Many businesses have jumped on the social media bandwagon, expecting obvious benefits, but not always seeing a jump in new customers or contacts. Some small businesses have taken to social media sites like Facebook®, Twitter®, YouTube®, and LinkedIn® to grab the attention of prospective clients, customers, new employees, sub-contractors, and other human resources assets.

Social media is, indeed, a great way to engage prospective buyers. It’s low- or no-cost (Tweet free on Twitter, post to your company’s own Facebook page at no cost), it can deliver market-specific content and incentives, you can change messaging quickly and often, and you just might develop a following.

Or, you may be wasting your time, and your time has a dollar value. Waste time, lose money. That hasn’t changed just because we’ve entered the Digital Age.

Big companies with a global presence, and sole proprietorships working out of the spare bedroom, are using social media to attract more business. However, it’s easy to make social media gaffes that can do more harm than good.

Here are some of the worst social media mistakes a business can make.

1. Customer Acquisition versus Customer Retention

A lot of business owners see sites like Facebook and LinkedIn as a marketing channel to target new customers. However, social media isn’t necessarily about finding new prospects. It’s about communicating with existing customers to retain them as part of a stable client base – one that expands daily.

If you don’t already collect email addresses and cell phone numbers, now is the time to start building that database. Each email address or smartphone number provides an opportunity to reach out proactively and touch your existing customers in helpful ways.

Target social media marketing at existing clients and customers to make them repeat buyers, taking advantage of special discounts pushed on social media and delivered to smart phone screens of people who already know and trust your business. After all, they gave you an email address or smart phone number because they’re fans and want to hear more from you.

In other words, social media delivers highly-qualified leads who want to engage your store, restaurant, hotel, or other commercial enterprise.

2. Ignoring Negative Feedback on Social Media

This can really hurt a business’s bottom line. A thumbs-down on Facebook can put your small restaurant out of business. Track mentions of your business on popular reviewing sites like Yelp, Angie’s List®, and Amazon®.

Handle negative feedback as soon as possible. Never debate an unsatisfied customer who’s taken the time to warn his social media contacts to avoid your business. Instead, post an apology and a solution to the unhappy consumer so others can see your company’s dedication to client care.

Offer a money-back return, a free upgrade, or a two-for-one dinner to turn an unhappy customer into someone who spreads the word that you take customer care seriously. Turn negative feedback into positive word of mouth.

3. Stop the Hype and Start Helping

If your Tweets or posts to Facebook are all sales-oriented, it’s pretty safe to say that some consumers will block you or send your emails directly to their spam folders. Stop selling and start helping. A video on YouTube® showing how to assemble your top-selling bookcase helps consumers and cuts down on client care costs.

Push money-saving coupons through the digital pipeline and reach potential consumers through computer, tablet or smart phone. Saving 20% off your usual price is helpful to consumers. If you hype clients, you’ll lose them. If you help them save time and money with easy online ordering, they’ll become repeat buyers – the basis of long-term business success.

4. Develop social media policies and a strategy.

Who tracks social media in the company? Who responds to negative feedback and fixes it? Do you have an FAQ page to answer common questions from customers? These policies and strategies will strengthen your company brand with consistent messaging that buyers recognize and like.

5. You Can’t Be All Things to All People.

In a short Facebook post you can’t be all things to all prospects. Create different messaging for different demographics. Seniors. Teens. New parents. Unemployed professionals. Each needs a different message from you – a helpful message – if you want it to be read.

6. Target the Most Popular Social Media Sites.

There are dozens of social media sites, some more popular than others. The latest stats show that Facebook accounts for 19% of Internet access using mobile phones, and YouTube accounts for 18% of online sharing and socializing.*

Those two sites, alone, account for 37% of Internet access using mobile phones. Doesn’t it just make sense to market your company where the most people will see it? You bet it does!

Smaller social media sites or topic-specific social media sites are useful to create authority and expertise, but don’t expect the phone to ring off the hook when you post to little-used social media sites. Go big to grow big.

7. Update Social Media Posts Frequently

If your regulars keep seeing the same content on your company Facebook page, eventually they’ll stop looking at it. If you can afford to hire a social media expert to help, check out his or her credentials before signing a big retainer. If hiring a social media expert isn’t in the budget, assign the task to the most knowledgeable member of your team, but be sure to monitor what’s posted and make sure the job is done right,

Keep it fresh, keep it focused, use the most popular social media sites, and provide helpful information and money-saving incentives while focusing on client retention.



The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.