by Neil Jones
The Internet has transformed the lives of people in every sphere be it business, social interaction or communication. But no other phenomenon can keep pace with the rapid development of social media and the window of opportunity it offers to businesses. Social media started out as a social network dominated by groups of musicians and artists, college students and teenagers, but its horizons and its reach have widened to engulf every sphere of activity and almost every kind of business also has joined social media networks as well. Social media is doubtlessly helpful for all types of business not just online e-commerce but physical, brick and mortar stores, retail chains and all other businesses. It is not an advertising platform, but it does provide an opportunity for effective and personalized communication. It helps only if certain do’s and don’ts are followed and results are not expected irrespective of the measures adopted. As in all other marketing instruments, social media will yield results if time and effort is spent wisely without making some critical mistakes that can hamper business progress. Ten mistakes that must be avoided at all costs are listed below.
- 1. Being irregular or inactive- Social media helps only if you are regular with your posts and updates. The most common mistake made by people is that they keep procrastinating, and suddenly wake up one day and post a message or a piece of information. Such sporadic feeds come to nothing and being irregular is as bad as not using social media. It is important to be regular and actively involved in sharing news, information, posting personalized messages so that readers can relate to you as a person and look forward to getting more information from you. Pictures make posts interesting, and videos shared make reading also enjoyable. The internet reader has a short attention span and will click away if his interest is not sustained, and there cannot be any question of brand or site loyalty nowadays. The winner is always the one who has more to give in terms of products and services, quality and information and who can hold the customers’ interest. Social media provides an opportunity to stand head and shoulders above the others and providing a level of customer service not received by customers before.
- 2. Spontaneous and unplanned strategies- Unplanned strategies and spontaneous moves for social media networking seldom bear fruit. Social media requires a well thought out and well planned strategy for marketing after clearly defining goals and then formulating ways of achieving them through social media. Goals must be defined at the outset and then build on them by reaching out to the target audience, getting to know them and being there with the right information. The profile you build has to hold appeal, and the customers expectations have to be met.
- 3. Posting unimpressive, non-informative content- Even though you are regular and active on your social media site and you even have a well formulated and planned strategy, success may prove elusive if your posts and content are uninteresting, dull and do not hold the readers’ attention. Good, informative content that adds value and holds the customers’ attention is what is required, without which the whole social media exercise may be futile. The internet surfer seeks knowledge and inputs that he does not already have, and your site and posts should provide him just what he needs. Submitting uninteresting, dull and repetitive content can prove to be a disaster. Grammatical errors, improper use of language are also unacceptable. New perspectives and angels not explored before, will impress your audience and have them returning for more.
- 4. Unsolicited mails are detested by everyone. Sending mails that have not been subscribed to, will put of clients and readers and it is highly likely that they will block further messages and mails by adding you to their spam folder. The idea is to tread cautiously and never force the customer to block your mails and messages with any wrong moves.
- 5. Blatant promotion and advertising- While the ultimate aim of using social media is to increase sales and promote your products and services, doing it blatantly and making every move and post seem like an advertising campaign, will put of readers and customers. This has to be done indirectly and subtly, without any kind of bragging about your products and quality. The content must provide pointers towards them and the reader must conclude himself that your products are exactly what they need.
- 6. Aiming at all customers without knowing the target audience- Social media, just like internet marketing, will yield results if it is tailored and customized for a targeted clientele that has a genuine interest in what your business offers. Eventually these are the customers you need to direct to your site, more than random surfers, whose clicks will not mean anything.
- 7. Cultivate relationships- This is the basic role of social media, to help people engage with other s and cultivate relationships. This becomes possible through personalized messages and posts, replying to queries, and expressing gratitude for comments and feedback. This method of connecting with people pays off, and will eventually benefit your business.
- 8. Not providing any personal profiles or pictures- This really defeats the very purpose of social media when people like to see the face of the person they are dealing with, and would like to relate the website they are seeing to an individual. Seeing a picture gives them a better idea, since many people like to deal with a known person rather than a shadow in the cloud.
- 9. Being impatient- Many individuals want quick fixes and quick results, and feel that social media should help their business grow overnight. When this does not happen, they are ready to leave this as a business promotion tool and give up on their posts and updates. Patience holds the key to success in any field, and though the starting may be slow, it will catch on exponentially.
10. Being casual and not cautious- Many people do not realize that social media is eventually a network and word spreads like fire. Anything said indiscreetly and less professionally can cause widespread damage. So at all times, people out in the network must be kept in mind so that everything written and posted is appropriate rather than damaging for any section of people. A mistake can prove to have disastrous effects.
Social media is not a fad, and it is here to stay. If these mistakes can be avoided, it will offer opportunities for every business to grow.