There has been lots written about social media becoming an addiction for people – and indeed there are plenty of guides, videos and tests that support this. But the same can be just as true for companies both large and small, where an addiction or over-obsession with social media becomes more and more apparent. Social media is brilliant for companies to reach their customers in new and exciting ways and it can really support the business. But it’s tempting to become addicted and try every new site with no real strategy or reason behind it. So what are some of the classic signs that a business has become addicted to social media?

Half of their website are social icons

Screen shot 2010 10 04 at 12.17.11 200x169 Tell Tale Signs Your Business Is Obsessed With Social MediaI’ve seen this increasing trend among so many businesses now and it pops up in the most unlikely of websites. There is a real tendency by companies to make sure they have ticked every social media box there is going, and to overload their website with icons. There should really be a limit to the amount of social buttons you can put on a website. As much as this is frustrating or confusing to 9/10 of your visitors who have no interest in Digging something, it fundamentally detracts from the main aim of the site. I think the tweet & Like buttons have their place in many, if not all, websites but there is a danger of over-doing it. The fact is that if someone likes your content and they’re on reddit etc. they will probably go and share it anyway

They follow you on Foursquare

foursquare buttons 200x200 Tell Tale Signs Your Business Is Obsessed With Social MediaFoursquare provides many opportunities for businesses and there are huge benefits for this service, that can provide a unique and effective way for you to reach a new audience. Following your customers is not one of them. I have personally had a few requests from businesses to become my friend on Foursquare and have frequently denied. This to me represents a serious case of social media addiction for a business. Aside from looking desperate, it’s also just plain bizarre. I have no interest in allowing a company (and who at that company anyway?) to follow me around physically. It’s also lost on me as a marketing concept : I”m not quite sure what a coffee shop would do with the information that I’ve checked into a pizza restaurant down the road. At least within the realms of what I’d be comfortable with!

Hundreds of dead profiles

Now I might be slightly exaggerating with ‘hundreds’ but a surefire sign that a company is addicted to social media, is that you find multiple social profiles that have been set up, used infrequently for a month and then they’re onto the next one. It’s easy to see the temptation here – when you hear of a new social service you have to try it out to get in front of your most savvy customers, and not least to mark your territory should it become popular later. But there’s a lot to be said for finding the few channels that are right for your business and making them work for you. Think of all these dead and empty profiles in real business terms. You wouldn’t advertise a customer careline if no-one answered it anymore. The same rules should apply online.

Spend more time tweeting than running the business

5 73 178x200 Tell Tale Signs Your Business Is Obsessed With Social MediaThis applies more specifically to startups and small businesses, where it’s evident there would be no dedicated staff just to run Facebook and Twitter. Now I know firsthand the effort that is required to take a new business off the ground and I always worry when I see small business owners spending way too much of their time tweeting. Of course can Twitter can serve a purpose for a new business up to a point – as an immediate, free and accessible marketing channel. But it’s not a replacement for real work, or other types of marketing that can work for you.

The danger with Twitter for businesses is that you get taken in by the immediacy of the result. You see every @ reply as a good result, so you go after more of it. But don’t forget that a small portion of your customers will actually be on there. It’s easy to get addicted to as a business, but make sure it only takes up a small amount of your time and doesn’t become a replacement for the work involved in running your business. I’d much rather see a small company that’s too busy to tweet 20 times a day!

Everything is a photo or video competition

Screen shot 2010 10 04 at 12.15.29 200x192 Tell Tale Signs Your Business Is Obsessed With Social MediaI’ve noticed a huge increase lately in the amount of businesses that run a photo competition and again it’s coming from unlikely places. Now we’ve certainly run photo competitions for clients, where appropriate, but I’ve seen so many photo competitions for companies lately, with fairly tenuous links. I got caught by an ad for Pantene recently, where the end message invited people to upload a video of their best hair swish. Granted, the maximum amount of time I spend on my hair each day is about 30 seconds, but just how many different types of swish can be there and does it really warrant a video competition? I think these will soon go the way of the hashtag competition and reach overload ,unless there’s a real strategy and purpose for the content that’s created by the user.

All of the above are incredibly easy for businesses to fall into. Of course these are just my opinions and you may disagree :) But whatever you do in social media, make sure it has a clear business purpose and isn’t just to ‘do’ social media.

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