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Social Media Mishaps: The Top 3 Mistakes Businesses Should Avoid

There's no doubt that social media can level the playing field for small and mid-sized businesses. The ability to reach your clients / customers often and with the messages of your choosing, and to have them respond with their feedback is an amazing tool for businesses. However, many of these same businesses are making brutal mistakes that can extremely hinder their ability to see any return from the time and / or money spent on their initiatives. Here are three common mistakes businesses are making when developing an online strategy.

1. Confusing Social Media with Engagement

You've decided to give social media marketing a try – so now what? An effective plan goes far beyond simply setting up a Facebook page or having employees on Twitter. Just being "out there" can be counter-productive. If your presence is sporadic or unfocused, anyone who might originally be interested in your business will move on before your next re-tweet. Be consistent and actively seek engagement from your communities.

2. Mistaking Social Media for Advertising

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are amazing tools for getting your message out to the masses. But, and it's a huge BUT, it is not meant to be a one-way street. For business, these mediums are an extension of your in-person interactions, whether they are B2B or B2C. You would not walk up to someone at a networking event and hammer them with your current sale – so do not do it online. Ask relevant questions and offer value by being a resource for your potential customers.

3. Labeling Social Media as Unimportant

Do not underestimate the value of your campaigns. When developed properly, social media should be an important component of your marketing, networking and customer service initiatives. Be sure to interact with audience in real time, which means being responsive to their needs quickly and accurately. Develop a company policy and make sure your employees understand it. Avoid delegating oversight to junior staff. It may seem to be a natural fit given that they already actively using this technology, however are they really the best person to effectively communicate the company message or address issues that may arise in the public arena?

If you're serious about using social media to further your business, take the time to research and implement a solid strategy for your business. Consider hiring a professional to guide you through the development, implementation and management of an effective plan. It's an exciting and worthwhile time for businesses to utilize social media for marketing, especially if you avoid these mistakes.