Social media can be hugely beneficial to your home business, but you can also make huge mistakes with it. Mistakes won’t always be serious, but some may spread farther and stick around far longer than you’d like. Offend the wrong person, and your offense may be spread to many other people, and you can’t count on a net benefit from getting your name out there. As much as you can, you should avoid making serious social media mistakes.
I don’t mean little mistakes such as not posting often enough. Most people won’t notice that much if you rarely post – you just won’t get the benefits of posting regularly. I mean mistakes that get the wrong kind of attention or waste your precious time. Knowing which social media mistakes are common can help you to make a better social media plan.
Mistake #1: Friending or Following EVERYONE
A big list of friends or followers looks nice on your social media accounts, especially if they return the favor. The problem is when you aren’t focused on following the right people. If you just find a list and start following, you’ll probably follow a lot of junk accounts. They might follow you back, but they won’t become customers and will probably just clutter your feed.
Be picky. Follow people who are relevant to your business or are just plain interesting. Your list of followers won’t increase as quickly, but they’ll be higher quality and more fun to deal with.
If you’re looking for people to follow, look at who follows your competition. They might be interested in what you have to offer as well.
Mistake #2: Failing to Admit Mistakes
We all make mistakes, but if you make a mistake on social media, apologize or correct it the same way. It might be as simple as an incorrect link, or something more serious such as sharing inaccurate information. Take just a moment to correct yourself so that you aren’t just leaving the mistake out there unfixed. Admitting you’re wrong can sting, but it also can help to build trust.
Deleting your mistakes is always a possibility, but people do notice and may not approve of how you handled things if you delete something with no explanation. This is especially true if you insulted or angered people. If the mistake was merely funny, most people won’t be too upset with you.
Be willing to learn from your mistakes. We all make them.
Mistake #3: Being Rude
It’s easy to be rude online, even unintentionally. If you read much online you’ve probably seen it. There’s no tone to the written word, so a poor word choice can deeply offend someone else.
Then there’s the all too common deliberate rudeness. I don’t just mean the sort trolls use. I mean the rude way some people disagree with each other online. Name calling really isn’t necessary in an argument. You’re better off using facts and relevant opinions about the subject at hand, not harsh and possibly unsubstantiated statements about the person you disagree with.
If someone sees a social media post you’ve made as rude, don’t argue with them. You’ll do far better if you apologize and explain what you meant, being more careful in your word choice. Some people won’t accept the apology or explanation, but others will.
Mistake #4: Fail to Build Relationships
Social media is about building relationships, not pure marketing. Let your human side show at least some of the time. Reply to people. Participate in conversations. Be real.
As someone who is both shy and an introvert, this has always been a challenge for me, even on social media. It’s not always easy to join in the conversations. Do the best you can. You may find that it works for you.
Mistake #5: Ignoring Customers
If you want to look like a responsive business, you have to respond. This is really helpful in social media, which many people favor as a way to contact a business or comment about them. Keep an eye out for posts about your business name, and especially for any directed at you. Respond when you can, the sooner the better. This is doubly important when someone has a problem with your business.
Mistake #6: Using Too Many Abbreviations
Abbreviations are sometimes necessary in social media, especially on sites such as Twitter where you have a limited number of characters per post (although they now allow more characters than they used to). Unnecessary abbreviations can be annoying, KWIM? They can also obscure your meaning for those readers who don’t understand a particular abbreviation.
Mistake #7: Poor Grammar and Spelling
Most of us use poor grammar and spelling some of the time. It’s all too easy to make mistakes, especially if you have autocorrect on. Read your posts before you send them out to make sure that you’re saying what you meant to say and that it can be easily understood.
That said, don’t stress when you make mistakes in spelling or grammar. We all do it. Some people delight in calling such mistakes out, but they rarely contribute significantly to the conversation otherwise.
Mistake #8: Sharing Other People’s Posts as Your Own
People say and share some really neat things on social media, and being the originator of something interesting can get you some good attention. That doesn’t make it right to take someone else’s idea and pretending you started it.
Many social media sites make it easy to share where you got a particular item from. There’s the retweet button for Twitter, or the RT abbreviation if you want to do it your own way. There’s the share button on Facebook that shows where you got a post from. Pinterest allows you to repin interesting items. All these give credit to the source.
Most will also allow you to add your own comments when you share someone else’s post. This way you can give credit while sharing your own thoughts.
Of course, you can share similar ideas that you’ve seen elsewhere, just make sure that the idea is better and uniquely served in your own words. You can build a great reputation online by sharing the work of other people if you do it honestly.
Mistake #9: Failing to be Relevant
This mistake happens most often either when you’re in a conversation or when there’s something big going on. Perhaps you’re participating in a social media event and you break in with something completely off topic. People aren’t going to appreciate that.
It’s also a risk of automating your social media posting. To a degree, this isn’t a terrible thing, but if it leads to inappropriate posts, you may have a problem. Think about what you’re posting if people are talking about major tragedies or other major events. If you share something online completely irrelevant to it, or worse, disrespectful to those involved, how will that make your business look? Pay attention to what’s going on before you post, and consider pausing automated posts if they might be inappropriate at a particular time.
Mistake #10: Overposting
You may only have so much time each day in which to do your social media marketing, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to share all your posts at once. You can use Hootsuite or other services to schedule your posts for later, and check on responses briefly as necessary. A flood of posts from your account doesn’t look as good as you might hope.
The right number of posts per day varies tremendously from platform to platform. Facebook Pages generally perform best if you post only a time or two per day on your page. Twitter and Pinterest can handle quite a few more posts every day.
Mistake #11: Being Overly Promotional
When you’re using social media to promote your business, of course, you have to be promotional. Just remember that the point of social media is to be social too. Not everything you post needs to be a way to earn money for yourself. Sometimes you should post just to be a person or a good resource.
Have a little fun. If getting personal is appropriate to your business style, get personal. A look behind the scenes of your business can be a great way to bring in an appropriate amount of personality to your social media. Discuss your work routine. Share a picture of your home office. You can even share a little about your family or pets if that suits your business personality.
Mistake #12: Getting Too Personal
The personal touch is a good thing for many businesses, especially when you’re the only person running it, but there should be limits. Keep your personal and business profiles separate. This allows you to share things with family and friends that you don’t need to be associated with your business. You can still share appropriate personal things on your business accounts, depending on the kind of personality you want to show.
This is especially helpful on sites like Facebook where you’re more limited in the number of friends you can have on your personal page. It’s better to have people interested in your business follow your business page.
It can be difficult balancing the personal side of your social media sometimes. Remember that you aren’t besties with your social media followers, at least not most of them. They do not want to read about all the details of your personal life. Occasional anecdotes are fine.
Mistake #13: Expecting Too Much
Social media most likely won’t be the making of your home business. It can help build traffic, it can help build your reputation, but it’s just one factor in your business, not a miracle.
It takes time to build a loyal social media following. It’s a lot of work, and then the platform changes the rules and your posts may not reach your followers as well as they used to. I’m looking at you, Facebook, but you aren’t the only one!
Keep working on your preferred social media platforms if you want to see results. Despite what some people say, we won’t all see amazing results in just a few months. You will need to test different things to figure out what works best for your home business.
Expecting too much also comes in the form of trying too hard to go viral on social media. Constantly trying to create the next big thing annoys your audience. Viral is not a constant thing.
Mistake #14: Failing to Make it Easy to Share Your Content
Make sure it’s easy to share the content you have on your website. People will tweet, like, pin and otherwise share interesting content without buttons to make it easier, but more people will do so if it’s easy. Social sites usually provide code to make this easy, and there are plugins for WordPress if you have a blog, such as Shareaholic. Most will keep count of how many times your content has been shared, a wonderful social proof for your website.
Make it easy on yourself too. Use social media tools such as HootSuite, IFTTT, and the WP to Twitter plugin to automate parts of your social media marketing efforts. You still need to get in there and interact with others, but these will help you handle the routine side of things.
Mistake #15: Using Too Many Social Media Websites
There are a lot of social media websites out there. You can’t participate on all of them, and you really shouldn’t try to. It will take too much time and too many resources to do so.
Instead, focus on the bigger ones and any specific to your niche. Have a social media strategy. See where you get the most return for your efforts. If one site isn’t working for you, another may work better. Be picky. You only have so much time you should be spending on your social media efforts. Use it wisely.
Don’t let your social media mistakes keep you from using social media to market your blog or business. Making mistakes is a part of the learning process. As you figure out what works for you on each platform, you will get better results that will make it worthwhile.