Four Social Media Mistakes Every Executive Should Avoid

By Chris Walker / Jun 02, 2014

Blog-image-badhabits-2014-04-23Early in my mother’s elementary school career she mistakenly learned to spell the word “been” as “bean.” Throughout her adult life this mistake has been (or is it bean?) something she has been (or bean?) cognizant to recognize and correct. However, the mistake became a habit and has been a struggle for her and at times she still misspells the word.

Some communications and marketing executives make mistakes when it comes to social media that become habits without even knowing the error of their ways.

The key is to recognize mistakes early, avoid them and not let them become habits. Unfortunately, most social media mistakes pose great risk that can become costly.

Below are four mistakes that every executive should avoid when it comes to social media:

Mistake #1: Not knowing your audience

Knowing who you are targeting with your marketing is one of the most essential skills any marketer should have. Too often we get stuck in the mindset of the “Mad Men” era of marketing to the masses, rather than marketing to individuals and their specific needs. Using the right platforms and tactics to reach your audience is crucial. In the social media realm this often takes the form of being able to distinguish between B2C and B2B users and communicating with them in the communities in which they participate. For example, many B2B executives may think that they need a Facebook page when a LinkedIn presence will be more effective. Knowing their audience will help them focus on the platforms and messages that will resonate with their users.

Mistake #2: Not taking risks with a clear objective

Executives should be willing to try new things on social media is what will set most businesses apart from others. Taking a risk is probably helped them to become executives in the first place. They shouldn’t be afraid to try an engajer, a Google+ Hangout or even a Tumblr if those platforms will help their business. Although it is important to take risks, executives should have clear objectives when trying something on social media and should have a realistic idea of what the outcome will be. No social media platform should be adopted without a way to measure the success of it.

Mistake #3: Delegating social media too far down the organization

Executives should not normally trust others to do their social media or their business social media. Too often social media efforts are delegated to an intern or a low-level employee. By default these individuals end up representing the brand in a very public way. No executive would trust an intern to determine brand policy, but that is what often happens on social because of the pace of decisions that must be made. Most of the social media issues that negatively affect a brand are from entry-level employees. Executives who get involved in social media create a social culture within their organization that is sustainable. Even if they don’t handle the content sourcing, they still should get involved and approve content that goes out from their own accounts.

Mistake #4: Posting information that breaks the law

Many executives are not aware of social media compliance and legal issues that govern social media. Every company’s social media efforts are governed by some laws, regulations or rules. It is important for executives to be educated on these rules and laws and encourage compliance within their organizations. This will protect the company, the brand and employees. In addition, executives can get in a lot of trouble by posting personal information such as their whereabouts, family and health issues and more. These items not only can affect stock price or be in violation of some regulation, but more often than not affect employee morale.

In the social media realm, these mistakes mark the difference between a successful and sustainable social media program and a program that gets an executive fired. Keeping them from becoming habits is essential to career success.

What social media mistakes do you think are important to avoid?