Avoid The Number One Social Media Mistake

Avoid The Number One Social Media Mistake

By: Katy Ryan Schamberger
May 23, 2013

avoid the number one social media mistakeWhile at this month’s Social Media Club of Kansas City professional lunch, Forbes magazine social media editor (and Kansas City resident) Alex Knapp let us all in on the top social media mistake. Ready? It’s falling into the trap in thinking that there’s something new about social media.

News flash: there’s nothing new about social media. OK, OK—maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, because tools like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Vine and LinkedIn didn’t exist a few years ago. Yet look past the tools and, at its core, social media is a publishing platform—plain and simple. And it needs to be treated as such, rather than approached with a new way of thinking that gets little mileage out of these digital tools.

Of course, the type of content you publish on each social media platform will vary. A tweet, for example, doesn’t necessarily translate on Facebook. But what’s important is that you have a strategic, thoughtful content marketing strategy that maximizes the assets of each social platform you use while delivering the information your audience needs.

Consider Forbes’ social media strategy. The publishing powerhouse maintains an active presence on a variety of networks. Yet they don’t just post the same stories across the same networks at the same time. Instead, they tune into their audience to customize their strategy. The Forbes Google+ audience, for example, largely wants tech stories and info—and that’s what they get.

Understanding that social media networks are digital publishing platforms is critical to your digital marketing success. Another must-have tool? Good writing.

smckc alex knapp tweet

I won’t lie—I seriously wanted to stand up and yell “AMEN!” and “HALLELUJAH!” as Alex spoke about successful social media strategy. One piece of brilliance? “You can train people to use social media platforms, but you can’t train them to write.” And if that isn’t the truth, well, I don’t know what is.

Lesson learned? Take a look at your social media marketing strategy. Are you building a strong content library that’s tailored to each group of users and fans? And while you’re sharing your own content, are you also taking time to share content from others? Social media marketing, after all, is a two-way street—and even though social networks are based on publishing, you don’t simply want to broadcast your own information—you want to share other relevant resources, too.

One last tip? If you don’t have a skilled writer on your social media marketing team, you might want to consider adding one. This investment in your content will pay off, I promise—and you’ll be confident in all of your written material ranging from web copy and blog posts to social media status updates and whitepapers.

Do you agree with Alex’s assessment of the biggest social media mistake? If not, what’s at the top of your Social Media Sins list?

Image: Nina Matthews Photography via Compfight cc

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  • ShellyKramer


  • ShellyKramer

    Dude, you’re preaching to the choir with that one.

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  • I agree with the good writing is essential but I take issue with there is nothing new about social. There is something majorly new about social – how content is distributed. In all past marketing channels someone controlled the distribution of content. Direct mail is controlled by the postal service. On the internet Google controls most of it through search. In social each of us control our own channel through the people / brands / publishers we chose to consume. We customize our channels through our choices. When a brand stops adding value we turn them off. So yes it is a publishing channel but the audience controls the distribution This is not a model where we all are able to have a large audiences like Forbes. Most of us need our messages to travel via word of mouth across multiple degrees of relationships which requires us to think strategically about relationships not about creating more noise.

  • I’m with @matthixson:disqus, but I add one obvious fact: no other publishing platform allows for instantaneous engagement FROM the reader. I agreed with the title because to me, Social Media isn’t just a publishing platform but a COMMUNICATION platform that, like the phone, is two way, but unlike the phone, can be with MASS audiences. To me, age old sales rules apply far more to social than publishing rules.

    If my Social Justice posts on our ArCompany blog have taught me one thing, is that a company’s reaction TO a massive response via social channels can make or break how the story ends.

    I totally get that a smart content strategy that takes into account what you’re putting on which platform is mandatory, but if you view social as simple a publishing platform with no PR/Customer Service planning in advance, well, I may very well end up writing about you on Sundays.

    And of course that’s all said with tremendous respect because I think you, Shelly, are one of the smartest social folks out there.

  • PS – And I believe the biggest social mistake is not having a plan for how to deal with bad pr or a backlash. Especially for SMALL business. If the Solid Gold Bomb debacle taught us anything, it’s that small business are very, very vulnerable to pr mishaps – they may not have the customer base and cash flow to withstand one bad uproar.

  • ShellyKramer

    You should see my answer above to @matthixson:disqus’s post, Amy. Of course I don’t view social media channels as solely a publishing platform, nor do I think Katy does. But I do think, whether you’re communicating on Twitter, Facebook, G+, etc. you need to be strategic about how you are communicating, how you craft your messages (even if they are microblog messages), because that’s how you attract readers and build a community. And if you don’t focus on that, strategically, you’ll essentially be talking to yourself. And for me, that was the broader point of Katy’s post as she dissected Alex’s presentation.

  • ShellyKramer

    Like you, @AmyMccTobin:disqus, I’m a big believer in a crisis plan. And it’s at the very top of my list, too.

  • Great point, Matt — today’s audiences and consumers have so much control and power, especially because they can, as you pointed out, simply turn off a brand if it stops providing value. I think that good writing is imperative to successful social media marketing, but so is strategic use of each platform so that you’re not merely pushing out information, as was done in the past with more traditional channels; instead, you’re building connections and relationships. Loved your insight – thanks for stopping by!!

  • ShellyKramer

    I also think, Katy, that because I know your passion for writing, it was easy for me to see that THAT was what you were most passionate about vis a vis Alex’s presentation – so maybe that wasn’t as clear as it could have been in the most. IMO, little is possible unless you’ve got a team who can write – any kind of content :))