When you think of social media mistakes the things that spring to mind are the gaffes which find their way into the pages of national newspapers.

We’ve all read stories about customer service teams whose attempts to joke their way out of a complaint have seriously backfired. Or an ex member-of-staff with an axe to grind making use of his old log-in details to cause mischief on Twitter.

These are of course the more serious difficulties that companies can get themselves into, although thankfully they’re pretty rare.

There are in fact far more common challenges for SMEs starting out on social networking sites. These routine frustrations are hardly likely to catch the eye of a journalist looking for a story, but they can certainly get in the way of a company trying to make the most of their accounts.

Here are three things to keep in mind:

  1. Social media is time-consuming. It’s not uncommon for businesses to underestimate how long it will take to provide original, engaging contact across a number of different sites. Not to mention the time spent trying to actually engage and respond to potential clients. The workload is part of the reason an increasing number of companies are turning to marketing consultancies to assist.
  2. The hard sell isn’t necessarily the best approach. Trying to turn every tweet into an advert for your services and filling your Facebook wall with rather blatant plugs isn’t the most effective way to attract a following. Obvious advertising is likely to put many people off straight away, so you’re better off finding content that is relevant to what you do, but interesting enough to get potential customers on board.
  3. Know what you’re trying to achieve. This sounds simple but it is easy for a business to leap right into setting up profiles without any clear idea of its objectives. Are you looking to draw attention to a particular service you offer? Answer queries from potential clients? Or just trying to raise awareness for your brand? Just stopping to think about what your goals are will make for a much more productive process.
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