But as with every emerging technology and business tool, there is a certain margin of risk involved. Unless you know what to avoid.
While our list could probably include about 200 common mistakes to avoid when representing your firm via social media, these four are broad enough to envelop just about all of them.
Talking too loud.
Unless you've found some hidden advantage of being the loud guy at the party who has to shout everything to the person standing right in front of him, you probably already understand why this is important. Social media can work very well as part of a whisper campaign, drumming up attention to your business through quiet, strategic posts and comments. You may have heard us refer to this as promoting yourself without overtly promoting yourself.
Talking too long.
As with most things in life, you're usually better off talking too little, than talking too much. Have you ever fought the urge to check your watch while listening to someone at a family reunion go on and on about agrarian economies of the 16th century? If so, you can probably understand why this is just as dangerous in social media. Restrain yourself when participating in social media. Twitter, as a good example, will force you to keep your updates to 140 characters or less. Now that's good exercise.
Talking too much about you.
Again, if you like the party metaphor, consider the person who just can't contain their self-interest. They might tell you about their day, their job, their commute, all without the slightest hint of interest on your part. So too in social media. Hold something back; retain some mystery. It's much better to have people digging to find more about you, than to have people walk away from you mid-conversation.
While all of the above mistakes will ultimately culminate in this one, there are a thousand easy ways to be boring. Passing along information that no one cares about, sharing news that's already outdated, and discussing very niche topics with too broad of an audience are all great ways to lose the attention of potential friends and customers.
If your business or organization is about to take advantage of social media, be sure to determine your strategybefore you enter the game. Better yet, partner with someone who already has the experience and answers to get you started down the right path.
No matter what you do, though, avoid discussion of agrarian economies of the 16th century. You face enough obstacles in business as it is.