4 Ways You Are Sabotaging Your Business on Social Media

07/11/2017 07:05 pm ET

Starting a Twitter account and sending ten tweets a day is not enough.

Requesting connections from everyone you’ve ever worked with on LinkedIn is not enough.

Posting every morning latte on Instagram–not matter how cute the barista’s foam art– is not enough.

I mean, sure, those things can work for you. But not if you’re not doing them right.

Most companies, from one-person shops to global corporations, recognize they need to get busy on social media. And in that same vein, many companies, from one-person shops to global corporations, do things on social media that make me smack my hand against my forehead and cry out, “Whhhhhyyyyy can’t you get out of your own way?!”

Are you guilty of any of these four behaviors on social media? If you are, I’m guessing you are not seeing the results you’d like. You’re not attracting new fans, no one is sharing your content – and you’re not generating clicks, sales or new donors­–depending on what you desire.

Saboteur #1: BUY! BUY! BUY!

If all you’re doing is using your social media account to push your products, you may as well stop wasting your time. Social media marketing is about engaging your potential customers. You want to woo them over time and deliver exceptional value so when they are ready to buy, they will turn to you. This means posting content they care about, not content you care about, and inviting interaction. Remember, social media is not a billboard, it’s a conversation (more on this below.) They don’t want to be sold to….yet. You are in the courtship phase, so try to keep your content relevant, interesting, and valuable at least 85% of the time. Can you offer advice related to your offerings, feature success stories, share interesting articles? This is why blogging or podcasts are so great, as it gives you valuable content to share that is not solely about sales. Once you prove that you offer value, then you can push “product” the other 15% of the time. But do it gracefully, tactfully. If you offer enough value the majority of the time, your audience will not mind the occasional plug for your products or services because they will already be raving fans. Don’t be that brand that constantly screams at your audience to buy. What’s intriguing or worth sharing about that if I don’t trust you well enough to want to advocate for you? This article offers some great brands you should follow for inspiration on how they promote interesting content without going for the “sell” every single time. But one I love is Moorea Seal who shares great finds, unique style and vulnerable, heartfelt moments on her Instagram feed. All without overselling.

Saboteur #2: I, Robot

Social media is S-O-C-I-A-L. Would you go to a neighborhood barbecue or cocktail party and use unnatural jargon, talk about yourself in the third person or act stiff and formal? Of course not. You shouldn’t do that in social media, either. You need to speak like a real human would to other humans. This is how you create a connection and engage your audience. Be clever. Use slang. Reference pop culture. Curse a little, if that is who your brand is. If you can, have those posting on social media be transparent, speak in the first person, and share personal experiences. Speak the language of your audience. People relate to people, not a soulless brand robot. Customers will want to interact with, share and stay loyal to a personality, not a pitch. Check out the cheeky fun Innocent uses on their Facebook page. It’s like reading our best friend’s feed.

Saboteur #3: Automating Customer Service

I know, I know. Many larger companies have to scale and cut costs somehow. But it’s painful when you get a Tweet response to a complaint and it’s blatantly obvious the reply is from a “bot” and not a real person. Especially if the response has nothing to do with the actual issue. Virgin America and Jet Blue do a phenomenal job of reacting quickly and personally to any issue you raise on Twitter. Follow their accounts to get a taste for how your social media customer service should be working. And yes, as with all useful tactics, it requires time and investment.

Saboteur #4: One-Way is the Only Way

Once again, social media is social. You can automate a lot of your posting but you are still responsible for jumping in and interacting with your fans and followers. You don’t have to do it everyday, but someone has to do it. There is a publishing house I follow that automates all their Tweets and every single one promotes one of their books. That’s it. No other valuable content is being pushed out (see #1), no engagement or interaction, no questions to which folks can answer and engage. Not even any shared articles or interesting advice. It’s so obvious this is just a “set and forget” strategy and this is why they are not seeing any return on their effort investment. You can’t just push out your agenda like a billboard and expect to be shared, clicked or enjoyed. Get in there! Share interesting posts. Thank folks for mentions (but you don’t need to do this every single time, as it makes for a boring stream). Comment on timely happenings. Give shout-outs to customers, connect folks you know to each other, promote what other colleagues have going on, pose questions, start a Twitter chat. Marie Forleo and her team do a phenomenal job of interacting with their fans and followers on their their Facebook page. There are lots of ways to interact with your followers. But you have to jump in there and do it every now and then.

Aside: For some epic social media fails from companies that seem like they should know better, check out this recent HuffPo article. Maybe you won’t feel so bad about your efforts after you read this!

Bottom line: If you are doing social media “wrong” you may as well stop wasting your time and focus your energy elsewhere. There are plenty of other ways to build a business, but if you want to see true ROI, avoid these land mines.

Got some tips of your own to share? Tweet me!

This post was adapted from one that originally appeared on Red-Slice.com

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