Social media mistakes small business owners should avoid

junior
Creative Commons License photo credit: notmpres

Today we’re going to talk about three mistakes that I advise small business owners not to make when getting into social media.

#1 – Don’t be a firehose

One of the easiest things to do – and most important to avoid – is the temptation to flood the place with automated messages.

For example, there are tools out there (like twitterfeed.com) that allow you to automatically post links to your blog to Twitter. You can do the same with Friendfeed and Facebook.

Using tools like this to send your blog posts to Twitter or Facebook is fine – unless that’s the only thing you post.

If you’re the Flathead Beacon, CNN or The New York Times, you can get away with that – even though we’d still like to see more interaction.

As a small business owner, your job is not to be a firehose.

Interaction is better. Note the first word in “social media”. It’s social.

It’s not you standing on a corner preaching to anyone who will listen – while you listen to no one and interact with no one.

#2 – Don’t treat me like it’s our honeymoon when it’s really our first date

One of the most common mistakes I see in Twitter is the “Hey, thanks for following, want to buy my product?” direct message (in Twitter lingo, a DM).

Look at it this way. If we meet at a Rotary meeting for the very first time, the first thing you say face to face after we are introduced and are seated across from each other is NOT going to be “Hey, great to meet you, want to buy my product?”

It’s the same thing. Don’t do it.

#3 – Don’t assume that everyone wants to listen to your politics or the F bomb all day

They don’t. Just because the environment is a bit casual on many of these sites, don’t assume for a minute that you are sitting in a bar in a strange town where no one will ever see you again.

Would you have those conversations across the counter with a customer? Would you have them out loud with a friend in your crowded business?

Didn’t think so. Twitter, Facebook and MySpace are also not the place to have them either.

Always remember that you’re taking the time to use these tools in order to better connect with the people who are interested in what your business does, or what you know.

EXCEPT…when it supports the nature of your business. Yes, Ian’s Catholic goods store comes to mind as the easy example.

That may seem a bit cheesy, but the fact remains that if your politics have no business out loud at the counter of your store, then they don’t have any business representing you on Twitter and Facebook (etc).

Finally, watch your online mouth just like you would your real one. It’s still a business conversation.

5 thoughts on “Social media mistakes small business owners should avoid”

  1. Hey Mark,
    Great straightforward post. I agree that we need to remember that we should only say online, what we would comfortably say while standing in our business, with our children or mother listening.

    I love the analogy of Social Marketing being like the backyard barbeque, you don;t run around and hand our business cards. You take the time to get to know people, to add some value even if it’s because you tell funny stories and then they will be receptive to more of a business based conversation and may even initiate it,

    Doug

    Doug McIsaacs last blog post..Google Friend Connect is Changing Social Media Marketing

  2. The second point is definitely extremely valuable to small businesses on SM. As an avid user of Twitter I tend to delete any and all pitches via an auto dm. Liked your use of the Rotary meeting as an example, perfect framing.

    Stuart Fosters last blog post..Interview Critiques and Advice

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Stuart. Looks like there’s a number of great resources over on your blog (The Lost Jacket). Come back soon:)

  3. Pingback: Twitted by RebeccaHappy

Comments are closed.