Years ago, consumers would often stumble upon dormant websites of businesses. Now, they’re finding countless business Facebook pages and Twitter profiles that lay inactive or make little impact.
Dubbed “social media blight,” the off-putting online trend can be fixed, says communications coach Sherrie Madia, who is the director of communications at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
“When your business has a well-thought-out plan to integrate social media tools and strategies into your existing PR, marketing and communication initiatives, it can greatly multiply their reach and impact — and give your business new and dynamic ways to engage and energize customers,” Madia, author of “The Social Media Survival Guide,” told BusinessNewsDaily. “But when businesses don't use social media properly, those efforts can actually backfire — resulting in a degradation of your brand, stagnant or little customer engagement, wasted money and resources and loss of competitive advantage.”
Madia shared these five common mistakes and how to avoid or remedy them.
Mistake 1 – Diving in without a strategic plan: Don't start podcasting, blogging, tweeting, friending on Facebook and posting YouTube videos until you know what your messages are, who will manage them, who your audience is and how they and you are going to benefit from the content and relationships.
Mistake 2 – Not having a social media policy: Your social media policy needs to outline how employees behave in the online universe during and outside of work. It should include education on style preferences and confidentiality. All messaging coming from employees should be aligned with your company’s values and brand.
Mistake 3 – Failing to tailor the plan to your target audience: Hone in on sites, tools and applications your target audience is using. Is your audience out walking in the park most afternoons, without so much as a cell phone? Or are they technology lovers who are never parted with their BlackBerry or iPhone? Research your target market to find out who they are and how to reach them.
Mistake 4 – Producing weak, unfocused or unhelpful content: The same messaging rules that apply to classic public relations and branding apply to social media. Create strong, smart, well-thought-out content that adds value to your customers’ lives. Don't waste their time with self-serving promo. Give them something they can use — tips, incentives, product information, new ideas, fun and inspiration.
Mistake 5 – Allowing your social media efforts to stagnate: Gone are the days when companies could put up a website that sat on the screen like an electronic business card. Social media is about maintaining a dynamic conversation between you and your customers. Equip your content for the RSS-share-save-post-to revolution so it gets out there in multiple places. Answer blog, Flickr and podcast posts; respond to tweets; engage “friends.” Remember: Social media, done right, is not a one-off campaign by a handful of staff; it’s a long-term corporate commitment.
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