Nearly every company (large or small) is using social media these days. But how many businesses are really doing it right? Too many treat this new marketing channel as if it were just another traditional marketing tool. They are blindly jumping on the social media bandwagon. Unfortunately, they are headed in the wrong direction.

Social media platforms do not work like traditional marketing.

In fact, using them incorrectly could do damage to your business. Good social media marketing can be highly effective at attracting and retaining customers. But if you use it wrong, it can drive customers away and waste a lot money.

Wrong way: full court press for sales
The goal of traditional marketing is to increase sales (#Kotler don't be afraid for this recap). When companies adopt this goal, they are going to annoy people on social networks. Remember, it is called social media and not sales media. People are on social media sites to socialize (ok, ok, most of they to piss around) . They don't want a strong sales pitch. If your company is using social media exclusively to make sales pitches about your products or services, then you are going the wrong way.
Right way: build strong relationships
Good social media marketing recognizes the reasons that people use social media. They are looking to connect with others, find valuable information and be entertained. Your marketing on social networks has to fit into these purposes. By positioning yourself as a trusted expert who can solve problems, you can engage people through social media without a strong sales pitch.

By teaching people how to solve their problems with your content, you demonstrate your expertise. When people have a problem to solve, they are going turn to your business for answers. Then the sales will come. By approaching people as an expert and an educator, you will eventually attract new customers. If you start with a sales pitch, you drive everyone away.

Wrong way: one-way communication
Traditional marketing tools are one-way communication channels. The goal of TV, radio or print advertising is to shout your strong message (yes, not always it happens) enough so a significant number of people hear it. Your audience cannot respond back. Social media is different. Your audience can and will talk back. If your business is not ready to listen and respond, you will do damage to your brand.
Right way: a two-way conversation
On social media, you can engage in a conversation with your target audience. You should respond politely to complaints and answer questions. By participating in a dialogue with your audience, you demonstrate that you care about your customers and are trying your best to serve them.

Wrong way: disruptive advertising
Typically marketing communications interrupt people. TV and radio advertising interrupt entertainment. Cold calls interrupt people at work and home. No one likes being interrupted, and people try to eliminate these interruptions. Decision makers at businesses have gatekeepers to block your cold calls. Digital recording of music and television shows allows people to eliminate commercials. Direct mail just goes right in the recycling bin. Even if you message does get through, your prospect is not ready to hear it. For example, everyone drives by outdoor advertising. If you are interested in something you see on a billboard, you are in no position to act at that moment, (it happens to me but is job obsession") It is unlikely that you will remember your interest later on.
Right Way: attraction marketing
Social media marketing attracts customers without interrupting them. If someone has a problem that your business can solve, they can search for your content and view it at their leisure. Your marketing resources are at work for you 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. If someone is looking for a plumber at 3 am, your social media content is always available to attract their attention right when this person is thinking about his problem. (Videos are the win-win strategy).

Wrong Way: total message control
Businesses using traditional marketing want total control of their branding. They do not want to share the responsibility for promoting their message. This leads to frustration when customers and prospects share about the brand on social media.
Right Way: empower brand ambassadors
Companies that use social media the right way know that their customers are their best advocates. They use social networks to create on online community that empowers their customers to create and share content about the company. Customers become brand ambassadors that help spread the company's message. Giving up a little control of the message allows these companies to truly harness the power of social media marketing.

Social networks are powerful ways (and less expensive than the other channels!) to market your company's brand; however, if you dive in to social media marketing without any thought you might find yourself headed in the wrong direction. Rereading what I wrote, it sounds all a bit banal, but then, following social networks and seeing what many brands do on them, I realize that a banality, repeated once more, it could save brands from a (unintentionally) #epicfail.