Social networking (using the social web) is about connecting with people — asking questions, having conversations — basically the same things you would do if you were talking in-person. Yet many companies still treat social media like traditional media — as a way to distribute marketing and advertising messages. While social media does provide a cost-effective way to reach a targeted audience for marketing, the real opportunity is in making personal and human connections with that audience. Here are some of the most commonly repeated mistakes I see when it comes to social networking and using the social web:
Being Too Self-Promotional
Only using social networks to send out advertising and marketing messages. On the social web you need to send out content that your audience wants or else they’ll just ignore you (which is very easy).
Being Too Selfish
Only sending out links and content on your own sites. If you want people to respect you online, share content and links from others in your network. Give more than you receive. Follow the 80/20 or 90/10 rule — 80 or 90% of your content and tweets and shares should be either links and content from other sites or content that is helpful or informative to your audience.
Being Too Automated
Only sending out content automatically, auto-following and auto-DMing new followers. Take the time to look at each new follower and decide whether or not you want to follow them back. Quality is better than quantity. If you want to send a message to new followers, do it individually. Take the time to respond to people personally and thank them when they share your content.
Being Too Inconsistent
If you blog every day for a week one week and then come back a month later, people are going to forget to check your site. The same goes with Twitter and Facebook and other social networks. Taking a day off here or there is fine, just try to be consistent in how often you post.
Being Too Overwhelming
Sometimes too much information is overwhelming. Look for clues from your audience about how much content is right — or better yet, just ask them.
Being Too Personal
While most people err on the side of being too impersonal, some people share things online that they wouldn’t tell a person standing next to them. Think about what you share and whether you want that information to be public information forever.
Getting it Right
The right mix of content and engagement varies from company to company. Try social media out. Get some feedback. Take a look at what works and what doesn’t and make adjustments. Keep trying new things and learn about what works with your specific audience.
What do you think? How else do people commonly social network the wrong way?
(photo by Kaiban)