Biggest mistakes companies make with social media

What your great-grandparents knew could be your ticket to success in the new “thank you economy.”

Almost everyone is using social media, or they are talking about using it, or they are just talking about it. Many businesses are using social media and many others are still thinking and talking about implementing it. Whether we like it or not, whether we are ready or not, social media is here. We need to learn how to make it work for our businesses.

The biggest mistakes companies make with social media, according to “The Thank You Economy” author Gary Vaynerchuk:

1. Using tactics instead of strategy

2. Using it exclusively to put out fires

3. Using it to brag

4. Using it as a press release

5. Exclusively re-tweeting other people’s material rather than creating your own original content

6. Using it to push product

7. Expecting immediate results

The core of social media requires that business leaders start thinking like small-town shop owners, like your great-grandparents from days gone by. We need to relearn and employ the ethics and skills of our great-grandparents’ generation — things like how to mind our manners in a very old-fashioned way and do it authentically. Treating each customer as though he or she were the most important customer in the world. Identifying customers by name and remembering what they like or what they purchased, and really listening to customers and their opinions.

The Internet has given consumers back their voice. The tremendous power of their opinions via social media means that we, as business people, now have to compete on a whole different level.

Gone are the days when an unhappy customer might tell a co-worker and neighbor his or her frustration about Brand X, and they might tell a couple more people. Now if someone has a bad experience with Brand X, the customer can put out a Tweet (the average account holder has 300 followers) or complain via Facebook (the average user has 130 friends). This adds up to a potential 7,740 people who suddenly have the Brand X bad experience flying in front of their eyes.

It’s not your imagination. Marketing really has gotten harder. Markets are splintering, eyeballs are shifting, attention spans are waning, and the amount of information people are trying to absorb continues to multiply.

The only way businesses will adapt to and overcome these challenges is by conducting a virtual door-to-door campaign to win over their customers’ hearts and minds.

That’s a lot harder and more time consuming than bombarding the market with a one-size-fits-all message.

Yet those companies that are willing to get in the social media trenches with their customers will see that word of mouth can allow each individual engagement to have an impact hundreds of times greater than itself.

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