Herzlich writes the Small Business column in Newsday.
A recent survey of 172 marketeers found that 66 percent of respondents were utilizing social media in 2009, up from 20 percent in 2007, according to the New York-based Association of National Advertisers, which conducted the survey with BtoB Magazine and marketing communications firm 'mktg'.
Since this influences the market, it's important for companies to understand how to effectively use social media platforms and avoid some of the more common mistakes in order to maximize online branding efforts, experts say.
"It isn't enough just to have an account," explains Denise Wakeman of DeniseWakeman.com, a Los Angeles-based online marketing and blogging consultancy. "The key is participation."
If you're not interacting and communicating with your audience, then you're wasting your time, she notes.
With that said, here are a few social media marketing mistakes to avoid if you want to make the greatest impact:
1. Inconsistency. If you commit to a social network, then stay visible to your audience by regularly tweeting, updating your Facebook page, etc., says Debbie Weil, a Washington, D.C.-based corporate social media consultant and author of "The Corporate Blogging Book'' (Portfolio; $23.95). If you're not consistently providing useful and/or relevant information to your audience, they'll lose interest, she says.
2. Being too elusive. Make sure when people go to your social networking page they see more than just a company logo. Attach a name and a face to your profile or description, Weil says. "Be a person," she says, noting that even cable giant Comcast ties a face to its Twitter site, @comcastcares, by posting a photo and contact information for its twitterer-customer service manager, Frank Eliason.
3. Being too self-promotional. Too often, companies use social networking sites to just tout themselves, says Hilary Topper, author of "Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Social Media, But Were Afraid to Ask" (iUniverse; $27.95) and president of HJMT Communications, a public relations and social media firm in Westbury. It's OK to promote your company, but it shouldn't be the main focus, Topper says. "If I tweet five times a day, one in five might be promotional," she says.
4. Making it all about business. You're trying to use social media to create conversations and relationships, so don't be afraid to get a bit personal, Topper says. "There's a balance," she notes, adding that there's nothing wrong with showing your human side with some personal posts.
5. Failing to engage. Spark conversations by posting relevant links, articles, commenting on other people's sites, etc., recommends Arthur Germain of Communication Strategy Group, an East Northport-based brand marketing agency.
"Listen to your prospects and customers and have a conversation," he says. Posting photos can be a great way to engage your audience, too.
The Woodbury hotel launched a new Web site last year and also has a blog, general manager Franklin Manchester says.
6. Collecting followers and "friends". Some businesses base their success on the number of friends or followers they have in their social networks, Germain says. It's less about numbers than about trying to build a relevant community and having good conversations with people, he says.
7. Having no blog. A blog can be a great place to direct social media traffic since it's more conversational than a corporate site. "Your blog is your home base," Wakeman says.
source: Newsday, September 7, 2009 12:45 PM By firstname.lastname@example.org