Businesses and entrepreneurs around the world are learning to utilize social media marketing to promote their brands and companies. In today’s world, this can be a highly advantageous strategy to reach new customers and increase brand image. Correctly used, social media strategies can enable a business to engage its intended market demographics and drive up sales and recognizability. However, social media missteps can drive away possible customers and kill sales. Here are five social media marketing mistakes to avoid, how to avoid them, and what to do instead.
1. Don’t Over-promote
While social media promotion is undoubtedly a good thing, you can have too much of it. Don’t allow yourself to indulge in over-promotion to the detriment of your product, your brand, and your reputation. When it comes to the myriad shades of opinion on the Internet, it’s easy to become bogged down in the trenches and miss the forest for the trees. If you want to use social media to your marketing advantage, the key is subtlety and style. Don’t use social media to beat your potential customers over the head with your standard pitch and bore them; instead, build a brand by using social media to shape the way consumers view you and your business. Don’t delete all negative comments and feedback, and don’t censor reviews of your company. Instead, address criticism and respond to it constructively. Engage your detractors, don’t let them bring you down.
2. Don’t Let Typos Haunt You
Sure, to err is human, to overlook is divine. Something like that. But the fact is that mistakes on your copy, even simple typos or inaccurate tidbits, can ruin your reputation and endanger your company’s success in social media. Like an elephant, the Internet never forgets—a simple bit of proofreading can protect your reputation from a sharp decline. Proofread several times with more than one employee to ensure that your copy is safe from mistakes. It’s better to spend the extra time now than to do damage control after the fact; always be meticulous about proofreading and fact checking.
3. Don’t Astroturf
Some companies have become notorious for the practice of astroturfing. To maintain a positive image of their brand, they use paid solicitors to “buy” positive comments, likes, and followers. While this may give you an artificially positive image, it will hurt you in the long run. Companies that engage in this type of nonsense waste money to create a facade instead of a strong base of loyal customers, and consumers see through these tricks as it is. If you really want to use social media to market your business, focus on the quality of your product instead of the quantity of social media traffic. If you don’t, you’ll just be more embarrassed when—as is inevitable—your company’s astroturfing practices become known throughout the social media universe.
4. Don’t be Inconsistent
When it comes to consistency, it’s important to prioritize properly. When you’re marketing a brand, you need to keep social media exposure consistent in frequency, quality, and tone. You need to have a consistent editorial voice, a consistent frequency of posts or videos, and a consistently high standard of quality for what you put out there. You also need to maintain constant ways of measuring your social media position. If you’re using Facebook, analyze the number of likes per day; if Twitter, count the number of followers. If possible, quantify the positive and negative responses to each of your social media projects. That way you have a clear, long-term picture of the degree to which what you’re doing is working or is not.
5. Don’t Spam
This is very important. Don’t spam. Just don’t do it. Sure, spamming videos, posts, or blogs may provide an illusory uptick in traffic or readership, but it will hurt you in the long run. In addition, resorting to this tried-and-false tactic will get you kicked off of social media websites you’re using if you’re not careful. Yes, Facebook and Twitter enjoy your business, but they enjoy the confidence of their users more. They will cut you loose if you relentlessly spam, so just refrain from it in the first place.
Sara Collins is a writer for NerdWallet, a site that helps readers learn about a variety of personal finance topics, from strategic investing to finding the best online discounts.