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Why Social Media Marketing May Be Hurting, Rather Than Helping, Your Business

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Because nearly everyone nowadays seems to have at least one social media account, many businesses have embraced social media as a way to connect with more people—customers and prospects—and to drive promotions.

A poorly managed business social media campaign, however, can easily backfire if the right measures are not put in place by key people in your organization. Social media is in real time, and something can go wrong in only a millisecond.

So if you're using social media for marketing, what can go wrong? How might you be hurting your business rather than helping it thrive? Here are six likely shortcomings you should look out for and nip in the bud.

1. Not displaying your corporate branding

You would think that most marketing professionals understand the need to use corporate branding on social media. Yet, far too many businesses forget to do just that.

Before you start using social media for your marketing, be sure to brand it carefully across all social media channels. Use your corporate colors, logo, tagline, and vision statement as your guide. To make your social media pages stand out, come up with themes that relate well to your corporate image.

2. Not using the right social media platforms

Marketing a business via social media doesn't have one-size-fits-all solutions. Many businesses try to use Facebook or Twitter accounts alone, with very little else to back up their posts or to interact with others.

Instead, to succeed, you need to integrate the several social media formats into one cohesive social media marketing program. Choose the social media platforms that best fit your business, your objectives, and the tasks at hand.

3. Having the wrong person in charge

Letting an inexperienced person manage your social media marketing program is never a good idea. It's downright irresponsible. Consider that companies have been sued over slanderous or fraudulent posts on social media sites. Aside from the legal issues, however, if you want your social media efforts to bear fruit, the people tasked with those efforts must have at least some marketing experience. Which is why, for best results, you need a team of trained marketing professionals who understand online communications and marketing.

4. Lacking consistency

Have you ever seen a company set up a social media profile and launch programs that start out well but then abruptly end with no explanation?

A poorly run social media account can make any company look bad fast, because it conveys the impression that the company is neither organized nor committed—to either the medium or the company's fan base.

Take the time to develop an editorial calendar of topics you can post about on a regular basis on your social media platforms. Focus on upcoming promotions and news that your target market will be interested in.

Some social media sites or apps allow you to schedule posts and updates in advance, so take advantage of such features to build a library of upcoming posts and to more easily manage your social media effort in the longer term.

5. Including negative content about your competition

Would you go to a local business networking event and then bash your competition in front of your peers? For some reason, when people engage online, they very often forget common business courtesy and speak more freely about the negative aspects of others.

Bashing your competition is a big no-no that will make your business look very bad to your followers, and it could get you in legal hot water.

Use your social media sites for promoting your business offerings, connecting with your customers, networking with colleagues, and sharing relevant information. Never use social media for venting or for saying negative things about your competitors.

6. Not responding to comments from followers and fans

Social media is a two-way street, but too often companies forget that and instead use it merely as a broadcast medium.

One of the biggest mistakes that companies make is to ignore the comments and feedback left by fans and followers. Not responding to the conversation is like ignoring the phone ringing at the office or not getting back to people who've emailed you. So, why do businesses forget about social comments? It's baffling.

To maximize your efforts with business social media, consider opportunities to interact online to be a veritable goldmine for connecting with your prospects in real time.

Respond directly to comments and questions and follow up with a personal message if the user provides a phone number or email address in his or her account information.

Quick and direct responses will pleasantly surprise potential customers, and you will appear to be a business that cares.

* * *

Using social media for marketing takes time and practice. Treat social media with the respect it deserves, and use it well to earn the most return on your investment of time and effort.

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Matthew Ellis writes for Acquirent, which provides outsourced sales services. Acquirent is always looking for great salespeople for sales jobs in Chicago.

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  • by Matt Haskell Fri Sep 28, 2012 via web

    Understanding social media and the new avenues that customers interact on is a prerequisite to making sure that you are using it correctly. This article is spot-on. Technological change has put the power significantly in the hands of the consumer, and businesses need to understand the playing field. Great webinar next week with Forrester about customer intelligence here:

    Keep up the good stuff Matthew! Strong name, too

  • by Rishi Fri Sep 28, 2012 via web

    It's important that "not responding to comments" was mentioned. The problem many social media marketers face is not knowing how to deal with negative comments - for instance, a disgruntled customer complaining on their page. While some marketers choose to reply the comment, others choose to ignore or delete it. While it is important to reply to the comment, avoid solving the customer's problem directly on the page. Instead, reply to their comment with something like "Hi John, send me an email directly at or give me a call and we will fix the issue". By doing so, you are not only offering to fix the issue, but preventing it from becoming a long negative conversation on your Facebook page. Remember that Social Media marketers are not just marketers, they are also CSR's to some extent. Get access to all our marketing cheat sheets, tips, and tricks at

  • by Scott Scowcroft Fri Sep 28, 2012 via web

    Terrific post. Organizations taking your suggestions to heart will likely avoid rookie mistakes. Those who don't do so at their own peril. Social media takes time and the learning curve is high, but the rewards are worth it. I especially like your recommendation of putting the right person/team in charge.

  • by The Social Swede Fri Sep 28, 2012 via mobile

    I keep getting puzzled about this "not responding" thing. I thought it was called "social media" for a reason? Shouting in a megaphone without engaging in dialogue is hardly accepted social behaviour, is it?

  • by Alyona Mon Oct 1, 2012 via web

    I fully agree that ignoring of comments is a big mistake. And also it is really stupid to remove a negative comments without any explanation. Of course, we all know people named "trolls". I think we may to remove negative comments only in case of trolling.

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