Monday, July 18, 2011

Ten Social Media Mistakes That Will Sabotage Your Results

It seems there are people involved in social media that don't understand how to use it, at least effectively.  When I say social media, of course, I am referring to sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. How hard can it be to chat with other people online?  More difficult than you might imagine.  Below you will see a list of the ten social media mistakes I see most often. 

1. It's all about me. This is probably the mistake I see most often from social media newbies. They think you have to sell every time they make a comment or update. What they don't realize is how annoying that comes across. 

Give me information that shows me you are an expert in what you do.  Convince me (in an indirect way) that I would want to do business with you.  Then you can tell me how you should be the person I want to do business with.  Don't sell at me all the time or I will shut you out.

2. No personality.  Ok, I know it isn't easy to write with a personality if you aren't a writer.  And putting smiley faces after all your sentences doesn't make it any better. :)  If you can bring your personality through in your writing then the reader is going to feel more connected to you.  Do the best you can.

3. No consistency.  Be consistent in your message and tone so the reader and follower know it is you. You want them to look forward to your contribution on social sites.  The other part of consistency is doing it often.  While not always an easy task, try to be involved in social media every day.

4. Not interacting with others.  Always remember this is social media and therefore, it should be a more social way of reaching out to others.  Do your best to network and relate to others in the site.  Try to respond to comments made by those you are connected with or that post on your blog.

5. Not being open to connecting.  My philosophy on connecting with business professionals on social sites is that I will connect with anyone within reason.  I say within reason because I have had a few shady characters try to connect with me.  Overall though, whether I know you personally or not, I will connect. 

On more than one occasion I have met someone in person at a meeting who I was connected to on LinkedIn or Facebook, but had never met in person.  It is always a fun and exciting moment. 

By connecting with people I haven't yet met, I allow them to get to know me through my postings, comments and updates. 

6. Auto following.  Most of us know that there are sites you can sign up for that will allow you to find and follow people automatically.  There are sites especially designed to do this with Twitter.  You can have thousands of followers if you want, just by using an automated following.  This is particularly bothersome and selfish.  I can't think of one good reason that isn't selfish for having thousands of followers.  And I don't mean a few thousand, I'm talking 5 figures and up.

7. Posting too frequently.  It is possible to post things so often it not only irritates readers, but also numbs them to what you are saying.  There are several people in groups on LinkedIn with me that post so often I automatically delete the emails coming in with their discussions.  There is a balance between often enough and too often.  Find it for you and your business.

8. Improper spelling and grammar.  You probably think this is a no brainer, but it is important to spell words correctly and say it properly.  Do you have to be perfect?  No.  You do need to meet minimum standards of grammar though.  Check your typing before you post.  First impressions are lasting, even in social media.

9. Using textspeak.  Dnt write like u txt.  U mite find not evryone cn rd it.  Plus, it just doesn't look professional.  Admittedly, Twitter is based on short messages of 140 characters or less.  If you are using it for business stick to real words.  Be more creative in how you say it in a short span. 

10.  No social media strategy.  Have a strategy with your social media. Are you going to supply people with information which helps you develop a strong presence? Whatever your goal for social media, stick to that strategy in every writing and in every site.

Are there others that I missed?  What do you see on social sites that you believe are mistakes?  Please respond in the comment section below.  I want to hear from you.

Cindy Neky

Cindy is a Certified Social Media Strategist, Marketing and PR Consultant, Small Business Specialist and Speaker with Marketing Pathways.  Located in Pittsburgh, PA, Marketing Pathways helps small businesses achieve sales success through strategic thinking and creative ideas.  

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Three 2011 Marketing Trends for Small Businesses

What are businesses really doing to succeed in today’s economy?  What does every business owner really want?  More leads? Of course.  More sales? Without question.  More money?  Absolutely.  But what do they REALLY want to KNOW

They want to know what everyone else is doing.  You know I’m right.  Just like we all want to know how our neighbor was able to afford that new big boat, we also want to know how other small business owners are succeeding.  What is the key to their success?  

Lots of elements go into a successful business, but let’s focus on what your neighbor businesses are doing with their marketing.  Using these ideas you can determine if you are on the right track with your own business.

The information compiled here is primarily from surveys of small business owners.  This would consist of businesses with fewer than 100 employees.

Trend one- Print advertising is decreasing every year.  Newspapers in print are losing ground in readership and advertising dollars.  National print Magazines, however, are on the upswing.  For the first time, more people have indicated they get their news online than in newspapers.  Twenty-three percent of consumers are also saying they would pay for online news.  Good news for the publishing industry.

How does this affect advertising?  If you have an older demographic as your target market, then print is still viable.  If your target market consists of individuals less than 50 years old, print probably isn’t an option for you. 

The top three news Web sites?  New York Times, People Magazine and USA Today.

The question I am asked more than any other is- how much should I spend on marketing my business?  It’s always a good question too.  The best answer is always as much as you can afford.  But what is everyone really spending? 

The Second Trend in small business marketing is the stabilization of the percentage of gross revenue for marketing.  For both 2009 and 2010, the percentage of sales small businesses put toward marketing is steady and it is…drum roll, please…- stated in % of revenue…it is 11%.  Now YOU know the answer.  When broken down by industry it is:

  • Service Industries spend 11%
  • Business Technology spends 8%
  • Industrial and Manufacturing spend 5%

Successful companies spend money on marketing.  Not necessarily the same marketing you do, because their business is different than yours…but they do spend money.  And in a questionable economy it should not be the first thing you cut.  This is a mistake many businesses are never able to bounce back from. 

Think about it this way, have you ever noticed a company that advertises constantly for a year or two and then one day you notice you haven’t heard or seen their commercials in a while?  What is your first thought?  They have gone out of business.  That is the first thing that occurs to most people.  For a business that really didn’t go bankrupt, it could be a real problem for sales.

What happens to your customers if they stop hearing about you?  They stop thinking about you.  They find other sources for the product or service you provide.  Any small business owner that thinks it wouldn’t happen to them will be surprised to know it happens more often than not.

Is it enough just to say, I can afford x$ for marketing?  No it isn’t.  You need to plan and budget.  If you track your sales based on what you are doing, you will have a much better idea how much to spend and where to spend it in the future.

Third Trend-  Where were your neighbor businesses spending their money?  It’s all about new media.  The top three places businesses are using to market their business are on Web sites 88%, email 84% and social media 66%. 

In today’s fast paced world, most businesses have a Web site.  Either because they think they should or out of necessity due to customer request.  It has become the one marketing tool used by businesses more than any other.

What are the other marketing tools small business owners are using in 2011?  These are the specifics.

Top 3 B2B (Business to Business) Marketing Tactics for 2011

  • ·          Email (still the best ROI)
  • ·          Social Media
  • ·          Events and Tradeshows

Top 3 B2C (Business to Consumer) Marketing Tactics for 2011

  • ·          Social Media (Considered the highest priority to businesses)
  • ·          Email
  • ·          Lead Generation Programs

As you can see, Social Media is hot, hot, hot and trending up in 2011.

Let’s look at email marketing since it is the #1 trend for all size businesses’ marketing.  Some of the trends you are seeing in email marketing are ways to beef up your email.  Taking advantage of what is out there. 

·          Video is the new thing.  75% of people in the world are visuals.  This is one of the reasons video is so powerful.  If you haven’t tried video, give it a shot.

·          Social Media- integrating social media sites, information about joining, and links, included in the email.  And adding share buttons in the email is important now too.

·          New subscribers via Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter, and other sites with the signup integrated into the page. There is an app for that!

The trends for social media are constantly changing because social media is changing so rapidly.  These are the current trends for social media:

·        I have been saying for quite a while now that in social media, content is king.  Creating content that interests people and brings them to your sites and causes them to buy from you is important.  Now Content Curation is the trend.  What is that?  It is supplying relevant content to your followers-that are on topic, but you haven’t necessarily written.  Links to good articles, blogs, and other helpful sources.  Be an informational source for your followers.

Marketing Pathways'
QR code
·          QR codes.  Know what those are?  They are the little black boxes with the squiggly lines in them.  If you capture the box on your phone (that has the right application-app) it will automatically take you to a website or other landing page with info about the product, 
company or service.

·          The last of these is Social Commerce.  This would include both Groupon and companies like Groupon and Facebook Commerce.  Yes, there are sites within Facebook that are selling their wares.  The NBA is one of the first.  Check out the NBA Facebook Page at  During basketball season the store has many different shirts and other paraphernalia to choose from that can be purchased in the Facebook store.  You don't navigate outside Facebook to make your purchase.  Facebook users love that.

Now you know the secret of your business competitor and your business neighbor’s success.  Clearly social media and email, plus the web, are the hot places to spend your time.  As always, make sure any marketing strategy or tactic is a fit for your target market. 

What do you think?  Any trends you see for 2011?  Comment below, please.

Cindy Neky
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Focus Research Study, Hubspot’s Marketing Data Box, Marketing Sherpa Special Report and 2010 GetResponse Email Marketing Trends Report used as basis for statistical numbers.