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Surviving Social Media – Mistakes to Avoid

Posted by Murray Sye

on Fri, Dec 6, 2013 @ 09:06 AM

Everyone seems to be an authority these days. There's no shortage of experts out there just ready to tell you what to do and how to do it. However, while everyone is telling you what to do, knowing what not to do is equally as important.

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Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others, most of us are all still feeling our way. The goal is to not dwell on our past mistakes but rather learn from our miscalculations and move forward. In today's post, I'm going to provide some solutions to the most prevelant social media faux pas.

Top 5 Social Media mistakes to avoid

1) Don't start a Tweet with an @Username
Twitter can be confusing to the new user. Twitter handles tweets that start with @username differently than it does those that place the @username somewhere else. It's a subtle difference, but an important one. Get to know the difference between a reply and a mention.

What is a Reply?

Maybe you've done this; if you start a tweet with @WhiteSpace, it'll only be seen by you, WhiteSpace and your mutual followers. That is, Twitter assumes you're sending this message directly to that person and will place it in their feed (and mentions folder) accordingly. This is considered a reply. Use a reply when you want to reach out to someone to address something that may be relevant to them, but of no significance to the rest of your followers.

What is a mention?

If however, a person's @ handle is included in a tweet anywhere else but at the very start, Twitter interprets this differently, as a mention instead of a reply. This means that everyone who is following you will see the tweet and not just the person that was mentioned.

If you place anything ahead of the @ handle on a tweet it isn't a reply. This is why you see some users placing a 'period' before the @handle, (as per the sample below) often when they've been asked to respond a given question multiple times by different people, as this allows them to mass-broadcast a "reply" to everybody while also (seemingly) responding directly to the last person who made the enquiry.

Place a full stop ahead of the @handle

By placing a period (or anything) ahead of the @ symbol on a tweet and it isn't a reply. This is why you see some users placing a 'period' before the @handle (as per the Ikea sample tweet below) often when they've been asked to respond to a given question multiple times by different people, as this allows them to mass-broadcast a "reply" to everybody while also responding directly to the last person who made the enquiry.

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2) Don't go #hashtag #crazy

Let's face it, #hashtagging has turned into a cultural phenomenon. While hashtags can have their place, like anything, they can also be taken too far. Our advice is not to hashtag everything and keep your hashtagging to a minimum. Here's some simple hashtag rules:

  1. Use a maximum of two hashtags (see Dan's findings below) in your tweets or Facebook posts and that way your followers won't see you as spamming
  2. You only have 140 characters per tweet so you'll need to keep them short. You don't want hashtags taking up too much real estate.
  3. Make sure there are no space in the words preceding the hashtag or it will break the link.

According to HubSpot's DanZarella tweets that contain one or more hashtags were 55% more likely to be retweeted than tweets that did not. There is a 99.9% confidence interval that tweets with hashtags get more retweets than those without.

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3) Don't neglect engagement

Your most important relationships to manage are with your prospects, leads, and customers, and social media is a rich, nutritional resource for fostering these relationships. You can't just putz along without engaging in conversation with your customers and prospects to chat. The goal is to get your content in front of the right people in order to drive them from stranger, to customer, to a promoter of your brand. But when push comes to shove, people want to do business with other humans, not machines who automate content sends.

When your company conducts itself on social media as a real person who listens, reacts and responds like a human being, they're more likely to relate to your company and ultimately choose to do business with you.

4) Don't leave out your banner image on LinkedIn

Heading into 2014, many businesses have yet to recognize the marketing worth of this visual feature, leaving their pages looking dated and detached from their branding. The banner image provides businesses the chance to illustrate their unique message, and feature products or personal photos that reflect their company culture.

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5) Don't neglect the power of images on Facebook

Consumer behavior is undergoing a substantial shift, and it's going to affect how you engage with your fans, grow your audience and stay relevant. This shift involves a migration away from text towards a much more emotional and compelling medium – images. That said, it only makes sense that any time you post something to Facebook you are handed an opportunity to optimize your content with an image and increase the potential for commenting and sharing.

A final note
It's not easy. Social media is a full-time job. Marketers who try to take it on as one of the many tasks on their to-do list might be surprised that they're struggling to tread water. If you want to really generate and nurture leads through social media, do your brand a favor and find a smart, dedicated social media manager who knows how to use social media to form real relationships with your audience members.

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Flickr Photo Credit: by Dave King

Written by Murray Sye

Murray is the CEO and Creative Director with the award-winning
Toronto HubSpot agency partner, WhiteSpace. You can
connect with Murray on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
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