As every business jumps into social media, it's natural to have a few hiccups along the way. You're learning. That's understandable. Making mistakes is all part of the game, and everyone has made them, even the experts. But, we've all managed to learn from our mistakes, and get past them. . . so we can make bigger, better mistakes.
The great thing about being new to social media is that you can learn from everyone else's mistakes, and avoid them completely. So you can also make your own, better mistakes.
Here are four common social media mishaps that a lot of businesses and people make as they get started.
Putting all your eggs in one social networking basket
A common question I hear is "which network should I start with?" usually followed by "which network is the best for my company?"
There's no one right answer. Social media is not a linear process that has steps 1, 2, and 3. Think of it more like a wheel. You can jump onto the wheel anywhere, you just have to complete the circle.
You'll want to start a blog, join Twitter, and create an account on Facebook or LinkedIn (see point #2). There are other networks, but blogging, Twitter and LinkedIn/Facebook are the three you should start with.
Similarly, you don't want to focus strictly on one tool. You can start a blog, but if that's all you do, it will be hard to get people to read it if you don't tell them about it. That's where Twitter comes in. But you can't communicate solely on Twitter, because where will you send people who are interested in learning more about you? That's what LinkedIn does. But you can't just live on LinkedIn, because where are you going to dazzle everyone with your brilliance? That's what a blog is for.
And so on.
Putting a B2B company on Facebook or a B2C company on LinkedIn
If you run a B2C organization, like a cookie company, then Facebook is the place for you. If you sell industrial adhesives, then you need to be on LinkedIn.
People go to Facebook to chat with family and friends, not to buy industrial adhesives. People go to LinkedIn to connect with people who can help them do their jobs better, not share their love of your white chocolate macadamia nut brownies. They'll tell their friends about your cookies, they'll tell their colleagues about your adhesives.
Determine where your audience spends most of their time, and spend time there too. Set up a business page for your cookie company, and invite your friends to it. Join a professional group of people who use (not buy) industrial adhesives, and have discussions with them. Buyers of industrial adhesive usually work in purchasing; the users tell the buyers what they want, the buyers place the order.
Not starting a blog
In point #1, a blog was a part of your social media wheel. Now we're promoting it to the hub — it's the actual center of the wheel. All the other social networks are the spokes of this wheel.
When you post to your blog, you'll tell your network that you have a new post. While they're at your blog, they'll see you're on other networks and connect with you there.
So you publish a post called "Five Surprising Uses for Waterproof Industrial Adhesives." Your Twitter followers read it, and see you're on LinkedIn. They're already on LinkedIn, so they connect with you (and your LinkedIn connections will start following you on Twitter).
Later, when you share a video blog post on LinkedIn about one of the surprise uses for waterproof industrial adhesives ("gluing lasers to sharks"), they discover you have an entire YouTube channel devoted to industrial adhesives called "Will It Stick?". They watch your videos, and share it with their colleagues who also use industrial adhesives.
And those colleagues come to your blog for the first time. . .
Blasting out commercial messages like you're a TV station
Social media is not about selling, it's not about advertising. You're not telling them about special prices, special offers, or announcing over and over that you have the latest in waterproof adhesives. In fact, you're not talking about your product at all.
Your "Five Surprise Uses" blog post is about people who use adhesives in general, not just yours. The answers to your LinkedIn groups are always about adhesives in general, not just yours. The videos you create are about adhesives in general, not just yours.
By providing a lot of valuable information about industrial adhesives, you become the expert. People want to know what you know. They want to learn from you. You solve problems, you answer questions, you give advice, and you deliver value. But you never tell people to buy your adhesives. Because they trust you enough — thanks to all the great knowledge you're sharing — they want to buy your adhesives.
Social media is all about relationships and trust. If you provide value, if you cross-pollinate your networks, and if you connect with people on the right networks, they're going to trust you and be more willing to buy from you. Just avoid these four basic mishaps, and you'll find social media to be a successful channel for you to reach the right people for your product.