Social media is a no longer a ‘nice to have’ in business, it should be viewed as an essential part of every business strategy. Social media allows businesses to engage with their customers, build an online presence, share valuable information and attract a wide and potentially lucrative audience, in a very cost effective way.

However, while social media can have amazing benefits for business, it can also have its pitfalls. The following article outlines three of the most common mistakes businesses make on social media, and how to avoid them.

social media channels

Ignoring negative comments

Nobody likes to read negative comments about their business, but ignoring negative comments is one of the quickest ways to ruin your entire Facebook profile or social media campaign. Even if the negative comments aren’t getting much response from other users, leaving those comments unanswered can really hurt your business. Just a handful of negative comments on your page can influence thousands of people, leading to lost sales and a hit to your reputation.

As tempting as it might be, it’s important you don’t delete any negative comments. Rather, respond to any negative comments your business receives and ask the commenter to email or call you to discuss the issue further. Don’t be tempted to write a negative or snarky reply in return, or use legal threats to silence commenters, as this may harm your reputation even more than the original comment. It’s also important to respond to messages promptly – within a few hours if you can – and don’t leave messages unanswered for days on end.

Make sure you respond to positive messages and compliments too! Social media provides a unique opportunity for you to really engage with your customers, so make sure you’re capitalising on the opportunity.

Being a ‘faceless’ corporation

While being professional and business-like certainly has its place, that place is not social media! People like connecting with real people, and if you’re too corporate then you might find that your customers don’t feel a connection with your business.

When posting on social media make sure you add a ‘human touch’ – let your customers get to know you and your brand. When responding to comments on social media, try and make sure that you don’t respond with a stock standard corporate message. Instead, reply with a message that addresses that individual and their specific concerns or question.

Incorporate your brand imagery and colours into your social media posts as well, so that your social media profiles become easy to recognise and your customers get to know your brand’s identity.

Over-promoting yourself

It’s important to remember that social media is not just about promoting your business, it’s primarily about connecting and being, well, social! To avoid being seen as an ‘over-promoter’, make sure that you’re engaging in conversations on social media, and try and offer helpful advice and information where appropriate. It’s a good idea to consider sharing one post from another social media profile for every two ‘branded’ posts that you share. This could be a funny meme, an informative post, or perhaps simply sharing a post from a business that you like. This is also a great way of building your social media connections, and can often result in a reciprocal share from the other account.

In your branded posts, don’t just share information about your products and services – instead, add in a few informative posts where you share your insight with your audience, without giving them the ‘hard sell’. These kinds of posts can help to position you as an expert in your particular field, and are a great way to grow your audience.

Social media can be a fantastic tool for business, but it is very important to be aware of some of the things that can trip businesses up. Being aware of the above three things to avoid will go a long way towards developing a successful social media strategy for your business.