The top five mistakes businesses make when promoting their products and services through social media:

1: We know you are a business, but please don't remind us

The biggest mistake businesses make with social media is constantly posting about their company, products or services. Anybody that receives the messages you post have actively 'liked' or 'followed' your brand; not because they want to read a company newsletter every time they logon to Facebook or Twitter but because they want to get personal with your brand.

A real-world example of over-the-top promotion is when you are in a supermarket and there is that slightly annoying noise in the background... the tannoy. Broadcasting self-promotion messages that none of us really listen to. Should stores not just play music, or nothing and occasionaly burst into life with a store announcement that really grabs the attention of the shoppers?

The brands that succeed through social media are those that post about a variety of topics, as well as their company. A good example is Barmade Ltd who strike the right balance between business and non-business related posts.

As you can see Barmade Ltd made the most of Google's Olympic themed doodles and posted about them regularly, with occasional business related posts. This causes people that have liked the page to interact with the brand more than if they only posted about their business, thus when the page does post - about anything - it is more likely to be read as people know it is a brand they interact with.

2: Not engaging with your 'fans' and 'followers'

You post. People post. When you post content to your social media presence your customers and online 'fans' and 'followers' will respond. Most of the time you need not respond but occassionaly you will be asked a question that if left unanswered could lose a potential or current customer. You should check your social media presence every day; at least twice.

We conducted a short experiment and posted a comment on WWE's Facebook presence. We asked them whether they respond to messages from customers. We even tagged them in the comment so that they were more likely to see it.

As you can see. No response.

25 minutes passed...

11 hours passed...

Customers will not expect a small or medium local business to reply within half hour, but a multi-million dollar company? Of course they do. You should really check your social media presence every two hours at the least to ensure that anybody that has asked a question has received an answer. Checking your social media presence should not take more than a couple of minutes each time, plus any time spent answering questions etc. especially if you use a free service such as Hootsuitewhich brings all of your social media profiles together in one place.

Dealing with Complaints

Every business receives complaints, and customers know that - so do not hide away from them online. Many businesses delete complaints and (we assume) follow them up directly with the customer. Not a good idea as many people will see the complaint before it is deleted, they know it was made but never see any resolution.

If the complaint is of a general nature you could answer it directly or if it is of a personal or confidential nature you could inform the customer directly that they should send an email via your website, or phone your company etc. This shows to other users of your social media presence that you have taken the complaint seriously and provides a resolution for the person complaining.

Moderating Comments

The F word. Not Facebook, the other one! Sometimes you will need to moderate comments made on your social media presence and need to ensure you do this in a professional manner. If you do not want to allow swearing simply delete the comment and post a message saying something along the lines of "Swearing will not be tolerated on our page as we want to maintain a friendly environment for all of our customers". With most social media platforms you can ban users who continually post unwanted material to your page, however the amount of 'strikes' you give them is at your discretion but remember you work hard to get 'fans' and 'followers' so you do not want to end up banning them all; making the rules clearer and reiterating them from time to time should be sufficient.

3: Market Research

Yep, those two words that drive all business owners mad when they are writing a business plan for the bank manager!

If your target market is not using social media, why would you. There is no point in building a social media presence on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Tout, YouTube and more if your customers are not using it.

Saga Car Insurance is targeted at the 50+ market while their life insurance product is targeted at a wider audience. As the image above shows, they only promote their life insurance product through social media.

4: Not being personal

You would be surprised how much using "we" instead of your company name can improve the relationship between you and your customers online. If you constantly answer questions with "Company name thinks this" or "Company name thinks that" rather than saying "We think this" your 'fans' and 'followers' do not have the chance to feel your brand is being personal.

5: Thinking you will have a billion 'fans' and 'followers' in a week

North is North tells all attendees to our workshops that they need to invest into their social media presence for at least 6 months before they begin to see the benefits. You will need to inform current customers that you are now using social media, as they interact with your brand their online friends will see this and are more likely to be converted into your customers. This cause and effect continues and you will soon have a successful social media presence, but not in a day, week or month.