Top 10 mistakes to avoid in your social media strategy

As the dust settles after the heady buzz of the past five years of social media madness, we're now able to reflect upon the mistakes we marketers have made in our digital strategies. Fred Roed, CEO of World Wide Creative, lists the 10 Greatest Hits of Social Media Marketing Mistakes.
1. Generalisation
Number one on the list, and possibly the most pervasive mistake of all. Too many companies out there have pointless blogs, boring Twitter streams or aimless Facebook pages. Try this rather: Have a point, and focus on one thing. For example, presentation and events gurus Missing Link, use their Twitter stream to educate followers on how to make better presentations.

2. Corporate speak
Another pervasive mistake. Now you know, so don't YOU do the same. The idea behind social media is that it's social (*duh!). Corporate lingo - where your're trying to sound smarter than you are - doesn't work. Break down the barriers and talk in the same language as your customers. Unless, of course, your clients are grey-suited corporates. Then, maybe, it's ok.

3. Dishonesty
If you lie, you will get bust. ‘Nuff said.

4. Non-disclosure
Almost as bad as lying, non-disclosure is where, within your social media outlets, you pretend you're not aware of problems that are occurring in your products or your organisation. This also applies to punting products or offerings without letting your readers know that they're actually your products.

5. Cliches
Okay, we're all guilty here. Words like twittersphere, synergy, energize, paradigm and low-hanging fruit… there are some words and phrases that are just so done.

6. Too personal
We DON'T want to know about your account manager and her son's toilet training habits. Or if your community manager thinks that rash on his thigh is hindering his productivity. Not cool... and certainly not going to raise your online profile.

7. Not personal enough
This relates to point number 2, corporate speak. Blogs, Twitterstreams, social networks and Facebook pages work because they rely on interaction between people. It's a personal thing. You need be engaging, compelling and relevant. Just don't spill all the beans (point no. 6).

8. Lack of research
This is another trap we all fall into. It's so easy to convey opinion as fact. Stats derived from conversation at the networking breakfast you went to last week do not count. You need to Google it, and cross-reference it. This is maybe a bit hypocritical of me, since I often use opinion as fact, but that's the way I write. But I do try avoid writing opinions, and then cover them up as facts.

9. Lack of authenticity
This means: if you're not passionate and knowledgeable about the topic that you're writing about, DON'T write about it. We see this all the time. Companies put their ‘corporate social media' strategy in place, then task a junior in the marketing team to populate their various channels with content. This is more damaging than helpful.

10. Don't be afraid of making mistakes
Okay, so we've listed 9 mistakes to avoid - the last point on this list is to NOT make mistakes. This is the beauty and the paradox of social media. Don't let this list dishearten you - the point of social media is to get your message out there, and engage in conversation with your community. You can't do this without trying something. A Facebook page, Twitter profile, wiki - anything! Do it. Go ahead and get your hands dirty!

This article was written by Fred Roed, CEO of World Wide Creative, a digital marketing agency based in Cape Town, Johannesburg and London. The article first appeared on World Wide Creative's online education portal, The Heavy Chef Project.

Some additional articles that might interest you on The Heavy Chef:

30 Oct 2009 16:43


Chris Glennon
11. Leverage Social Networks For Marketing Purposes-
Aggregate all social network information (i.e, Twitter, Facebook, blog/RSS, etc.) for marketing purposes. This includes all Tweets/wall posts/blog entries/etc., not just the ones from your company. Incorporate into your internal and other external marketing material to create a compelling message about your company, brand and products, then push to company, brand and product distribution points (i.e., online retailers, back to social networks, blog postings, etc.). The results will provide transparency, engage and increase customer interaction, leading to increased sales and greater brand loyalty.
Posted on 30 Oct 2009 20:49
Thanks for this; a concise, eloquent list... I loved number 10 too - it's easy to get hung up by doing something wrong when we just need to dive in and have a go.
Posted on 1 Nov 2009 01:27
Is this for Real? just seems like another muppet taking a stab at a medium he knows little or nothing about.... Writing articles full with gumf does not make you an expert. Show us the actual implementations of succesfull strategies you have developed and that will earn you cred.....
Posted on 3 Nov 2009 09:47
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