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The 5 most common social media mistakes that startups commit (Part I)

Consumers expect businesses to maintain an online presence.
By KC Calpo |

Starting and growing your own business in this day and age, while difficult, can be really worthwhile. And unlike all those who came before you, there is one thing that serves as a true equalizer for businesses of all sizes and across continents: social media. These days, consumers expect businesses to maintain an online presence; and effectively enforce marketing and sales tactics through platforms like Facebook, Twitter and foursquare. Some startups will even hire staff via LinkedIn, or regularly update their own Tumblr accounts or cascade their updates to other platforms.


Corporate usage of social media has led to countless memorable exchanges between companies and customers, and has given entrepreneurs (particularly those operating with limited manpower and finances) new sets of challenges to contend with. While many startups have taken to social media quite easily and seem to have built a huge or bigger following within just a short period, there are startups (and even big corporations) that wind up doing extensive damage control and issuing mea culpas after someone hit that “Post” or “Send” button too early. Today, we take a look at the five social media mistakes that have a high possibility of occurring in startups (or have already occurred), and provide a few tips on how to maintain a long-lasting and positive company image.



Going in completely blind


For consumers, social networking has only a few steps: sign up, pick a username, add friends, update as often or as little as you want. For entrepreneurs, there are many other things to consider, and they need to know about all of these things long before they get to the sign-up stage. Doing it in reverse (or making things up as you go along) is downright foolish. Here\\\'s a brief rundown of the errors that corporate social media newbies often commit:


-Not having a clear, concise message regarding the startup, the people behind it, the startup\\\'s goals, the available products and services, and the startup\\\'s advantages over its competitors.

-Not having a specific target audience and not doing enough market research.

-Not having the appropriate tools to start and manage online initiatives, and not taking into account the cost of these tools and how they will impact the overall budget.


-Having unfair expectations of what social media can do for a brand — and believing the myths:

◦     Myth #1: Social media is very easy to do. (No, it\\\'s not.)

◦     Myth #2: It produces quick results, and generates instant buzz and revenues. (Possible, but it can be the exact opposite for most.)

◦     Myth #3: You can update as sporadically or as frequently as you want to, and your audience will remain loyal until the end of time. (Update too much, and you\\\'ll be unfollowed and/or blocked. If you update once in a blue moon, people will eventually forget about you and your startup.)

◦     Myth #4: It\\\'s 100% free — or amazingly cheap. (It can be at first, if you\\\'re on a really tight budget. However, you should also [or eventually] use enterprise-level tools and apps to maximize your online efforts and get valuable figures regarding aspects like reach and influence.)


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