What is the #1 mistake you see business owners make on social media, and what can they do to fix it?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
A. Failing to Plan
Too many business owners jump into social media without a plan or the resources to maintain an active and productive conversation within their community of customers, prospects and employees. Social media is not a "set it and forget it" medium. It's better to not participate than to participate poorly or passively.
- John Berkowitz, Yodle
A. Getting Bogged Down in Vanity
Stop talking about yourself, and give the platform to your customers. The lubricant company WD-40 created a fan club, turning the lens (and mic) on their customers and allowing them to showcase the thousands of applications for their product. As an instructional database, it's excellent value added for their customers, and it comes at no production cost to the company.
- Benjamin Leis, Sweat EquiTees
A. Checking the Box
Too many business owners simply set up a social media profile to "check the box," and then ignore it from that point on. Having an inactive social media presence is actually worse than having none at all. If you want customers to take you seriously, interact on a regular basis and keep your channels hopping with activity.
- Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work
A. Employing Inconsistent Personal Branding
People research business owners online before they decide to do business with them. The mistake business owners make is not having a consistent brand across their social media channels. If business owners filled out their Linkedin profiles completely and developed a consistent bio for Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, they'd improve their personal and company brands.
- Brett Farmiloe, Markitors
A. Not Understanding Their Audience
Too many brands and business owners don't understand who they are talking to, even though social media gives them the best clues on how to respond to others. From profiles to what the person shares on social media, a business owner can determine the best language and words to use as a response to a customer. Don't be lazy and use a one-size-fits-all answer.
- Eric Holtzclaw, Laddering Works
A. Forgetting to Be Social
People use social media for one thing: being social! Too many brands autotweet sales and marketing material, and it isn't timely or social. Jump in the stream, talk to people, and provide content. Being social and interesting, while providing useful content based on your business, will get you results. I boosted my sales 49 percent in one year with effective social media.
- Kyle Clayton, Jackrabbit Janitorial
A. Committing Random Acts of Social Media
Random acts of social media happen when someone says, "We need to do social media!" and then puts in time and effort for a week before fizzling out. Take the time to plan a basic strategy that enables you to have a consistent social media presence for the long term.
- Leah Neaderthal, MarketShares
It's fine to post something funny, interesting or unrelated to your product or service every once in a while, but keep it to a minimum. Doing this will lower your credibility and probably cost you a few fans/followers.
- Adam DeGraide, Astonish
A. Forgetting to Be Human
A. Faking Getting Hacked
Don't be the social media manager who cries wolf and pretends to have your Twitter accounts hijacked, like @MTV did after @BurgerKing and @Jeep's accounts were hacked. Instead, build your audience by engaging your followers by asking for their opinions on subjects, and make sure to change your password every few weeks!
- Chris Barrett, PRserve
A. Selling Instead of Interacting
Too many business owners focus on selling their products or services via social media, rather than engaging their audiences. Focusing on building beneficial relationships will bring more sales than just sending out direct links and pitches.
- Heather Huhman, Come Recommended