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Critical Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

Social media can be a great benefit, or it can be a detriment if not handled properly. Here Inc. columnists keep you from embarrassing yourself or worse.
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Most people have been told that overselling on social media will get you ignored. 

But constant solicitation isn't the only Facebook faux pas or Twitter terror. There is no shortage of mistakes made, some through ignorance, and others through carelessness. The mistake that irks me the most exposes both.

Often I see social media pages and accounts that are neglected and ignored. Why keep a profile that shows how unpopular you are? If you haven't posted or tweeted in over 6 months, dump the account. Don't show people your poor follow through by leaving your dead blog on your website.  Your community should be properly cultivated. Quit exposing everyone to your dead electronic garden full of weeds.

Here are additional social media mistakes to avoid from my Inc. colleagues.

1. Ignoring Your Community

I was in one of my favorite stores the other day looking for a couple of items but I couldn't find them on the shelves.  The clerk kept ignoring my attempts to flag him down and ask a question.  So I did what any other customer would do--I walked out.

Many companies I work with do exactly the same when it comes to social media. They choose to ignore the importance of social media for reaching and communicating with their customers.  This choice can be dangerous for many reasons. It can mean that a customer is left in a void with no satisfactory answer, or that someone else answers their question (and often not in a positive light for the company). The most dangerous result is when a savvy competitor is paying attention and offers an answer that makes your customer their customer. Eric Holtzclaw--Lean Forward

Want to read more from Eric? Click here.


2. Being a Control Freak

The biggest mistake companies make is thinking they can control the social media conversation about themselves or their product. From firing an employee for complaining about her boss (resulting in legal action) to posting an 800 number over and over in response to Facebook users aghast at a food recall, arrogant executives just don't get it: What people say about them isn't theirs to dictate.

My favorite example: McDonald's tweeted more than 50 times using the hashtag #MightyWings to launch a new product. The next day there were many tweets and news stories about Mickey D's--all about a location that ejected two teenagers for bringing tablecloths, plates, and cutlery. Minda Zetlin--Start Me Up

Want to read more from Minda? Click here.


3.
#Getting #Hashtag #Happy on #Twitter and #Instagram

While hashtags are a handy tool, don't be tempted to overdo it. Even major brands make the mistake of getting hashtag happy.  When I noticed a big box store cluttering their Instagram images with up to twelve hashtags my enjoyable browsing experience began to feel more like an assault by a pushy telemarketer. A great image or 140 character update can speak volumes and should stand on its own. Hashtags are great for promotion, searchability, and conversation but limit your hashtag count to one or two per post and avoid the #messyhashtagapproach.  Marla Tabaka--The Successful Soloist

Want to read more from Marla? Click here.


4. Acting Like an Island

I constantly talk with entrepreneurs who want to be heard out in the world of social media, and they spend a lot of time and energy setting up Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and blogs. Just one problem: No one seems to notice, least of all the potential and current customers that they want to reach. Just having a blog doesn't mean people will visit it, and just sending out tweets doesn't mean that anyone will sign on as a follower, or "like" your Facebook page. My advice to entrepreneurs is to instead seek much larger, well-established platforms that will automatically get them in front of many more people than they will ever get on their own. So instead of blogging on their own website, work hard to get picked up by a site like Inc.com, or Huffington Post, or maybe a prominent industry association. There's nothing worse than throwing a party and no one showing up. Peter Economy--The Management Guy

Want to read more from Peter? Click here.

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Last updated: Feb 26, 2014

KEVIN DAUM | Columnist

An Inc. 500 entrepreneur with a more than $1 billion sales and marketing track record, Kevin Daum is the best-selling author of Video Marketing for Dummies and the executive producer of Amilya! on 77WABC New York. Sign up here and never miss out on Kevin's thoughts and humor.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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