The Top 5 Mistakes of Social Media
by Pam Lontos and Maurice
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 (SMM), and when
combined with your traditional PR efforts, it 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 sites.
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 No. 1: Having more than one face on the
When you’re engaging in Social Media Marketing, 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.
Mistake No. 2: Collecting
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 No. 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 spreads
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 OK 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, as long as you
don’t do it too frequently.
Mistake No. 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. The moral of this story: Never
post anything on any site that you wouldn’t personally show your own
Mistake No. 5: Assuming
that it is better to have your message in only one place on the Internet
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 people want 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, Mr. 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 barbecue club he belonged to. That’s how powerful
funneling your message can be.
Get noticed with SMM
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 media, 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.
Pam Lontos is president of PR/PR Public Relations and author of “I See
Your Name Everywhere.” Maurice Ramirez, Ph.D. is the chief strategist
for social media at PR/PR. He is a renowned speaker on the importance of
Social Media Marketing. PR/PR has placed clients in publications such as
USA Today, Entrepreneur, Cosmopolitan and Time. PR/PR works with
established businesses, as well as entrepreneurs who are just launching
their company. For a free publicity consultation, e-mail
call 407-299-6128. To receive free publicity tips, go to
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