I got a lot of good information from local businesses and Web marketing experts about social media mistakes, but not all of it made it into my column Sunday.
Among those highlights:
--In talking about how companies shouldn't try to control the messages their employees send out using social media, Jason Broadwater, owner of Revenflo in Rock Hill, told me about one of his clients (which he didn't name) that wants all tweets to go through a review committee ... which meets once a month. Talk about missing the point of social media.
"Hey, just wanted to let everyone know about our half-price sale ... last month."
What might be the hash tags on that one? Perhaps #lame or #bigsocialmediamistake or #weareclueless.
--A related tidbit from Broadwater: Companies/institutions like the one mentioned above are the ones that will have the most trouble embracing social media because they're entrenched in the old-school way of doing things. As in, everything must be managed and vetted through committees and a multi-level approval process. "Why use Twitter as a tool if you're going to use it that way?" he said.
--Kevin Nichols, vice president of Stark & Associates, a Fort Mill Web marketing company, said one way social media can fail a company is that it can make that business look bad faster. Therefore, they have to be able to address complaints and other issues publicly -- and quickly. In other words, if you're using social media for your business, pay attention and be involved.
--Steve Schwartz, owner of Amazing Video Tours in Fort Mill, pointed out that the benefits of social media to a business might not be immediately seen, so patience is required. Like others I talked to for this story, Schwartz compared social media to a party. Mingle with people, be social and have fun. Only talk business occasionally. The approach works, he said. "It's a snowball, and the snowball's going to start out real small," Schwartz said.
--Finally, I got an e-mail after the column ran from Shannan Hearne of Success Promotions, a Web marketing firm in Clover. Here's what she wrote regarding businesses using social media:
"Don't expect to become an expert at all social media at once. Take your time and learn how to blog, don't just throw a bunch of information onto a page. Research clever and useful information to send out to your followers via Twitter. Don't try to amass loyal followers through the Twitter applications without providing quality content to keep followers. Keep your professional best face forward in all social media. This is not your kids' Facebook account. Be sure to include LinkedIn as it is currently recognized as one of the most professional social media venues. And don't be afraid to ask for help."
It's funny she should mention LinkedIn. After the column ran, I got a connection request on LinkedIn from a guy who's a social media consultant in Tennessee. I don't know him, but he read the column and decided to connect with me. That's social media in a nutshell. It's a way to build relationships with people we might not ever meet otherwise.
By the way, LinkedIn doesn't get same attention as Facebook or Twitter, likely because it isn't as "fun." It's mainly for building professional relationships and networking, and it's highly underrated. If you don't have your professional profile on LinkedIn, consider joining. You may even land that next job. Here's my public profile if you're curious.
If there's one thing I've heard most about social media in the past six months, it's this: It's not going away.
If there's a second thing I've heard repeatedly in recent months, it's this: In a couple years, social media won't even be special anymore. It'll just be a common, but crucial, part of life we take for granted, like e-mail.
So everyone seems to have two choices: Get on board or get left behind.
What's your choice?