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10 social media mistakes to avoid

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1. Never stop being a person
As volumes of interactions rise, companies often replace real human interaction with set processes. Customers pick up on this, and while efficiency is important, nobody likes talking to a robot.

2. Dont miss real-time opportunities
Dont make your content plan so rigid that you cannot capitalise on new opportunities. Social media is all about conversations about what is happening now, and having flexibility to act on real-time opportunities can set you apart from competitors.

3. Everyones a VIP to somebody
When someone with 10,000 followers criticises your company, it might cause more panic than if they have 100. People with lots of followers might have more reach and potential to do damage, but try to offer all customers the same VIP treatment because you never really know who they are.

4. Dont be too boring or too fun
Content that is so unimaginative that nobody would want to read it is a wasted investment, but content that is purely entertainment can also fail to truly reflect what your company is all about. Content should tell a companys story and inspire people.

5. Always get value from your content
Posting content on social networks without a link to a dedicated page is like fishing without a hook. You throw your tastiest bait in the stream, fish like it then they swim off in search of the next prey. By hooking the user into your website you increase the chance of making a meaningful connection.

6. Remember, people like pictures
People dont read online, they watch stuff. Pictures and videos are increasingly important, but they dont need to be expensive. Just look at Vine people are making funny, informative videos that last 6 seconds.

7. The online and offline worlds arent separate
Companies often offer better service on Twitter and Facebook than via mail or telephone because the world is watching. Just because a customer phoned you it doesnt mean he won’t share his experience with the world on Facebook.

8. Sorry seems to be the hardest word
Everyone makes mistakes, and a sincere apology remains a vital part of a healthy conversation. People like companies that are willing to engage in conversation with a degree of humility.

9. Balance quantity and quality
Some companies argue that quality beats quantity, but in reality there is a strong correlation between the frequency with which content is placed online and the companys reach.

10. Dont attach too much importance to social media
Keep the importance of social media in the perspective. The overall impact of digitisation of society is much more important, and social media is just part of that.

Prof. Steven Van Belleghem is author of The Conversation Company and The Conversation Manager.

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