As we all venture forth into the ever evolving social media frontier we each make our share of mistakes. It's an always-changing, always-moving target that's tough to get a grasp on before something changes the next day.
That said, there are a few common mistakes that people tend to make over and over in the world of social media, so I thought I'd address the most frequent ones I see so you don't have to make them yourself. Why not learn from others' mistakes?
So here goes, the biggest social media mistakes:
1) Using Twitter.com - I start here because this was one of my big early mistakes when I was first introduced to Twitter some 2 1/2 years ago. I signed up, got on Twitter.com and felt like I was supposed to read every tweet from every person I was following - even go back and read the ones I had missed. Ha! Twitter makes ZERO sense until you use a tool like HootSuite, TweetDeck or Twhirl to manage the onslaught of messages coming through. It helps you sort, make sense and automate some of the most common functions. Yes, Twitter.com has improved dramatically over the years, but it's still no TweetDeck ... in my opinion.
2) Talk, talk, talk - Social media is called "social" for a reason. It's a back and forth conversation. So make sure you listen WAY more than you talk. And when you're talking, be sure it's relevant. For every 1 tweet/Facebook post you write about yourself, try to be sure there are about 5 others that are responding to people, commenting, liking and sharing others' posts. Trust me, you'll gain credibility fast this way. Just like in life, no one wants to follow someone who drones on about themselves and their every movement all day long.
3) Sell, sell, sell - Think about what you would be interested in following/reading on social media before you post a single thing. Don't be overly salesy and push your product/service constantly. No one wants to be sold to. Instead, focus on being: helpful, interesting or entertaining. Then you can work some information about your product/service into the mix... a little...
4) Failing to set goals - If you embark on your social media campaign willy nilly, chances are it will end up willy nilly. Think through who you want to target and what you'd like to accomplish. But be realistic. You can sell things on social media, but that's not going to be your primary result. It's more likely to result in increased awareness and improved web traffic.
5) Not tracking - And you certainly can't know if you accomplished your goals if you don't have some baseline measurements and tracking set up. Take note of any key social media stats before you up the ante and be sure you have a website analytics tool like Google Analytics to tell you stuff like: how many people came to your site from Twitter, did they stay longer or shorter than average, how popular was your blog among other content on the site, on what pages did people enter your site most frequently, etc.
6) Use Twitter lingo incorrectly - Don't try to use Twitter terminology until you've watched other people use it for a while. Please don't throw around hashtag and #FF until you have a handle on what they mean. Watch people on Twitter for a while, then start to weigh in or ask me first! :)
OK, so there you have it. Avoid these classic mistakes and you'll be much further ahead than most on social media. What mistakes do you see others commonly make?
About Lyn Mettler
Lyn is the mother of two young boys, a social media nerd and the founder of Step Ahead Inc., a company which which combines the best of traditional public relations with social media campaigns and Internet marketing to maximize visibility for clients both online and off. She is the social media featured blogger for SocialMoms.com, has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and Entrepreneur magazine, and also blogs regularly on her company website. Follow her on Twitter at @webprgirl.