Cardinal Sins of Social Media

So often when I'm training someone on social media for business, I'm asked not only for the right way to go about things, but also whether there are things that one can do wrong. And my answer is always a resounding YES! There are so many ways businesses get things wrong on social media. If I wrote them all down we would be here forever – and I want to make this quick – so here I'm just addressing the 'Top Three Cardinal Sins on Social Media for Small Businesses'.

If you're on social for fun – nothing really matters. With the obvious safety exceptions there are no rules. You can irritate people as much as you want! Simply put, if you annoy people too much, they can just unfollow and they won't see you in their timeline any more. Obviously, if you're running a business, that's the last thing you want. So these are the three things that regularly see me, head in hands, muttering “why would they do that?!” into my coffee.

Let's not pretend that I'm perfect, either. Everyone makes mistakes and I'm no exception. But if you don't learn from them you'll lose people along the way who could have been important to you and your business.

So – to the Cardinal Sins. And here I'm using the three most obvious social media platforms as an example:

1: Don't Be Boring (linking all your social media accounts)

Facebook and Instagram may be run by the same people, but they're very different platforms. Twitter even more so. If you link all your accounts so that the same photographs / information goes out on every platform at the same time, you're just boring people. Too much of the same old, same old. All you'll achieve is people beginning to hide, unfollow etc one or more of your accounts because they've already been there – done that. That's not to say you can't use the photographs on each platform, but take the time to plan them to go out at different times with different, relevant information. Even hashtags are different across the various social platforms. Bottom line: THINK. Take the time to get it right or don't do it at all.

2: Don't Be Self-Absorbed (making it all about you)

Yes, your social media feeds are meant to be all about you – of course they are. But one of the biggest mistakes that I see SO many businesses make is that they only interact with people who interact with them on their own page. Meaning if a business posts something and someone comments on it – they will respond. “But that's GOOD!” I hear you cry. Yes. It IS good – but only if you are also regularly giving some love to the people around you OUTSIDE of your own page. How difficult is it to like or comment on a photograph? How much time does it take to leave a laughing emoji on something that has made you chuckle? Small businesses need your interaction – and if you don't reciprocate they'll eventually get fed up with putting those likes and comments on your page too, and you'll lose their support. It might not seem like much – but it's one of the most important things out there if you're a small business. Don't make it all about you!

3: Give Credit Where It's Due

You would think this would be obvious by now, with all the blogs, posts and rants written about it – but people regularly still forget to credit others for their work. I've done it myself! But only once – I was completely mortified when I realised what I'd done (and fixed it straight away, by the way!) because I know how it makes me feel when people do it to me. If you rate someone's work enough to share it – be it music, photographs, artwork, poetry … ANYTHING … if you know where it came from, then when it's possible credit the originator. They deserve it.

There are plenty more 'dos and don'ts' in the world of social media. When I'm training people they regularly ask me questions like this so I thought I'd share my main three bugbears.

If you want to learn more – you know where to find me! I run one-to-one and small group sessions training small businesses in successful social media promotion. No jargon. No confusion. No 'one size fits all'. Just personally tailored, completely understandable training to help you make your social media feeds work for you.

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