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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

Social Media: 3 Social Media Mistakes in Business

Written By: Carol Roth | 7 Comments

Let’s face it; everybody and their mother (and their grandmother!) are on social media in one form or another. And it is so important for businesses be a part of it as well, so that they can leverage all that the social media platform has to offer, from its unparalleled customer reach and the immediacy of customer feedback to the meaningful customer relationships that can be fostered. And while there are many articles out there that tell you what you should do on social media, there are definitely some bad habits that can do your business more harm than good. So, here are a few common social media blunders that your business should avoid:

(1) Be Social on Social Media
Nothing says that you don’t care about your business quite like a neglected social media page. One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make is assuming that once they set up a Facebook page or Twitter account, the work is done and customers will magically find out about their business. Or even worse is when a business’s very first social media interaction (and every subsequent interaction) is a hard sell. The key word with social media is “social”. So, if you haven’t made a post since you started your page or the only things that you ever post are self-promotion, you are missing out on a valuable opportunity for your business. The whole point of social media is interaction, so if you are in any way inactive or selfish about it, your business will suffer.

(2) Consider Your Target Audience
Businesses often make the mistake of posting personal content that is inappropriate for their business’s customer base. Every business has a target customer that they are trying to reach. Make sure that you know what that audience is and that the content that you put out through social media is appropriate for that audience. This means that unless you are a restaurant critic or some type of food industry worker, you should avoid going over-board with posts about your breakfast fare. Remember that the goal of your social media page should be building and deepening your relationships with your customers so that they will continue to do business with you. Keep to a minimum posts that don’t move that mission forward.

(3) Make it Easy and Clear
I always see businesses make the mistake of overcomplicating their posts and offers. No matter what you are posting, make sure that it is concise, easy to understand and easy to follow. People are busier than ever and bombarded with all kinds of information, so make sure that your objective is clear. So, whether you are having a contest, a sale, an event of some kind or anything at all, make sure to include all pertinent information and make it easy for your customers to do what you want them to do. Don’t make your customers have to hunt down basic information related to your events or jump through a bunch of hoops to enter your contests. Believe me, they won’t! And don’t over-abbreviate your words or destroy grammar to the point that your posts become unintelligible. You don’t want this kind of unprofessionalism to cause your customers to flock to your competition.

These are just a few of the bad habits that I frequently see in business-related social media posts. What other social media mistakes do you see? Please share them below.

Thanks to Micah Choquette of Rocket N0. 9, Diane Conklin of Complete Marketing Systems, and Tony Marren of Operation Just One Can for the inspiration behind some of these ideas.

Article written by
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett (Shark Tank, The Voice, Survivor, The Apprentice) produced technology competition series, America's Greatest Makers, airing on TBS and Host of Microsoft's Office Small Business Academy show. Previously, Carol was the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country, and a contributor to CNBC, as well as a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN, Fox Business and other stations. Carol's multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics. Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011-2015) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth
  • lorisica

    Great post Carol; the best no nonsense strategies are offered here. And they combat the often heard “i think Twitter is a waste of time” . I can’t find a reason for the entrepreneur NOT to use social media. It is about using it correctly and avoiding the mistakes you talk about here. It is a small investment of time, the ability to communicate and the vision to see beyond the screen. Thanks for sharing.

  • Doug Cohen

    Ha – great post – just wrote one listing the “9 reasons your studio is failing at facebook” and it reads a lot like yours.  🙂  It’s targeted towards photography studios but many of the mistakes are universal.  I think another one is when brands have all their eggs in one basket.  You don’t need to be on every platform especially if your clients aren’t, but you cannot afford to be on just one.  A lot of people panicked when Facebook changed the algorithms because facebook was the only platform they were using and they abandoned their strategy as a result (started moving their content to their personal page – ugh – or overposting to make up for the diminished reach of their boring content which used to get a free ride).

  • ambrking

    Be social. Engage. That’s why they call it social media right, because you need to socialize. Engagement is one way to start building business relationship.

  • Obviously I will be in the minority here, which is fine with me.  Both small and large long lasting fortunes were built before social media because those people and companies understood the importance of face time.  Not on their phone, but actual face time without the use of technology. They understood customer service. They understood value and relationships instead of commodities.  
    I had the good fortune of reading Customers for Life by Carl Sewell in 1990 at the suggestion of my mentor and it was the groundwork for our success the past 30 years.
    We enjoy a comfortable pace of life in both business and personally because I am not worried about the latest tweet, post or like.  Instead, when I know our clients are happy I am out riding my bike, sailing and enjoying family and shooting photography.
    Now we have embraced technology in our business and run it on an iPad, share Gantt charts with our clients via the cloud and use photostream to market our company on our website.  We also can share live streaming video from a project site when a client is traveling and unable to see what we are doing.  We also provide clients with coffee table books of their completed project because we know they enjoy looking back at the process and we also understand these books will be shown to their equally successful friends.  We write hand written thank you notes when I get back to the office for signing a contract with us because 1) I used to see it as marketing and now 2) I have come to understand that I am indeed truly grateful for clients choosing to work with us.  
    I think social media is the new Emperors New Clothes for business and no one has the moxie to talk about the elephant in the room.  
    Deliver great products at a fair value for everyone and back that up with not good, not great but outstanding customer service and you will have a waiting list for your goods and services. But then again…..thank goodness we are in the minority because it makes it so easy to be successful 🙂

  • Here’s another Blunder Beware: A local “natural” pet store posted an article link on its Facebook page about a variety of recommended natural products (originally published in a pet magazine) to prevent fleas on dogs and cats. I read the article (they successfully engaged me), and one particular product caught my attention.  I called the store (they engaged me more) to see if they carried it…”NO”!  Big mistake. The employee told me they had “other” products that served the same purpose but the article convinced me I wanted “that one.”  I hung up and found the item online. (they sent me right out the door before I ever got there)

  • PS:  As my father-in-law taught me in 1988.  The easiest way to tell if someone understands their business is to ask them what their break even point is and at what average gross profit margin, with the bonus question being, what day of the year will you break even.  If they cannot answer at least the first two questions they are simply running their business by the seat of their pants.
    And our long time mentor provided me with the best analysis.  We all know 80% of your profit comes from 20% of your customers and the other 80% of your customers are sucking up your profit, so why not simply develop the 20%.  And if you can identify your client to the point of being a zebra your life becomes very easy.   If you were to take all of the land based animals and put them on an island you can always, always pick out the zebra.  But if you have only defined your client as detailed as say a wolf and you look down in the mass of animals (clients) you might mistake a dog, or a jackal, a fox or a hyena as your wolf (client).
    We can tell you our clients avg. per cap household income, age range and value of their primary home.  Yes, there is always the one off client, but 99.9% of our clients fit our Zebra profile and we can pick them out of a crowd and cut down on a lot of wasted energy and profit.

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