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    4 Small Business Blunders: Are You Blowing It on Social Media?

    By Phil Laboon | Yahoo Small Business

    Social media blunderWhen the Internet first broke into the mainstream, businesses were slow to respond. Many business leaders simply failed to grasp the importance of the online world. Businesses large and small missed out on a great opportunity to engage with their customers and build their brands.

    The opposite is often true of social media. The same companies that were slow to build their first websites are now rushing to Facebook and Twitter.

    Unfortunately, many of those businesses are setting up shop before they have laid the proper groundwork. Whether your business is currently on Facebook or not, it is important to avoid these common blunders.

    Posting Obvious Marketing Messages

    Social media sites like Facebook can be great marketing tools, but obvious marketing is the best way to lose your audience's trust. Making your marketing too obvious is sure to backfire on your business and undo all the hard work you have done gaining your following.

    As with so much in the world of online marketing, quality content is the key to subtly marketing your business and your products. Providing your Facebook fans with interesting information they can use is a sure way to enhance your reputation and demonstrate your expertise. Developing a reputation as an educator instead of just another brand trying to make a buck is a great way to build positive word-of-mouth advertising, too, especially with the popularity of local listing and social media reviews.

    Depending on or Expecting Instant Results

    Overnight success is just as rare on Facebook as it is in the real world. Expecting instant results is unrealistic and counterproductive. You can build a successful marketing strategy on Facebook and other social media sites, but it will take hard work and dedication. Too many businesses seem to think that all they need to do is set up a Facebook page and wait for the sales to start rolling in. The reality is often far different.

    Taking the time to understand your target audience and craft content they will find useful and compelling is a smart way to build your brand and grow your audience. Learning what your followers are interested in and giving them practical and insightful information can yield real results. More importantly, if your business relies on online traffic, have a PPC campaign or other forms of advertising in place as a supplement until your audience grows.

    Falling Prey to Controversy

    In a perfect world, social media would be a place of courtesy and intelligent dialogue. However, anyone who has spent more than a few minutes on Facebook or Twitter knows that this is rarely the case. Social media is often home to controversy and disagreement, and things can get out of hand quite quickly.

    When those flame wars arise, it is best to stand back and let them burn themselves out. Jumping into the fray can alienate some of your Facebook fans and backfire on your business. If you must comment, keep your posts as positive and upbeat as possible.

    Becoming Too Predictable

    Social media is often used as a source of news and entertainment. Allowing your posts to become stale and formulaic places your business in a bad light. Posting the same type of content or doling out old stories can turn off your followers and even cause them to unfollow your brand.

    To keep your brand fresh, add variety to your social media activity. In addition to sharing blog content you've posted to your website, post pictures, memes, and videos that relate to your industry and would interest your audience. You should also reach outside of your brand and share content from other influencers. Showing off your network and promoting industry content from other sources tells your audience what a valuable resource you are for more than just company news.

    There is no shortcut for gaining a following of real users and customers. Posting engaging and educational content builds interest in your site and keep visitors eager for more updates from your brand. Your Facebook posts should make your fans want more. They should want to come back day after day to see what you have to say and what you have to offer.

    Phil Laboon started the multi-million dollar company, Eyeflow Internet Marketing, from the ground up when he was 20 years old. Eyeflow has grown rapidly, recently being named by the Pittsburgh Business Times as one of 2012's Top 100 Fastest Growing Businesses in Pittsburgh, with over 100% revenue growth in the year. Laboon has consulted for everything from start-ups to Fortune 500’s, developing techniques to maximize clients’ online credibility.

    The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

    Yahoo Small Business Services