From the September 01, 2011 issue of Senior Market Advisor • Subscribe!

Do you make these social media mistakes?

The social media revolution taking place online is causing individuals and companies to jump on board without any knowledge or strategy in place. Just the other day, I received a phone call from a friend who had just been asked to start taking over the social media responsibilities for her company.

She was calling me for advice, tips and an overall consultation on how she should start managing their social media campaign. I said, "Wait, what do you mean by 'start?' If you're taking over the company's social media responsibilities, don't they already have some systems in place?"

She replied by telling me that while the company already has a website and social networks setup, there is no active management or strategy in place. Not surprised, I began to explain to her the importance of active social media management.

I think it's great that more and more businesses are realizing the power of social media. However, introducing your organization to social media without a strategy in place is like jumping into the deep end and not knowing how to swim. And while a lifejacket or floatation device may save you from drowning, it won't make you a successful swimmer.

In order to be successful in using social media, you have to learn or employ the services of an expert. While the absence of a social media strategy for your organization is the number one killer, there are also myriad other mistakes that you can make online.

Let's go over the most popular social media mistakes that businesses make and provide solutions to overcome these common social media blunders.

1) No social media strategy. Simply setting up social media accounts and then letting them go inactive is worse than not having any accounts at all. Creating and following a social media strategy is not only easy, but will almost guarantee the growth and success of your networks.

2) Using your social networks as advertising platforms. Using your company's social media accounts to engage in shameless self-promotion, advertising or irrelevant activities will deter your brand from sending out the right message. You will not only attract the wrong following, but you will also lose the interest and connection of the audience you are trying to attract. Your main goals while using social media should be to interact, listen and participate with your followers.

3) Misunderstanding of industry rules. As a member of the financial industry you are probably all too aware of the strict regulatory environment you face in dealing with social media. As a registered rep you must refer to the rules of your B/D, even if they are a bit stricter than those suggested by FINRA. As an RIA or life/health agent, you aren't off the hook. FINRA lays out a great set of guidelines and I suggest you follow them as well. For an overview of these guidelines you can download our Social Media Compliance Guide.

4) Being dishonest/inauthentic. Don't shoot yourself in the foot. You should treat your online communications in the same way you would treat your offline communications, and I'm sure you wouldn't lie to one of your partners or clients in the face, would you? You also wouldn't represent your company as something that it's not-so don't do it online either.

Social media strategy, online brand control and crisis management are increasingly becoming critical themes for nearly all businesses, and neglect in this area can have devastating ramifications for the longevity of an organization. Social media's viral ramifications have made it possible for the single voice of an individual to transcend boundaries and rally millions against any unjust behavior of a corporation.

About the Author
Amy McIlwain

Amy McIlwain

Amy McIlwain is a professional speaker on social media and president of Financial Social Media, an online marketing firm specializing in the financial industry. She can be reached through her website www.financialsocialmedia.com and on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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