10 gaffes to avoid in social media marketing


Everyone is a “Social Media Expert” these days. Most you’ll meet have made lots of stupid mistakes. Importantly though, the wisest people will have learned from their gaffes and won’t crash and burn the same ways again.

If you’ve never made a social media mistake, you’re probably not doing it right. Here’s my quick list of 10 mistakes to avoid in your social media marketing efforts:

  1. Ready, fire, aim: getting started before you know why you need to is daft. First figure out where you need to get to and why, then try to get there. Not the other way round.
  2. It’s all about me, me, me: No-one cares about you unless, perhaps, you’re an A-list celebrity. You’re there for your audience and they’re there for themselves. Standard marketing principles apply.
  3. Abandon ship!: giving up before your network has had time to grow and become self-sufficient. Commit to your effort for the long term and stick with it through the slow-build early days.
  4. Spread yourself Marmite-style: spreading yourself too thinly across too many sites and tools is a sure-fire route to failure. Pick a few social networks with care and do a great job there. If it works , you can easily expand later, but become a big success somewhere before you take on the world.
  5. Every network is an island: Not facilitating the connections between different networks and people is to disarm the fundamental power of social networks. Help people by connecting them to others. Share and you will receive.
  6. I’m not really me: Authenticity is the killer feature in social networking. If you’re pretending to be someone you’re not, you’re only lying to yourself. Be true to who you are, be open and honest, and your network will stick around for longer.
  7. Sell, sell, sell: Enough with the hard sell. On the social web, people expect a little more subtlety. Try to sell me something and I’m out of there. Share something useful and I might stick around long enough to ask what you’ve got to sell. Now wouldn’t that be nice?
  8. All talk, no listen: If all you do is talk at people, pretty soon you’ll find you’re talking to an empty room. Echo chambers are lonely and cold, so first use your ears to listen, then your brain to understand, then your voice and fingers to talk back.
  9. Social media is free, how hard can it be?: No, it’s not free. Never has been, never will be. Even if you use only free tools, there’s your time and the opportunity cost from your not doing something else. Plan your resources carefully, and don’t under-estimate the huge time-drain that a well-executed social media programme can become. Unless you’re a genius, you’ll need both staff and money to do it well.
  10. Treat social media as the be-all-and-end-all: There is no silver bullet. Heck, there isn’t even a bullet. Social media should be integrated into your existing marketing programmes. It’s just another channel; a powerful, high impact one at that, but just another channel. Done in isolation your social networking will lack the potency the medium should bring. Integrate and it may thrive.
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