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9 big small business social media no-nos

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | Dec. 12, 2016
Social media marketers point out some of the biggest (and most costly) mistakes companies make when using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest – and offer advice on how to avoid making these social faux pas.

5.Only publishing sales and promotions.

“Many businesses post sales-related content a majority of the time, but this approach can actually work against them,” says RJ Licata, inbound marketing coordinator, Terakeet.

Indeed, “57.5 percent of people are turned off by promotional material on social,” says Rachael Samuels, social media specialist, Sprout Social. Yet “brands often bombard their followers with repetitive promotions, copy and the same stock imagery.”

To avoid turning off potential customers, “social profiles should focus on building relationships and trust,” says Licata. “Limit hard sales content to 10 to 30 percent of the time, depending on how often you post. The rest of the time should be used to inform, educate and build rapport with fans. If you do that, the sales will come.”

6. Treating your business page(s) as your personal page(s).

“Social media has long been touted as a place to communicate your point of view,” says Erin Green, senior manager of media services, ReachLocal. “However, for businesses, this is not the ideal medium to vent about your personal or political views,” unless you are a political consultant.

“Your business social media page should educate customers about your business [or industry], promote specials or offers and engage your online audience in a non-threatening way,” she says. “Taking a political stance on your social media pages just alienates those customers who may not agree with your views and invites arguments and conflict on your page.”

Similarly, do not post pictures of your kids, your pets or your personal life, unless they directly relate to your business (e.g., you sell kids clothes or pet products).

7. Buying followers (especially fake ones).

“Many business owners assume that having a lot of Facebook likes or Twitter followers will help improve their social media presence,” says Alexa Rees, digital marketing specialist, seoplus+. “Some will even go as far as to purchase followers. This is a mistake, as buying followers ultimately decreases the value of the business and hurts the authenticity of your social presence.

“One of the most important, and often overlooked, aspects of social media is post engagement,” she points out. “Even if the followers you paid for were real people (and many are fake accounts), if they have no true interest in your business they are not going to engage with your posts. Accounts that you pay for are not going to be buying what you're selling. So save your money! Focus on creating a consistent schedule of interesting posts in order to foster engagement with your audience and boost your followers organically.” 

8. Using too many and/or irrelevant hashtags.

“In many ways, using too many hashtags on social media has the same effect on people as using too many keywords has in SEO,” says Matt Gibbons, director of digital marketing, inSegment. “An overload of hashtags will make the post hard to read and spammy. So use your hashtags wisely to reap their benefits instead.”


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