Are you losing business from misused social media?

social media iconsMisused social media can kill your business before you even land the customer.

Ever since social media began, new platforms are introduced practically every week. When you are selecting your social media platforms my advice is to learn how to use it, hire someone to help, or don't use it at all. A little later, I will share effective ways to integrate social media channels into your marketing plan. But first, here is what could happen if you integrate social media channels haphazardly.

1. A compromised professional image.

Your social media channels are a reflection of your brand and company image. Take the time to polish your image. Consider the proposal you would give to a prospective client. Is it handwritten or carelessly thrown together? No, it's a carefully researched, well-formulated proposal with content relevant to the recipient. Your social media marketing should receive the same attention. (http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/34180/30-Terrible-Pieces-of-Social-Media-Advice-You-Should-Ignore.aspx)

2. Diminished credibility.

Your social media channels are a reflection of how you do business. If you don't engage with your audience, you are consequently disengaging from them. Picture it this way… someone walks up to your counter and asks you a question. Do you keep your head buried in your work and ignore them? What would that do to your business? Now consider conflict resolution and customer service. What's worse than a disgruntled customer on social media? An ignored disgruntled customer on social media.

Marketing strategies implemented without a process that calls for audience engagement leave you in danger of ignoring the audience. I see this occur most often on LinkedIn, where professionals post a status or start a discussion that elicits engagement from the audience, and then they never respond to the engagement. It makes me cringe because I know the business opportunity they are missing. (http://visionroom.com/organizations-lose-1-3-trillion-by-not-engaging-in-social-media/.)

If you are not analyzing and monitoring the channel, you have no idea what others are saying about you. Monitoring is important for another reason: even if you are not using a platform, your company may still have a presence on it.

3. A devalued brand.

This is especially destructive if you are in any field of communications or marketing. It's like being a hair stylist who doesn't bother to style their own hair, or a lawn company whose own lawn has weeds. But regardless of the industry you are in, if you are under using or misusing your social media, it devalues your brand. Misuse can derive from several situations like employees posting questionable content on their own sites or the company site, or from a social media management company not really “managing and monitoring” your good name. In any situation of misuse or under use, the business suffers the consequences.

If you follow a marketing plan, social media misuse isn't going to be an issue for you because the social media channels you've selected are tactics in the plan you are following. And where there's an effective plan, there is a monitoring and evaluation process. Learn more about building a marketing plan at the French Press.

Looking for ideas? Here are six examples of how to effectively use social media with your small business marketing.

Now it's your turn. What ways have you seen social media misused?

Originally posted at www.mymarketingcafe.com 4/22/13

Jo Lynn Deal is an integrated marketing communications strategist and founder of myMarketing Cafe.  She has been featured in PR News, Project Eve, The Business Journal, and The Examiner. Catch her every week on the Cup of Jo blog, where she focuses on trending topics and fresh ideas in the world of integrated small business marketing. Connect with her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter.