Social media is easy to pick up.
But tough to master.
There's a lot of nuance that separates the professionals from the newbies.
Here are 3 big social media mistakes that make you look like a rookie.
Image courtesy of birgerking
1. Not Having a Clear Goal
The single biggest mistake most rookies make is not knowing what their social media goals are.
Why are you blogging? What are you doing on Twitter?
How are these activities going to support your professional goals?
Don't worry about the ROI... you just need to define what success will look like.
Even most companies can't answer this question.
When you boil everything down, there are only three acceptable answers:
- Increase brand awareness by growing your reach
- Build customer loyalty by engaging more and providing support
- Increase sales by getting more people to purchase, more frequently
Now... how are your daily activities supporting these goals?
Don't waste your time and money if you can't answer this question to begin with.
2. Working From the Bottom Up, Not Top Down
Most people start using social media by tweeting to an empty room, rewriting popular news stories, and spending hours in Twitter chats.
Because everyday you read the same bad, generic advice like, "join the conversation" and "engage people".
That sounds great in theory... when you already have a huge base of people to interact with.
But when you're unknown and trying to build your social media presence, you don't have time to start at the bottom.
So forget about community management.
If you want to grow a huge audience, then focus on business development.
Because this is the new definition of social media.
You need to start reaching out to larger sites, partnering with other brands, and trying to interview important people.
Find other people with strong, existing communities and try to partner with them. Create a relationship over a few weeks, and then reach out to help them in some way.
See if you can land a guest post on other large sites in your industry.
Besides fans and followers, you'll start to get real traffic and build your brand.
It's far more effective in the long run to build your brand (and traffic) first, and the social media fans will follow.
3. Copying Your Competition
Most people keep a close eye on their competition.
What tactics are they using, how many Twitter followers do they have, and what's their Klout score?
None of these things matter.
In fact, you'd be better off ignoring your competition completely.
Because trying to benchmark other people's Fans and Followers is a fools game.
So don't bother watching them, because you'll just get caught in a social media arms race.
You'll start making bad decisions because you're trying to "keep up". And when you make bad short-term choices, your long-term success will suffer.
But that's not all.
When more people are using the same tactics, they lose more and more value. So copying your competition's latest great idea will never work as well for you.
The best results come from new tactics.
So the best tactical ideas and campaigns haven't happened in your industry yet.
You should use arbitrage marketing to figure out what new, untapped opportunities you can seize and gain an early lead. Look at what people are doing in other industries and see what works well for them.
For example, you know that Google+ is going to impact your SEO traffic. So when you're trying to decide how to use Google+ for your business, then look at what people in other industries are doing instead.
If you're going to the effort of building a successful social media presence, then make sure you prioritize the right things.
Because when you make one of these big mistakes, you're throwing away your time and money.
And most importantly, your success will be hindered.