The Top 5
Mistakes of Social Media Marketing
By Pam Lontos
and Maurice Ramirez, Ph.D
As a business owner, you already know the importance of
utilizing traditional PR – print, radio and TV exposure – to keep
your name circulating in the marketplace. Now, however, there’s a
new PR outlet you need to become familiar with. It’s called Social
Media Marketing, and when combined with your traditional PR efforts,
Social Media Marketing can help you penetrate the marketplace with
your message quicker and easier than ever before.
What is Social Media Marketing? It’s utilizing the various
social networking sites to enforce your brand and market your
business. A social networking site is simply an online meeting
place. Think of it like an eHarmony or Match.com for business
people. On such sites, people can post a profile with the hopes of
meeting other like-minded professionals for business reasons.
According to the Nielsen Research Group, social networks and
blogs have moved ahead of personal e-mail among the most popular
online activities people engage in. Additionally, USA Today
reports that the time spent on these sites is growing three times
faster than the overall Internet rate. More than two-thirds of the
world’s online population now visits social networking and blogging
Knowing this, it’s clear that if you haven’t yet engaged in
Social Media Marketing, the time to start is now. But before you do,
you need to be aware of the top mistakes businesses make with this
PR outlet so you can avoid them and get the biggest return for your
Mistake #1: Having
more than one face on the Internet:
When you’re engaging in Social Media Marketing (called SMM
from here on out) you’re really building your image from the ground
up. The goal of SMM is to virally spread parts of your image
across the Internet. The word “parts” is important. Basically,
you’re starting with a holographic image of yourself in the virtual
world. You then need to break that hologram apart and find the
appropriate places on the Internet where you can frame certain
pieces of that hologram.
When someone looks at all the pieces at the various sites,
they should be able to put them together to see a single whole. They
should not see multiple images of who you are, as that would ruin
your credibility. Therefore, if you have multiple Facebook accounts,
for example, your personal one has to be hidden and by invitation
only. You don’t want that other image out there confusing people and
possibly diminishing your reputation.
SMM is how you
create instant buzz on the Internet by getting the same message out
over and over. It’s spreading your message and getting yourself
branded so you can get more business. Social networking, on the
other hand, is about making friends. For example, you’ve likely seen
someone on LinkedIn who has 25,000+ contacts. That’s great, but what
do you do with all those contacts? Remember, just because you have a
phone book in your office doesn’t mean you can open the book at
random, pick a name, and call them for business.
When you collect a contact, you’re supposed to be opening the
door to exchange information and build a relationship. Think of it
as relationship marketing in the 21st century, and the
same rules apply. The only difference is that you’re building the
relationship online rather than over coffee.
Mistake #3: Putting
out the wrong messages:
You’ve likely seen people put posts on Twitter or Facebook that say
something like, “John Smith is watching a great movie and eating
popcorn.” Such messages may be fine for personal networks, but for
business networks you need to put out messages that are useful to
your readers. In other words, don’t talk about yourself. You want to
give valuable tips and advice so that the people who read your posts
want to repost them to their own sites. That’s how your message
The key is to keep your messages consistent. Remember that
people are subscribing to various feeds in order to get your
information. They are essentially saying that your message has
value. That’s why you can’t do a series of sales tips and then post
a couple of your favorite omelet recipes. You have to stay on
message, and your message has to be for your readers.
With that said, it is okay to occasionally have a
press release type message that says something like, “John Smith is
speaking at ABC Convention on employee productivity today.” Such a
message does two things: 1) It tells people they might not get a tip
today or tomorrow because you’re busy, and 2) It shows that other
big-wigs out there think your message is important. It’s a positive
reinforcement that boosts your credibility, so long as you don’t do
it too frequently.
Mistake #4: Posting
Don’t allow yourself or anyone on your site to post anything online that
you don’t want your most conservative client to see. You never know
where something will end up, especially since the nature of the
Internet is for things to spread virally. For example, a CEO of a
corporation had a picture of himself and his girlfriend on a topless
beach in Mexico. In the photo she’s riding on his shoulders with her
breasts exposed. For some reason, he decided to post the photo on
his personal invitation-only Facebook site.
The only problem is that he was married. His wife (or rather,
his now ex-wife) saw the photo. How? Someone on his invitation-only
Facebook account thought it was a great picture and decided to
repost it on the public Internet. To top it all off, his board of
directors got wind of the photo and fired him. Now he’s no longer
employable in that field or that position again. The moral of this
story: Never post anything on any site that you wouldn’t personally
show your own grandmother.
Assuming that it is better to have your message in only one place on
In the “old days”
of the Internet, people believed they had to keep all their content
on their own Web site. The theory was that spreading it out ruined
your credibility and diminished your reputation as being a unique
speaker. Not so today. In fact, with SMM, the opposite is true. The
more places you can get your message to appear simultaneously, the
more effective your message will be.
Think of it as constructing a funnel. You want to lay several
trails of information, all of which lead to your main site.
Therefore, no matter how someone stumbles upon you, as long as they
“follow the trail,” they’ll eventually find you. That’s essentially
what you’re doing with your Twitters and other SMM messages. You’re
putting out kernels of information. If someone wants the next
kernel, they have to follow the trail. Eventually it funnels them to
one Web site, which is where you wanted them to be anyway. You’re
creating an environment where people see your message everywhere. As
a result, you now have their attention and you have the opportunity
to sell your product, your services, or whatever you’re selling at
that point of distribution.
Here’s an example of the power of funneling: Recently Aaron
Chronester posted a message on Twitter. Someone saw his post and
reposted it on their blog. CNN and the New York Times found the post
interesting and reported on it. Because of that exposure, Chronester
got a book deal from Simon and Schuster. So, what was his post
about? Current events? Global warming? A tell-all celebrity
biography? Nope. It was a Twitter post with a unique bacon recipe,
as Chronester was trying to get publicity for a barbeque club he
belonged to. That’s how powerful funneling your message can be.
Get Noticed with
The marketplace is changing, and you have to change with it. Your
name has to be everywhere – in print, on radio, on TV, and on the
social networking sites. The more you can get your name and message
circulating in the various mediums, the higher your chances of
clients seeing your information and ultimately hiring you. Thanks to
SMM you can get your message out to thousands of people in an
instant. And the results are greater credibility, more exposure, and
higher sales – all of which positively impact your bottom line.
Read other articles and learn more about
Pam Lontos and
Maurice Ramirez, Ph.D.
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