What did you do recently to celebrate Social Media Day?  Blaze a trail of new connections on Twitter, jump into a LinkedIn discussion group?

Me? I focused on my client projects and deadlines, popped in and out of Hootsuite, read and commented on blog posts, and continued to reflect on a topic near and dear to me lately:  balancing my online with my offline world.  Social Media (for me, that’s Twitter, Facebook, my blog, YouTube and my online marketing efforts) can and has enhanced my life greatly.  It can also complicate things if certain pitfalls are ignored or overlooked. 

Pitfall #1:  Forgetting that it’s about relationships

There’s a reason it’s called social media.  Whether you’re in it for business or for pleasure, it’s about the relationships we have and those that we make.  To forget that and just go for the numbers and amass quantities of relationships, rather than quality relationships can lead to big numbers with no ‘oomph’.   I drove myself crazy early on trying to increase my number of followers (to the point of engaging with #teamfollowback – trust me, avoid that one).  It was only when I began to connect for purely social reasons and for the interest in a relationship that I “got” it.

Suggestion:  connect with people that you enjoy and people that you would like to meet in real life.  Connect with colleagues in your industry or with potential clients.  Once you do, cultivate those relationships and BE SOCIAL.

Pitfall #2:  Forgetting that it’s about the art of storytelling

If ever there was a place for content marketing, it’s here.  Social media is not a match for push marketing.  I missed the boat on this one at first and tried to blog about really odd topics or ones that I didn’t really have an authentic understanding of.  Or, I would share things about my business, with no real context.  When I began to tell my own story, relating it to my target audience, the synergy was amazing.

Suggestion:  use the many different social platforms to tell us your stories.  Blog about your experiences and speak from your voice.  Engage with your connections to tell those stories.  Before you know it, your network will begin sharing your story for you…just as you do for them. You’ll also feel a huge sense of enjoyment from engaging in an authentic way.

Pitfall #3:  Forgetting your day job!

When I became fully engaged in social media, I honestly began to enjoy it so much that I was starting to neglect certain responsibilities…my business and my client projects, my family time.  I felt like I had to practice full immersion or I wouldn’t be able to advise my clients.  That’s true to a degree, but just as with anything, there are addictive tendencies if it’s done to extremes.  In addition to resulting in complete and utter engagement and mastery of this new “tool”, this level of immersion can also result in avoidance and neglect of other aspects of your life.

Suggestion:  Identify why you’re online and engaged in social media.  Identify how that can support your offline goals – your business goals.  The two really should work together.  Just as it can take time to really “get” social media, it takes no time at all for your business or your personal life to suffer if you forget about them.

Pitfall #4:  Thinking that social media is the ONLY tool in the tool box

For small business owners, it’s tempting to want to put all of your marketing eggs in one basket.  If that basket is seemingly “free”, why not?  The problem with that logic is that you have so many other options at your fingertips, options that have been around for much, much longer than the latest new social tool, and that quite frankly may work better for your customers or target markets.

I have a client who still does quite a bit of direct mail.  I encouraged her to begin utilizing both social media and email marketing to reach her customers.  After a trial and error period, with email marketing gaining a bit of traction, it is quite obvious for this brick and mortar retail store, that her proven method of direct mail is THE BEST approach.  Investing in social media at the expense of her direct mail approach would have cost my client business, and gained very little in return.

Suggestion:  Rather than throwing that baby out with the bath water, evaluate the integration of social media into your marketing or branding efforts and if it enhances, great, but if it’s nowhere near as effective as your proven methods, reconsider its applications.

Pitfall #5:  Focusing too much on irrelevant numbers and standards of influence and not on your numbers and goals

Does a higher Klout score garner new business for you?  Do more followers equate to influence in your network? Not necessarily.

I have witnessed highly successful authors, consultants and start ups with almost zero digital presence, low Klout scores, and a handful of followers have a higher client and profit status than those who rule in the “High Court of Influence.”  What’s their secret? They are focusing on the numbers and goals that really matter to them:  their P&L, their Balance Sheets, and their business goals.

Suggestion:  Understand that your social media experience may grow your network, enhance your business brand, and yes, impact your bottom line.  However, it’s you and your unique skill set that must turn that social media engagement into quantifiable business.


Erica Allison, Allison Development Group

Erica is the founder and owner of Allison Development Group, a PR/Marketing firm located in Western NC.  She blogs at Spot-On, can be found chatting on Twitter, goofing off on Facebook, and mingling in LinkedIn.