In 2015, we wrote that for businesses, there were 7 deadly sins of social media. Now we think there’s 8.

Social media can be a great tool for growing your professional presence and showing off your expertise to new audiences. It’s a key distribution channel for any content you create or curate – like blogs and articles.

But there are many traps you’ll need to avoid if you want to spread your influence effectively. Here are seven of the deadliest.

Social media mistake 1: Treating social media as a one-way street

Social media is – or should be – a give and take environment where your content usually only reaches new people and audiences through the good grace (and likes, comments and shares) of your followers, connections and friends.

So, remember this golden rule… if you want people to comment on, like and share your posts, you should be doing exactly the same to them if they post something that’s interesting or valuable to you.

Social media mistake 2: Being inconsistent

Nothing is more likely to thwart your social media ambitions than inconsistency. If you post only occasionally the chances of anyone noticing you and/or paying attention to what you have to say will diminish significantly.

Our advice is to set aside some dedicated time to check in with your social media accounts. You should also be joining and checking in with LinkedIn groups or Twitter hashtags that discuss topics or industries you work in or with.

Social media mistake 3: Having unrealistic expectations

Social media can be an extremely effective tool for building your professional profile. But it’s not a magic bullet.

No matter how many people read your posts or your updates, there’s no guarantee your social media efforts will instantly translate into cold, hard cash – although that’s the ultimate goal.

We tell our clients that attracting work by distributing content via social media is like a romance from a Jane Austen novel. It’s a long old-fashioned courtship. In other words, getting the result you want from social media marketing can take patience, time and effort.

Social media mistake 4: Spreading yourself too thin

No one has the time to master all social media platforms – there simply aren’t enough hours in a day. And not all platforms will be relevant to every business or target audience. So focus your efforts on just one or two.

Our motto is always: “write once, use multiple times”. In other words, use the same – or at least similar/repurposed content – for your social media accounts that you use for your website blog and your newsletters.

Social media mistake 5: Ignoring the data (or relying too much on it)

One of the best things about social media and online marketing generally is that pretty much everything is measurable. Take advantage of this. If people aren’t engaging with something you post, experiment to find out what works and what people want to hear from you.

But, at the same time, don’t get carried away with trying to get likes and shares and retweets at the expense of your overall longer term objectives.

Social media mistake 6: Not getting to the point

When you write for social media, you’re going to be competing for people’s attention with a stack of other information. So brevity is key. Make every word count.

Think long and hard about your headline and what’s likely to pique your target audience’s attention. Use writing techniques such as listicles,  multiple headings and subheadings, and bullet points to make sure you get to the point and make important information easy to find.

Social media mistake 7: Selling

Nothing will diminish your social media reputation more quickly than selling. Social media is not a forum for talking directly about the benefits of your services or products – leave that for your website. It’s a place to show off your expertise and build thought leadership through quality content that actually helps your connections, followers and friends.

If you do want to let people know about your services, leave an unobtrusive calling card at the end of any content – something that looks a little like at the bottom of this article…

Social media mistake 8: Not paying

The sad news is that, in 2018, any social media post you make is almost certain to have much smaller reach than it did when I originally wrote this article back in 2015. That is, of course, unless you’re prepared to pay.

The happy news is that platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram – as well as others – let you put your content right under the noses of the people you want to reach, just by paying a little money. Better still, using your content this can be surprisingly cost effective (especially when it comes Facebook). So if you’re not familiar with the Facebook boosted post or with LinkedIn advertising, change that right now.

Contact Antelope Media and find out how we can help your business win more work through social media and content marketing.

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Related services: Content marketing, Websites and digital marketing

Ralph Grayden

Ralph Grayden

Ralph Grayden is content director at Antelope Media.