SEATTLE (CBS Seattle) – Whether you’re a Twitter addict or haven’t even created a facebook page for your small business yet, there are a few things you should know NOT to do when using social media as a way to promote your business. With half of small businesses failing within 5 years owners have to use everything within their reach to make their’s a success story. If you’re a small business owner and you haven’t embraced social media yet as a way of promotion, you’re missing out on an easy, inexpensive way of getting the word out about your business.  If you have been using social media there may be a few things you’ll want to change after reading this.

We’ll cover social media “do’s” next week but it’s more important to understand the “don’ts” first.  For the sake of simplicity I’m going to focus on facebook and Twitter.  There are of course other social media outlets available to you but those are the big two.

1. You don’t need to be on EVERY social media outlet

Pick two or three of the biggest and most useful outlets and concentrate your efforts there.  There is so much member overlap between social media outlets that if you have accounts in five different places, you’re simply sending the same people the same information over and over.

2.  Don’t get “inexpensive” confused with “free”

One way or another, properly maintaining your small businesses social media presence will cost you something; either in time or money.  Remember, you have a business to run and that should always be your top priority.  If possible, a trusted employee should be tapped with the task of maintaining and updating your facebook, Twitter, etc accounts. Paying an employee extra for that responsibility is well worth it when you consider that these things need attention every day.  If the owner is the only person available it won’t cost money but it will cost time.

3. Don’t disappear

This is related to the first two “don’ts.”  You’ve set up your facebook, Twitter, etc accounts.  You’ve gathered a decent amount of followers. And then because it’s a headache to deal with all the updates and you don’t have time because you have a business to run, your facebook & Twitter account don’t get updated for a week…then two…then three.  This is when everything you’ve gained by having a social media presence goes down the drain. A good rule of thumb is one tweet/post per day.  Whether it’s just to say “hi” to your followers or to post a picture related to your business, your social media presence needs to be a living, breathing thing that communicates to your consumers every day.

4. Don’t ignore the “social” in social media

Creating a facebook page with your company logo, phone number and hours of operation is pointless. If that’s all people wanted from you they would still be using a phone book. Consumers seek out your Twitter and facebook accounts because they want a more personal look into your business. Give them what they came for!  Pictures of the owners, staff, products and place of business. If something interesting happened that day, tell them. It’s all about letting your followers into the inner circle.

5. Don’t argue

There will always be at least one unsatisfied customer and if the internet is famous for anything, it’s people’s ability to anonymously post whatever they want.  The last thing you want as an owner is for you or your employees to engage in an online argument with posters and tweeters. If someone posts a complaint on your facebook wall, don’t attack the poster with a harsh reply. Remember that all of your followers will see your reply and the more professional you handle the situation, the more they will respect you for it.  Send a private message to the person with the complaint and deal with the situation that way if possible. If someone gets really nasty you always have the ability to delete their comment from your wall.


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