Written by Christina Torri, Social Media Coordinator for Mindscape at Hanon McKendry

Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of new brands popping up on social media. I’m not talking about “big names” brands, but the “little guys” who are FINALLY realizing that social media can help to build brand awareness and connect with their customers. However, I get the feeling that someone just told them they should “make a Facebook page” and so that’s what they did. Although I appreciate their willingness to try something new, what they don’t realize is the mistakes they are making could be damaging their brand, instead of improving it. Here are the 4 biggest mistakes that small business make on social media, in my opinion.

Setting up the page incorrectly: “Incorrectly” means you are setting up your brand with a “friend” or “personal” account instead of setting it up as fan page like you are supposed to. There is absolutely nothing that gets under my skin more than when a “brand” sends me a friend request. Although I understand the temptation to set up your page as a “friend” account instead of a fan page, it does your business no good in the long run. Sure, it’s easier to build a fan base because you are able to reach out and “friend request” individuals, but you are missing out on the analytics side of fan pages that can help you measure results. Fan pages are a lot easier to administer than friend accounts, specifically by multiple users. Plus, having a personal account for a brand violates Facebook’s terms and conditions for use. And, in my opinion, it makes you look stupid. I recently implemented a new policy: I refuse to be friends with a “brand” who sends me a friend request- even if it’s a brand that I like. There is no reason for a brand to know my status updates and have an opportunity to gain as much information about me as someone who I want to be friends with. And, I have a feeling that as privacy issues continue to grow on Facebook, more people will start to think that way.

Not thinking through the WHY: There is a couple “whys” to think about here. First of all, why do you want to be on social media? If your answer is “to increase revenue”, then you’re not starting off in a very good place. In addition, your “why” needs to align with both your business/marketing objectives AND how social media is used. Quite frankly: the shoe needs to fit. If it doesn’t, your just forcing your foot into a smaller size which usually ends up giving you blisters and causes more headaches than its worth.

Not setting clear expectations or objectives: I’ve been making this argument for some time now, but it seems like people are finally starting to get it. Not all fans are equal. If you set your objectives to grow you fan base, and only measure success based on how many fans or followers you get, you’ll probably not going to maximize your social media efforts. Grant it, you need to establish a fan base in order to increase engagement on social media, but having 1000 passionate, loyal fans can be better than 10,000 disengaged fans.

Talking AT the audience: Here’s the thing: no one likes the person at the party that only talks about themselves. The same applies to social media. Only talking about yourself on social media will get you nowhere- FAST. Over 70% of users of Facebook say that “liking” your brand does not give you permission to market to them. So, instead of pumping out marketing lines and self-promoting your brand, stop and ask yourself these questions: Why would someone be a fan of my brand on social media? What type of information do they want to hear? If you are not sure of the answer to these questions, remember that the main reasons someone will fan your brand is for insider information, deals, or exclusives.

What do you think? Are you happy to be “friends” with a brand on Facebook or have you not given it much thought? Feel free to sound off below!