I think it’s great that more and more businesses are realizing the power of social media. However, introducing your organization to social media without a strategy in place is like jumping into the deep end and not knowing how to swim. And while a lifejacket or floatation device may save you from drowning, it won’t make you a successful swimmer. In order to be successful in using social media, you have to learn or employ the services of an expert. While the absence of a social media strategy for your organization is the number one killer, there are also myriad other mistakes that you can make online.

Let’s go over the most popular social media mistakes that businesses make and provide solutions to overcome these common social media blunders.

  • Not respecting intellectual property. It’s extremely simple to cross the line when it comes to intellectual property, but even more so online. With loads of personal photos, images, blog posts, articles and videos streaming across the networks, it’s easy to copy, save and redistribute someone else’s content as your own. And it’s not just the principle here that matters, but it’s also unlawful and disrespectful to misrepresent intellectual property. However, this mistake is avoidable-ask the creators if you can use their content, and make sure you give credit where credit is due. If you’re looking for photos or graphics that are free to use, do a simple search online for those that are part of the public domain.
  • Not monitoring your brand. Word travels fast online; if you’re not careful about your brand’s image you could risk damaging your representation, client and business relationships and ultimately your profits. With social media’s immense scope and ability to quickly go viral, you have to stay on top of what people are saying about your brand. On the same note, take advantage of the Internet’s capability to go viral rapidly and spread the word around about your brand. If you see anything negative about your brand act fast-stop the spread before it even begins.
  • Not respecting your clients. This is a given, but it is incredible how many companies cross the line when it comes to the privacy and respect of their consumers. Don’t give out email lists or client contact information and keep professional relationships intact by setting up your account settings to reflect just that. It’s easy cross the personal-professional boundaries online, but doing so can inadvertently affect client relations.
  • Not knowing your audience. Making the mistake of marketing to the wrong audience can not only severely hurt your profits, but it can also tarnish your company’s image. Unlike traditionally marketing, social media marketing has the unique ability to target markets down to very small details. Take advantage of this by aiming for the right demographic for your business. When it comes to adding connections or reaching out for followers, simply adding anybody just to look like you have impressive numbers will bog down your marketing campaign by not allowing you to reach out to the right people. Make sure you’re doing your research and investigating the right users. Try Facebook Ads-they target specific individuals by their profile information, meaning you can target your ads down to interests like movies, books and even relationships.

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Amy McIlwain is a professional speaker on social media and President of Financial Social Media, an online marketing firm specializing in the financial industry. She can be reached through her website at www.financialsocialmedia.com and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.