Top 5 Ways To Screw Up When Using Social Media To Build Your Business

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toilet-paperAlmost everyone is using social media in some capacity to promote themselves and their businesses because the various forums offer an immense opportunity to network. However, there are some things to avoid when using social media for business purposes.

1. Telling All

One undeniable facet of social media is that we all get to know each other a little bit more. We talk more, we share more and we have the ability to forge more personal relationships, even with business colleagues. This can do amazing things for any professional, provided there are limits on what is shared in a public setting. The key to using social media successfully is being genuine, sincere and real with your communication, but that doesn’t mean you should give it all away. There’s a definite line between a tweet that you’re spending time with family and a tweet that you just got out of the bathroom.

2. Being Overly Vocal

There are several schools of thought when it comes to social media and how much is too much, but there are some basic guidelines that can apply to any professional, regardless of how you use social media sites. Being consistently argumentative or combative is probably not going to gain the type of attention necessary to promote a business in a positive way. It’s good to have opinions, but not so good to publicly battle others, even competitors. My own personal rule of thumb is to save comments on hot-button issues (like politics and religion) for off-line conversations.

3. YouTube-ing Your Vacation

You would think this is an obvious one, but I think we sometimes get caught up in all of the fun things we can do with social media, and we forget that we may not really want to share some things with everyone. Record your vacation, but keep it off YouTube. Some things (like that video of you running down the beach in your new Speedo) are best kept private.

4. Commenting Without Restraint

Commenting on other people’s blog posts is a great way to participate, share your vast knowledge and get your name known. But posting rude, vulgar, confrontational and mean comments does nothing but make you look foolish, even if you think you’re right. The last thing you want is a potential client Googling you, finding your less-than-professional comments, and deciding not to work with you.

5. Reliving The Glory Days

Facebook is great for reconnecting with old friends, expanding your professional network and sharing a personal side of yourself. The biggest conflict is when you use Facebook for business and personal use without thinking about the impact it may have. It’s almost like having split personalities when you share a link to your latest post on your web design blog, and it’s followed by a wall-to-wall conversation with an old buddy about one really fun but very questionable night 15 years ago. It’s possible to merge business and personal in social media, but you need to keep in mind who is reading your updates and what impact your comments might have on your professional life.

While some of this is a bit tongue-in-cheek, all of these examples are similar to real-life situations I’ve seen in my social media travels. Adding networking through social media to your marketing and promotional activities is a smart move, just keep in mind the who, what and when of your activity to avoid something coming back to bite you.

What screw-ups would you add to this list?

Image credit: Steve Woods

Alyssa GregoryAlyssa Gregory
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Alyssa Gregory is a digital and content marketer, small business consultant, and the founder of the Small Business Bonfire — a social, educational and collaborative community for entrepreneurs.

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