Since the beginning of my entrepreneurial pursuits, I’ve used social media to gain a following for both my personal brand and the startups I’ve developed. The investment of time in developing your social media presence can be all-consuming, even with great tools and automation. However, the return is well worth it in the form of followers, shares, engagement and leads that convert. With all that effort — and the accompanying results — the last thing you want to do is blow it by making visible mistakes.
Your startup needs those fans, influencers and brand advocates to continue growing. The second you misuse social media, it can turn against you. All it takes is one mistake to send those “Unfollow” buttons lighting up and your support plummeting. I’ve seen other founders make social media missteps. These social media mistakes are important to share so they’re not repeated by others.
Social media mistakes never go away
There’s a saying about choosing your words carefully: Once you say them or write them down, you can’t take them back. That could not hold more weight than when those words are placed on your social media accounts. You may think the “Delete” button takes care of that emotional post you furiously published in the middle of the night. However, it doesn’t. Screenshot technology can keep that unwanted post alive and spread your bad judgment across the Internet. (Numerous celebrities can attest to that.)
What you can do is stop and reflect on each post before hitting the “Publish” button. Ask yourself if it’s something that reflects the brand image and set of values you want to establish for your startup. Plan your social media posts in advance, and schedule them — this also allows you to take the time to ensure you’re sending the right message rather than venting.
It’s not a sales platform
While the underlying purpose for being on social media is to find customers, don’t use it as a sales platform. That’s because your target audience there doesn’t want to be sold to. If you try it, they’ll abandon your page immediately and never look back. You can opt to create specific social media ads on sites like Facebook, but don’t use your main page or profile to sell products or services.
Instead, engagement comes from sharing beneficial advice and information your audience wants. Also, use it as a platform to get their opinions and learn more about them. Remember that social media isn’t really about you at all. It’s meant as a place to develop and nurture relationships. If you understand that from the beginning and use it to help your audience, you’ll get the results you want in the form of customers, revenue and growth.
It’s not to be ignored
Followers want to know you actually care about them. If you get too busy or decide to expand by joining new social media platforms that have popped up, don’t ignore the followers you already have by not checking in with them regularly. This is one of the most common social media mistakes.
If you don’t post on all your social media accounts to keep the dialogue going, why should your followers keep caring about your brand? You’ve abandoned them. As harsh as that sounds — and even if it’s unintentional — that’s how it will come across to your audience.
Again, this is where it helps to use social media tools like Buffer and Hootsuite to ensure you regularly post on all platforms, with a range of content and information to show you’re present in the relationship. Cultivation takes effort and pays big dividends.
It’s not to be overused
However, I’ve also seen the opposite extreme, where startups post continually, inundating their followers with numerous posts every day. This social media mistake creates audience fatigue. That fatigue leads them to stop visiting your social media page as often so they don’t feel overwhelmed. They may even take you out of their news feed. Mixed within the overwhelming volume are really beneficial posts they could use. However, they won’t see them if you’re posting five to 10 times per day.
Spread out those posts over the week. This also means you won’t have to produce as much content and can focus more on the quality and value of each message and interaction. Typically, two posts each day are enough to hold your audience’s interest.
It’s full of bad grammar
Another social media mistake includes assuming you can be casual with grammar. While not everyone is an expert with grammar, it’s not OK to view social media as a casual place where specific communication rules no longer apply. It doesn’t provide the type of professional image you want to transmit to your audience.
They may wonder: If something as easy as capitalizing and forming a complete sentence is disregarded, who’s to say the company hasn’t adopted the same disregard for quality when it comes to customer service, products or services?
It’s not a substitute
Lastly, even if you’re on a lean budget, don’t make social media mistakes like thinking a Facebook page is your home. You need to have a website. Your audience expects a website. When prospects discover you don’t have a website, they may wonder about your ability to satisfy their needs. Also, a social media provider may change the rules of use. This may make it harder for your target audience to discover you.
With so many great website development tools out there, it’s often very low-cost to create a compelling website with useful content that enhances your brand image. With continually refreshed and relevant content, your target audience will find you through searches. Plus, you can add buttons to your website that make it easy for visitors to see your social media pages and become a follower.
Social media is a valuable tool, but too many entrepreneurs try to leverage the tool to accomplish things it was never meant to. By avoiding these mistakes, you can ensure that you — and your startup — view your social media efforts as help, not a hindrance.