I have become increasingly fascinated by the social media phenomenon, and the various ways that individuals are business are capitalizing on becoming connected. Last week I tuned into to another webinar on social media, this one entitled “Social Media as a Profitable Business Tool” and hosted by David Rifkin, founder of SelfGrowth.com. Actually, this was more of an infomercial than a webinar, at least compared with other webinars I have attended recently, but there were some interesting points raised, including the top six mistakes most people make when adopting social media for profit. I wanted to share Rifkin’s insight here:
Mistake 1 – Social media is not a business model. This seems obvious but I have increasingly been getting the sense that many newbies launch themselves into Twitterland and the Facebook universe, gathering friends and expecting the world to beat a path to their door. The Twitter phenomenon is particularly interesting as I see more people following me and when you read their tweets, there is the consistent theme of “buy my stuff.” That’s not conversation or sharing insight. However, social media outlets are the ideal place to demonstrate your expertise and promote your brand by giving something of value. Helping others is the real key to social media success.
Mistake 2 – People don’t have a social media plan. This is a really common error. You need to have a roadmap to determine where you are going, and similarly you need to have a social media strategy that complements the rest of your marketing program. Are you targeting the right outlets to reach potential customers and partners? Are you using targeted content that is both valuable and connected to your brand identity? Does your strategy help you drive sales leads as well as increase awareness?
Mistake 3 – Using the wrong tool to do the job. Everyone cites Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube as the right social media tools. Are they really? It depends on your target audience. You need to be sure the tools meet the informational needs of your target audience. You need to hang out where your target contacts hang out, so explore vertical outlets and specialized online forums.
Mistake 4 – Overuse and abuse. You need to understand the rules of social media. There are specific rules of online etiquette and when to post and when not to post. You need to follow the rules of the road, as well as use commons sense. Post too many useless spam messages on Twitter for example and they will suspend your account. More importantly, no one will care. In watching my Facebook wall and Twitter feeds, I know there are certain individuals worth following because they have something interesting to say. The others are just contributing noise – I really don’t care what you are having for lunch.
Mistake 5 – Facebook and Twitter fatigue. This is really a function of trying to do too much using the wrong tools. If your interaction feels forced and unnatural, or if you feel you are posted too often or working too hard to finds something to say, you probably are.
Mistake 6 – Failing to measure success. This is a big mistake that almost everyone makes, and ties back to Mistake 2, having a plan. You need to have some metrics to determine success. Ideally, your metrics should go beyond the quantity of connections, but should translate into something tangible that yields fiscal results, such as number of new customers, number of new leads, better quality leads, and so forth.
Like everything else in life, you get out of social media what you put into it. Having a well-conceived game plan coupled with thoughtful execution can boost your sales and build your brand in ways never before possible.