actually seen politicians post some very controversial personal convictions on their Facebook page that made me think twice about voting for them, even though I agreed with their campaign platform. When posting anything, you have to consider how your audience is going to perceive the comment. When in doubt, don’t post. Once it’s out there, you can’t take it back.

Mistake #3: Trying to use a personal social media account as a business account. If you’re going to use social media to promote your business or organization, set up a separate business account, profile, or page from your personal account. Let’s say a colleague tries to connect with you on a business site such as LinkedIn. You approve the connection because it broadens your business circle. Then you notice that the updates to the colleague’s account include information about her recent episiotomy during childbirth from her personal Facebook page (which is totally fine for a personal page—what mom doesn’t like to share her birthing war story, after all), but she has obviously linked her personal page to her business contacts. Unless your company is about birthing aids, this might not be the first impression you want to make with a potential client.

Mistake #4: Not being consistent. I for one am guilty of this mistake. Once you start a blog, business Facebook page, or Twitter account, you have to make posts on a regular basis or you risk losing your audience. Like Pamela Springer says in her article, “If you can’t put in the time, it’s best not to start.” It gives an unprofessional and unreliable impression to potential customers.

When done correctly, social media can be a wonderful way to get free advertising. What small business isn’t looking for free advertising, right? Just use some common sense when posting, tweeting, and updating, and you should be OK.

Now, I’m going to proof this post before publishing to avoid any embarrassing grammatical mistakes that might reflect poorly on my writing/editing business….

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