Best practices are put in place after a mistake or two; that’s why reading about missteps can only help when planning an annual social media strategy. After reading about the “don’ts” read about the “dos” for building a social media plan that works.

It seems like we have been utilizing social media forever. Has it really been that long? In fact, very few of us can remember a time when our phones were used for, well, calling. What did we do before texting and uploading photos of our dining choices? I know I once was issued a pager at the PR Agency in Seattle I cut my teeth at, but can’t recall if I ever needed it or if I even knew how to use the thing–time can fade a memory. Besides, we were busy using our desk phones, email, and the facsimile machine to update our clients and outreach our press contacts. In hindsight, everything seemed so … ancient.

With more than a decade of using social media to communicate on a personal and professional level, you’d think we would all have this thing down. But sadly, you see flagrant missteps everywhere you look – celebrities posting insensitive things; elected officials mass tweeting into the early morning hours; and, everyday folks Facebook Living some of the most unconscionable things imaginable.

With these constant reminders playing out daily, I have compiled my list of things “we” are still getting wrong.

  1. When you don’t vary your content to fit each social media platform. You don’t want followers to see the same text for each channel. Come up with several headlines and hashtags you can use. Personalize your content.
  2. Don’t post offensive material: So, you’re a funny guy—at least that’s what everyone says—but maybe you’re not that funny? What if your jokes don’t translate fully outside of your group of friends? Stop and think before you tweet. Remember not everyone will be in on the joke. Even professional comedians step on this landmine from time-to-time. Not everything is joke-worthy. It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and mere seconds to destroy one.
  3. When you don’t have a plan and spend time developing that plan. Not everything is a good idea and effort shouldn’t be put toward it. Many companies get excited and want to start using their newly-created social media channels to carpet bomb their followers. Create your strategy, content schedule, roles and responsibilities and give followers a reason to tune in and participate.
  4. You don’t have a plan. If you’re a business that wants to create an impactful and successful social media strategy—hire a professional. I hear this several times a week … well, we have an intern who can take pictures and post them to Instagram. I have no doubts that your intern can do exactly that! But, isn’t the expectation to do more? I strongly feel that those companies that have the biggest impact through social media utilize their experienced assets – those who have worked in the marketing, public relations, customer service or other departments where they’ve learned the company culture, history, know how to tell the story. After all, you get what you pay for!
  5. When you don’t respond. You must interact. I recently posted to a company’s Facebook page with a question about a new location. It has now been several weeks, and I am yet to receive a response. How can you be social if you are not social? It’s actually in the name – “social” media. It does not make any sense to not respond to your social media channels. Engage or get left behind.
  6. Who is my target audience? Do you know your target audience? Many companies don’t. Companies should know who their customers are and aren’t. Blindly posting is a waste of time and confuses any followers you might have acquired.

If any of these six social media “wrongs” ring a bell, then a change in strategy would be beneficial. Remember to develop a plan, act upon it, aim wisely and communicate. With that, I am off to check my Facebook page to see if I have received a response yet—not holding my breath.

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