The 5 Common Mistakes Social Media Users Make

With power comes responsibility and social media is one of the most powerful business tools of the modern Web 2.0 times. While it’s heartening to see social media gaining traction in the business community, there’s a strong need for educating business owners on how to get the best out of social networking while avoiding the most common pitfalls.

On one hand, there are millions of well-documented social media success stories that serve as an inspiration for business owners, while on the other hand, there are several businesses whose social media aspirations didn’t quite go as per plans and ended up as “How not to adopt social media” case studies for other business owners.

I’ve often emphasized that social media is no magic wand for success for businesses. It needs a well-planned strategy matched with effective execution and rigorous adherence to plan over a period of time.

If social media isn’t working for your business as per the plans, you need to do an objective analysis of what’s wrong. Are you one of the many businesses who make the following social media mistakes time and again?

1) Quantity = Quality

If your social media strategy resolves numbers, it is a perfect recipe for disaster. People often quote the number of Twitter followers or Facebook fans as the chief metric for determining how effective your social media plans are. I beg to differ. While numbers are important, it is the quality of those numbers which is more important. What’s the point in having 10,000 Twitter followers with a 1% churn ratio? Given a choice, I’d prefer to have 1,000 followers with a higher churn ratio.

Volume is an important aspect of the social media aspirations for a business but it isn’t the most important one, especially when are you testing the waters. I find it amusing when businesses try to create a profile on every imaginable social network believing that it would do a world of good to their business.

Under following is bad, over following is worse.

2) No Strategy

I’m surprised at the number of businesses which take the social media plunge without having a strategy or a plan in place. Since social media isn’t a costly proposition, a number of businesses believe that the earliest they use these free tools; the better it is for their business.

A social media strategy is important because it lets you measure your ROI. Further, an effective social media policy helps protect your business from online threats while letting you leverage the extended reach of social networks.

3) Ignoring your competition

If you want to be competitive in your business segment, never lose track of what your competitors are doing. I’m not advocating that business owners should copy their competitors but I’m all for a business proactively keeping an eye on their competitor moves to gain the early mover advantage.

When it comes to social media, it is especially handy to know how your business competitors are leveraging social networks to boost sales and revenues. Your social media plan can’t exist in a vacuum, it needs to have competitive intelligence and you need to identify an optimal mix of ideas for augmenting your business as well as countering the competitive threat of your rivals.

4) Mid-way abandonment

A number of businesses do not realize that social media is not a shortcut to success. It takes time to build your social media reputation and effort before you can reap the gains of social media. It’s easy to create a Facebook and Twitter account as it takes less than a minute.

However, it’s far from easy maintaining an impressive and informational profile in order to keep your fans and followers interested. Building an impressive social media profile is only half the battle won, the other equally important half is to consistently update it on a timely basis.

5) Too many tools

Too many tools make Jack a dull boy and social media is no exception to that rule. Using select social media tools to improve your business’ productivity is a great idea but excessive reliance on tools is asking for trouble. Don’t use social media tools just for the sake for using them. If they don’t add value to your business, they are not worth using.

Using a large number of tools may project you as a geeky business, but it doesn’t guarantee good business results. The choice is yours.

What are the common social media mistakes that you’ve come across? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below this post.

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50 comments

  1. BSitko

    Trying to do too much too soon. Best to keep it simple at first… build your audience and then build in your different layers.

    1. Douglas Idugboe

      That’s another common mistake – Doing too much too soon, which could easily lead to burnout. Great point BSitko.

  2. Gabriele Maidecchi

    You perfectly sum up the same mistakes I see in businesses around me and the ones I tried to avoid so hard when starting my company’s social media efforts.
    Especially, without a plan behind it, it’s like driving somewhere without a map.

    1. Douglas Idugboe

      …and you know what traveling without a map means – either you’ll get there really late or never get there at all 🙂

      Thanks for adding that Gabriele.

  3. Jvbakshi

    Great post! for corporates though the challenges are not knowing how much is too much- see my post-http://bit.ly/dbyJoX.

    1. Douglas Idugboe

      Balance is everything. Thanks Jay.

  4. Bill Simmel

    Great Info, you see these mistakes over and over again. I believe too many business, both small and large, feel as soon as they enter the social media arena they have traction. They fail to realize the time and effort equation required for all social media marketing.

    1. Douglas Idugboe

      You know what the say, “Patience is a virtue”. It’s only those companies and individuals that posses the virtue and understanding of patience and consistency that would reap the bounty fruit of Social Media.

      Thanks for the addition Bill.

  5. Juan Felix

    Hi Douglas, I recognize some of the mistakes. Unfortunately I must say. Or maybe, fortunately. Because, I see it as a learning curve. What helped me after almost a year is reading the book Start with Why by Simon Sinek. If the Why of your business is clear, the how and what follow. The last one guides you with choices about which social media to use. And another great lesson I got from the book The Power of Less by Leo Babauta. He shared his experience with Most Important Tasks (MIT). If you apply this to social media, you can decide which 1, 2 or 3 social media mean the most to your business. And focus on them for the long term. Suc6 to all.

    1. Douglas Idugboe

      Thanks Juan for that great addition Juan – “Your why”, as they say, “determines the how”.

  6. Franziska San Pedro

    Great list!
    And always stay true to yourself, the magic word is branding..
    Thank you 🙂

    1. Douglas Idugboe

      Thanks for the addition Franziska.

  7. Clifford Knook

    What we hear now, by listening to our customers and partners, is that most companies are already aware of these pitfalls, they’re aware of the fact that they need a proper stategy for their marketing, sales, pre- and postsales activities, PR etc. It’s on point 5, the tools, where they get stuck and are in need of partners to advise, develop and intergrate tools in for instance the customers call center or PR team. How do we get all information we want from the various media on the net and integrate this in to the daily used systems; agent tools, supervisor/reporting tools, CRM, etc. etc. and communicate back to the various media/sites using one tool? This is what’s keeping all the large communication vendors busy today; Alvatel-Lucent/Genesys, AVAYA, Cisco etc. etc.

    1. Douglas Idugboe

      Thanks for that great addition Clifford.

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  11. altafmerchant

    Interesting & informative, especially liked the Quality vs Quantity insight, Thanks 🙂

  12. kdawn4

    what do you mean by ‘churn’ ? I’m not up on all this yet

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