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Avoiding 4 Big Social Media Mistakes
By: Dana Severson
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I’ve been on a big social media kick lately. Not sure why. I think a large part of it has to do with its ever-changing landscape. Each day, it seems like a new channel pops up that we must be part of.
First, there was Friendster, if I’m not mistaken, and then came MySpace. Within that same year, we got LinkedIn. A year after that, Facebook launched — or at least the site that would become the behemoth it now is. Digg, Bebo, Twitter, and all the others soon followed.
With the vastness of social channels, it’s not surprising that we adopt them before we’re ready to use them. We’re often of the mindset that, “If the train’s leaving, we better hop on.” But that’s not always the case, and it can lead to some damaging mistakes.
Mistake #1: Not Knowing Why Topics Are Trending
By now, we’ve all heard about the social media misstep made by Celeb Boutique. The online clothier tweeted, "#Aurora is trending, clearly about our Kim K inspired #Aurora dress ;)." Of course, this wasn’t the case. The sudden upsurge was the result of the Aurora, Colorado, mass shooting. By failing to check the context of the trend, the store sparked outrage, lost followers and damaged business.
Mistake #2: Not Piggybacking on Relevant Trends
To leverage social media for business, many marketers will tell you to piggyback on trending topics. Habitat, a trendy UK furniture store, took this advice and really ran with it. But instead of using trends relevant to their business, the retailer opted for #Apple, #iPhone, and #TrueBlood, among others. Their tweets were quickly seen as spam, and it hurt the image of their brand. Needless to say, keep it relevant. 
Mistake #3: Not Having a Sense of Humor
Businesses take themselves way too seriously, and see negative commentary as an affront to their brand. While complaints should be addressed, not every insult is a slap in the face. When someone tweeted, “Saw a bird had crapped on a Smart Car. Totaled it,” the company didn’t respond as if the remark was a PR nightmare. Instead, they embraced the humor and created an infographic on how many pigeons it would actually take to total their car — 4.5 million to be exact.
Mistake #4: Not Engaging on Social Accounts
Failing to check a social account just won’t cut it these days. As soon as you create a profile, your absence speaks volumes. It shows a lack of follow-through, and could convey a message that you’re no longer open for business or don’t really care about it. Rather than trying to cover all your social bases, choose your channels wisely, and only those you’ve got time for. Social media requires immediacy.
There are others, no doubt. But these four are some of the bigger, completely avoidable rookie mistakes you can make on social channels.
What mistakes have you made? I won’t tell…promise.

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About the Author
Dana Severson is a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant in the Twin Cities area. Find him at his website for a little downhome advice. 
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