Are your social-media marketing habits attracting people to your brand or scaring them off? If you litter your Twitter feed, Facebook page and Pinterest boards with blatantly self-centered, hard sales posts -- or even insensitive, potentially offensive posts -- you could be guilty of sending your followers packing, right along with their spending cash.
Here's a short list of notorious social-media mistakes business owners should remember to avoid and why:
1. Only talking about your products and services.
By now, this one should be a no-brainer. Don't be that guy at the party who only talks about himself. Posting status updates, tweets and pins that narcissistically revolve around your brand only is tantamount to social-media suicide. You'll quickly come off as too corporate, self-serving and disconnected from your customers and their needs. An exodus of followers is sure to, well, follow.
Small-business expert Steven D. Strauss, author of The Small Business Bible (Wiley, 2012) suggests following the 80-20 rule to establish a meaningful connection with customers via social media. That is to say that 80 percent of the content you post should address your customers' problems and only 20 percent should be about your company and what you do.
2. Not playing (sharing) well with others.
Instead of tweeting repeated promotional messages about your products and services, make an effort to retweet, share and pin your followers' content often. Also exchange friendly, conversational tweets with your followers, particularly those who are significant influencers within your industry. Doing so can encourage a sense of community within your social networks, boost your brand exposure and help you earn your followers' trust.
Share like a champ on Facebook and Pinterest as well by sharing follower posts and pins that are relevant to topics your target market cares about. For example, if you sell children's toys, consider sharing follower and influencer posts and pins that are of value to parents of young children, like toymaker Melissa and Doug often does on its Facebook page. These often include family arts and crafts ideas, fun playdate themes and printable coloring pages.
3. Posting insensitive content about sensitive subjects.
One of the fastest ways to get people trash-talking your brand over social media is to post poorly-timed, offensive remarks about sensitive topics, especially those that are political in nature and inspire strong emotions.
Fashion designer Kenneth Cole has been guilty of this more than once. Most recently, the designer and self-described "frustrated activist" published a tweet that made light of the "boots on the ground" comment U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry used in reference to potentially deploying ground troops in Syria. The crass remark instantly ignited a firestorm of angry backlash reply tweets that continue to pile up.
"Boots on the ground" or not, let's not forget about sandals, pumps and loafers. #Footwear— Kenneth Cole (@KennethCole) September 5, 2013
Foot-in-mouth tweets like these can weaken your brand value and your company's reputation. Trying to make a buck off of others' suffering in times of crisis doesn't go over well. Just don't do it.