10 Social Media Mistakes to Avoid: Guest Post by Shari Weiss

shari weiss

Thanks Shari Weiss for the reposting of this article on social media mistakes to avoid.  When I first read this post, I found myself focusing in on immediate results. This holds true for people who have been tweeting for a while and are looking to expand their community. You are new to the person you are looking to connect with.  These mistakes are not just for those that have just discovered social media as each time you reach out to new groups, a review of these mistakes are a reminder of what not to do.

A few weeks ago, I participated in a social media webinar that unfortunately went “over the heads” of most of the other attendees. So I invited many of them to contact me for answers to some of their basic questions.

Bob asked me:

“What do Newbies typically do wrong?”

Putting on my Thinking Cap, I came up with a Top Ten list.

  • If you have not yet DIVED IN, then you can possibly avoid some of these errors.
  • If you’ve “only just begun,” maybe you’ll get a better understanding of why you’re not yet Getting It.
  • If you’re more experienced, please comment and add your own thoughts on how to help Newbies make their way more successfully down Social Media Revolutionary Road.

Top Ten challenges for newcomers to social media:

1. Trying to do too much too soon. My suggestion to “students” — no matter what their age or discipline — is to understand that the learning process follows these four-steps: CONFUSION → SILENCE → FOCUS → EFFORT: In brief, anyone learning something new is going to be Confused, so accept it and Silence the associated fears, so that you can Focus on ONE THING [e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn] at a time and put in the effort to learn it and use it.

My brother Chuck was quite overwhelmed by the whole social media landscape, but he was intrigued enough to get started. He took my advice, focused solely on LinkedIn and has built up quite a presence in a very short time.

2. Being close-minded and judgmental before you really know what’s what.

I’ll never forget last January when a friend told me she was spending 3 hours a day on Facebook, and I actually told her she was “wasting her life” – OOOPS.

When I first was introduced to Twitter, I thought that’s “stupid” – OOOPS.

Now some of my friends invite me to play Mafia Wars . . . hmmmm, what do I say until I know what the game is really all about? Actually some people I respect actually play Mafia Wars, which means that some of my community members are “there,” which in turn means I need to know what it’s all about.

3. Not listening enough at first to understand the workings and sentiments of a community. If you are reading any articles on Getting Started with social media, you are bound to see the advice onListening as a Vital First Step. Some refer to Listening as “Conversation Mining.” But, as we all know, “Listening” is more than mere “Hearing”; not only do many people read over this suggestion, but they may never have developed good listening skills.

For a bit more insight into the importance of Listening, check out my two previous articles;

Listening is the first rule to business success

When communication adds up to a big fat zero

4. Not jumping in and getting going. Listening is critical, but if you don’t get started, you have nothing to listen to. Learning social media is all about experimenting and taking risks. One webinar coach suggested that we “Ask for forgiveness, rather than permission.” A colleague somewhat skeptical of social media evangelists isn’t a proponent of this advice.

I’m somewhere in between, but you do have to get in there and try things out. Most social media community members are very supportive of Newbies. If some are not, well they are definitely in the minority. Just say you are sorry and move on.

5. Expecting IMMEDIATE Results. This is particularly troublesome to me because it shows that the social media neophyte doesn’t understand that Relationship-Building is a process that takes time, patience, persistence, and passion.

6. Hiding. Best Practice on social media is all about being Real, Authentic, Genuine, and Transparent. The first thing Newbies need to understand is that they need to be themselves if they are to find real success on social media platforms. This begins with a recognizable photo and not a default avatar. It continues with completing full profiles on any site they will be fully engaging on.

Stick around for #10 for the rest of this answer.

7. No time management or consistency. My experience with beginners to social media — and any of the skill-building courses I’ve taught — is that with no practice of what they’ve learned, those early lessons are soon lost. Same goes for further down the road: You MUST make time to be successful. Yes, practice does make perfect [or close to, anyway].

And once you begin a blog, a Twitter account, a Facebook presence, etc., you need to post on a regular basis or you may lose the community members you have been able to gather.

8. Snake oil salesman. Do not SPAM. Do not sell, sell, sell. Your intention may be to use social media to market your products and services, but Social Media Marketing is a different animal, and that animal is not a snake. It is all about building relationships, so that people in your communities will come to know you and trust you and then come to you for whatever it is you have to offer.

In her great new social media book The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web, Tamar Weinberg quotes new media marketer Chris Heurer:

“If you are trying to sell something to the community, and that is your reason for being there, it will be obvious to those people and you will never be as successful as you can be.

If you are participating because you really want to contribute to the community, because you really want to share what you know, because you really want to be of service to the community and its members, you will sell to the right people BECAUSE of your sincerity and honesty.”

9. Negativity. I advocate positive participation wherever and whenever you can on the Internet. Think twice or thrice before tearing into people on the Web. Once those words are out there, you cannot take them back — ever.

This is a good spot to put in a good word for good etiquette, so I direct you to my article “Do we need an Emily Post for Social Media?

FINAL PIECE OF ADVICE . . . and I’m going to make this one a DO, not a Do NOT:

10. Goal of your online presence. Position yourself as the GO-TO Source for information in your area of expertise.

Therefore, everything you post on the Internet, in whatever platform or tool you choose, should reinforce you as a Thought Leader and Influencer.

Join the conversation . . . and add your questions and comments.

Throw your Hat in the Ring:

Just don’t stay on the fringes.

  • Nice advice. I am sort of a beginner with social media myself so this will definitely be helpful for the future.

  • bradnemcik

    When I present social media to perspective clients, I always tell them that they will need to put in the time to build community. I also tell them that it's a labor of love and actually alot of fun once they start to get some feedback from fans, followers, connections, etc.

  • Steven

    Welcome! Social media is filled with beginners in the sense that there are new platforms and ways to build a presence. We all are learning constantly and how we use the knowledge in areas that fit who we are and what we want to accomplish will keep us involved and continuing to learn. The somewhat scary part for people just coming in is that there is so much to learn but at the same time the learning is being a part of a community that will continue to grow. Knowing what is right for you is the key.

    Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment.

  • Brad

    Very well said. It is that push that you get when people respond but at the same time the discouragement when people do not. It is about spending time with the people who do communicate and getting to know them and the community around them before taking the next leap of reaching out to others. Like that labor of love as yeah that is what it is.

    Thanks for providing such great insight and sharing what you tell others. That is what makes social media what it is – the sharing.

  • These are very nice

  • Was searching for the Chris Heuer quote and came across your post. Well said. I like your list.