Companies continue to flock to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for one simple reason: Not incorporating social media in their marketing strategies would amount to a lost opportunity to connect with droves of potential customers and strengthen bonds with existing customers.

But companies still need to be careful about how they’re using social media so that they throw valuable resources down the drain. There are many mistakes companies can make that will ultimately lead to the demise of customer engagement on their social media pages. Here are the 10 biggest:

1. Jumping on multiple platforms at once: If you’re just getting into the social media arena, choose one social platform to start with and get comfortable with it before you start to branch out. Too many companies try to jump onto every social network under the sun, only to find that they’ve stretched themselves too thin.

Find out which platform your customers use most and start from there. If you’re a B2B, it’s most likely LinkedIn. If you’re a B2C, chances are it’s Facebook. Also, be willing to ditch platforms that don’t end up working for you.

2. Failing to develop a personality: There’s a reason Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber have so many followers: They have strong personalities. Nobody wants to deal with what feels like a cold, robotic company. They want to deal with an entity that has beliefs and opinions. For someone to be a “fan” of yours, they need to be able to relate to you. Tell customers what’s important to you – besides growing your business.

3. Selling, not conversing: As you try to develop personality, one type to avoid is that of an aggressive salesperson. Social media users don’t take kindly to the hard sell. Social media is supposed to be social. It can’t be a one-way street. Start conversations. From there, the only thing you have to sell customers on is that you’re going to include them in the conversation.

4. Not developing authenticity: “Authenticity” may sound like just a buzzword, but it matters. Customers need to feel that what you’re telling them to do is something you’d actually do yourself. Example: Don’t just say your company is environmentally friendly. Show customers what you’re actively doing to protect the environment. And for the love of God, don’t get caught dumping more toxic waste into the local river than the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant.

5. Hiding from complaints and controversy: Man up! Mistakes are going to happen, and you’ve got to own up to them and tell customers what you’re doing to ensure they aren’t repeated. First of all, this may actually produce more customers for you. Customers know bad things happen, and they love companies willing to learn from them. Plus, ignoring complaints shows you’re just going to do your own thing – customers be damned.

6. Picking administrators because they’re tech-savvy: What’s more important than putting your accounts in the hands of someone who knows the ins and outs of the Facebook- or Twitter-sphere? Putting them in the hands of marketing or communications professionals. They’ll have the best understanding of your audience, objectives and the consequences of questionable posts.

7. Failing to create incentives: Why should customers “follow” or return to your page? You don’t have to give away free stuff, but you do need to make them feel like they’re getting something out of it, such as:

  • Sneak peeks at new products
  • Faster responses to questions
  • Info to help improve their lives/jobs.

8. All you’re doing is typing: Social media is becoming more visually focused – hence the rapidly growing popularity of Instagram, Pinterest and Vine. So make sure you’re posting some form of visual content – whether it’s photos or videos. Facebook’s says posts with images generate 120% more engagement than text-only posts.

Also, make sure your social presence is more than just you posting stuff. “Like” and share others’ content as well.

9. You’ve got no rhythm: A sporadic post here and there isn’t going to get the job done. You’ve got to establish a rhythm to how you post – both in terms of the kinds of content you post and when you’re posting it. You don’t have to post every day, but you shouldn’t have long stretches of inactivity either.

10. Relying on one person to post content: Establishing a strong social media presence takes a lot of time and effort – often more than one person can handle. You don’t want your page to go dormant because your sole administrator got bogged down in other tasks or went on vacation. That’s why it helps to develop a social media content team.

Ask sales reps or the CEO to chip in a post every so often, and develop a content schedule outlining who’s going to post what and when.

Christian Schappel is the managing editor of Customer Experience Insight, a website published by Progressive Business Publications to help marketing, sales and customer service professionals optimize the customer experience. Connect with Christian on LinkedIn.

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