You’ve been hard at work all day on your startup; chatting with investors and developing a marketing campaign. You finally have a couple minutes to yourself and decide to log in into your social media outlets to post a status about your shiny new venture. Next thing you know, you’re completing BuzzFeed quizzes and cursing silently at your friends who just got back from vacation in Hawaii. Does this distraction validate all the naysayers who claim that entrepreneurs shouldn’t be on social media?
While it’s easy to get distracted or even depressed while browsing through a news feed, social media is an incredible resource for entrepreneurs. For example, researchers from EBS and St. Gallen University found in 2012 that entrepreneurs spend anywhere between 64 percent to 82 percent of their time communicating every day. And what better way to communicate nowadays than through social platforms?
The problem then isn’t the game, it’s the player. From investing time in the wrong platforms to oversharing, there are many mistakes you can make when it comes to your social presence. To help, I’ve outlined five things every entrepreneur should stop doing on social media.
1. Focusing on Your Past Accomplishments
We know that you’re proud of your past accomplishments, but you don’t have to share every single feat with all of your peers throughout all of your social media outlets. While you may be excited about your achievements — whether it’s that perfect GPA, that time you climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for charity, or the five previous startups you successfully launched — things are always better in moderation.
Instead of trying to constantly validate yourself, focus on the present and remember why you are on social media. Devote your time to mapping out a social media campaign for your current project so that it will lead you to future success.
2. Being Negative
To be brutally honest, no one wants to hear you complain. We all have those days, we all get sick,we all get frustrated and angry with something or someone. In other words, we all have problems and we don’t need our newsfeeds filled with negativity. That’s not saying that your nearest and dearest don’t care, it’s just that negative posts aren’t effective. In fact, studies have found that positive posts on Facebook are more influential and contagious — which is what you want on social media.
On that note, you also shouldn’t share articles that bash your competition or are overly political. By doing so, you’re automatically eliminating a good portion of your followers as most people don’t want to read political rhetoric or anything that opposes a brand for which they may also feel loyalty.
3. Too Much Talking, Not Enough Listening
It’s widely accepted that social media is a conversation; the whole point of being on social media is engaging with other people. Unfortunately, a lot of entrepreneurs are only on social media to talk rather than listen. Instead of just pushing your business, take a couple of minutes every day to find out what’s going on with your followers and engage them. For example, if someone just got a promotion, acknowledge that major accomplishment. This shows that there is a real person behind your account who actually cares about the people who are supporting their up-and-coming business.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be promoting your business at all. It’s just shouldn’t be all of the time. As a general rule, make sure that four out of every five communications on social media are non-sales or business posts. That doesn’t mean that your posts can’t be relevant to your field. They should just be content your followers can enjoy and engage with, like an infographic, video or list.
4. Not Taking Advantage of Tools
Did you know that there are a lot of great tools available that can optimize your social media accounts? If you did, why aren’t you using them?
For example, there are free, or reasonably priced, tools that can perform analytics. This is important because it can inform you which posts have gotten the most feedback, as well as show feedback from your followers. This can be a great way to test ideas without investing a lot of resources into research. While social media may not be the best way to perform high-level market research, it’s a start and can give you some insight into the wants and needs of your customers.
Furthermore, there are tools that can schedule posts, create graphs and track your growth. These are all important, readily available tools. Since there are so many options out there, we suggest that you check out these eight options.
5. Promoting Multiple Things At Once
While I understand that there are literally a million things running through your mind (since “adults with ADHD are 300 percent more likely to be entrepreneurs”) you shouldn’t promote more than one business at a time. People will get confused. Instead, put all of your energy into the product or service that is ready to go. Once that’s been identified, plan and market only that product or service.
Although ADHD can be an awesome trait for an entrepreneur to have, it doesn’t exactly translate well on social media. So focus on just one venture in order to be clear and not confuse the market.
Improving the way you interact on social media can not only lessen your likelihood of distraction, but also enhance your business. Have you noticed any other social media mishaps from your fellow entrepreneurs?
John Rampton is and Entrepreneur & Connector. He is a columnist for Entrepreneur Magazine as well as founder of Adogy, a marketing firm helping startups in Silicon Valley.
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.