It is a known fact that Social Media helps build communities. And one of the most beneficial tools for small businesses to use is Facebook.  But there are so many social media tools to choose from, and many entrepreneurs and small business owners do not know how to use the tools to their advantage.

Well, since I have been learning a lot as I work together with my clients to improve their business, I thought I would share 4 quick tips on how to avoid the top social media mistakes.

The Top 4 Social Media Mistakes to Avoid (especially when using Facebook) are:

1. Self Promotion - Yes, I know this may seem a little backwards to some. But do you believe that your customers and prospects really want to hear about how great you are every day? They are not interested in how you are living the fabulous life in the fab lane.

So what do most site visitors really want, you ask? They want to know how we can help them solve their problems. That is what they are really interested in. So if you focus on how your products and services will help put out a fire that your site visitor is having, you will be on your way to obtaining paying customers and repeat clients very soon, if you haven't already.

To tell you the truth, that is exactly how my design and consulting business really took off a few years ago. A potential client asked a blog design question on some forum that I was visiting that day. I knew the answer to her question, so I decided to reply to her post.  She thanked me for helping her solve her problem that day. Then later that same evening, I received an email from her asking if I was for hire. I said sure, and the rest, as they say, was history. She is still a client of mine today and constantly refers new clients my way. She just happens to be one of my favorite people in the entire world to work with. :)

2. Seeking Popularity instead of Targeted Leads - My point here is that the number of Facebook Fans is not necessarily indicative of entrepreneurial success. Some entrepreneurs believe that getting 5,000 or more FB fans or "Likes" is the key to making a nice profit. What they may not know is, it is far better to have maybe 150 targeted fans that are truly interested in your products and services than to have 5,000 friends on your Facebook Fan Page who could care less about your brand or what you have to offer.

I have observed on my own blog, that the number of visitors and clients who request my design and consulting services this year have increased 4-fold. It happened when I started focusing more on how I can deliver real value to help entrepreneurs and small businesses succeed. I also re-launched my brand at the beginning of this year and applied SEO techniques to improve the chances of someone finding my blog design and consulting services when they need it. I am getting more hits on my blog and a signifcant increase on people visiting my Facebook Fan page. The number of project inquiries and targeted leads that turn into clients are increasing, but not necessarily in proportion with the number of FB fans that I have. 

On the flip side, I speak to entrepreneurs often who are looking for guidance in setting better goals for their social media campaigns. Some of them are frustrated because they have over 5,000 fans, but the fans are not being converted into customers. I see it happen all too often. Once you decide what is important to you (popularity vs targeted leads), it is a practical approach to realign your goals to turn your Facebook Fans and "Likes" into paying customers.

3. Using the Wrong Social Media Tools - It is important to know that there are many social media tools that you can use to build a community around your brand. However, it does not mean that you should use every one of the tools to promote your business. As an entrepreneur or small business, you need to spend some time up front to determine which tools will provide you the most benefit. Determine what your goals are and decide what will be the most effective tool to achieve your objectives. It may take some trial and error to determine which methods are connecting with your targeted audience. It is better to use a few Social Media tools that work to your advantage, than to use too many tools and not achieve your objectives. Remember that the goal of your Social Media activity is to engage and interact with your audience, not to just talk "at them" or to just always listen. It is a two-way street.

4. Not having a customized Facebook page – It is a great start to have a facebook business page. But I recommend that you go to the next step and make sure you have  a customized, professional fan page. You should also have a custom landing page that tells your visitors what to do once they land on your page. Also you need to make sure your Facebook page is consistent with your website. For example, your colors, logo and brand message should be the same throughout your social media platforms. Consistenency is key…it will keep your brand memorable and make it easier for your customers to recognize your business.

I hope you found this post helpful.  In closing, I would say to focus your efforts on things that drive a positive return on your investment. If it doesn't work, then stop doing it. My goal for going into the New Year is to work smarter, not harder! 

What about you? What other social media mistakes would you add to this list? I would love to hear your thoughts. Leave your comments below…

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