While speaking about social media and business to a crowd of retailers at a national expo in January, one of the attendees raised her hand and asked what advice I had for a small business owner who was about to “go social” for her business. At the time, I gave her my top 3 tips.

I recently posted a similar question to Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter to see what tips other socially-savvy people would give. For anyone who is about to implement social media for your small business, here are the top 5 practices to avoid.

In no particular order…

  • Don’t Send Spammy Auto-Direct Messages (DMs) to New Followers Auto-DMs typically include a “thank you for following” message, plus links to LIKE them on Facebook, sign up for their email newsletter or check out their website. (Erin Margolin)
  • Don’t Start Strong, Then Fizzle Out Keep up the momentum – it’s annoying when brands start off with a flurry of activity then let it tail off, not responding to tweets the initial push has generated.” – Catherine Cooke. This is also one of the tips I gave at the expo. If you are going to start a new platform, you must be ready to consistently keep it going.
  • Don’t Give Up Too Quickly! Social Media Takes TimeDon’t give up too soon on launching a brand new account. As you collect followers and fans, their chatter / likes / shares will lead to more followers and fans. But this takes time.” – Paula Wethington. Simply signing up for a Twitter account isn’t going to make you into an overnight success. The mantra with social media is: Slow and steady wins the race!
  • Don’t Be a Social Media IslandDon’t forget to share the love. It’s called “social” media for a reason!” – Charlene Coraccio DeCesare. Social media should not be used as a bull horn to blast your brand’s message 24/7. It also works best if you interact with other accounts. From responding to direct questions, promoting others’ businesses, blog posts and events, and talking to your fans and followers like they were customers standing in your brick and mortar store, social media will be the most helpful to you and your business if used as a tool for engagement.
  • Going Too Big Will Be your Biggest Downfall Another tip I gave is to start with 1 or 2 social platforms, establish your presence there, establish a history of consistent updates and engagement there, and then decide later – time-willing – what and how many more social media platforms to add. You don’t know how much time and effort it’s going to take until you are doing it. So don’t start off so strong by diving into 5 or 6 social media accounts all at once, without knowing how much you can fit into your existing schedule.

Social media is not a magic pill. It takes focus, planning and effort. When used correctly, it can and will bring enormous benefits to you and your business.

What other “don’ts” would you add to this list?

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